1. Religion is an essential part of the shared moral
ideas that make social life possible.
Religion provides the customs and ceremonies to
bring individuals together thereby ensuring that
selfish individualism does not undermine society.
2. Bronislaw Malinowski
There are situations in a person’s life which can be
disruptive such as birth of a child or the death of a
loved one. Religious rituals are a way of coping with
these stresses. Religion is a successful way of
meeting individuals emotional needs for security.
3. Robert Bellah
Modern societies are based on a new kind of religion
that unites people into a shared culture.
Modern nation states like the USA are built on beliefs
and rituals which generate widespread loyalty among
4. Religion is an important means of numbing the
minds of workers to their subordinate positions in
an unequal society.
Religion can represent a yearning for a more caring
world and the belief in a better future.
‘Heart of a Heartless World’
5. Frederick Engels
The significance of religion lay in its ability to provide a
set of universal, moral guide-lines for a new ruling class
especially in relation to marriage.
The emerging bourgeois had to have a means of
controlling sexual behaviour to ensure that legitimate
heirs could be identified for inheritance purposes.
Morality of Marriage
Inheritance of Property
6. Otto Maduro
Religion is a cultural institution that can be independent
of the state and therefore act as voice of the people.
In developing countries the clergy can be a voice of the
exploited masses within society.
The church can help bring about a social revolution.
7. Karen Armstrong
Women have not always been subordinate within religion
and uses archaeological evidence to show how the Mother
Goddess has been worshipped in ancient cultures.
Over time a single male God became important and this
introduced a more ‘aggressive spirituality’
8. Zygmund Bauman
‘Life project’ - people want to be admired for the way they
live their life. This creates the need to constantly evaluate
ones beliefs and change them to appear to be dynamic.
Religious revivals - people search through a variety of
religious movements till they find a leader whose moral
advice they trust.
9. Max Weber
Christianity is a salvation religion that claims people can be
“saved” when they convert to certain beliefs and moral codes.The
idea of “sin” and its atonement by God's grace plays a fundamental
role. Unlike the Eastern religions' passive approach, salvation
religions like Christianity are active, demanding continuous
struggles against sin and the negative aspects of society.
10. Simone de Beauvoir
“For the Jews, Mohammedans and Christians man is
master by divine right; the fear of God will repress any
impulse towards revolt in the downtrodden female.”
Religion deceives women into believing they will be
compensated for their suffering with equality in heaven.
Second Class Status
11. Nawal El Saadawi
Religion became patriarchal with the misinterpretation
of religious beliefs by men.
Arab girls are often the victims of sexual exploitation
as men distort Islam to serve their own interest.
12. David Lyon
Individuals ‘pick and mix’ an identity from the vast choice
of religious practices and beliefs on offer.
There is a resurgence of traditional religions and spread of
new forms of spirituality. This upsurge of belief in mystery
is a challenge to scientific rationality.
13. Paul Heelas
The established traditions and beliefs of conventional
religions have been rejected by many people.
New Age groups in the West are based on a mix of
beliefs such as meditation and ‘dream catchers’. They
claim to reveal absolute truths - a guide to how to live
New Age Metanarrative