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Chapter 11:Chapter 11:
RELIGIONRELIGION
Chapter 11Chapter 11
• ReligionReligion includes any institutionalizedincludes any institutionalized
system of shared beliefs and rituals thatsystem of shared beliefs and rituals that
identify a relationship between the sacredidentify a relationship between the sacred
and profane.and profane.
• Sociologists do not evaluate the truth of anySociologists do not evaluate the truth of any
system of beliefs; they study the ways thatsystem of beliefs; they study the ways that
religions shape and are shaped by culturalreligions shape and are shaped by cultural
institutions and processes, as well as theinstitutions and processes, as well as the
ways that religious influence and areways that religious influence and are
influenced by the behavior of individuals.influenced by the behavior of individuals.
The Real World
Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
3
 In 1912, Emile Durkheim published an influential book,In 1912, Emile Durkheim published an influential book, TheThe
Elementary Forms of the Religious LifeElementary Forms of the Religious Life. In it, he tried to. In it, he tried to
identify the elements common to all religions around theidentify the elements common to all religions around the
world.world.
 He found that religions develop a community around theirHe found that religions develop a community around their
practices and beliefs.practices and beliefs.
 Also, all religions separate between theAlso, all religions separate between the sacredsacred (holy, divine,(holy, divine,
or supernatural) and theor supernatural) and the profaneprofane (ordinary, mundane, or(ordinary, mundane, or
everyday).everyday).
• Durkheim summarized his conclusions by saying: “Durkheim summarized his conclusions by saying: “A religionA religion
is a unified system of believes and practices relative to sacredis a unified system of believes and practices relative to sacred
things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden – beliefsthings, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden – beliefs
and practices which unite into one single moral communityand practices which unite into one single moral community
called a Church, all those who adhere to themcalled a Church, all those who adhere to them.”.”
• A religion, then, has 3 major elements:A religion, then, has 3 major elements:
– BeliefsBeliefs (propositions and ideas held on the basis of(propositions and ideas held on the basis of
faith)faith)
– RitualsRituals or practices (practices based on those beliefs)or practices (practices based on those beliefs)
– A Moral CommunityA Moral Community or a church (resulting from aor a church (resulting from a
group’s beliefs and practicesgroup’s beliefs and practices
• By church, Durkheim meant a group of people united byBy church, Durkheim meant a group of people united by
their religious practices…not a building where peopletheir religious practices…not a building where people
worship.worship.
• Another key aspect of many religions is faith.Another key aspect of many religions is faith. FaithFaith isis
unquestioning belief that does not require proof or scientificunquestioning belief that does not require proof or scientific
evidence.evidence.
• Simple supernaturalismSimple supernaturalism - the belief that- the belief that
supernatural forces affect people's livessupernatural forces affect people's lives
positively or negatively.positively or negatively.
• AnimismAnimism - the belief that plants, animals,- the belief that plants, animals,
and elements of the natural world areand elements of the natural world are
endowed with spirits that impact events inendowed with spirits that impact events in
society.society.
• TheismTheism - belief in a God or Gods.- belief in a God or Gods.
– MonotheismMonotheism – belief in one god– belief in one god
– PolytheismPolytheism – belief in many gods– belief in many gods
• Transcendent idealismTranscendent idealism - belief in sacred- belief in sacred
principles of thought and conduct, such asprinciples of thought and conduct, such as
truth, justice, life and tolerance for others.truth, justice, life and tolerance for others.
• Those who study religion recognize that there areThose who study religion recognize that there are
different types of religious groups:different types of religious groups: Cults, Sects,Cults, Sects,
Churches, and EcclesiaChurches, and Ecclesia..
– CultsCults – a new religion with few followers, whose– a new religion with few followers, whose
teachings and practices put it at odds with theteachings and practices put it at odds with the
dominant culture and religion.dominant culture and religion.
• Cults often originate with a charismatic leader,Cults often originate with a charismatic leader,
an individual who inspires people because he oran individual who inspires people because he or
she seems to have extraordinary qualities.she seems to have extraordinary qualities.
