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Personal perception of what is right and what is wrong is a strong foundation of social understanding on the facts and the mere hearsays that define human living. This is the reason why hoping an individual’s personal perception is considered as an essential factor that contributes to personal maturity. What else does personal perception provide one individual? The chance to collaborate with other individuals who have the same thinking or perception as they have; this is the basic foundation of socialization. Being involved with people who have the same thoughts and convictions as one has refreshes the mind of a person thus giving him confidence over what he believes in(1). Somehow, through this perceptional connection with others, it could be sensed that the proper essence of social connection becomes visible. However, the question is, how is personal perception actually honed? How is it developed within a person that creates a practical bond between people sharing the same thought?
One of the most pervasive tools towards developing one’s perception over the supposed “most important” matters in living is that of religion. Religion is considered as any particular set of beliefs and traditions that are established by a certain group of administrators who intend to share the values that they believe in to other people in the society(2). The conviction that the “religious leaders” have with regards their beliefs gives them the motivation to push through towards the most expansive way of defining life and the different elements that makes it up. The practical essence of religion is actually established behind the idea of possibly leading people to how they should be or which way they should go. This is the reason why there is this idea that is used to describe the lives of the religion-less individuals; some claim that those not having any particular faith are the ones who are not guided.
In the following discussion, defining religion as an agent of socialization shall be the focus of the different procedural ways of contributing to the thoughts of the readers. Practically, through this discussion, it is expected that seeing how the elements making up religion become the key towards the reputation of religious groups taking the reputation of being a social functionalist. With the utilization of insights from two of the most expansive idea that rules the human society today, feminism and Marxism, the discussion on how personal perception guided by religion and human philosophy pursue social functionalism shall be presented herein.
Understanding What Religion Is
As mentioned earlier, a religion is defined to have a particular set of guidelines set for its members to follow through. The devotion of a particular group towards someone or something becomes the basis of religion. One of the most accepted foundations of religion today is the belief on the existence of a supreme being who is able to guide and rule-over the dealings of man, God. May he be a “he” or a “she”, humans intend to believe that there is someone of a greater force who is able to see over all things and is able to provide proper guidance to humans with regards the possibility of living in accordance with a particular set of rules that humans must be able to obey. Like a guiding hand, humans follow this Supreme Being. How?
Humans themselves tend to research, finding a more authentic source of understanding with regards the guidance that they are supposed to follow. Today, 67% of all the religions around the globe depend on the bible for this guidance; while at least 32% percent takes guidelines from the Koran, several others have their own sets of guidelines which they all claim to be written by man through the assistance of God. In the bible, this authentication of data or information presented to the members of Christianity could be read through 2Timothy 3:16 which reads “…all scriptures is inspired by God” (New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures; based from King James version) Undeniably, this authenticity becomes the basis of the motivation of the people who are members of religions to follow through the guidelines presented to them.
Then again, to the interpretation of the Bible, there are a lot. This is the reason why there are at least 500 religious groups around the globe that are directly related to the Bible. All of these religions claim to be following “what the bible says”. Why then are they so many? They differ when it comes to the interpretation of the different themes that the bible presents. One could be that of the recognition of the family as the basic unit that provides an individual the guidance that he ought to receive. Being practically assisted in connection with the importance of the existence of this particular unit of personal growth, a person becomes familiarized with the basic education that he or she needs to know of. The strict view of the definition of the family and the role that its members take as part of this group is an essential part of the process of one’s growth(3). There are certain religious groups that care less about this, as a result, a disarranged understanding about the family and its existence occurs. However, to its best interest, religious groups try their best to establish a more considerable description of what religion is and how it is actually supposed to assist families into becoming the most reliable comfort zone that a person needs to return to in times of trouble.
Rules with regards moral living are also provided through religious guidelines. Through setting up the moral standards that the members of a particular religious group should follow, a religion becomes the basic source of understanding on what is right and what is wrong. Basically, through this identification of the many elements that define life and living, It could be sensed that proper understanding of the truth becomes a basic requirement among the members of each particular religious group.
Besides bible-based religions, there are also these beliefs that depend on science [scientology- a religious belief based on the different idealisms of Science and how this particular element of understanding intend to guide humans towards a prosperous and successful life], heroism [a belief that depends on the belief of certain national heroes or particularly prominent human individuals; e.g. Confucianism], theory-based beliefs [e.g. the state of freedom and liberty of life towards perfect moral living- Buddhism], and many others that all exist to provide humans the supposed guidance that they need to get through the different situations that life offers them with. Question is “how does one actually get through the need of picking one particular religion to depend or to rely into?”
