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03 19 Lecture Notes - Religion.docx

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Western University
Sociology 1020

Sociology of Religion Moral regulation or false consciousness? - Sociologists believe in religion but not God, because they look at things scientifically. - Religion is one of the largest institutions for socialising - Human impulse to create rituals & processes of belief - Religions create norms and prevent anomie - On the other hand, religion makes us think everything’s in God’s plan Religion and Modernisation - “A community can only exist over time if some form of religion establishes what is sacred” (Durkheim) o This butts against the theory the societies that are deeply tied to religion are less evolved/efficient/modernisation - But secularisation (a society that separates church & state) is precondition for modernisation o The church becomes private and the state becomes a public entity with no religious ties o Secularisation is argued to be a key component of modernising a society o Does modernisation exist apart from religion or can they coexist? Long life expectancy Higher education Slowed population growth Economic prosperity Democracy Equality of opportunity Civil Society Secularisation: Privatisation of Evil Secularism - Separation of church and state - Social ordering through scientific method o Classification, bureaucracies, diagnosis o Power was no longer centrally located o Secularism was seen as freeing people from the restraint of religion (Crusades, etc.)  Secularism is seen as the ideal human form while religion is seen as primitive and dangerous - Pursuit of the profane (material, status) o “Profane” referring to the material world – objects that have no spiritual value (unlike the crucifix which is sacred) - Pluralism and diversity: individual rights superior to obligation of community Critics of secularism - Religiosity has change, not declined - Increasing religiosity as a response to modernisation o Religious wars: reclaiming identity through demonization of the “other”  Over the last few decades, the majority of wars have been about religion o We can’t erase religion and expect people to be alright with that. Church & state: an uneasy divide - Western societies are secular o Faith in private sphere (home) o Public schools do not promote any one religion (Christmas holidays  winter break) - Religion as traditional and symbolic power - If “God” does not govern the public spheres of society – what moral framework determines out social institutions o You cannot remove the sacred from society – things break o Sociologists believe in the importance of ritual and faith, but not God. o What is rational/scientific is amoral – that’s the point of science. State: Christianity Protection of religious freedom Liberty of Individual - How far should the state be allowed to infringed on your rights? o When does freedom of speech become hate speech? Religious Nationalism? Rick Santorum and the return of social conservatism - Rick Santorum o Evangelic part of super pack o Strong leader in the republican nomination - What does this mean for Canada? o Religion is not seen as important in our political leaders, as opposed to the US o The US’s emphasis on religious affiliation brings about a non-secular movement  The US has long been seen as the most secular country A compelling message - Moral (dis)order as material world collapses o Economic recession, terrorist attacks  Santorum says it’s about the moral disorder that’s taken
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