• Most religions begin as a cult – even ChristianityMost religions begin as a cult – even Christianity
(Jesus was the “charismatic leader”)(Jesus was the “charismatic leader”)
The Real World
Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
10
– SectsSects – a religious group larger than a cult that– a religious group larger than a cult that
still feels substantial hostility from and towardstill feels substantial hostility from and toward
society.society.
– ChurchChurch – a religious group that has gown to the– a religious group that has gown to the
point it is highly bureaucratized – probably withpoint it is highly bureaucratized – probably with
national and international headquarters that givenational and international headquarters that give
direction to local congregations, enforce rulesdirection to local congregations, enforce rules
about who can be ordained, and control finances.about who can be ordained, and control finances.
– EcclesiaEcclesia – a religious group so integrated into– a religious group so integrated into
the dominant culture that it is difficult to tell wherethe dominant culture that it is difficult to tell where
the one begins and the other leaves off; alsothe one begins and the other leaves off; also
called acalled a state religionstate religion..
• Variations in PatternsVariations in Patterns
– Obviously, not all religious groups go through all ofObviously, not all religious groups go through all of
these stages – from cult to sect to church to ecclesia.these stages – from cult to sect to church to ecclesia.
Some die out because they fail to attract enoughSome die out because they fail to attract enough
members. Others, such as the Amish, remain sects.members. Others, such as the Amish, remain sects.
And, as is evident from the few countries that have stateAnd, as is evident from the few countries that have state
religions, very few religions ever become ecclesias.religions, very few religions ever become ecclesias.
– Although all religions began as cults, not all varieties ofAlthough all religions began as cults, not all varieties of
a particular religion began that way. For example, somea particular religion began that way. For example, some
denominations begin as splinter groups. Denominationsdenominations begin as splinter groups. Denominations
are “brand names” within a major religion, for example,are “brand names” within a major religion, for example,
Baptist or Methodist for Christianity or Shia or Sunni forBaptist or Methodist for Christianity or Shia or Sunni for
IslamIslam..
• FunctionalistsFunctionalists argue there areargue there are FunctionsFunctions andand DysfunctionsDysfunctions
to Religion.to Religion.
• Functions:Functions:
– Religion shapes everyday behavior by providing morals,Religion shapes everyday behavior by providing morals,
values, rules, and norms for its participants.values, rules, and norms for its participants.
– Religion also helps give meaning to our lives and providesReligion also helps give meaning to our lives and provides
the opportunity to come together with others to share inthe opportunity to come together with others to share in
group activities and identity; thus giving us a sense ofgroup activities and identity; thus giving us a sense of
belonging.belonging.
– Religion can provide social control and support for theReligion can provide social control and support for the
government.government.
– Religious organizations have also been agents of socialReligious organizations have also been agents of social
justice and political change.justice and political change.
• Dysfunctions:Dysfunctions:
– Religion can promote inequality with sexist,Religion can promote inequality with sexist,
racist, and homophobic doctrines.racist, and homophobic doctrines.
– Religion has been used as a mode ofReligion has been used as a mode of
conflict and war (i.e. – the Crusades)conflict and war (i.e. – the Crusades)
• The dysfunctions of religion are the basis forThe dysfunctions of religion are the basis for
the conflict perspective.the conflict perspective.
The Real World
Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
16
• Classical Conflict Theory:Classical Conflict Theory:
– According toAccording to Karl MarxKarl Marx, religion is the "opiate, religion is the "opiate
of the people.“ Basically, he said religion wasof the people.“ Basically, he said religion was
like a drug that governments could use tolike a drug that governments could use to
control their populations. For example: if thecontrol their populations. For example: if the
king was “ordained by God,” then disobeyingking was “ordained by God,” then disobeying
the kings laws would not only mean breakingthe kings laws would not only mean breaking
man’s law, but it would be a sin as well.man’s law, but it would be a sin as well.
– Max WeberMax Weber argued that religion could be aargued that religion could be a
catalyst to produce social change.catalyst to produce social change.
