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18 Oct 2017 at 12:24hrs | Views
Question
Religion in modern society is the masses opium or tool for development. Discuss

Comment overview

The question is a debate, hence one needs to highly show the analytical styles rather than mere description of facts. Students with critical thinking and needs to score high should be highly judgmental. Students needs to support all sides but should give a judgment at the end of the discussion.

Suggested answer


Religion is found in all known human societies. Even the earliest societies on record show clear traces of religious symbols and ceremonies. Throughout history, religion has continued to be a central part of societies and human experience, shaping how individuals react to the environments in which they live. Since religion is such an important part of societies around the world, sociologists are very interested in studying it. Sociologists study religion as both a belief system and a social institution. As a belief system, religion shapes what people think and how they see the world. As a social institution, religion is a pattern of  social  action  organized  around  the  beliefs and practices that people develop to answer questions about the meaning of existence. As an institution, religion persists over time and has an organizational structure into which members are socialized.

In studying religion from a sociological perspective, it is not important what one believes about religion. What is important is the ability to examine religion objectively in its social and cultural context. Modern academic sociology began with the study of religion in Emile Durkheim's 1897 The Study of Suicide in which he explored the differing suicide rates among Protestants and Catholics (Adeyemo, 2002). Following  Durkheim,  Karl   Marx  and  Max  Weber  also  and practices that people develop to answer questions about the meaning of existence. As an institution, religion persists over time and has an organizational structure into which members are socialized.  In studying religion from a sociological perspective, it is not important what one believes about religion. What is important is the ability to examine religion objectively in its social and cultural context. Modern academic sociology began with the study of religion in Emile Durkheim's 1897 The Study of Suicide in which he explored the differing suicide rates among Protestants and Catholics (Adeyemo, 2002). Following  Durkheim,  Karl   Marx  and  Max  Weber  also

This view was supported by Emile Durkheim. A second point of view, supported by Max Weber, views religion in terms of how it supports other social institutions. Weber thought that the religious belief systems provided a cultural framework that supported the development of other social institutions, such as the economy.  While Durkheim and Weber concentrated on how religion contributes to the cohesion of society, Karl Marx focused on the conflict and oppression that religion provided to societies. Marx saw religion as a tool for class oppression in which it promotes stratification because it supports a hierarchy of people on Earth and the subordination of humankind to divine authority.

The role of religion is ambivalent and the practice is considered indispensable in the social space inhabited by man; it has dominated the invisible and impalpable vortex of issues; it is a tool for economic exploitation and social oppression and also a divisive tool that splits the fabric of nationhood through group imposed consciousness that sets the delineating standards on social boundaries. Attempt to foist group opinions and beliefs on non- conformist has sparked series of social upheavals which in most cases terminate in colossal loss of lives and properties. The role of religion will to a large extent be determined by the social milieu, religious doctrines, and the personality of leaders; religion has presented a poisoned chalice to followers who get committed to its cause. Followers have constantly revolved round the orbit of penury while religious leaders basked in stolen affluence. Religion presents a sedative effect with an escapists impact on followers; man is seen as an arbitrary and impulsive creation of a supreme being who controls the universe and decides the fate of men; the creator of all creations spells out modalities and acceptable codes required for existence in the transient world before mortal transcends through a grand initiation known as death to the life in the hereafter.

Many religious leaders have taken advantage of the eternal provisions to cajole and milk followers of their hard earned money. According to Adeyemo (2002), followers are afraid of going in fear of abstractions, but in Marxists paradigm anything which spouts lots of the masses or the truth, anything which says follow the leader, which says the individual does not count in favour of some 'greater good' is most likely spouted by someone who wants power over you, or someone who has already submitted to similar claptrap spouted by somebody else, like a pathetic pyramid sales scam (Alexander, 1997).

For Marx, economics is what constitutes the base of all of human life and history, generating division of labor, class struggle, and all the social institutions which are supposed to maintain the status quo. Those social institutions are a superstructure built upon the base of economics, totally dependent upon material and economic realities but nothing else. All of the institutions which are prominent in our daily lives — marriage, church, government, arts, etc, can only be truly understood when examined in relation to economic forces. According to Marx, religion is one of those social institutions which are dependent upon the material and economic realities in a given society. It has no independent history but is instead the creature of productive forces.

Berry (1997) reproduced the work of Marx, when he opined that the religious world is but the reflex of the real world. Religion is indeed man's self-consciousness and self-awareness so long as he has not found himself. The state and the society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world: its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point, it enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality.

Religion simultaneously serves as the opium of the masses and also a tool for development but the opium impact is more pronounced than the development impulse given by religion.

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Source - Sir Mwiinde (Author, Sociologist and Mentor)
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