Chapter 14
 Religion is a unified system of beliefs and
practices concerned with sacred things.
Sacred vs. Profane
 Emile Durkheim found that every society has
things that are sacred and things that are
 Sacred things and ideas are set apart and
given a special meaning that goes beyond
immediate existence.
 Buddha statues, bibles, crosses, star of
David, etc. are all examples.
 Profane means the nonsacred aspects of
life. This doesn't necessarily mean they are
unholy, it just means they are commonplace
in our society and don't involve the
 Another word for profane is secular.
Which is which
 According to sociologists one function of
religion is that it gives formal approval to
existing social arrangements. In other words,
it justifies our society's norms and customs.
 For example, why some people are poor and
some people are rich, why we have certain
laws, etc.
 Many social customs and rituals are based
on religion. This idea is called
 According to Durkheim legitimation is the
central function of religion.
Functions of Religion
 Another function of religion is a sense of
unity. We unite together and take care of each
other because of this. Ex. charities, friendships,
 Another function of religion is a sense of
understanding. A reason why we are here and
why we exist.
 Religion also promotes a sense of
belonging. It gives us a feeling of a group or
community we belong to.
Marx and Religion
 According to Marx, religion is used by the
rulers or the Bourgeoisie to justify its
economic, political, and social advantages
over the oppressed.
 To go against this way of life is to go against
God's plan.
Weber and Religion
 Where Marx believed that religion worked
against social change, Max Weber believed
religion sometimes promotes social
 Weber believed the Protestant ethic led
parts of Europe and America to adopt
modern capitalism and the spirit of
Protestant ethic
 The Protestant ethic is a set of norms,
values, and beliefs stressing hard work,
thrift, and self-discipline.
 The Spirit of capitalism is the obligation to
reinvest money rather than to spend it.
 Protestant ethic is based on the ideas of John
 Calvinists believe that everyone's material
rewards are actually God's and the
purpose of life was to glorify God, profits
should be multiplied (through reinvestment)
rather than used in the pursuit of personal
 Multiplying profits and reinvesting goes well
with the spirit of capitalism.
 Find out what Sociologists believe are the
four basic types of religious organization
Types of organization
 Sociologists believe there are four basic
types of religious organization: church,
denomination, sect, and cult
 Church is a life-encompassing religious
organization to which all members of a
society belong.
 Denomination is one of several religious
organizations that most members of a
society accept as legitimate. Membership
in these is voluntary.
 Example of these are Baptist, Catholic,
Methodist, Jewish, etc.
 A sect is a religious organization formed
when members of an existing religious
group break away.
 The pilgrims were a sect of the Church of
 A cult is a religious organization whose
characteristics are not drawn from an
existing religious tradition within a
society. Ex. church of scientology
 Charles Glock and Rodney Stark came up
with the concept of religiosity. Religiosity is
the types of religious attitudes and
behaviors people display in their everyday
Dimensions of Religiousity
 There are five dimensions of
religiosity. Belief, ritual, intellectual
dimension, experience, consequences.
 Belief refers to what a person considers
true. For example, Jesus is the son of God.
 Ritual is the practices a member is
expected to perform. For example, prayer
or confessional
Intellectual dimension
 Intellectual dimension is the knowledge
one has of scriptures, etc.
 Experience deals with feelings attached to
religious expression.
 Consequences are the decisions and
commitments people make as a result of
religious beliefs, rituals, etc.
 For example, not eating meat during lent,
practicing sexual abstinence before marriage,
etc. Look at the chart on page 482
Secularization vs. Fundamentalism
 Secularization is the process of the sacred
losing influence over society.
 Fundamentalism is the desire to resist