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Manifest and Latent Functions of Religion

  Manifest functions of religion talk about three types of concerns: a pattern of beliefs called doctrines which define the nature of the relationship of human beings to one another and to God. Rituals that symbolize these doctrines and remind people of them and a series of behavior norms consistent with the doctrines. The work of explaining and defending the doctrines, carrying out the rituals and reinforcing the desired behavior norms leads to a complex pattern of worship, teaching, exhortation, and philanthropic works requiring considerable investment of money and personnel. In some societies the manifest functions of religion include controlling the state as in some Middle Eastern countries where the governance was replaced by a theocracy. Few people will object to the manifest functions of religion but some of the latent functions of the churches bring consequences which often surprise even the faithful. At the same time, they may stimulate either approval or opposition from those who do not consider themselves very religious. Churches provide space for youth groups to practice leadership skills, stimulate art and music. They provide settings for concerts and festivals. Church help people to become acquainted and help them in the social climb. One of their manifest functions is to unite the community in human brotherhood; a latent function is to help divide the community by race and class.