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Positive and Negative
Effects of Religion
Question:
Does religion do more
good or more harm?
Positive Effects of Religion
• Religion Promotes Social Harmony
 Religion provides divine authority to ethical and moral principles which also help promote unity
among people. Common participation in rituals together with basic uniformity of beliefs help
promote social cohesiveness.
 It also regards religious leaders such as priests, priestesses and shamans in high esteem. These
characteristics help advance social harmony by assimilating and stabilizing cultures and nations.
 Ritual participation often creates an atmosphere stimulated with emotions. The elated feelings
people may experience in such situations serve as a positive reinforcement because they feel
good as a result.
Positive Effects of Religion
• Religion Provides Moral Values
 By providing moral values, one is able to distinguish right from wrong, good from evil. It also
provides a system of reward and punishment that administers and standardizes people’s behavior
in society.
 Some people believe that it is sometimes more effective than the laws implemented by the state,
since most people give more importance to the reward and punishment in the afterlife.
Positive Effects of Religion
• Religion Provides Social Change
 It can be very effective in lobbying and campaigning for certain social issues using its own moral
teachings as the basis of argument.
 In the Philippines, much credit has been given to the Catholic Church for the success of the
People Power Revolution in 1986 when Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin urged the people to join
the protest rally to oust the dictator, former president Ferdinand Marcos.
 In general, religion has the potential to institute social change, especially in the issues concerning
poverty, reproductive health, gender equality, and religious discrimination.
Positive Effects of Religion
• Religion Reduces Fear of the Unknown
 Religion was developed from man’s need to have a sense of origin and destination; to discover where they came from
and where they are bound to go to when they die.
 Religion provides answers for phenomena and questions that science or reason cannot explain. More importantly,
religion has provided assurances as to where spirits will go when people die, reducing people’s fear of death as
something undesirable.
 In general, religion has provided people with answers to the unknown such as the origin of life and the concept of
afterlife. Explanations provided by religions have reduced fears and anxieties among individuals and some religions
have even made death a better alternative to living in uncertainty.
Positive Effects of Religion
• Religion Gives Positive Goals in Life
 People were inspired by the stories of different prophets from their own religious affiliations, like
that of Moses, Siddharta Gautama, and Muhammad. These people showed how ordinary people
like them were given important missions in life, and how they struggled to carry out their
respective missions.
 Their narratives—perpetuated through religion—may give people a sense of meaning in life; that
they are not placed in this world without a purpose; that each and everyone has a mission to
fulfill and it is up to them to fathom what their missions in life are.
Positive Effects of Religion
• Religion Gives People a Sense of Belonging
 . For some, religion provides people with personal identity as part of a group with similar
worldviews, beliefs, values, practices, and lifestyles. It provides communities with prospects to
recognize and offer vital action and service to provide the needs of the larger community.
 Belonging to a particular religion—whose members share the same beliefs, practice the same
rituals, and worship the same god—gives individuals a sense of being in the right place with the
right people. It also provides them with a sense of security because other people who belong to
the same religious group will tend to support and help each other in times of crisis.
Negative Effects of Religion
• Religion Affirms Social Hierarchy
 Some religions affirm social hierarchy often favoring men and as a result, perpetuate the notions
of class or gender discrimination and oppression.
 Examples are the Confucian emphasis on the relations between the ruler and the subject, the
traditional caste system in India which reflects political and social structures and that the
attainment of moksha (union of universal soul and individual soul) would depend on how they
performed their duties based on their designated class.
Negative Effects of Religion
• Religion Causes Discrimination
 This happens when people do not tolerate religious ideologies different from the one they follow. Religious fanaticism
can lead to feelings of hatred, which could lead to racism, and eventually violence. In a way, religion has made this
world a more complicated place to live in.
 Religion can also be a source of discrimination, or the prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things,
especially on the basis of race, religion, age, or sex.
 There are also religions which discriminate against other religions on the basis of claiming to be the “right religion” and
that only their followers will be saved in the afterlife. Still, there are religions which discriminate against people from
the lower class who they consider to be sinful and dirty.
Negative Effects of Religion
• Religion Triggers Conflicts and Fights
 History witnessed numerous lives sacrificed and lost in the name of religion. Wars have been fought in the name of
religion, and this phenomenon continues up to the present time.