• Contemporary conflict theorists have noted that theContemporary conflict theorists have noted that the
three major monotheistic religions (Judaism,three major monotheistic religions (Judaism,
Christianity, and Islam) are quite sexist.Christianity, and Islam) are quite sexist.
– Orthodox Judaism mandates that men and womenOrthodox Judaism mandates that men and women
in worshipin worship
– Catholicism and some Protestant denominationsCatholicism and some Protestant denominations
prohibit women from becoming priests or pastors.prohibit women from becoming priests or pastors.
• There are very few non-sexist religions. Those thatThere are very few non-sexist religions. Those that
are strongly nonsexist are usually marginalized.are strongly nonsexist are usually marginalized.
• Some religions also have antihomosexual or racistSome religions also have antihomosexual or racist
doctrines. See pg. 308 for examples.doctrines. See pg. 308 for examples.
• Conflict theorists point out that religiousConflict theorists point out that religious
organizations have been the ages of social justiceorganizations have been the ages of social justice
and political change. For example, religion hasand political change. For example, religion has
been closely linked to the movements for Africanbeen closely linked to the movements for African
American rights.American rights.
– The movement for the abolition of slavery andThe movement for the abolition of slavery and
the Civil Rights movement in the 20the Civil Rights movement in the 20thth
centurycentury
both had protestant religious connections.both had protestant religious connections.
• Basically, from a conflict perspective, religion isBasically, from a conflict perspective, religion is
complex: it can subjugate and oppress at thecomplex: it can subjugate and oppress at the
same time it can liberate.same time it can liberate.
• Symbolic InteractionalistSymbolic Interactionalist
– Religion provides a variety of statuses, roles,Religion provides a variety of statuses, roles,
and role expectations for each individual;and role expectations for each individual;
essentially dictating how people shouldessentially dictating how people should
interact.interact.
– Religion serves as aReligion serves as a reference groupreference group to helpto help
people define themselves.people define themselves.
• How religious is the American public? ItHow religious is the American public? It
really depends on how you measure this.really depends on how you measure this.
• Sociologists usually defineSociologists usually define religiosityreligiosity asas
the consistent and regular practice ofthe consistent and regular practice of
religious beliefs.religious beliefs.
– They gauge religiosity in terms ofThey gauge religiosity in terms of
frequency of attendance at worshipfrequency of attendance at worship
services and the importance of religiousservices and the importance of religious
beliefs to an individual.beliefs to an individual.
The Real World
Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
21
• There are two ways of looking atThere are two ways of looking at
religiosity:religiosity:
– Extrinsic religiosityExtrinsic religiosity refers to arefers to a
person’s public display of commitmentperson’s public display of commitment
to a religious faith.to a religious faith.
– Intrinsic religiosityIntrinsic religiosity refers to a person’srefers to a person’s
inner religious life or personalinner religious life or personal
relationship to the divine.relationship to the divine.
The Real World
Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
22
• WhenWhen religiosityreligiosity (the regular practice of religious(the regular practice of religious
beliefs) is measured by church attendance, 38% ofbeliefs) is measured by church attendance, 38% of
Americans report attending services weekly.Americans report attending services weekly.
• However, when it is measured another way; 60% offHowever, when it is measured another way; 60% off
Americans say religion is very important to them.Americans say religion is very important to them.
• This number is somewhat misleading, however, becauseThis number is somewhat misleading, however, because
there are big differences in religious participation acrossthere are big differences in religious participation across
demographic groups. Gender, age, geographic region,demographic groups. Gender, age, geographic region,
political party, and religious affiliation are all variablespolitical party, and religious affiliation are all variables
that influence attendance.that influence attendance.
• The next few slides will give you an overall picture ofThe next few slides will give you an overall picture of
religion in the United States.religion in the United States.
Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2008
30
• In recent decades the number of Americans who identifyIn recent decades the number of Americans who identify
themselves asthemselves as fundamentalistfundamentalist (the practice of emphasizing(the practice of emphasizing
literal interpretation of texts and a “return” to a time of greaterliteral interpretation of texts and a “return” to a time of greater
religious purity).religious purity).
