The Chains of Religion

  • In the modern society, the revival of a phenomenon of spontaneous, nonconventional, not initial religiousness is observed. For the majority of people, the traditional forms of religious life are unfamiliar and even alien. Returning to religion happens not as a result of the church sermon, but as a result of self-development of secular culture and ideology. Mass media and the cultural figures representing particular political and national interests play in the course of religious updating a larger role than the clergy resume services
    Modern religion is distinguished by the ease of acceptance of the new religious experience and new religious concepts. These reasons induce a person to search the meaning of life, a system of values in the sphere of anti-spirituality, which takes away the person from the realization of the objective interests and threats a person's health and life in critical situations. The spiritual anemia of society generated by the phenomena of crisis in economy, policy, and the social sphere, undermines the cultural soil, deprives the person of the ability of adaptation to biotic circumstances and turns of individual destiny.
    Religion performs a number of functions. The following functions of religion are distinguished: ideological, compensatory, communicative, regulatory, integration and disintegration, culturally complied, legitimating and illegitimating. The ideological function of religion is implemented due to its views on a certain type of man, society, and nature. Due to the fact that there is no branch of knowledge that would answer completely all questions of a human, each area of science, even an extremely wide one, has its own framework of research. In religion, even archaic, the system of answers for all questions is built. The problem is not how true these answers are but that they, unlike science, exist.
    Religion carries out the compensatory function, filling limitation, dependence, powerlessness of people both in respect of consciousness and change of living conditions. Depression is overcome by the freedom of the spirit. Social inequality turns into equality in sins and suffering. Dissociation and isolation are replaced by a brotherhood in a community. Impersonal and indifferent communication of individuals is replaced with communication with a deity and other believers. Psychological consequence of such compensation is the stress coping endured as a consolation, purification, and pleasure, even if it occurs in the illusory way.
    Religion, providing actual communication, performs communicative function. Communication is developing both in religious and extra-religious activity. In the process of the information exchange and interactions, a believer has an opportunity to contact people by the established rules, which facilitates the process of communication and occurrence in a particular environment. Requirements for the communication between the believers, accepted practically in all existing religions, help to fill the atmosphere of interaction with the humanistic contents, spirit of friendliness, and respect.
    The regulatory function of religion is performed by means of certain ideas, values, installations, stereotypes, opinions, traditions, customs, and institutes, which operate the activity, consciousness, and behavior of individuals, groups, and communities. The system of religious morals and rights has especially great value. The most striking examples of influence of the religious rights can be found in the societies characterized by national and religious uniformity. Each religion has its monitoring system of moral precepts realization. In Christianity, it is a confession, which a believer has to visit on a regular basis. According to the results of confession and actions that were committed, the punishment or encouragement measures are appointed. Thus, such requital may be actual or postponed indefinitely.
    The integration and disintegration function of religion is manifested in the fact that religion, on the one hand, connects and unites religious groups and, on the other hand, separates them. Integration is carried out in the limits that the uniform religion is more or less admitted in. If opposing faiths exist in society, then religion performs a disintegrating function. Sometimes, this may occur even against the desire of the existing religious leaders, since the previous experience of opposition of religious faiths can be always used by the current policy.
    Religion, being a culture constituent, carries out a culturally complied function. Especially at the early stages of development of the human society, being accompanied by destructive wars, the religion promoted the development and preservation of some layers of culture, for example, writing, publishing, and the art of painting, music, and architecture. However, the religious organizations accumulated, protected, and developed those values only which were related to religious culture. The facts of destruction of books and works of art that reflected views, which were counter to those officially proclaimed by religion, are well-known.
    The legitimating and illegitimating function means legalization of some public orders, institutes (state, political, legal, etc.), the relations, norms, and both proper and illegal exemplars. The consecration of the monarch entrance to the throne by the church was considered an indispensable attribute of the legality of the government for a long time. Up to now, inaugural of presidents of some countries is followed by the oath on the sacred book esteemed as the leading one for this country by religion. The custom to take the oath, confirming truthfulness of words on a court session on the sacred book, also remains. The religion can deprive the authority of its validity and push society to overthrow this authority in one way or another.
    Any system of worldview develops the principles of comprehension of the nature, society, and a person. A religious system also contains these principles, but unlike natural and social sciences, which offer various methods for the description and solution of the problems, religion has only one method of way of influencing a person, i.e. moral influence. Thus, each religious organization seeks to acquire a role of the supreme judge in the matters of morality. It is based on the fact that moral standards of secular society are more amenable to modification in the course of historical development than indestructible precepts of religion. From the traditional religious point of view, morality is granted to humanity from above; its main norms and concepts are formulated directly by a deity, recorded in sacred books, and people have to follow them strictly. Due to such comprehension, morality cannot appear without and out of religion, and the original morality does not exist without religion.
