Essay by naughtygal November 2004

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Using material from Item A and elsewhere, briefly examine the extent to which religion can still be functional for individuals and society.

Religion is a social institution which is present in all societies and provides the basis for any society's belief system. Human societies have always had some form of religious belief system in place to help guide them through their existence in this world.

According to many writers, religion has preformed and will always perform several critical functions for society and for individuals. However, some now question this, and raise doubts on the role and function of religion in society today. For example, religion is still seen as the "social glue". Those holding this view carry a firm belief that it is a shared religion that binds people more closely together and produces social harmony. It is also claimed that religion is functional for people in many other ways and that for the lasting and future good of society flourishing religious systems is essential.

Emile Durkheim believes that religion is central to the reproduction and maintenance of social order in societies. The major function of religion is to socialize society's members into value consensus by the following, setting certain values apart and infusing them with special significance. These values become moral codes or beliefs which society agrees to revere and socialize children into. Such codes formally and informally control our embodied in law (thou shall not steal) and some have become part of informal morality (honor thy mother and father). also encourages collective worship, through worship the individual is encouraged to feel part of a wider moral community for e.g. a church of England member may feel part of a larger Christian community. Durkheim strongly believed that the worship of god symbolized the worship of society.

Parsons notes...