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Ideologies

Essay by   •  December 1, 2016  •  Essay  •  531 Words (3 Pages)  •  973 Views

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An ideology is a comprehensive vision; a way of looking at things as in political philosophies. In item A the “powerful groups” which religion operates in the interests of could be referring to the patriarchy (in the case of the feminist perspective) and the bourgeoisie (in the case of marxists). One could argue that the marxist and feminist perspectives are too focused on the negative aspects of religion and do not consider the positive impact that religion has on many peoples lives.

In Marxism it is believed that the ruling class (the bourgeoisie) use religion as a mechanism for control. In the marxist perspective religion is “the opium of the masses”, it encourages complacency and ensures that they do not revolt, lest they be punished in the next life. This use of religion in order to justify inequality can be seen in India’s caste system where there is no upward social mobility because people are told that they were put in their place by a higher being and to want anything else would go against those wishes. There is a similar situation in Brazil where slaves are told that they are slaves because they were bad in a past life and deserve the suffering they endure. Similarly, Feminism argues that religion is a mechanism for the oppression of women. This occurs through the exclusion of women in sacred texts such as the bible where there are very few significant female characters, and the fact that women cannot be priests. This sort of exclusion conditions women to believe that those in power should be men (this has been seen in criticisms of the feminist perspective; women saying that they do not mind having men overly-represented in religion because they feel it is “tradition”) and thus perpetuate patriarchal power.

On the other hand, these perspective have been met with the criticism that they ignore the positive impact that religion has on many peoples lives. Functionalist ideologists, such as Bellah, show us how religion creates a social solidarity among people. Social solidarity binds people together. Bellah presented the idea that being an American is almost raised to the status of a religion. According to Bellah, Americans embrace a common civil religion with certain fundamental beliefs, values, holidays and rituals, parallel to or independent of their chosen religion. America has historically used items like the flag or create a feeling of allegiance to the state and to create a feeling of togetherness and solidarity. Children stand at the flag every morning and say the pledge of allegiance. Malinowski showed how religion serves a psychological function through the way fishermen used prayer to calm their anxieties about going out to sea showing how religion serves a positive function for the individual as well as greater society.

A definitive answer has yet to be reached but, it could be said that what matters most is the individuals perspective on religion. In this sense religion

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