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Socialogical Perspective

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Posted by S.H. Le on December 1, 1999 21:30:55 UTC

"Religion is the opium of the people." Marx believed that religion was a human creation used by impoverished people to distract themselves from the harsh conditions of their daily life. He also held that wealthy capitalists encourage religious belief because it diverts working people's attention from the real sources of their suffering. For Marx, once exploitation was removed from society,religion would die off.

Far from being a tool of exploitation, Durkheim believed that religion has a crucial and positive function in society. Originating in the shared common sentiments that develop when people live in groups, the collective conscience gives people the feeling of being in the presence of a higher power. "God," as some people name this feeling, is simply the members of society experiencing themselves as a group. Religious leaders designate some objects sacred and others profane. Modes of behaving around these objects form the core of religious beliefs and behaviours.

Institutionalized religion has widespread effects on society. Many people today see the vatican as a remnant of our puritanical past, hopelessly outdated today. Others assert that religion acts as the great unifier, and provides a sense of comfort.


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