• Fundamentalism is on the rise both worldwide and in theFundamentalism is on the rise both worldwide and in the
United States. Fundamentalist approaches gained popularityUnited States. Fundamentalist approaches gained popularity
in response to the complex social changes of the 1960s andin response to the complex social changes of the 1960s and
1970s in the United States and around the world.1970s in the United States and around the world.
• Between 1990 and 2001, the number of Americans whoBetween 1990 and 2001, the number of Americans who
identified themselves as “Fundamentalist Christians” tripled,identified themselves as “Fundamentalist Christians” tripled,
and the number describing themselves as “Evangelicaland the number describing themselves as “Evangelical
Christians” (a variant of fundamentalism) more thanChristians” (a variant of fundamentalism) more than
quadrupled.quadrupled.
• The evangelical approach describes conservative ChristiansThe evangelical approach describes conservative Christians
who emphasize converting others to their faith.who emphasize converting others to their faith.
• Unchurched Spirituality:Unchurched Spirituality: UnchurchedUnchurched is a term describingis a term describing
those who consider themselves spiritual but not religious andthose who consider themselves spiritual but not religious and
who often adopt aspects of various religious traditions.who often adopt aspects of various religious traditions.
• This group has dramatically increased. About 14% ofThis group has dramatically increased. About 14% of
American claim no religious affiliation. However, having noAmerican claim no religious affiliation. However, having no
religious affiliation does not mean they are “un-believers.” Inreligious affiliation does not mean they are “un-believers.” In
fact, less than 1% describe themselves as atheists.fact, less than 1% describe themselves as atheists.
• This trend usually involves new definitions of belief andThis trend usually involves new definitions of belief and
practice. As noted by conflict theorists, some organizedpractice. As noted by conflict theorists, some organized
religions still include elements of sexism, racial prejudice,religions still include elements of sexism, racial prejudice,
homophobia, anit-Semitism, and conformity. These elementshomophobia, anit-Semitism, and conformity. These elements
drive people away from religion.drive people away from religion.
• However, this new approach is usually frowned upon by manyHowever, this new approach is usually frowned upon by many
religious organizations.religious organizations.
• TheThe separation of churchseparation of church as state is a time-as state is a time-
honored (and controversial) American principle,honored (and controversial) American principle,
established by the founders to preserve freedom ofestablished by the founders to preserve freedom of
religion.religion.
• As important as this principle is, we have not alwaysAs important as this principle is, we have not always
been able to maintain this practice; consider thebeen able to maintain this practice; consider the
following examples:following examples:
– ““In God We Trust” on our dollar billsIn God We Trust” on our dollar bills
– The Ten Commandments in Alabama publicThe Ten Commandments in Alabama public
buildingsbuildings
– President George W. Bush’s allocation of federalPresident George W. Bush’s allocation of federal
monies to “faith-based” charitable organizations.monies to “faith-based” charitable organizations.
• Separation of Church and State cont’d:Separation of Church and State cont’d:
– Also, Christian values and practices shape theAlso, Christian values and practices shape the
everyday lives of all Americans – Christian or not.everyday lives of all Americans – Christian or not.
• One example of this is that in both governmentOne example of this is that in both government
and private industry, schedules are organizedand private industry, schedules are organized
around Christian holidays with little or noaround Christian holidays with little or no
attention paid to religious holidays of otherattention paid to religious holidays of other
groups. Schools, banks, and governmentgroups. Schools, banks, and government
employers are closed on Christmas Day, evenemployers are closed on Christmas Day, even
though this holiday is not observed by overthough this holiday is not observed by over
15% of Americans.15% of Americans.
• So, as you can see, Americans reallySo, as you can see, Americans really
seem to have a contradictory approach toseem to have a contradictory approach to
religion.religion.
