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Catholics and Protestants

Religion is a man’s expression of his acknowledgement of the divine. Throughout the ages and throughout the world, people have been baffled by the unknown and the mysteries of life for which they have no ready answer. Religion in all societies, whether preliterate or modern, has more or less institutionalized ways in which individuals and groups express their awe of the unknown and by which they satisfy their sharply felt needs for adjustments to and communion with the supernatural realm (Richter 227).

Like the family and the economy, religion is a universal and pervasive phenomenon, a part of the cultural system, because it is assumed to meet some basic need of human being. Religion is an integrated part of human experience and shows remarkable continuity through time. Even in the modern secularized societies in the West, religion has persisted and still exerts a great influence in the lives of people. Almost all known peoples in all places and times have some set of specific cultural patterns made up of beliefs and codes of conduct, tinged with emotional feelings, although not all people are religious.

To those who subscribe to a religious view, an explanation or justification of human behavior and social organization regarding the distribution of power between the leaders and the governed, the moral code, the distribution of wealth, or the success of some and failure of others may be found in religion. Religion is interwoven with the social, economic, and political life of the people. It is properly one of the areas of interest to a sociologist because of its influence in the individual and its function in society.

Functions of Religion according to the Functionalists Perspective: Religion has many functions for the individual who believes in it and for the society as a whole. Religion gives one “peace of mind”. The function of religion in all cultures is to discover a road to spiritual serenity or to achieve a peaceful mind. It satisfies the emotional and spiritual needs of the individual and serves as a soothing balm to him. From religion, one finds an explanation for certain profound questions and defines his or her relationship to the supernatural being.

Communication with one’s god and meditation can put one at peace with the world (Richter 228). Religion legitimizes the foundation of society’s culture and integrates the value system of society. This is correlated with and dependent upon a more or less shared system of religious beliefs and convictions. Bu defining and explaining what the gods require and providing rules and norms about how one must act or must not act, religion regulates human behavior (Richter 228).

Religion maintains and integrates the fundamental values from the values of the Supreme Ultimate Being to the subordinate, material and practical values. It reinforces support for the moral codes and gives justification for one’s behavior. Catholicism, for example, emphasizes adherence to the sacrament of the church and upholding and respecting the teachings and commandments of God as means to eternal salvation. Religion promotes and integrates group solidarity. Religion performs welfare, education and religion functions.

Aside from ministering to the spiritual needs, some religions also attends to the temporal and bodily needs of the members (Richter 228) Dysfunctions of Religion: While religion performs a number of functions in the society, it can also have dysfunctions. For one, it can be a divisive force in the society. While religion provides unity for those of the same faith, it may also be a disintegrating factor. Historically, wars have been fought over religion. In Israel, there has been that age- old conflict between the Jews and the Muslims.

In Northern Ireland, bitter wars have been waged between Catholics and Protestants (Richter 229). For non conformists who are denounced by their church, this situation may create guilt feelings which may eventually lead to personal disorganization. When followers of a certain religion are made to reject this world for a future life, incentives for search for new truths, new ideas, and additional knowledge may be stifled. References: 1. Richter, Maurice N. Jr, Exploring Sociology. Itasca, III: F. E Peacock Publishers, Inc. , 1987.

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