Sociology Of Religion 101

Religion has a strong element of “tribalism” in it. Beliefs help define who is in the group and who is outside it. This role of forming a group is so powerful it sometimes does not allow, or brings fear, when a group’s ideas might be wrong.

Suppose you are one very afraid of death. You find comfort in your church because it tells you you do not have to die. If you follow church instructions you are safe from death. Others in the church have the same fear and comfort.

Then, along comes a skeptic who says no one has ever come back from being dead. The skeptic says everyone should accept death as final.

The members of that church would find the skeptic uncomfortable. He has defined himself to be outside the tribe and though he may want acceptance he will not receive it. The church has defined who is in and who is outside. That is sociology.

Face to face encounters is a group help define it as well. Without them the relationships between members is different than with them. Church is a place to build these relationships. Unfortunately, church attendance continues to fall with about four out of five adults not attending.

As young people become increasingly tolerant of racial and sexual diversity the church needs to revise it rules on who can be let in. Diversity is taught from grade one in school. Condemnation by the church merely puts potential group members outside its sphere of acceptability.

4 Responses

        1. Rob 11:59 So it’s been used by racists. Again, which religions subscribe to racism….

          I pointed our a passage which has been used to justify racism. Slave holders in the U.S. had a passage they used–I don’t remember which. Characters in the Bible had slaves. Let me paraphrase your sentence, “So it has been used by nonracists…” It has been used by both racists and nonracists to justify whatever they their views on many subjects happened to be. Today, the Bible is quoted by both those who think homosexuality is a sin and those who do not.

          The floor is open to you and others who often lecture us on “the true meaning.” It will not change a thing but go ahead.

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