Religion in Historical Perspective Sociological Perspectives on Religion Types of Religious Organization Trends in Religion in the United States Religion in the Future
How does religion affect society as a whole (does it divide/unite)? How does it affect social institutions like: › Marriages, Political Structures, Economy How does religion, as a social institution, affect the wellbeing of individuals? What does it mean to be „religious‟? How does one define and measure religiosity?
Religiosity is the extent to which a person does one or more of the following: › (1) believes in and “feels” or experiences certain aspects of religion › (2) becomes involved in religious activities such as attending church or reading sacred texts › (3) believes in the teachings of the church, › (4) lives in accordance with those teachings and beliefs.
Religion seeks to answer important questions such as why we exist, why people suffer and die, and what happens when we die-the „sacred canopy‟ Things that people do not set apart as sacred are referred to as profane—the everyday, secular or “worldly” aspects of life.
Most religions have four elements: Ritual (ex. Prayer, communion) A sense of the Sacred A system of beliefs-in the supernatural and a set of ethics OR a set of abstract ideals Organization-each religion has a public component
Ernest Troeltsch (1931) created a typology of religious organizations: Church SectSociologists also recognize: Cult (now called New Religious Movements, NRMs) Ecclesia
Attitude Organization Membership Worship Salvation Toward Other Religions Large, Open to all; bureaucratic members Formal, Granted byChurch organization,led usually from orderly God Tolerant by professional upper and clergy middle classes Guarded Small group,high membership, Informal, Achieved by Sect degree of lay usually from spontaneous moral purity Intolerant participation lower classes
Encompasses all members of a society People are primarily born into the ecclesia, do not convert Influential in government affairs
Stable, institutional organization Well-educated clergy Elaborate rituals and beliefs Tolerant of religious pluralism and the secular world
Less organized than denomination Charismatic, less educated ministers Growth by recruiting, rather than being born into church Higher levels of devotion Reject worldliness and „impure‟ denominations Tend to draw recruits from the lower classes
Offer completely new beliefs, rituals, and means of transcendence Live in stark opposition to the world Informally organized, led by self-styled, charismatic leadership Recruit people who have economic and psychological deprivation
Simple supernaturalism - the belief that supernatural forces affect peoples lives positively or negatively. Animism - the belief that plants, animals, and elements of the natural world are endowed with spirits that impact events in society. Theism - belief in a God or Gods. Transcendent idealism - belief in sacred principles of thought and conduct, such as truth, justice, life and tolerance for others.
Confucianis Christianity Islam Hinduism Buddhism Judaism m No. of 1.7 billion 1 billion 719 million 309 million 18 million 5.9 millionAdherents No specific Siddhartha Abraham,Founder Jesus Muhammad K’ung Fu-Tzu founder Gautama Isaac, Jacob Dates 1st century ca. 1500 500 to 600 ca. 2000 ca. 600 C.E 500 B.C.EFounded C.E. B.C.E B.C.E. B.C.E.
Diverse-85 denominations with atleast 50,000 members * Positive slant of religion-heaven, personal blessings, etc. due to „religious marketplace‟ Freedom from Anticlericalism-Americans do not have bitter feelings towards priests as protectors of the status quo Civil religion-God is frequently invoked in American rituals, symbols, etc, with little reference to which God/beliefs
‘Proof’ that the U.S. is more secular ‘Proof’ that the U.S. is NOT more secular1 out of 4 people between 18-28 yrs. of Slighlty more people (38% ofage were unaffiliated with any religion population) claims to have had a born again experience in 2008 than 20 yrs earlier 28% of US adults raised in faith have Percentage of people believing the abandoned faith or chosen another Bible is the „inspired Word of God‟ is one roughly the same in 2008 as 1984Major denominations, like the Disciples In 2007, 38% of 18-29 yrs old „stronglyof Christ, PC-USA, Episcopalians, AME agreed‟ that God was „angered by Zion have lost at least 20% of their human sin‟, the highest of any age membership in the last 20 yrs. (link) group The no. of Americans having never 33% of the same age group reported attended church doubled between witnessing to friends at least once in 1973 and 2008 (link) the past month, the highest of any age group (Link)No. of Americans who believe that the Church membership was nearly 62% in Bible is the actual Word of God 2000, only 17% in 1776 (Starke & Finke)decreased from 37% in 1984 to 31% in 2008 (link)
Religion is the „opiate of the masses‟ according to Karl Marx-a way for the elites to reinforce the oppression of the lower classes Later conflict theorists point to the use of religion to justify racism, sexism, and oppression of homosexuals Focus on the „hereafter‟ blinds people to current oppression
Religion serves as a reference group to help people define themselves. People are socialized into certain roles (ex. Being reverent during communion) through group expectations People attach sacred meaning to symbols
What does the head covering for womenrepresent in the Christian faith?(Hint: 1 Cor. 11)How do head coverings invarious faithsfunction as a sociological symbol?
Max Weber studied the attitudes of Protestants and Catholics in Western Europe towards work and this life in late 19th century He discovered that Protestants, particularly Calvnists, developed a rational worldview of hard work and thrift that propelled their economic activities Protestant Ethic spread to America, to non- Calvinists › Example: Ben Franklin is famous for his quote “A penny saved is a penny earned”
Modern evangelical leaders often express their belief that economic freedom and Bible are compatible Jerry Falwell once stated: › “God is in favor of freedom, property, ownership, competition, diligence, work and acquisition. All of this is taught in the Word of God, in both the Old and New Testaments” Pat Robertson › ”…Communism and capitalism in their most extreme, secular manifestations are equally doomed to failure,….free enterprise is the economic system most nearly meeting humanity‟s God-given need for freedom”.
Religion is a „social glue‟ that binds people with sacred rituals Religion upholds basic social norms Legitimates governmental authority Religion is a balm for the oppressed and marginalizedBut also dysfunctional…. Prevents social change Enhances political conflict
Events like the “Meet You atthe Pole” (pictured below)bind people by sacred rituals Most monarchies, like Great Britain, invoke a „divine right‟ of the monarchy to rule the people. Vestiges of this system can be seen in the coronation ceremony of Queen Elizabeth II (1952).
People engage in a rational cost-benefit analysis when „shopping‟ for churches Churches vary in their promise of rewards in this life and the hereafter Successful churches Rational Choice theoryexplains why prosperity gospel are those that churches, like Joel Osteen’s promise the most Lakewood Church, gather rewards 40,000+ each week.
Secularization theory, which believed that modernization, democratization, and globalization would decreased the need for faith, has been debunked Worldwide surge of fundamentalism(s) across religious traditions Religious devotion will increasingly be coupled with religious tolerance Polarization of beliefs within traditions