Conflict Theory vs. Functionalist: Religion

Length: 4 Pages 1103 Words

Conflict theorists would argue that organized religion, though originally created to fulfill basic human needs, has distorted into an organization with one purpose: To preserve the power center. Functionalist would agree with the basic tenant that religion by its existence fulfills basic need, but in an entirely different manner. By providing framework within which society may function in harmony, religion contributes to society’s equilibrium. I believe the answer actually lies somewhere between the two, with religion holding the proverbial strings as well as providing a sense of peace and emotional comfort. Conflict theorists assert that religion operates to preserve the wealthy and the powerful in their privileged positions. Considering news reports of Catholic priests enjoying the protection of their mantles to shield them from prosecution against accusations of sexual abuse, one can only shake their head in disbelief. Surely an abuse of power can be indicated, even if only by a ‘few’ misguided bishops. As well consider that your average Joe might be reported to the authorities, have the case investigated and a jury trial find the perpetrator guilty. Current law states that any community that person moved to wo Continue...


Recall the bible passage in Mark 10, verse 25: It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. In the world of the working class, dominated by the bourgeois, religion acts as both an anesthetic and a justification. It also offers an explanation of why bad things happen to good people, or why we are all here. In the functional view religion must do several things, including replace and socialize new members, preserve order and provide a sense of purpose. It is said that we all have our own versions of reality-that we create it based on our backgrounds and life experiences. Religion in all of its forms and with all its mechanisms of authority and solidarity, confrontation and comfort can provide both power and control over a people as well as a support for those people. Religion has had such an impact on our society that there are states that used to and still have laws regarding adultery, cursing in public and sodomy, areas you would think the government would not have the scope to dictate our actions but for the influence of religion. Some religions assure new members by supporting such societal institutions as monogamy, marriage and family. In order to not only have new members, but teach them the rules of the institution, children pass through such rituals as baptisms, confirmations and barbat mitzvahs. Religion provides a set of guidelines by which a large part of our society live, including a belief in life being sacred (or at least valuable) as well as emphasis on honesty. This would allow the families in the community the option of deciding whether or not they would associate with the offender. Religion has also been referred to by Karl Marx as "...the sigh of the oppressed creature...it is the opium of the people. uld be notified of a sexual offender's presence. But belief in a higher power also seems to encourage a person to behave more 'morally'; whether that is because they like the example or prefer not to be punished for misdeeds is up for grabs.