 In Palestine, the Jews are in conflict with the Muslims; in Kashmir, it is the Muslims against Hindus; in Sudan, it is the
Muslims opposite Christians and animists; in Sri Lanka, it is the Sinhalese Buddhists against the Tamil Hindus; in
Indonesia, it is Muslims contra Timorese Christians.
 These are only some of so many wars being fought in the name of religion, which means that so many resources are
being wasted and millions of lives are being lost.
Negative Effects of Religion
• Religion As An Economic Tool for Exploiting the Masses
 According to the German philosopher Karl Marx, “religion is the opium of the masses.” This is in relation to his critical
approach to religion in which he proposed that the bourgeoisie keeps the proletariat in control through religion.
 He believed that religion can be effectively used by the ruling class to maintain a social order that is more favorable to
them. Whether one is Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, religious teachings justifying one’s acceptance of oppression as a
normal part of life on earth and as a means to get an everlasting reward in the afterlife can be seen as a bourgeois tactic
to maintain the status quo where they reap more resources and power in society.
Negative Effects of Religion
• Religion Impedes Scientific Success and Development
 Throughout history, religion has proven to impede scientific development. For example, it has often been said that the
Catholic Church used to teach that the earth is the center of the solar system, also known as the Ptolemaic theory.
Aristarchus, and later on, Nicolas Copernicus, proved that the sun is the center of the solar system and all other planets
move around it, hence advancing the heliocentric model.
 Some religions express their disapproval against reproductive health programs that aim to empower couples in
responsible family planning through education and access to legal and medically safe birth control, claiming that such
programs defies their religious doctrine and are, therefore, immoral.
Negative Effects of Religion
• Religion Obstructs the Use of Reason
 Many question the suitability of religious doctrines to the needs of the present and future
generations. In order to put these dogma to practice, religion should, therefore, evolve and learn
to adapt to the ever changing world.
 Ancient religious beliefs and practices which have proven to be inhuman should be replaced with
sensible ones. Take the case of the trepanning, or the ancient practice of boring holes in the
human skull, a surgical procedure performed on epileptics and the mentally ill, with the belief
that through the hole the evil spirit will leave the person.
HISTORICAL EVENTS
CAUSED BY
RELIGION
Self-Immolation of a
Buddhist Monk in Vietnam
• Self-immolation, or the killing of
oneself as a form of sacrifice,
originally referred to as the act of
setting oneself on fire.
• The case of self-immolation reported
by the Western media was that of a
Buddhist monk named Thich Quang
Duc in Vietnam in 1963, who set
himself on fire in the middle of a
street in South Vietnam. This was
done in protest against the religious
discrimination being experienced by
the Buddhists in Vietnam by the
Roman Catholic regime of Ngo Dinh
Diem.
Widow Burning Among
the Hindus in India
• Sati, or the practice of self-immolation
of a widow on her husband’s funeral
pyre, is said to have originated 700 years
ago in India.
• In 2006, a Hindu woman was reported to
have committed sati in Tuslipar village
in the central state of Madhya Pradesh.
The woman, whose name was Janakrani,
was said to have burnt herself to death
on the funeral pyre of her husband Prem
Narayan.
The Inquisition
• Inquisition refers to the Roman Catholic Church groups charged
with subduing heresy from around 1184, which includes the
Episcopal Inquisition (1184-1230s) and the Papal Inquisition
(1230s). The Inquisition was a response to large popular movements
in Europe considered heretical or profane to Christianity.
• The word “inquisition,” has somehow become associated with the
word “torture.” This is because after 1252, torture was used to
punish the heretics. On May 15, a papal bull was issued by Pope
Innocent IV, the Ad exstir-panda, which authorized the use of torture
by inquisitors. One common form of torture was the strappado,
wherein the hands were bound behind the back with a rope, and the
accused was suspended this way, dislocating the joints painfully in
both arms.
THE GODHRA TRAIN
INCIDENT IN 2002
• In February 2002, a train was set on fire
in which 59 people, including 25 women
and 15 children, were killed. Those who
died inside the train were mostly Hindu
pilgrims and activists returning from the
holy city of Ayodhya after a religious
ceremony at the disputed Babri Masjid
site.