Most often than not, humans claim that they are being “called” to respond to a certain set of religious rules presented to them through time. Some other say that their convictions in life relate to their chosen religions; while there are also those who intend to pick the one that best provides them the state of change that they need to recognize the importance of life as it is. Religion practically gives meaning to a person’s being, probably explaining the most difficult questions that an individual has towards the basic course of life and the elemental factors that makes it up, the set of beliefs that a religion presents the society with intend to create satisfaction on the members that these particular groups ought to “guide”. Practically, humans intend to pick the ones that conform with their own beliefs or at some point a religion that is able to provide them a better understanding of the different matters important to life and living. Practically, this is the way by which religions intend to guide humans one by one. But how does religion stand as an agent of social functionalism?
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How Does Religion Create Society?
Religious beliefs observed by numerous members of a certain group make up a religion. In this regard, a particular group that observes a certain set of guidelines and life rules begin to receive an exclusive social recognition. This then separates that particular group from the others. For instance, a Buddhist believer having separate views of life in connection with that of the Muslims is recognized differently when he becomes alienated in a Muslim-majority community. Around the globe as repeatedly defined, religions spur out from one part to another. The idea is that one particular belief spurs out to another branch that may better comply with the lifestyle of others. True, in this regard, religion is beginning to take control of human lives; instead, human life is the one becoming the command source of religious formations. (4)
As history notes, religious groups have been going against each other for many years already. The separation of beliefs and idealisms to life has caused many to lose their lives in religious wars. The Muslim community [separatists] today continues to alarm the world with regards the terrorist attacks that they are aiming towards the countries that they are not in practical connection with. Those with whom they do not agree with are alarmed of facing the Muslim Jihad. No matter how crooked the thought of these people may seem for others, for them, what they are doing is commanded by their God Allah, and by killing those others who are not following the guidelines of the Koran, they are extending favor to the society by removing those that are not worthy of life.
Truthfully, from this viewpoint, it could be recognized that the creation and the establishment of religious groups has its own advantages and disadvantages. Among the benefits would be that of the fact that human individuals who belong to such groups gain an understanding of the importance of being well guided. No matter, it could be observed too that the differential indoctrination of one against that of the other creates a massive distinction of separation making the divisions in the society much prominent. No matter, may it be that a religion benefits a society or not, it could still not be denied that it is an efficient tool for social functionalism at present(5). The indoctrination it provides the human individuals with could be seen to affect the personalities and the perceptions of the members that are all considered essential parts of making the religious concerns properly established. Breaking through the rules of religious limits have caused many to go otherwise; meaning, they would rather seek their own personal explanation of life as they depend on the thoughts and idealisms that only speak to their personality. As for example, a person who believes that life after death is true may not want to be among the people who do not believe in this [e.g. Jehovah’s Witnesses]; however if he sees that the culture of this group speaks directly to his willingness to change, he will then try to see if he could get into the perceived belief of the group. Then if it turns out that they are not willing enough to change their views for the sake of being a member of this religious group, they simply decide to adapt to what is good in that religion and incorporate it with what they want to believe in. Why is this so? Theories and idealisms governing both that of the Feminist and the Marxist views could further explain this matter in a clearer manner.
The Different Views of Feminism and Religion: Do they Clash or do they agree?
Most religions provide importance for the role of men to lead. About 60% of the many religions around the globe today intend to point out that men are the ones who are supposed to be in charge in leading the other members of the group. Most often than not, this is based on the advice of the Holy Scriptures that men are the head of the family; hence the supposed “family of God” should be well guided by the men as well. For the feminist groups though, this is a simple misunderstanding of what the Bible says. Apparently, they believe that matters that are symbolically referred to in the Bible include that of the reference made on the fact that the responsibility of leading belongs to men. As a result to this, there are religious groups that allow women to lead. A religious sector in the Philippines called “Iglesia ni Kristo” [Church of Christ] allows women to handle congregational meetings and handle bible study sessions on their own. In this religion, the female population is considered in an equal level of leadership in comparison with the privilege of leading given to men. (6)
For this reason, there are those who are more convinced in joining this group simply because it gives women the equal rights of leading in comparison with that of the men. Feminists are very specific when it comes to responding to the needs of women especially in terms of being satisfied with their personal perception of what women must be allowed to do. The effective conditioning of the mind of the members of the group creates a more convincing invite to the society to become members of this particular religious sector.
