Religion plays many functions for people and communities. It helps to establish a collective conscience and can provide support, guidance, and comfort. The role of religion in a society has varied through time. Its variation has also been linked to different aspects of social life, including craft specialization, political hierarchy, and kin-based communities. Its associations with buildings and material objects have also helped archaeologists understand the role of religion in past societies.
Religion is a belief system that helps establish a collective conscience
According to the functionalist view of religion, belief has 5 major functions: it helps establish a collective conscience, forms a sacred canopy over society, protects the individual, and guides society. These five roles are not easy to measure, though. However, they are important in explaining the complex interplay between belief and society.
Durkheim defined religion as a belief system that unites people in a moral community. The group is united by shared beliefs and a common sense of meaning. This moral community is known as the Church. Sacred objects and beliefs are also important elements of religion.
It can be a source of comfort
In times of stress and uncertainty, religion can provide comfort. It can provide peace of mind and even a sense of purpose. Philosophers, novelists, and sociologists have speculated that a society without religion might face a crisis of meaning. This void may not be entirely remedied in a secular society, but it is still possible to replicate some of the existential benefits of religion.
It is unclear what determines the source of such comfort, but it is thought that ritual behavior provides a sense of order that helps alleviate feelings of anxiety. Indeed, religions are based on highly ritualized belief systems. These include rituals such as worshiping a god, attending mass, and praying at certain times. But this theory relies on the assumption that people pick religion as a crutch when they are feeling anxious. To be logical, comfort theories must explain the frequency with which people turn to religious concepts to alleviate their negative emotions.
It can be a source of support
Religion can help people cope with the stresses of life. Many communities find social support in religion. Christians and Jewish communities often use terms such as fellowship or community to describe such support. Many religious institutions also have support groups and staff that visit sick people. They also provide resources to help low-income individuals.