Outline and assess one of the main approaches to the study of religions.
Religion and ‘The Study of Religions’ has many approaches which try to investigate the core of what religion is and what it means to the people who practice it. Sociology is one such approach that this essay will be looking at through its founding fathers Emile Durkheim, Max Weber and Karl Marx. Sociology in general looks at people’s dynamics and explains a group’s influence. It demonstrates how religious belief and practices have become so important over time and emphasises their role and significance throughout. Each of these three sociologists has a link to these ideas which will be the main thesis in this essay. Emile Durkheim looks at religion from a
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Capitalism covers up religion and manages to help the bourgeoisie greatly, as it becomes a “comforting illusion” (Hamilton, Malcolm B 2001:80) as the proletariats do not question the status quo due to their belief in getting a greater reward in the afterlife. Religion itself is used to justify hierarchy in the world, a verse in a hymn such as the following are used, “the rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate, god made them. Highly or lowly, and ordered their state”. This stresses Marx’s point that as it’s believed to be sanctioned by God it is unlikely to be challenged by anyone. The Marxists perspective generally makes many valid arguments which society can relate to even today. The idea of caste system is still relevant in many Hindu traditions (although generally frowned upon). Buddhism has the idea of karma meaning if you are a poor person in this life then it’s to do with your own bad karma in the previous life. Therefore Marxism is correct in this aspect, that religion is used in order to justify inequality. Another key piece of evidence for the Marxists perspective is the fact that the Catholic Church is arguably allowing the spread of aids due to its stance against contraception. As a result of this, there is a continuation of social deprivation