The Main Function of Religion According to Sociological Arguments
Many sociologists believe that the main function of religion is to
provide people with a code of conduct, which regulates personal and
There are two main theories to what role religion plays within
society. One of these theories is the Marxist theory. Marxism sees
society as superstructure. They believe that society isn’t peaceful
and is based on conflict and exploitation. Religion makes this society
justify inequality and maintains ruling class domination.
Karl Marx believed religion is a form of social “opium” which dulls
oppressive pain and provides hope to the working class people who are
In Marx’s view religion is used by the ruling class to control the
working class. This is done in many ways. One way is to make the
working class believe that supernatural powers control events that
happen on Earth, this makes social change seem impossible and
therefore stops the system being challenged. Religion also causes
people to forget why there is unhappiness in the world, and therefore
stops them from creating happiness for themselves. It is also believed
that religion justifies social class, in a well known hymn the
following lyrics can be found :
“The rich man in his castle, The poor man at his gate, He made them,
high or lowly, And ordered their estate.”
This is saying that God determined social position and therefore it
shouldn’t be challenged by anyone.
Religion promises life after death and therefore makes life worth
living, those who don’t complain will be awarded in afterlife. This is
almost rectifying injustice on earth and lastly offering hope of
supernatural intervention to solve problems.
There are many cases of where religion has helped to combat
oppression. In South America, Liberation Theology is one of the
fastest growing and most popular interpretation of Christianity. It is
the idea that people can be made free through religion. Until recently
the catholic church was seen as an oppressive force, not helping out
those who suffered under the injustices of some Latin American
governments. However, more recently Roman Catholic priests have helped
people to change the situation that they are in.
Functionalists also agree with the statement. They have a large
approach on society and link it towards the human body, which includes
religion as a main function in society. They believe religion performs
vital functions to balance society and creates the basis of the...