Religion has three universal-functions. To rationalize and make bearable individual suffering the known world to enhance self-importance and to knit the social values of a society into a cohesive whole.

It has been observed that religions brief rituals and practices have had a great stabilizing impact. Max Weber and Emile Durkheim took keen interest in studying the impact of religion on society. The four major categories of functions are satisfying individual needs promoting social cohesion providing a world view and acting as a form of social control.

Satisfying Individual Needs:

Religion provides individuals with ways to minimize anxiety and to promote emotional interaction. During stress and strain, individuals calm themselves by appealing to deities for guidance and help. They can also calm their fear by trusting in God.


Social cohesion:

Religion has been and remains a powerful source of social cohesion. Through religion, norms and values have always been internalized. It provides the main foundation on which the society rests Emile Durkheim convinced that all societies have a continuing need to retain and uphold their basic sentiments and values like Family; religion is also a universal institution.

Universality implies that religion must serve a vital function on maintaining social order. Through rituals religion fulfils a number of social functions. It brings people together physically and promotes social cohesion. It reaffirms the beliefs and values of the groups.

It transmit groups cultural heritage from one generation to the next. It offers emotional support to individuals during times of stress and at important stages in the life cycle. The political authority in many societies were also legitimized because of religious beliefs.


Establishing world Views:

Max Weber observed that religion response to the basic human need to understand the purpose of life. Weber argued that the emergence of protest and ethic constituted a major development in the rationalization of the world.

It served to reshapes the social structure and was one of the major sources of the powerful rationalization that a produced batty capitalism and industrialism.

Religion as a form of social control:


Karl Marx argued that the ruling ideas of each age have always been the ideas of the ruling class. The dominant religion of a society is that of the dominant class. Marxist scholars emphasized that the role of religion was Jo justify the political status. It was done by cloaking political authority making opposition to it seem immoral.

Marx said. “Man makes religion, religion does not make man.” He referred to religion as the opium of the masses. He believed that through religion the masses were kept from actions that might change their relationship with the ruling class.

The masses were given the idea that if they followed the rules established by religion they would receive their reward in heaven. So they had no reason to try changes or improve their condition. Religion is an agency of social control and it imparts a sacred quality. It provides courage for survival. It forms the basis of the unifying principles of every society.

Organization of Religious life:


There are several forms of types of organization of religious groups that are found in society. These are explained below.

A universal church:

It includes all the members of society within one united moral community. It is completely a part and parcel of the social, political and economic status quo and there by accepts and supports the secular culture.

The Ecclesia:


Like the universal church it extends itself to all members of a society. It is however, a church that shares, the same ethical system as the secular society and that has come to represent and promote the interest of the ruling class.

The Russisan orthodox Church is an example in this regard.

The Denomination:

A Denomination is a religious group that tends to limit its membership to a particular class, ethnic group or religious group or at last to have its leadership positions dominated by members of such a group.


The sect:

Sect refers to a small group that adheres to religious doctrine involving unconventional beliefs or forms, of worship.

The cult

While the sect often develops in response to rejection of certain religious doctrine or ritual within the large religious organization a cult usually represents the introduction of totally new religious ideas and principles. The cult are generally led by charismatic leaders who expect total commitment.

Religion in same form or other has been prevalent since time memorial. This implies that religion has along evolution any history. It involves a system of beliefs and practices shared by a group of people. It is the foundation upon which the social values rest.

Religion is present in every society. It has been recognized by many scholars that religi6us practices, beliefs and rituals have had a great stabilizing impact on the society.