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Discuss the view that the influence of religion on UK society is declining.

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Introduction

Discuss the view that the influence of religion on UK society is declining. The UK is lucky to have such a vibrant, diverse and cultured population from migrants that have entered our small islands from the past few thousand years. However each time they make Britain there home, they bring there religion. This gives rise to the many religions and there denominations that have a presence. But what is a religion? According to the Penguin Dictionary of Sociology it is "A set of cultural ideas, symbols, and practices that focus on the meaning of life and the nature of the unknown." Secularisation had been happening for long time before Nietzsche proclaimed, "God is Dead" and is a far more complex process than just a drop in church attendance. Marxists believe that religion is form of social control on the proletariat by the bourgeoisie. He saw religion as the opium of the masses, teaching them acceptance which was reinforced by hymns like 'All things bright and beautiful' which had verses akin to "The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate, God made them, high or lowly, and ordered their estate." aided there exploitation by teaching them to accept there place in society because it was God wished. When Marx wrote this, churches had a high monopoly on truth so people would be more inclined to believe it. ...read more.

Middle

Darwin's theory of evolution is still questioned by some many religious individuals however these are mainly creationists. Weber suggested that eventually the mystical ideas would be succumbed by scientific ones. Durkheim (1965) suggests that religion was about celebrating the rules of your society and making the citizens keep to those rules. Yet, he argues, that as a society becomes more complex religion struggles to bind individuals due to industrialization and social fragmentation that regulate religion into a corner of where it becomes one of many beliefs and fails to unify members of society. Secularists and Antidisestablishmentarians have fought along side the broad left and broad right respectively, but hardly any battles have been as severe as the Spanish civil war (1936 - 1939) The Republicans were secularists and some of the more radical groups within in them such as the Stalinists NKVD committed terrible atrocities against the catholic church in Spain such as massacring clergy and destroying churches and monasteries. While the Nationalists were led by the infamous General Francisco Franco and had largely fascist yet catholic views and ties. They suppressed the terrorist secularist activities by executing teachers that promoted the removal of the church from education. Clear Statistics prove a decline in church attendance (All Protestant and Roman Catholic) ...read more.

Conclusion

Wilson (1966) described secularisation as "the process whereby religious thinking, practices and institutions lose their social significance" But even though there is a drop in church attendance, society is not loosing its belief in a religion. Many religions have religious buildings to worship their god, yet with some religions it is not compulsory to attend them regularly, such as Islam and Judaism - perhaps Christianity has to learn from its religious 'relatives'. On the contrary Voas (2005) gives evidence for a significant rise in church attendance around Christmas time, which can rise by 330% in some diocese in Anglican Britain. Perhaps this suggests that Anglicans choose to go to church only at special religious occasions. Many sociologists looking at secularisation focus on Britain and do to take into account other countries that have taken a huge rise of fundamentalism such as the USA and Iran, which are closely linked too politics. Fundamentalists, such as the Christian Coalition, helped shape the policies of the Reagan and Bush administrations, Bruce (1995). Finally Stark and Bainbridge (1990) suggest that secularisation and strong religious belief alternate in a cyclical pattern. From this I agree with Bellah and Luckman that religion is not in decline but merely changing the form in which it presents its self within society, as there is more corroboration between researchers that suggest people have not lost faith. Benjamin Semens Page 1 ...read more.

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