Explain how the following different religions influence the society;
“One should let their religious beliefs be not a theory but, more of a love affair” is a famous quote by G.K. Chesterton. Religion is an essential aspect of society. According to Rudolph (2018), “religious communities are among the oldest of the transnationals: Sufi orders, Catholic missionaries, and Buddhist monks carried word and praxis across vast spaces before those places became nation-states or even states” (p.1). Rudolph (2018) also stated that in the post-modern era, religion has led to the development of civil society. Modern social science stated that “religion would ultimately fade, then disappear, with the triumph of science and rationalism but instead, religion has expanded explosively” (Rudolf, 2018, p.1). According to DeHanas et al. (2018) “religion acts as a marker of identity, enabling them to distinguish between the good “us” and the bad “them” (p.2). According to Becker et al. (2021), in the past, religion played a key role in Western communities as it defined their beliefs and how they acted, their values, military and political power and also their community groups and organizations. According to Fowler (2018), “religion’s influences are divided into neat, well-defined categories which are discussed individually. Yet the reality is more complex, with the borders of these categories blending and overlapping” (20). Religion influences all parts of our society, from the mode of dressing to politics and the interactions between people.
Religion influences how society acts, with different religions having different cultures. One such influence is the mode of dressing, as different religions influence how the leaders and followers dress. According to Arthur (2020), “to many religious organizations, clothing is an important symbol of their religious identification” (p.1). Clothing can be grouped into secular or sacred. Arthur (2020) stated that a sacred clothing is a garment that represents the religious identity of the person wearing the cloth. Different religions have different sacred clothing. Arthur (2020) also stated that “in patriarchal religions where the perception is that males are given the responsibility of seeing to the enforcement of religious rules, some garments become associated with the sacred primarily through the prescription and enforcement of a dress code” (p.1). By wearing specific clothing, the religious leaders and the followers show commitment to their religion. One example is in Afghanistan, where women were required to wear a burga to show their commitment to their Muslim religion (Arthur, 2020). Another example is the ecclesiastical dress, which is a sacred clothing used for religious ceremonies and rituals by the Roman Catholic priests (Arthur, 2020). Thus, religion has greatly influenced the society’s culture through influencing the mode of dressing for the religious leaders and their followers, as certain clothing may be classified as sacred.
Religion also influences the politics of a society as most people vote for the candidates whom they approve of their religion. According to Fowler (2018), throughout history, politics and religion have interconnected, as seen in the ancient political records, for example, the Greece, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greek, Roman, Persian, and Babylonian ancient empires. Fowler (2018) also stated that in the Old Testament, a separation between the state and religion was unheard of as each nation had its god, and the people would sought approval from the goods when they went to war. Fowler (2018) also stated that the political leaders, for example, the pre-Christian emperors in Rome and the Pharaohs of Egypt, were seen as gods by their people. According to Becker et al. (2021), in the Islamic religion, religion greatly influenced politics as seen in “the early Caliphates, after the First Four Caliphs following Muhammad and the Umayyad Empire, the line between political and religious leader was blurred” (p.49). By influencing the religion, the political leaders gear the masses to vote for them for example, in Islam, religious leaders claim leadership authority in their communities as “Muslim rulers have historically used religious authorities as a central source of legitimation because Islam is relatively effective at legitimating rule” (Becker et al., 2021, p.50). Political rulers also manipulate politics because “religion threatens political stability when it channels dissent against a political regime, as it did in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, or as it did in the overthrow of the monarchy in Iran” (Lee ,2018, p.49). Thus, religion influences the politics of a society as most people vote for the candidates whom they approve of their religion.
Religion has also influenced the interactions between people negatively by promoting conflict among different religious groups due to religious discrimination. Different religions have a sense of superiority complex where they consider their religion better than other religions. According to Fowler (2018), religious beliefs and rituals can unite or separate people into a community as the different religions face threats when faced with opposition from the other religions. According to Rudolf (2018), Religion also motivates cultural conflicts between different nations, for example, “Jewish Israel and Muslim Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Buddhist Sinhalese and Hindu Tamils in Sri Lanka, Protestants and Catholics in Ireland, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists in Kashmir, Sikhs and Hindus in Punjab, Front Islamique du Salut (FIS) Islamists and Secular Socialists in Algeria” (p.15) By promoting religious discrimination, conflict has been prevalent thus influencing a culture of conflict in the society. According to Fox, religious discrimination has several motives such as “it can represent a desire to maintain the superiority of the majority religion, it can occur in the context of social and political conflicts where the two sides belong to different religions, and it can be the result of a policy of protecting the indigenous culture from outside influences” (p.19). Thus, religion has influenced the society’s culture negatively by promoting conflict among different religious groups due to religious discrimination.
In conclusion, religion is responsible for influencing the society as it influences the mode of dressing, the politics and the interactions between people. In recent times, the state and religion are considered as separate entities, but many states still support the official religions recognized by the public. The religious institutions are involved in politics by lobbying the governments in order to influence the political decisions being made. People moving from their home countries to different countries rely on their religious identities to make their transitions easier, and those who chose to practice their religion are not perceived as disrupting the society of the host country because defined religious communities reside side by side. All people should have religious freedom, and the religions should be used to influence their followers positively by promoting peace and unity among all religions.
Arthur, L. B. (2020). Religion and dress. От Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion.
Becker, S. O., Rubin, J., & Woessmann, L. (2021). Religion in economic history: A survey. The handbook of historical economics, 585-639.
Chebotarov, V., & Chebotarov, I. (2020). National business cultures: the influence of religion, and their role in the economic development of countries. Bulletin of Geography. Socio-economic Series, (50), 23-30.
DeHanas, D. N., & Shterin, M. (2018). Religion and the Rise of Populism. Religion, State & Society, 46(3), 177-185.
Fowler, R. B. (2018). Religion and politics in America: Faith, culture, and strategic choices. Routledge.
Lee, R. D. (2018). Identity, ideology, institutions, and attitudes; Religion and politics in the Middle East Routledge.
Rudolph, S. H. (2018). Introduction: Religion, states, and transnational civil society. In Transnational religion and fading states (pp. 1-24). Routledge.