In modern societies the major function of religion is to socialise society’s members into a value consensus by investing values with a sacred quality. These values become ‘moral codes’ - beliefs that society agrees to revere and socialise children into. Consequently such codes regulate our social behaviour.
Encouraging collective worship enables individuals to express their shared values and strengthen s group unity. It fosters the development of a collective conscience or moral community so that deviant behaviour is restrained and social change restricted.
Anomie (or a state of normlessness) can be a product of modern industrial life. Religious and civil ceremony prevents this happening by encouraging an awareness of common membership of an entity greater than, and supportive of, the
Religion functions to relieve the stress and anxieties created by life crises such as birth, puberty, marriage and death. Such events can undermine people’s commitment to the wider society and therefore social order.
Religion explains economic and social inequalities in supernatural terms. The real causes of inequalities are obscured and distorted by religions insistence that inequality is the product of sin or a sign that people have been chosen by God, etc.
Keeping the working class passive and resigned to their fate
Some religions present suffering and poverty as a virtue to be accepted, and even welcomed, as normal. It is suggested that those who do not question their situation will be rewarded by a place in heaven.