• While quasi-religious principles are at theWhile quasi-religious principles are at the
core of many of our closely held nationalcore of many of our closely held national
ideologies, many Americans also believeideologies, many Americans also believe
that religion should be kept separate fromthat religion should be kept separate from
our collective political life.our collective political life.
The Real World
Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
35

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Chapter10 4thedreligion 141203112642-conversion-gate01

  • 3. • ReligionReligion includes any institutionalizedincludes any institutionalized system of shared beliefs and rituals thatsystem of shared beliefs and rituals that identify a relationship between the sacredidentify a relationship between the sacred and profane.and profane. • Sociologists do not evaluate the truth of anySociologists do not evaluate the truth of any system of beliefs; they study the ways thatsystem of beliefs; they study the ways that religions shape and are shaped by culturalreligions shape and are shaped by cultural institutions and processes, as well as theinstitutions and processes, as well as the ways that religious influence and areways that religious influence and are influenced by the behavior of individuals.influenced by the behavior of individuals. The Real World Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 3
  • 4.
  • 5.
  • 6.  In 1912, Emile Durkheim published an influential book,In 1912, Emile Durkheim published an influential book, TheThe Elementary Forms of the Religious LifeElementary Forms of the Religious Life. In it, he tried to. In it, he tried to identify the elements common to all religions around theidentify the elements common to all religions around the world.world.  He found that religions develop a community around theirHe found that religions develop a community around their practices and beliefs.practices and beliefs.  Also, all religions separate between theAlso, all religions separate between the sacredsacred (holy, divine,(holy, divine, or supernatural) and theor supernatural) and the profaneprofane (ordinary, mundane, or(ordinary, mundane, or everyday).everyday). • Durkheim summarized his conclusions by saying: “Durkheim summarized his conclusions by saying: “A religionA religion is a unified system of believes and practices relative to sacredis a unified system of believes and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden – beliefsthings, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden – beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral communityand practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to themcalled a Church, all those who adhere to them.”.”
  • 7. • A religion, then, has 3 major elements:A religion, then, has 3 major elements: – BeliefsBeliefs (propositions and ideas held on the basis of(propositions and ideas held on the basis of faith)faith) – RitualsRituals or practices (practices based on those beliefs)or practices (practices based on those beliefs) – A Moral CommunityA Moral Community or a church (resulting from aor a church (resulting from a group’s beliefs and practicesgroup’s beliefs and practices • By church, Durkheim meant a group of people united byBy church, Durkheim meant a group of people united by their religious practices…not a building where peopletheir religious practices…not a building where people worship.worship. • Another key aspect of many religions is faith.Another key aspect of many religions is faith. FaithFaith isis unquestioning belief that does not require proof or scientificunquestioning belief that does not require proof or scientific evidence.evidence.
  • 8. • Simple supernaturalismSimple supernaturalism - the belief that- the belief that supernatural forces affect people's livessupernatural forces affect people's lives positively or negatively.positively or negatively. • AnimismAnimism - the belief that plants, animals,- the belief that plants, animals, and elements of the natural world areand elements of the natural world are endowed with spirits that impact events inendowed with spirits that impact events in society.society.
  • 9. • TheismTheism - belief in a God or Gods.- belief in a God or Gods. – MonotheismMonotheism – belief in one god– belief in one god – PolytheismPolytheism – belief in many gods– belief in many gods • Transcendent idealismTranscendent idealism - belief in sacred- belief in sacred principles of thought and conduct, such asprinciples of thought and conduct, such as truth, justice, life and tolerance for others.truth, justice, life and tolerance for others.
