Social Impact Of Religions On Society

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Religions, whatever their form, may have a major social impact on some societies - for evil or good. Naturally, in certain religions any social impact that they have may be incidental or secondary to their main declared purpose of relating people to God. The social impact of religions are generally less to do with the belief or religion itself than the church or its institutional form.

The social impact of any religion in any society is affected by whether it is sustained/supported by the minority of the population or by the majority (Swatos, 1998: 12-25). A majority religion does not only impact more people directly, but is also likely to have a significant impact on society values. In general, it is the poorest societies that hold the biggest proportion of the population that supports religion, (that may refer to several religions rather than one religion). However,
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Many of the minority poor may switch to other minority religions, whereas the mainstream religion continues to provide enfeebled support for a social order that can contain social exclusion of the underprivileged and other minorities (Swatos, 1998: 12-25).

Nevertheless, religions can frequently be socially at their best where it is a minority religion - particularly if the minority concerned is socially excluded or oppressed. Then the church might play a beneficial role in socially supporting that specific minority. The church will be independent of the rich and of the government. In the modern wealthier countries which have seen an over-all shrinkage in the support for religion, there has also been an increase or rise in the diversity of religions with specific religions associated with particular minorities or with particular social classes.

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