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Positive functions of Religion

  1. Religion provides mental peace: Human life is uncertain. He struggles for his survival amidst the uncertainties, insecurities and dangers, Some-times he feels helplessness. It is the religion which consoles and encourages him in all such time of crisis. Religion gives right shelter to him. He gets mental peace and emotional support. It encourages him to face his life and problems.
  2. It inculcates social virtues: Religion promotes the major social virtues like truth, honesty, non-violence, service, love, discipline etc. A follower of the religions internalizes these virtues and becomes disciplined citizen of the society.
  3. Religion promotes social solidarity: Religion gives rise to the spirit of brotherhood. Durkheim viewed that religion strengthens social solidarity. A.W. Geen also pointed out that religion has the supremely integration and verifying force in human society. It is true that common belief, common sentiment, common worship, participation in common rituals etc. are the significant cementing factors which strengthen unity and solidarity.
  4. Religion converts the animal qualities to human qualities: Religion inculcates the spirit of self-service. It demands that people should be charitable and benevolent. Through various religious experiences he forgets the worldly life and problems. This experience suppresses the animal desires and converts the animal qualities of man to human qualities.
  5. Religion is an agent of socialization and social control: Parsons viewed that religion is one of the most important agents of socialization and social control. It has significant role in organizing and directing social life. It helps in preserving social norms and strengthening social control. It socializes him individual and exercises control over both individual and group in various ways. As an informal means, religion regulates the activities of people in its own way. Organisation like temples, mosques, church, Gurudwaras etc. also control the behavior of the individuals at different level.
  6. Religion influences economy: Sociologists like Sombart and Max Weber rightly established the relationship of religion with economic system. Weber observed the influence of Protestant ethics in the development of capitalism. Sombart found this spirit of capitalism in Jewish norms. For the distinct religious principles present in Christianity, capitalism grew in protestant countries but not in the country like India, Pakistan etc.
  7. Religious influences political system: Religion has played a significant role in political system in the ancient and medical society. Even in modern times in many countries of the world the religion directly and indirectly also influences political activities. During ancient and medieval period, the monarchs were treating themselves as the representatives of the God or ruling the society in the name of God. Even today, Political leaders take oath in the name of God. The political system of the countries of the world like Bhutan, Pakistan, Italy, Germany, England etc. are influenced by religion.
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Negative functions of Religion

  1. Religion as an expansionist tool: Since time, immemorial religion was used by the empires to fight wars with other kingdoms. Followers of a particular religion believe that their teachings are superior to other religions.
  2. Lack of scientific outlook: One of the major drawbacks of the religion is the belief that the world originated from super natural power. Scientific rational thinking is discouraged and people asking questions based on reason are hounded or even killed.
  3. Status of minorities: A religious state rarely respects the rights of minority religion. Forced conversions are rampant with regular diatribes launched against the gay and other racial communities.
  4. Lack of Progress: Overtly religious societies cannot progress as they do not allow free thinking. Innovation and scientific inventions are only possible when people are encouraged to think out of the box. It is only possible when religion is not adopted as the way of life.
  5. Political tool: Political parties around the world exploit the general discontentment among the people to whip up the religious passion and capture power. It is a dangerous trend leading to war that might cause large scale casualties in terms of human life and property.

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