Religion as a Group Phenomenon and Its Conflicts

Religious beliefs held by people control them from all perspectives. People’s lives are controlled from the personal levels and from within the precincts of the community. Through the same, people tend to become religious. Man from the days of the ancestors including the early man can trace religious beliefs. Religion has attributes in the contemporary mind of people covering several groupings. It helps people within groups to abide by the doctrines without questioning.

As a social phenomenon humans engage in religious activities through group settings. From this point of view, religion gives people the opportunity to link different specifics. Furthermore, it directs humans on the best way relationships can be developed and humanity appreciated. The force pulling people together to allow co-existence as same species is natural.

Through religion, groups of people can express their feelings in secret languages. Religion brings people together and helps to sustain their relationships hence encouraging harmonious associations (Becker 47). Religion cuts across all humans and research by different scholars has shown that it is a practice not associated with any other animal. Its mystery complexity becomes partially hidden if the peoplecome together as a group and becomes practicing loyalists. There are those who believe that religion has been held in groups for as long as has existed. Those who hold this view argue that humans create important relations with characters that are supernatural from their time as toddlers. The power behind religion is invisible and intangible. This is what makes people develop faith. In this argument, a group becomes religious after the ideology is integrated cognitively into their brain. This happens through social and emotional communications and combines a series of evolutionary cognitive processes perceived to be important.

Levels of sacred associations by people fall into four categories (Eister 38). They are the denominational level. This is where different groups are separated into smaller inclinations. The private level is second and at a collective level, fellowships become more helpful. The Secret level of religiousness is another level mainly tackled from a psychological point of view. Groups raise their children religiously learning and following their doctrines. Confining people keeps them of the beliefs not acceptable to the religion they belong. Members may later in life change denominations but will remain religious. Confinement that holds groups together gives an insight religion as a social phenomenon. It explains that you can only convert adults who are willing and interested. Members in this group become religious after circumstances force them. They are faced with situations they cannot cope with and therefore seek for alternatives. The traumatic events they face serve to redirect them into joining some kind of religion. They believe that that a supernatural power would help explain what man cannot People who lose wealth, jobs, and those who become ill later in their lives are some of the likely members who fall in this category.

At all levels, groups subscribe to a set of beliefs and carry out particular practices as long as they consider the matters sacred. Many times ethics are approved giving guidelines to the members. This has to satisfy the desire within their conscious minds.

Causes of religious conflicts

Religion entangles personal identity. Sometimes it entails eternal salvation making it a very controversial issue. Any threat to personal belief is interpreted to mean a threat to personal being. Religion is characterized by some beliefs that are followed by the members without asking questions as they relate to a superior power i.e. supernatural. Since these beliefs are varied, intolerance results into religion becoming a source of conflict. The differences sometimes occur on trivial matters of interpretation and since there cannot be arbiters, a quarrel becomes inevitable. Extremist followers push such ideologies while the complacent ones tend to seat back making the former get encouraged to win. Such are the trends that cause conflicts (Johnston 72). Extremists push for radical ideas and because most things in the world are considered a struggle between what is good and evil, all efforts are pulled together to make sure the former is defeated.

The society is made of heterogeneous elements and therefore religion is one of the issues used to distinguish people from others. Information that most people are always ignorant of the details that underlie beliefs held by others creates tension within the society. This makes religion a source of latent conflict. However, it can be a catalyst to latent conflict turning into real war. Such circumstances are always hard to resolve and in the end cause religious conflict. Religious identity can be used to strengthen the beliefs held by extremists and therefore influence war among various religious groupings. If the ideologies held by extremists are left to permeate into the bigger population, they are taken to be in line with carrying out the wishes of God. This definitely escalates conflict.

Attempts by others to take a liberal stand are considered defiance of the will of God. Any slip-ups by the people who have the knowledge of what most of the varying beliefs holds will give a big chance to extremists to introduce radicalism. This will be the chance for the radicals to exploit using violent means if the legitimate methods become sluggish. Clear examples have been seen in the Middle East in countries such as Iran, Jordan, Palestine, and Iraq. In Africa Algeria, Nigeria, and Mali are countries that such extremists have used the vacuum in legitimacy to wage religious war. India has also not been spared as some extremists some have made attempts. Evangelism and denomination can also be a recipe for conflict. Attached to these was the European colonization whose leadership forced people to do what was strange (Weber 54). This conflict has expanded to include governments.

China views religion as an activity that would divert the loyalty from the government. Such conflicts occur due to lack of respect between the warring partners. Religious nationalists do the reverse of the events in China. They believe that religion is part of the state and land. This group similarly shares the views of others that when you touch any of it then you are interfering with their being. The holders of such ideologies fight for their religion through government legislations where they insist that their religions get priority and status in the political hierarchy. Governments will adopt some things used in such churches if their bids become successful. On the brighter of the discussion is that various attempts have been made to use religion as a tool for conflict resolution. This has seen several measures of success while on other fronts the results are still not good.

Works Cited

Becker, Harper. Systematic Sociology. New York: Wiley Publishers, 1982. Print.

Eister, William. Richard Niebuhr and the Paradox of Religious Organization. New York: Harper publishers, 1973. Print.

Johnston, Richard. Religion in Society. New York: Pearson Publishers, 2007. Print.

Weber, Marx. The methodology of social science. New York: Free Press, 1949. Print.