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Questions on Religion

What is religion?

We define religion as a system of symbols, beliefs and practices focused on questions of ultimate meaning.

According to Durkheim, what are the elements of religion?

Durkheim observed that all religions divide the world into sacred and special realm and a profane or ordinary realm. He suggested that society itself is the true object of worship and that various cultures develop various symbolic representations of society.

What are the functions of religion?

Religion functions to promote social solidarity strengthen the normative structure of the community mark life events and explain life's uncertainties.

How is religion related to social conflict?

Religion also contributes to bitter and often bloody conflict and a tool of exploitation. Elites use religion to justify their exploitation of the masses and to distract the masses from awareness of this exploitation. As Marx and Engel have shown religion often helps sustain social class inequality which eventually leads to revolution. Religious groups often fight and divide. Religious figures are frequently found at the front of social movements such as those for civil rights, peace, nuclear disarmament and liberation from the tyranny of dictators.

What are the types of religion?

The various types of religions hold various objects to be sacred and or supernatural. In simple supernaturalism an impersonal force of nature is regarded as sacred whereas in animism the sacred resides in spirits of the animals and natural phenomena.Totemism is a form of animism in which an animal or plant is worshipped as a god and ancestor. Theistic religions focus attention on a sacred god or gods. Ethical religions focus on principles held to be sacred.

What are the types of religious organizations?

Religious organizations tend to fall into four types.Ecclesias are state supported whereas denominations are not and must compete with other religious organizations emphasizing lay leadership and a return to the true beliefs of the dominant religion. Cults are often small but they are distinguished primarily with a claim to new revelation often made by a charismatic leader.

What have sociologists learned about cults?

Cults typically have not become large denominations. The public is extremely wary about the acts carried out by some cults.

How has religion become politicized?

Religious leaders increasingly take political positions.

What is animism?

It is a belief that the sacred and resides in spirits found in people and other natural phenomena, such as wind and the rain.

What is a cult?

Cult is a religious organization that claims a unique new revelation.

What are ethical religions?

Religions that do not worship a god as such but rather promote a moral code or belief.

What are religious symbols?

Objects, images and words that take meaning from sacred things that they represent and that may become sacred themselves after repeated assoc.