Chapter 16 Religion.docx
Chapter Study Outline
What Is Religion?
Religion is a system of beliefs and practices around sacred things, a set of shared
“stories” that guide belief and action.
Religious beliefs help shape social behavior by setting expectations and helping people
distinguish between right and wrong.
There are many religions throughout the world, all of which fall into one of three
categories: Theism (有神論), the worship of a god or gods; Ethicalism (倫理主義), the
adherence (堅持)to certain principles to lead a moral life; and animism(萬物有靈), the
belief that spirits roam(漫遊)the natural world.
Secularism (政教分離)is a general movement away from religiosity and spiritual belief
and toward a rational, scientific orientation.
Theory: Marx, Weber, and Durkheim
In accordance with his belief that all social facts of life are grounded in conflict, Karl
Marx argued religion was used to keep workers from questioning their oppressed (壓迫)
position in everyday life by promising them riches in the afterlife.
Max Weber argued that Protestantism (新教) was a prerequisite for the development of
capitalism because it introduced the idea that a person fulfilled his duty to God through
hard work and asceticism (禁慾主義). Making money was not frowned (表示不滿)
upon, although spending that money on pleasure and personal enjoyment was.
Émile Durkheim argued that religions perform the social function of promoting
solidarity (團結) by strengthening the collective conscience. He also felt that sacred
symbols become powerful because people collectively invest them with power through
their shared beliefs.
Secularization or Speculation?
Pluralism (多元論)is the presence of numerous distinct religious groups in one society.
Pluralism has been viewed as having a negative effect on religion overall because the
plethora (過多)of choices weakens the credibility of any one church. A more positive
view of pluralism sees it as a way for diverse religions to engage with one another to
build a common sense of community.
Attendance at religious services is declining overall in the United States, but the number
of people who profess to have religious or spiritual beliefs is holding steady or rising.
At the Micro Level: Is It a Great Big Delusion?
Micro sociologists look at religion in terms of its meaning and uses in people‟s everyday
The Power of Religion: Social Movements
The mid-nineteenth (19th) century was a time of rapid growth in the United States and the
development of national, secular (非宗教的) institutions did not always keep pace.
Religious organizations were also growing quickly and provided an important
infrastructure for the development of social movements such as the antislavery and
temperance (節制) campaigns.
Churches and church organizations also played a key role in the civil rights movement
through coalition (政黨、國家) building, fundraising, and communications.
The church has long played an important role in African American communities, building
strong social networks, providing social services, and functioning as a safe haven for
people who have experienced enormous marginalization (排斥, 忽視) in society at large.
Religion has also been used to dismiss or oppress certain groups.
Religion and the Social Landscape
Religious affiliation (聯合) and practice can be closely connected to elements as varied
as family structure, gender, social status, age, educational attainment level, type of
involvement in the church, geography, and politics.
Selling God and Shopping for Faith: The Commercialization of Religious Life
Americans donate billions of dollars per year to religious organizations, and in addition to
donations, there is a huge market for religious products, particularly Christian products.
Some argue that America‟s religious pluralism has created a kind of religious
marketplace, where people shop around for the brand of faith that best suits them, and
churches feel compelled (強迫) to compete for these customers. This can be viewed
positively or negatively, but either way, the high level of religious freedom of choice in
the United States may be one reason there is such a high level of religiosity
(篤信宗教)as compared to other industrialized countries.
In an effort appeal (懇求) to a wider audience, especially young people, many churches
have incorporated elements of pop culture into their services and messages and added
more secular activities to attract members.
A megachurch is typically a conservative (保守的) Protestant church that attracts at least
2,000 people to worship services per week. Megachurches stress family values above
religious tradition and are known for being flexible and creative.
The Paradox (自相矛盾的議論) of Popularity: How the Protestant Church Is Like Indie
One explanation for the existence of so many types of Christian churches in the United
States is what is called the sect–church cycle. Sects usually start out by splintering
(分裂出來的小派別) off from an existing church because of disagreements over the
direction or emphasis of the church. Over time, if the sect develops a large enough
following, it may become a church in its own right and eventually another sect may split
off from it.
Stricter religious institutions are more likely to grow faster than more lenient
(仁慈的) or open groups because members of stricter groups are likely to be more
committed and to buy more into the group‟s overall mission. Members value the high
demands of a stricter organization and are willing to spend more time and effort