  • 10. • Those who study religion recognize that there areThose who study religion recognize that there are different types of religious groups:different types of religious groups: Cults, Sects,Cults, Sects, Churches, and EcclesiaChurches, and Ecclesia.. – CultsCults – a new religion with few followers, whose– a new religion with few followers, whose teachings and practices put it at odds with theteachings and practices put it at odds with the dominant culture and religion.dominant culture and religion. • Cults often originate with a charismatic leader,Cults often originate with a charismatic leader, an individual who inspires people because he oran individual who inspires people because he or she seems to have extraordinary qualities.she seems to have extraordinary qualities. • Most religions begin as a cult – even ChristianityMost religions begin as a cult – even Christianity (Jesus was the “charismatic leader”)(Jesus was the “charismatic leader”) The Real World Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 10
  • 11. – SectsSects – a religious group larger than a cult that– a religious group larger than a cult that still feels substantial hostility from and towardstill feels substantial hostility from and toward society.society. – ChurchChurch – a religious group that has gown to the– a religious group that has gown to the point it is highly bureaucratized – probably withpoint it is highly bureaucratized – probably with national and international headquarters that givenational and international headquarters that give direction to local congregations, enforce rulesdirection to local congregations, enforce rules about who can be ordained, and control finances.about who can be ordained, and control finances. – EcclesiaEcclesia – a religious group so integrated into– a religious group so integrated into the dominant culture that it is difficult to tell wherethe dominant culture that it is difficult to tell where the one begins and the other leaves off; alsothe one begins and the other leaves off; also called acalled a state religionstate religion..
  • 12.
  • 13. • Variations in PatternsVariations in Patterns – Obviously, not all religious groups go through all ofObviously, not all religious groups go through all of these stages – from cult to sect to church to ecclesia.these stages – from cult to sect to church to ecclesia. Some die out because they fail to attract enoughSome die out because they fail to attract enough members. Others, such as the Amish, remain sects.members. Others, such as the Amish, remain sects. And, as is evident from the few countries that have stateAnd, as is evident from the few countries that have state religions, very few religions ever become ecclesias.religions, very few religions ever become ecclesias. – Although all religions began as cults, not all varieties ofAlthough all religions began as cults, not all varieties of a particular religion began that way. For example, somea particular religion began that way. For example, some denominations begin as splinter groups. Denominationsdenominations begin as splinter groups. Denominations are “brand names” within a major religion, for example,are “brand names” within a major religion, for example, Baptist or Methodist for Christianity or Shia or Sunni forBaptist or Methodist for Christianity or Shia or Sunni for IslamIslam..
  • 14.
  • 15. • FunctionalistsFunctionalists argue there areargue there are FunctionsFunctions andand DysfunctionsDysfunctions to Religion.to Religion. • Functions:Functions: – Religion shapes everyday behavior by providing morals,Religion shapes everyday behavior by providing morals, values, rules, and norms for its participants.values, rules, and norms for its participants. – Religion also helps give meaning to our lives and providesReligion also helps give meaning to our lives and provides the opportunity to come together with others to share inthe opportunity to come together with others to share in group activities and identity; thus giving us a sense ofgroup activities and identity; thus giving us a sense of belonging.belonging. – Religion can provide social control and support for theReligion can provide social control and support for the government.government. – Religious organizations have also been agents of socialReligious organizations have also been agents of social justice and political change.justice and political change.
  • 16. • Dysfunctions:Dysfunctions: – Religion can promote inequality with sexist,Religion can promote inequality with sexist, racist, and homophobic doctrines.racist, and homophobic doctrines. – Religion has been used as a mode ofReligion has been used as a mode of conflict and war (i.e. – the Crusades)conflict and war (i.e. – the Crusades) • The dysfunctions of religion are the basis forThe dysfunctions of religion are the basis for the conflict perspective.the conflict perspective. The Real World Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 16
  • 17. • Classical Conflict Theory:Classical Conflict Theory: – According toAccording to Karl MarxKarl Marx, religion is the "opiate, religion is the "opiate of the people.“ Basically, he said religion wasof the people.“ Basically, he said religion was like a drug that governments could use tolike a drug that governments could use to control their populations. For example: if thecontrol their populations. For example: if the king was “ordained by God,” then disobeyingking was “ordained by God,” then disobeying the kings laws would not only mean breakingthe kings laws would not only mean breaking man’s law, but it would be a sin as well.man’s law, but it would be a sin as well. – Max WeberMax Weber argued that religion could be aargued that religion could be a catalyst to produce social change.catalyst to produce social change.