• The Godhra train incident in 2002 was
seen as a Muslim retaliation for the
demolition of the Babri mosque in 1992.

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Positive and negative effects of religion

  • 2. Question: Does religion do more good or more harm?
  • 3. Positive Effects of Religion • Religion Promotes Social Harmony  Religion provides divine authority to ethical and moral principles which also help promote unity among people. Common participation in rituals together with basic uniformity of beliefs help promote social cohesiveness.  It also regards religious leaders such as priests, priestesses and shamans in high esteem. These characteristics help advance social harmony by assimilating and stabilizing cultures and nations.  Ritual participation often creates an atmosphere stimulated with emotions. The elated feelings people may experience in such situations serve as a positive reinforcement because they feel good as a result.
  • 4. Positive Effects of Religion • Religion Provides Moral Values  By providing moral values, one is able to distinguish right from wrong, good from evil. It also provides a system of reward and punishment that administers and standardizes people’s behavior in society.  Some people believe that it is sometimes more effective than the laws implemented by the state, since most people give more importance to the reward and punishment in the afterlife.
  • 5. Positive Effects of Religion • Religion Provides Social Change  It can be very effective in lobbying and campaigning for certain social issues using its own moral teachings as the basis of argument.  In the Philippines, much credit has been given to the Catholic Church for the success of the People Power Revolution in 1986 when Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin urged the people to join the protest rally to oust the dictator, former president Ferdinand Marcos.  In general, religion has the potential to institute social change, especially in the issues concerning poverty, reproductive health, gender equality, and religious discrimination.
  • 6. Positive Effects of Religion • Religion Reduces Fear of the Unknown  Religion was developed from man’s need to have a sense of origin and destination; to discover where they came from and where they are bound to go to when they die.  Religion provides answers for phenomena and questions that science or reason cannot explain. More importantly, religion has provided assurances as to where spirits will go when people die, reducing people’s fear of death as something undesirable.  In general, religion has provided people with answers to the unknown such as the origin of life and the concept of afterlife. Explanations provided by religions have reduced fears and anxieties among individuals and some religions have even made death a better alternative to living in uncertainty.
  • 7. Positive Effects of Religion • Religion Gives Positive Goals in Life  People were inspired by the stories of different prophets from their own religious affiliations, like that of Moses, Siddharta Gautama, and Muhammad. These people showed how ordinary people like them were given important missions in life, and how they struggled to carry out their respective missions.  Their narratives—perpetuated through religion—may give people a sense of meaning in life; that they are not placed in this world without a purpose; that each and everyone has a mission to fulfill and it is up to them to fathom what their missions in life are.
  • 8. Positive Effects of Religion • Religion Gives People a Sense of Belonging  . For some, religion provides people with personal identity as part of a group with similar worldviews, beliefs, values, practices, and lifestyles. It provides communities with prospects to recognize and offer vital action and service to provide the needs of the larger community.  Belonging to a particular religion—whose members share the same beliefs, practice the same rituals, and worship the same god—gives individuals a sense of being in the right place with the right people. It also provides them with a sense of security because other people who belong to the same religious group will tend to support and help each other in times of crisis.
  • 9. Negative Effects of Religion • Religion Affirms Social Hierarchy  Some religions affirm social hierarchy often favoring men and as a result, perpetuate the notions of class or gender discrimination and oppression.  Examples are the Confucian emphasis on the relations between the ruler and the subject, the traditional caste system in India which reflects political and social structures and that the attainment of moksha (union of universal soul and individual soul) would depend on how they performed their duties based on their designated class.
  • 10. Negative Effects of Religion • Religion Causes Discrimination  This happens when people do not tolerate religious ideologies different from the one they follow. Religious fanaticism can lead to feelings of hatred, which could lead to racism, and eventually violence. In a way, religion has made this world a more complicated place to live in.  Religion can also be a source of discrimination, or the prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the basis of race, religion, age, or sex.  There are also religions which discriminate against other religions on the basis of claiming to be the “right religion” and that only their followers will be saved in the afterlife. Still, there are religions which discriminate against people from the lower class who they consider to be sinful and dirty.
