Both from individual and social point of view religion perform the following functions:
1. Religion provides mental peace:
Human life is uncertain. He struggles for his survival amidst the uncertainties, insecurities and dangers, Some-times he feels helplessness. It is the religion which consoles and encourages him in all such time of crisis. Religion gives right shelter to him. He gets mental peace and emotional support. It encourages him to face his life and problems.
2. It inculcates social virtues:
Religion promotes the major social virtues like truth, honesty, non-violence, service, love, discipline etc. A follower of the religions internalizes these virtues and becomes disciplined citizen of the society.
3. Religion promotes social solidarity:
Religion gives rise to the spirit of brotherhood. Durkheim viewed that religion strengthens social solidarity. A.W. Geen also pointed out that religion has the supremely integration and verifying force in human society. It is true that common belief, common sentiment, common worship, participation in common rituals etc. are the significant cementing factors which strengthen unity and solidarity.
4. Religion converts the animal qualities to human qualities:
Religion inculcates the spirit of self-service. It demands that people should be charitable and benevolent. Through various religious experiences he forgets the worldly life and problems. This experience suppresses the animal desires and converts the animal qualities of man to human qualities.
5. Religion is an agent of socialization and social control:
Parsons viewed that religion is one of the most important agents of socialization and social control. It has significant role in organizing and directing social life. It helps in preserving social norms and strengthening social control. It socializes him individual and exercises control over both individual and group in various ways. As an informal means, religion regulates the activities of people in its own way. Organisation like temples, mosques, church, Gurudwaras etc. also control the behavior of the individuals at different level.
6. Religion promotes welfare:
Religion teaches to the people to serve the masses and promote their welfare. It gives message that “the service to humanity is service to God”. For this reason, people spend money to feed poor and needy. Great religions like Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity etc. put emphasis on aim-giving to the poor and beggars. It developers the philanthropic attitude of the people and thereby injects the idea of mutual help and co-operation. With the influence of religious belief different religious organisations engage themselves in various welfare activities.
7. Religion gives recreation:
Religion plays a charming role in providing recreation to the people. Religious rites and festivals are more or less performed in every religion which gives relief to the people from mental exertion. Similarly religious lectures, bhajans, kirtans, musical concerts followed by the utterance of hymn etc. gives much more pleasure to the people and provides eternal recreation.
8. Religion influences economy:
Sociologists like Sombart and Max Weber rightly established the relationship of religion with economic system. Weber observed the influence of Protestant ethics in the development of capitalism. Sombart found this spirit of capitalism in Jewish norms. For the distinct religious principles present in Christianity, capitalism grew in protestant countries but not in the country like India, Pakistan etc.
9. Religious influences political system:
Religion has played a significant role in political system in the ancient and medical society. Even in modern times in many countries of the world the religion directly and indirectly also influences political activities. During ancient and medieval period, the monarchs were treating themselves as the representatives of the God or ruling the society in the name of God. Even today, Political leaders take oath in the name of God. The political system of the countries of the world like Bhutan, Pakistan, Italy, Germany, England etc. are influenced by religion.
10. Religion Strengthens Self-confidence:
Religion is an effective means to strengthen self-confidence. There are certain beliefs like ‘work is worship’, ‘duty is divine’, ‘result in predestined’ etc. which is found in various religions gives strength to the individual and promotes self confidence.