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Traditional Religion versus Civil Religion

Religion has traditionally not only supported gender inequality but also supported class inequality. In medieval and early modern Europe, Christianity promoted the view that the Almighty ordains class inequality, promising rewards to the lowly in the afterlife.

The Hindu scriptures say that the highest caste sprang from the lips of the Supreme creator, the next highest caste from his shoulders, the next highest from his thighs, and the lowest, “polluted” caste from his feet.

They warn that if people attempt to achieve upward mobility, they will be reincarnated as animals. 

In the United States most people do not think of social hierarchy in such rigid terms. Most people celebrate the alleged absence of social hierarchy. According to Robert Bellah, it is the civil religion that binds people together. A civil religion is defined as a set of quasi-religious beliefs and practices that binds the population and justifies the way of life. The civil religion also helps in diverting attention from the persisting inequalities in the American society. The strong belief in the existence of equal opportunity may lead people to overlook the lack of opportunity that remains in the American society. America’s civil religion functions much like established traditional religions, supporting the status quo, although its content is much different.In the sociological term, a church is any bureaucratic religious organization that has accommodated itself to mainstream society and culture. But they often support gender and class inequality. According to Durkheim, a religion can maintain social order under some circumstances. However, when it does so, it often reinforces social inequality.