Other issues of gender differences are also carefully examined by religious leaders today. Some even bend their beliefs and their traditions as well as their culture just so to find a way to cater to the idealisms of feminism. Gender equality is what feminist movement is all about, and the religion’s recognition of this movement has created a huge change on the procedures by which religions are operated from back when the years of non-liberation still existed. The introduction of liberty to the human society has paved way to the development of the different thoughts regarding the freeing of the women from the supposed “chains” of manly command. The forceful pursuance of the development of the society’s understanding of the role of women within the human community to become as equal to that of the existence of men created a mere depiction of gender unification even in religions today.(7) This way, the religious groups are practically able to function as an element that pursues the realization of the role of human individuals that are able to give further meaning to their lives as they exist in the community. The recognition of their being as persons who have meaningful existence gives the members of a religious group the essence of self importance providing them the considerable thought of satisfaction of being a member. This satisfaction further implore the idea of being able to invite more individuals to become a part of the organization thus suggesting the idea of extending the social effect of the religion or the belief that one is involved with. Truthfully, this system of religious understanding and personal conviction on the part of those who are already a part of a religious organization gave birth to the procedures of indoctrination. (8)
Religious indoctrination practically pertains to the process by which and individual is taught about the systems and the beliefs of a particular religious group. A person or a particular appointed group of individuals are given the responsibility to spread the idealisms of the religion based on their own conviction and the guidelines provided to them by the church. Through this process, they are able to get the attention of possibly interested individuals who are to be given the chance to handle the different procedures of indoctrination that needs to be gone through by anyone wanting to belong to a religious group.
Indoctrination may or may not require so much time, depending on the rules formulated by the religious group one intends to join. Basically, the capability of humans to withstand this stage creates a more appealing matter that briefly concerns the seriousness that one has towards becoming a part of this religious group and compromising his or her old life to be able to adapt to the culture and the ways of living that a religion insists. Through understanding these matters properly, indoctrinated members become enjoined within the group and later on become recognized as part of the religious organization that he or she chose to be involved with.
Feminists who see the importance of seeing and recognizing the capabilities of women especially on the part of the members of the society being able connect to the idealisms of womanhood entail to be related to a religious group that recognizes the same ideas that they all give high importance to. Truthfully, as mentioned earlier, this is the reason why those feminists who chose to be somewhat indoctrinated usually seek the chance to see if their rights as women are respected by a certain religious group or not. As based from their judgment, they tend to choose the one that logically explains why they view the women the way that they do.
This is how Marxism’s ideology comes in. Karl Marx believed that humans intend to believe on things that respond to their own perception of matters on earth. Understandably, it could be sensed that somehow, the willingness of a human being to adapt to a particular system depends on the understanding he has with regards the seriousness of matters based on his personal identification of “importance”. Marx’s theory on ideology suggests the inevitable effect of social class divisions.(9) Truthfully, the theory that defines the thinking that “no one is an island” is the primary thought that is imposed in explaining the theory of ideology. Belonging to a certain social class defines a human; giving him the sense of belongingness. Besides simply being able to follow what is suggested by a higher Supreme Being, religions impose the idea of belonging to a group that identifies a person. It is as if that particular identity is a mark that one carries everywhere as he mingles with someone else who does not believe the same truths that presumes to be true.
For this reason, it could be accepted that religion is a well established tool used by humans to define themselves and the idealisms that they have towards life. May it be or may it not be true, religious groups exist to define the need of humans to belong to something and to realize the fact that not only them thinks the way that they do, they actually have those who are having the same thoughts as they are.(10) Compatibility of thoughts and characters is an important part of any religious group’s reputation and stability. For this reason, it is then expected that religion should be practically recognized as an evident agent of social functionalism that provides people the real essence they need to recognize their practical role in life. (11)
With the many religions present around the globe, it could be recognized that religion itself has already become a strong institution that provides meaning and satisfaction to human individuals today. With the guidelines and rules that religious groups establish, it could be recognized that the existence of these organizations indeed fuel up the need to create a proper source of guidance for people to follow especially when it comes issues of morality and manners. Through the years and the years that are still to come, religious groups would always be recognized as essential parts of human living that provides a sense of belongingness to humans which later on reflects the social function of the said groups of belief and culture.
The immense consideration that religious leaders provide to the guidance that humans need to receive today results to the creation of rules that allows and limits humans with regards the things that they would want to accomplish. Setting the path straight for human individuals who become members of these religious organizations, religious leaders intend to become the source of proper moral standard that the human society needs to recognize today.(12) However, the differences on the teachings, the practices and the culture of several religious groups around the globe could not be denied to have an effect on the lack of unity that several communities suffer from. True, through bringing together all those who think the same and believe on the same kinds of theories and idealisms in life, religious groups have divided communities in classes and identifiable groups that usually results to conflict. This is the reason why religion is imposed to be viewed as a part of social function that should release a unified understanding of social oneness instead of social divisions.
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