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Religion and Belief Systems

(MODULE 14)

Submitted by:
John dave s. paras

Submitted to:
Sir. albert besa
 RELIGION- According to Anthropologists, Religion is “a set of attitudes, beliefs, and
practices, pertaining to supernatural beings and forces. Such beliefs may vary within a
culture as well as among societies, and they may change over time”.
 Religions are different in terms of perspectives and practices. Religion can be found in all
human societies which makes it cultural universal.
 Religion affects us and our way of thinking in the existing world. It serves as a pattern for
the actions we take in day-to-day existence. Religion is seen not only as a social belief
but also as a social institution that continues to develop over time. Sociologists study
religion while considering diverse societal factors such as gender, age, race, and
education, that also tap other social institutions and the concept of social change.

 FUNCTIONS OF RELIGION:

 Functionalism - Giving meaning and purpose to life. Reinforcing social unity and
stability .Serving as an agent of social control of behavior. Promoting physical and
psychological well-being . Motivating people to work for positive

 Conflict Theory - It helps convince the poor to accept their lot in life, and it leads to
hostility and violence motivated by religious differences. Symbolic Interactionism Max
Weber This perspective focuses on the ways in which individuals interpret their religious
experiences. It emphasizes that beliefs and practices are not sacred unless people regard
them as such. Once they are regarded as sacred, they take on special significance and
give meaning to people’s lives. Source: Barkan, Steven. “Sociological Perspectives on
Religion.” In Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World, comprehensive
edition.

 RELIGIOUS PATTERNS:

 MONOTHEISM - Belief in one god, which is accountable for all the things happening in
the world including the world’s creation and existence. Scholars argue that as human
societies affiliate with a few of the gods in the pantheon, they have come to practice
exclusive worship of several deities that was promoted with the ascension of a singular
chosen deity to supremacy.
 POLYTHEISM - Belief in more than one deity which is characterized by the worship of
many deities that illustrate the ways of life including beliefs, practices and traditions.
Rooted from the words: poly, which means “many”, and theism which means “god”.

 ANIMISM - Belief that the natural world, as a whole or in parts, has a soul or spirit. As a
whole = World Spirit, Mother Earth, Gaia In parts = rocks, trees, springs, and animals.
Natural phenomena and environmental destructions are understood as repercussions of
the interaction between humans and spirits.

*CHARACTERISTICS OF INSTITUTIONALIZED RELIGION:

*Wide-scale religious clout -The number of individuals affiliated with this religious institution is
immense that it crosses political and international borders and cuts across social status.

*Hierarchical leadership and membership - Followers of this type of faith system are relegated to
socio-political posts within the system, which provides ranking and status. This implies that
access to the divine may not be given to every member but is a privilege of a select few. The
decisions for the welfare of the religious group are also made by those who hold power while
members are expected to follow them.

*Codified Rituals - Processes of interacting with the divine and with fellow members are guided
by written rules and regulations that have the power of the law , such that a member’s inability to
comply results in the imposition of sanctions.

 TYPES OF RELIGIOUS PRACTITIONERS:

 SHAMAN - also known as a community healer position usually occupied by a male who
has fairly high status in his community. also involved in other nonreligious activities in
his community, making his religious function an occasional preoccupation. Shamanism
was observed in most parts of Asia . In the Philippines, it has been practiced in the
province of Siquijor.
 SORCERER AND WITCH - poorly regarded in their societies due to the perceived
malevolence that they inflict on individuals have very low social and economic status and
often ostracized by members of the society. sorcerer uses “materials, objects and
medicines to invoke supernatural malevolence” witch can accomplish malevolence by
means of “thoughts and emotions alone”
 MEDIUM - well favoured by the members of hisher community as heshe is involved in
healing rituals while in a possessed trance. capable of performing divination to predict
future courses of action. most mediums tend to be females who perform other roles when
not in religious practice.
 PRIEST -tends to be a male whose sole preoccupation is to officiate religious ceremonies
and rituals.due to his status in religious hierarchy, he is highly regarded by community
members.

 TYPES OF RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES :

 MAGIC - constitutes the “manipulation of supernatural forces for the purpose of


intervening in a wide range of human activities and natural events” deals with solving a
current problem by seeking the intervention of the divine through the performance and
offering of gifts

 DIVINATION - intends to gain from the divine practical answers for any concern that
may range from war plans to marriage choices.

 SORCERY AND WITCHCRAFT - inflicts harm on individuals by the use of materials


such as dolls, wands and medicines. Ex: Voodoo.

 PRAYERS, FEASTS AND SACRIFICES - promote a direct interaction with the divine,
as individuals or groups communicate their thoughts and desires to the supernatural
through uttered requests (prayers), celebrations (feasts), and gifts (sacrifices).

o SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE :

-In ancient Societies, the church and state are synonymous as the leaders of the church are also
the political elite which, also referred to as Theocracy or the rule of divine. Ex: Japanese society
believed that their emperor was the direct descendant of a god. Ancient Egyptians and Sumerians
regarded their pharaohs and kings as god-kings, as they were believed to be earthly incarnations
of the divine. As states developed into more complex political units, the church is regarded as a
separate entity from the state.