Monday, 20 July 2015

Functions of Religion

The pseudonymous but very perceptive 'Sabio Lantz' has enumerated nine functions he feels that religious affiliation provides believers. It's summed up in one a graphic which you can view here.
On the list are:

  1. Morality signal
  2. Behaviour control
  3. Identity support
  4. Community resources
  5. Entertainment
  6. Family/Tribal bonding
  7. Happiness, peace, comfort
  8. Magical hope (healing, money, safety)
  9. Fear alleviator
There are other possible lists, but I think this one provides a pretty fair analysis. Different people would rank the relative importance of each factor differently, and that ranking would probably also change with age - identity support seems a natural fit for younger people seeking to make their way in a challenging world, for example.

You can read the original post over at Triangulations. Here's an excerpt.
People use religion to signal to others that “I am safe”, “I am moral”, “I am an upright citizen” and more ...  Not only do they use religion to signal to others that they are moral, but they also use it to comfort themselves, to signal their other selves. 
Whether you're a person of faith or not, the list provides an interesting mirror to our religious impulses. I'd tick off 5 of the nine as highly significant during my youthful sojourn in a certain sectarian body.

How about you?

1 comment:

  1. For some people, I think religion can be a badge that they wear but I am not sure it nowadays credentials them in the way described. For nominal Christians, the badge is all that Christianity is. For many, I believe it is a totem of belonging to a certain group. I would identify that as the strongest force.

    I always tended to stay away from some religious types. The mere badge was not sufficient. One had to get to know the badge carrier. I particularly stay away from anyone with a pentecostal background. They tend to be obnoxiously histrionic about religion - something that does not set well with me. Others may be highly judgmental. After I left the WCG, I attended the Church of Christ. One of the elders there was very suspicious of me. He was unfriendly and seemed to feel that I was tainted beyond redemption by my past in the WCG. In short, there is much more to the badge than Sabio suggests.

    -- Neo