Functions and Dysfunctions of Religion

Topics: Ritual, September 11, Religion Pages: 4 (1497 words) Published: March 6, 2011
“A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden—beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them” –Durkheim (Henslin, 2009, p. 374). When sociologists do research on religion they’re goal is not to prove that one religion is better than another nor is it their goal to prove or disprove anyone’s faith but to analyze the relationship between society and religion and study the role religion plays in people’s lives (Henslin, 2009, p. 374). Religion can be important to people in many different ways. There are functional things like giving people an answer to the meaning of life, comforting them through illness, death, and other crisis, bringing them closer to the people around them, and setting rules about what is wrong and right. There are also dysfunctional things religion like persecution, war, and terrorism. Religion can be functional, which is good for people, or dysfunctional, which is bad for the people. A functional thing about religion is that it can answer the question that everyone has asked, “Why are we here?” Each faith has its own answers to why we are here, why there are people suffering, and where we will after we die. Instead of feeling like they are people with no real reason to life they are filled with a sense of purpose. That everything that has and is happening falls into a bigger picture set by their god or gods. Another function of religion is after knowing there is a reason for any suffering that when a person suffers they will have their faith to comfort them. The religious rituals that enshroud crucial events such as illness and death also provide emotional comfort at times or crisis. The person knows that others care and can find consolation in the familiar rituals FUNCTIONS AND DYSFUCTIONS OF RELIGION 3

(Henslin, 2009, p....
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