    The external simplicity of answers for the complex moral issues, strict ensuring criteria of moral values, ideals, and requirements, their peculiar wholeness and regularity are the strengths of religious morality. The ready answers, which are available in the system of religious morality, may cause particular emotional and psychological tranquility of ethical consciousness of people. The statement of a problem of human responsibility for their actions may also refer to strengths of religious morality.
    Religion exists in society not as a stranger body, but as one of the manifestations of the social organism's life. Religion can not be isolated from social life or disconnected with society, but the character and the extent of this connection at different stages of historical development are not the same. With the increasing social differentiation, the autonomy of various spheres of public life also increases. Society evolves from a wholeness, in which all items are decanted together, to a wholeness that represents the unity of the manifold.
    Talking about religion as a specific social phenomenon is only possible in relation to quite late eras of history. However, in these eras, along with religion, there are other social systems with their functions. The activities of religion and other social systems are closely intertwined. Nevertheless, the isolation of special functions of religion in society is possible only by means of a particular approach. This approach assumes that any social action is a subjectively intelligent action focused on particular values. The question of religion and society ratio is a question of the religion’s role in motivation of social behavior. By influencing motivation of human behavior religion generates particular results of activity, which, in turn, is a product of the society’s activity (i.e. a social phenomenon). Religion has an impact on society only if its internal organization corresponds to the organization of all society (the internal structure of an element of the system has to be similar to structure of the whole system) and is subordinated to the same tasks as the social structure as a whole.
    The church actively tries to influence not only the believers, but the whole society, promoting the values recognized by it as basic. Besides, it should be noted that at the assessment of social development of the modern society, the Christian church, for example, adheres to humanistic views concerning the environmental issues, demography, social conflicts, relationship of the various religious organizations. However, the Orthodox Church has always been the keeper of the best traditions of people and its consolidator in hard times.
    That is why the church claims to be the final judge in moral matters. This situation is caused also by the fact that nowadays, the precipitant technical and social development is not followed by the universally recognized and obligatory moral standards. Moral estimates of the events are based on unsteady criteria of momentary advantage, benefit, and individual freedom. Human life has no value.
    Quite a different response is received by church appeals, when they are accompanied by activities aimed at an actual embodiment of moral exemplars in life. Charitable work of priests and monks in prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, and orphanages, unlike the activity of the numerous charity foundations, is filled with a really sympathetic attitude towards people. The assistance that members of religious organizations provide to those in need is not specialized, i.e. legal, psychological, or pedagogical. However, its effectiveness is much higher because it is based on the principles of philanthropy. Thus, the promotion of religious dogma is never ignored, and the ranks of believers are constantly replenished.
    All great civilizing religious forces of the past, such as Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and others, attached special significance to the distinctions between the good and evil, and also to the supreme ethical values. When people started visiting churches less, the popularity of pornography and the crime rates increased, and the common level of morality decreased. When religion has no respect in society or ceases to have an impact, all worries about the morality of citizens, all problems bound to crime and intolerance are borne by the state. Thus, the government has to resort to the help of police and use punishment. However, this does not bring success, since morality, integrity, and self-esteem are unlikely to be imposed on people by force. These qualities can appear only as a result of spiritual understanding and constant in the spiritual values. In order for a person to be moral and possess other merits, the existence of a much more serious basis and much more strong emotional motivation than the threat of secular punishment is necessary.
    In addition to the above listed influences, religion is one of potent factors of demographic processes, affecting and in certain cases even causing birth rate and mortality, marriage and divorce, etc. Absolutely in all religious doctrines, there are the relevant standards regulating the corresponding processes. The influence of the same religious doctrine can promote an increase of population and limit its growth. Also, various religious confessions can promote an increase of a particular group, for example, boys to the detriment of girls. With the development of society the impact of the growing process of secularization of religious norms can be weakened, and norms can change. The change of opinion of the Catholic Church leaders in relation to the means of pregnancy prevention or the opinion of American Protestants in relation to homosexuals illustrates this thesis. However, the religious component in the modern society is not a criterion that defines demographic processes. Besides religion, there is a significant amount of factors that have a relatively strong impact on the quantity and the quality of population. They include the level of urbanization, education, health care, etc.
    A reliable functioning of society assumes continuity and stability of its activity and a socially expedient behavior of its members. This stability is reached by the system of a ban, taboo, norms, and values, which are capable to give a perfective aspect to social processes, thus providing conditions for the limiting intensification of the inner world of the human, i.e. commitment, confidence, and sequence. In a situation when such mechanisms can not be designed from actual elements of life and apparent facts and arguments, the extremely reliable regulators and values assume correlation to religion. In this case, religion strengthens the monitoring of stability of a public organism. In the modern society, people feel the need for the solution of fundamental semantic problems that are eternal. Therefore, the future of religion in the modern society depends on how soon the conditions will be created in order to address these problems in a secular way, without the need to address the idea of God and the religious motivation of moral values and norms.

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