  • 11. Negative Effects of Religion • Religion Triggers Conflicts and Fights  History witnessed numerous lives sacrificed and lost in the name of religion. Wars have been fought in the name of religion, and this phenomenon continues up to the present time.  In Palestine, the Jews are in conflict with the Muslims; in Kashmir, it is the Muslims against Hindus; in Sudan, it is the Muslims opposite Christians and animists; in Sri Lanka, it is the Sinhalese Buddhists against the Tamil Hindus; in Indonesia, it is Muslims contra Timorese Christians.  These are only some of so many wars being fought in the name of religion, which means that so many resources are being wasted and millions of lives are being lost.
  • 12. Negative Effects of Religion • Religion As An Economic Tool for Exploiting the Masses  According to the German philosopher Karl Marx, “religion is the opium of the masses.” This is in relation to his critical approach to religion in which he proposed that the bourgeoisie keeps the proletariat in control through religion.  He believed that religion can be effectively used by the ruling class to maintain a social order that is more favorable to them. Whether one is Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, religious teachings justifying one’s acceptance of oppression as a normal part of life on earth and as a means to get an everlasting reward in the afterlife can be seen as a bourgeois tactic to maintain the status quo where they reap more resources and power in society.
  • 13. Negative Effects of Religion • Religion Impedes Scientific Success and Development  Throughout history, religion has proven to impede scientific development. For example, it has often been said that the Catholic Church used to teach that the earth is the center of the solar system, also known as the Ptolemaic theory. Aristarchus, and later on, Nicolas Copernicus, proved that the sun is the center of the solar system and all other planets move around it, hence advancing the heliocentric model.  Some religions express their disapproval against reproductive health programs that aim to empower couples in responsible family planning through education and access to legal and medically safe birth control, claiming that such programs defies their religious doctrine and are, therefore, immoral.
  • 14. Negative Effects of Religion • Religion Obstructs the Use of Reason  Many question the suitability of religious doctrines to the needs of the present and future generations. In order to put these dogma to practice, religion should, therefore, evolve and learn to adapt to the ever changing world.  Ancient religious beliefs and practices which have proven to be inhuman should be replaced with sensible ones. Take the case of the trepanning, or the ancient practice of boring holes in the human skull, a surgical procedure performed on epileptics and the mentally ill, with the belief that through the hole the evil spirit will leave the person.
  • 16. Self-Immolation of a Buddhist Monk in Vietnam • Self-immolation, or the killing of oneself as a form of sacrifice, originally referred to as the act of setting oneself on fire. • The case of self-immolation reported by the Western media was that of a Buddhist monk named Thich Quang Duc in Vietnam in 1963, who set himself on fire in the middle of a street in South Vietnam. This was done in protest against the religious discrimination being experienced by the Buddhists in Vietnam by the Roman Catholic regime of Ngo Dinh Diem.
  • 17. Widow Burning Among the Hindus in India • Sati, or the practice of self-immolation of a widow on her husband’s funeral pyre, is said to have originated 700 years ago in India. • In 2006, a Hindu woman was reported to have committed sati in Tuslipar village in the central state of Madhya Pradesh. The woman, whose name was Janakrani, was said to have burnt herself to death on the funeral pyre of her husband Prem Narayan.
  • 18. The Inquisition • Inquisition refers to the Roman Catholic Church groups charged with subduing heresy from around 1184, which includes the Episcopal Inquisition (1184-1230s) and the Papal Inquisition (1230s). The Inquisition was a response to large popular movements in Europe considered heretical or profane to Christianity. • The word “inquisition,” has somehow become associated with the word “torture.” This is because after 1252, torture was used to punish the heretics. On May 15, a papal bull was issued by Pope Innocent IV, the Ad exstir-panda, which authorized the use of torture by inquisitors. One common form of torture was the strappado, wherein the hands were bound behind the back with a rope, and the accused was suspended this way, dislocating the joints painfully in both arms.
  • 19. THE GODHRA TRAIN INCIDENT IN 2002 • In February 2002, a train was set on fire in which 59 people, including 25 women and 15 children, were killed. Those who died inside the train were mostly Hindu pilgrims and activists returning from the holy city of Ayodhya after a religious ceremony at the disputed Babri Masjid site. • The Godhra train incident in 2002 was seen as a Muslim retaliation for the demolition of the Babri mosque in 1992.