Religion Introduction

Though many may argue that we live in an increasingly secular society, faith and spirituality still remains an important part of many people’s lives, and organised religions are still a significant structure and force in contemporary society.

The widening range of beliefs present in society

The Sociology of Religion has been broadened on many courses to consider the wider range of beliefs present in society; for example, ideologies and scientific knowledge systems. It is useful to highlight to students that this is not a religious education course but rather a consideration of the role and impact of belief systems on society and its individual members.

The resources presented here begin by focusing on ideology, science and religion. In doing so we start by defining religion, and then looking at Functionalist, Marxist, and Feminist views on religion. Next we turn to the Protestant Reformation, science rationality and religion, open and closed belief systems, and the idea of ‘falsification’. We then consider questions relating to what kind of force is religion? Here we look at religion as a conservative force and religion as a force for social change. We then present material on typologies of religion and then look specifically at the example of the Westboro Baptist Church. Finally, we present resources to help you consider, secularism, globalisation and radicalisation, and finally, postmodernism and religion.

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