  • 18. • Contemporary conflict theorists have noted that theContemporary conflict theorists have noted that the three major monotheistic religions (Judaism,three major monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) are quite sexist.Christianity, and Islam) are quite sexist. – Orthodox Judaism mandates that men and womenOrthodox Judaism mandates that men and women in worshipin worship – Catholicism and some Protestant denominationsCatholicism and some Protestant denominations prohibit women from becoming priests or pastors.prohibit women from becoming priests or pastors. • There are very few non-sexist religions. Those thatThere are very few non-sexist religions. Those that are strongly nonsexist are usually marginalized.are strongly nonsexist are usually marginalized. • Some religions also have antihomosexual or racistSome religions also have antihomosexual or racist doctrines. See pg. 308 for examples.doctrines. See pg. 308 for examples.
  • 19. • Conflict theorists point out that religiousConflict theorists point out that religious organizations have been the ages of social justiceorganizations have been the ages of social justice and political change. For example, religion hasand political change. For example, religion has been closely linked to the movements for Africanbeen closely linked to the movements for African American rights.American rights. – The movement for the abolition of slavery andThe movement for the abolition of slavery and the Civil Rights movement in the 20the Civil Rights movement in the 20thth centurycentury both had protestant religious connections.both had protestant religious connections. • Basically, from a conflict perspective, religion isBasically, from a conflict perspective, religion is complex: it can subjugate and oppress at thecomplex: it can subjugate and oppress at the same time it can liberate.same time it can liberate.
  • 20. • Symbolic InteractionalistSymbolic Interactionalist – Religion provides a variety of statuses, roles,Religion provides a variety of statuses, roles, and role expectations for each individual;and role expectations for each individual; essentially dictating how people shouldessentially dictating how people should interact.interact. – Religion serves as aReligion serves as a reference groupreference group to helpto help people define themselves.people define themselves.
  • 21. • How religious is the American public? ItHow religious is the American public? It really depends on how you measure this.really depends on how you measure this. • Sociologists usually defineSociologists usually define religiosityreligiosity asas the consistent and regular practice ofthe consistent and regular practice of religious beliefs.religious beliefs. – They gauge religiosity in terms ofThey gauge religiosity in terms of frequency of attendance at worshipfrequency of attendance at worship services and the importance of religiousservices and the importance of religious beliefs to an individual.beliefs to an individual. The Real World Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 21
  • 22. • There are two ways of looking atThere are two ways of looking at religiosity:religiosity: – Extrinsic religiosityExtrinsic religiosity refers to arefers to a person’s public display of commitmentperson’s public display of commitment to a religious faith.to a religious faith. – Intrinsic religiosityIntrinsic religiosity refers to a person’srefers to a person’s inner religious life or personalinner religious life or personal relationship to the divine.relationship to the divine. The Real World Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 22
  • 23. • WhenWhen religiosityreligiosity (the regular practice of religious(the regular practice of religious beliefs) is measured by church attendance, 38% ofbeliefs) is measured by church attendance, 38% of Americans report attending services weekly.Americans report attending services weekly. • However, when it is measured another way; 60% offHowever, when it is measured another way; 60% off Americans say religion is very important to them.Americans say religion is very important to them. • This number is somewhat misleading, however, becauseThis number is somewhat misleading, however, because there are big differences in religious participation acrossthere are big differences in religious participation across demographic groups. Gender, age, geographic region,demographic groups. Gender, age, geographic region, political party, and religious affiliation are all variablespolitical party, and religious affiliation are all variables that influence attendance.that influence attendance. • The next few slides will give you an overall picture ofThe next few slides will give you an overall picture of religion in the United States.religion in the United States.
