Religion is a term used to describe a range of social practices that are common in certain parts of the world. Some religions, such as Judaism and Christianity, are monotheistic while others, such as Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism, are polytheistic.
Religions ideally serve several functions for society: they give meaning and purpose to life, reinforce social unity and stability, serve as an agent of social control, promote psychological and physical well-being, and may motivate people to work for positive social change (Emerson, Monahan, & Mirola, 2011). However, religion can be destructive to our societies as it can strengthen social inequality and social conflict.
Often, religious beliefs and rituals are deeply intense. They can involve crying, laughing, screaming, trancelike conditions, feelings of oneness with those around you, and other emotional and psychological states.
For many people, these rituals can be a deeply transformative experience that changes their lives for the better. Nevertheless, some people who participate in religious ceremonies do not experience such transformations and feel a deep sense of disillusionment or disappointment.
In recent years, a number of sociological perspectives on religion have emerged. They aim to understand the functions that religion serves, as well as how it can promote or reinforce inequality and other problems in society.
The conflict perspective argues that religion can promote social conflict, particularly among those who are in power and who have power over others. Moreover, it can be used to encourage discrimination and inequality within religious communities. It also says that religious views can influence political decisions.