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In an essay of not more than 1200 words, discuss the claim that the most compelling reason for studying religion today is to reach a better understanding of contemporary society.

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In an essay of not more than 1200 words, discuss the claim that the most compelling reason for studying religion today is to reach a better understanding of contemporary society. For me, the word 'religion' conjures up images of wailing fat ladies dressed in their Sunday best singing at the top of their lungs about the glory of God. Of course, this image comes from my childhood when I attended the New Testament Church of God in Jamaica every Sunday, rain or shine, with my grandmother. For her, Church, Christianity and God was a way of life; a set of principles she believed in and lived by. For others less convinced, the idea of religion or 'being religious' is as far fetched as aliens and UFO's. Throughout the centuries, religion has played an important part in shaping the political landscape of most modern societies and one reason for studying religion is to understand how and why certain societies developed in the way they did. ...read more.


Of the 119,067 residents, 12 per cent are of Pakistani heritage, five per cent are Black or Black British, 14 per cent Indian heritage and 63 per cent White. Twenty per cent of the residents were born outside the European Union. Thirteen per cent of the population is Muslims, nine per cent Sikhs, four per cent Hindus and 53 per cent Christians. This means that schools and other public places have had to restructure their curriculum or modus operandi to accommodate the freedom to practice other religions as stated in the constitution. In one predominantly Slough school, the decision was taken three years ago to set up a committee to observe and identify ways in which the school could better serve students' religious needs. Out of this initiative, those who practiced Islam were allowed a time and a private room during the day for prayer. The canteen menu was also redesigned to include a variety of vegetarian dishes to accommodate dietary needs and students were allowed to wear symbols of their religion such as dreadlocks and the hijab. ...read more.


Others still, like the Heaven's Gate group believed that they were to wait for a sign from heaven and a space craft would come to take them away. Karl Marx, who studied the impact of religion on society, concluded that religion shows the connection between the need to have an afterlife to look forward to especially if their lives have been difficult. Marx's approach to the study of religion was objective and sociological. In his observations he arrived at the conclusion that 'Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people'. Religion and politics have come full circle as in today's society there are laws which govern the recognition of a new 'religion'. For example, a legitimate religion has the right to claim tax exemption and must promote the moral and spiritual welfare of the community. It is my opinion that although there are other reasons for studying religion, the most compelling reason by far is to better understand and cater for the diversity of modern society. ...read more.

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