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  • 31. • In recent decades the number of Americans who identifyIn recent decades the number of Americans who identify themselves asthemselves as fundamentalistfundamentalist (the practice of emphasizing(the practice of emphasizing literal interpretation of texts and a “return” to a time of greaterliteral interpretation of texts and a “return” to a time of greater religious purity).religious purity). • Fundamentalism is on the rise both worldwide and in theFundamentalism is on the rise both worldwide and in the United States. Fundamentalist approaches gained popularityUnited States. Fundamentalist approaches gained popularity in response to the complex social changes of the 1960s andin response to the complex social changes of the 1960s and 1970s in the United States and around the world.1970s in the United States and around the world. • Between 1990 and 2001, the number of Americans whoBetween 1990 and 2001, the number of Americans who identified themselves as “Fundamentalist Christians” tripled,identified themselves as “Fundamentalist Christians” tripled, and the number describing themselves as “Evangelicaland the number describing themselves as “Evangelical Christians” (a variant of fundamentalism) more thanChristians” (a variant of fundamentalism) more than quadrupled.quadrupled. • The evangelical approach describes conservative ChristiansThe evangelical approach describes conservative Christians who emphasize converting others to their faith.who emphasize converting others to their faith.
  • 32. • Unchurched Spirituality:Unchurched Spirituality: UnchurchedUnchurched is a term describingis a term describing those who consider themselves spiritual but not religious andthose who consider themselves spiritual but not religious and who often adopt aspects of various religious traditions.who often adopt aspects of various religious traditions. • This group has dramatically increased. About 14% ofThis group has dramatically increased. About 14% of American claim no religious affiliation. However, having noAmerican claim no religious affiliation. However, having no religious affiliation does not mean they are “un-believers.” Inreligious affiliation does not mean they are “un-believers.” In fact, less than 1% describe themselves as atheists.fact, less than 1% describe themselves as atheists. • This trend usually involves new definitions of belief andThis trend usually involves new definitions of belief and practice. As noted by conflict theorists, some organizedpractice. As noted by conflict theorists, some organized religions still include elements of sexism, racial prejudice,religions still include elements of sexism, racial prejudice, homophobia, anit-Semitism, and conformity. These elementshomophobia, anit-Semitism, and conformity. These elements drive people away from religion.drive people away from religion. • However, this new approach is usually frowned upon by manyHowever, this new approach is usually frowned upon by many religious organizations.religious organizations.
  • 33. • TheThe separation of churchseparation of church as state is a time-as state is a time- honored (and controversial) American principle,honored (and controversial) American principle, established by the founders to preserve freedom ofestablished by the founders to preserve freedom of religion.religion. • As important as this principle is, we have not alwaysAs important as this principle is, we have not always been able to maintain this practice; consider thebeen able to maintain this practice; consider the following examples:following examples: – ““In God We Trust” on our dollar billsIn God We Trust” on our dollar bills – The Ten Commandments in Alabama publicThe Ten Commandments in Alabama public buildingsbuildings – President George W. Bush’s allocation of federalPresident George W. Bush’s allocation of federal monies to “faith-based” charitable organizations.monies to “faith-based” charitable organizations.
  • 34. • Separation of Church and State cont’d:Separation of Church and State cont’d: – Also, Christian values and practices shape theAlso, Christian values and practices shape the everyday lives of all Americans – Christian or not.everyday lives of all Americans – Christian or not. • One example of this is that in both governmentOne example of this is that in both government and private industry, schedules are organizedand private industry, schedules are organized around Christian holidays with little or noaround Christian holidays with little or no attention paid to religious holidays of otherattention paid to religious holidays of other groups. Schools, banks, and governmentgroups. Schools, banks, and government employers are closed on Christmas Day, evenemployers are closed on Christmas Day, even though this holiday is not observed by overthough this holiday is not observed by over 15% of Americans.15% of Americans.
  • 35. • So, as you can see, Americans reallySo, as you can see, Americans really seem to have a contradictory approach toseem to have a contradictory approach to religion.religion. • While quasi-religious principles are at theWhile quasi-religious principles are at the core of many of our closely held nationalcore of many of our closely held national ideologies, many Americans also believeideologies, many Americans also believe that religion should be kept separate fromthat religion should be kept separate from our collective political life.our collective political life. The Real World Copyright © 2008 W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 35