Social Conformity and Persuasion in Religion

The Influence of conformity on society through religionmore by John Chaaya 2,137 Download (. doc) The Influence of conformity on society in religion Religion has influenced societies on an epic scale for millennia. Even the mostprimitive people on the planet created gods to worship and use their teachings toform the basis of their society going back as far as the Paleolithic period wheremother earth was worshiped as a goddess. Through time people have stayedtrue to a belief or a religion. Individuals can seldom be without a society or faction.

Conforming to a religion provides strengths in society and provides moralguidance as well as strong communities. Conformance is defined as a voluntaryimitation which regulates the behavior of equal status subjects (Furnham, 2008,p. 96). As in every society there is some deviation from members and fromleaders. Deviance is defined as “violation of society’s norms which evokenegative reaction from others” (Ballantine and Roberts, 2009, p. 161) Therefore itis proposed that conforming to religious ideals influences the individual positivelyand creates a functioning society.

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Proposer: Groups are an essential part of human life and organizationalstructures; they help to establish peoples place in the social world and providethem with support and a sense of belonging. (Ballentine and Roberts, 2009)Religion is one of the biggest social groups and creates unity through sharedbeliefs and values. All religions have their own ideals and beliefs and adhering tothem even in the mildest sense produces a feeling of oneness in that community. Opposer: Conforming to a religion may provide unity and common cause butthere is no guarantee that the causes it supports will be positive ones.

Thecause could also be a negative one such as mass suicide as in the case of JimJones in 1978 (CNN) or the more recent conflict between Northern and SouthernIreland. If an individual joining the group does not know what to expect, theindividual would look to others for guidance (Hornsey et al. , 2003). That couldlead to disillusionment or brainwashing. Proposer: It is conceded there have been cases in which religious actions cannot be justified, yet the basis of religion has a set code which provides moralguidance and structures society. The commandments are available in almostevery religion in some shape or form.

Welch et al. (2006) found practicingChristians were less likely to commit crimes due to either religiosity or self controlbut that both operated independently. Therefore it could be concluded that in partboth impact the individuals morally. Stark (1984) also backs Welch et al. ’sfindings, where there was a negative correlation between church rates and crime. Therefore conforming to a religion does help society. Opposer: It may be the case that conforming to religious beliefs may decreasecrime but any deviance from some religious institutions may allow for that personto be cast out.

In Islam for example if a female has sex out of wedlock she could 1 be stoned to death, as is the case of the 20 year old woman in 2009 (BBC), or inlesser extremes be banished. Homosexuality in religion is still shunned and insome states in America, homosexuals have been refused the right to have a civilmarriage to be accepted federally even if some states allow marriage (Jimenez,2006). Proposer: It is agreed that deviance can lead to punishment or being shunnedbut that could be due to manipulation of scripture or negative interpretations toallow certain actions.

Conforming to certain religions provides strength incommunities and aid in bettering identities. Younis et al. (1999) showed findingsthat religious adolescents or youths that aided churches in community work in America supported their communities and were more open minded. Opposer: Although strong communities are a benefit in some societies,conforming to strong religious communities could produce fanaticism, examplesof which are riddled throughout history. The crusades are a major example of astrong community conforming to a calling for war.

Other conflicts are the Sunniand Shiite Muslims strife, and the Israeli Jews and Palestinians with other Muslimparties (Ballantine and Roberts, 2009, p. 145). Strong religious communitiescould lead to strife in the country especially if the community members are from adifferent upbringing such as Anjem Choudary’s group Islam4UK who beforebeing shut down wanted implementation of Shariaa law across the UK(Mahboub, 2009). Proposer: Religion is meant to be peaceful as are the communities who conformaround it. The Bible says “turn from evil and do good, seek peace and pursue it”(psalm 34:14) and again in the New Testament, “be at peace with each ther (mark 9:50). The Quran says God calls to the Home of Peace” (The Quran,10:25). Another Quote is “And make not Allah’s (name) an excuse in your oathsagainst doing good, or acting rightly, or making peace between persons; for Allahis One Who heareth and knoweth all things” (Quran 49:13). Opposer: Granted religion is meant to be peaceful, yet human interpretation inboth pre-schism Christianity, when the Bible was only in Latin, and Islam leadspeople to be led astray from the message. The Quran is in Arabic but people whodon’t read Arabic must depend on the word of the interpreters.

Kugel and Greer (1986) show how different interpretations of the same text in the Bible weresuited to specific goals. One such example is St. Paul in Ephesians 5:22-23where it is problematic and had multiple interpretations (Osiek, 2002). Yetanother fault with Conforming to religion is it limits the advances in science andtechnology. Brazelton et al. (1999) found multiple sources supporting religionover science, even after education there was insignificant change. Proposer: It is granted that interpretations are a possible cause to rejectconforming to a religion.

As for the limitation of science or technology, theFaraday Institute offers the ideology that science and religion go hand in hand. 2 One publication (berry, 2007) from the faraday institute deals with evolution andcreationism and provides evidence to Christians that both coexist by using theBible and rational and that evolution is how God had diversified humansbiologically. Another forte to conformity in a religion is that it providesconsequences for right and wrong. All faiths suggest that our actions during lifeaffect have consequence in death; good deeds leading to paradise and baddeeds damnation such as Leviticus in the Old Testament.

Opposer: Although it is plausible that religion provides consequences for rightand wrong, it can also serve to limit certain members of the religion opportunities. Afghani women after the takeover of the Taliban imposed strict laws on Muslimwomen inevitably placing them under house arrest as they were not allowed toleave the house without a male relative. Other issues by the Taliban weredenying women education, healthcare, and not being allowed to work. Anyviolations of these laws were punishable by stoning, whipping, even capitalpunishment (Feminist Majority Foundation, 2009). Proposer: The Taliban are a fundamentalist group.

According to the feministmajority foundation (2009), the Taliban do not fall under Islamic teaching as inIslam women are allowed to earn and keep their money, and have socialinteractions without the need of a relative. The 55-member Organization of Islamic Conference denies the Taliban as the ruler of Afghanistan and Egypt withits right wing views denies the Taliban’s decrees. In an Ideal world if theextremists did not exist and there were no false or negative interpretations, andthe Quran was “translated” into every language there would be no reason not toconform to a religion, be it of your choosing.

Opposer: The opposition concedes to the argument. Conforming to a religionwould provide a functioning society in an ideal world. However an ideal worlddoes not exist, therefore caution should be taken when conforming to a religion. Conformity in religion would be ideal as a basis for moral and social structure. With the slate of history wiped clean and a new leaf, religion without borders andwithout past aggravation towards each other, religion would be an aid to thepopulation.

The proposer found that communities are built with less crime and anopen mindedness if people conformed to a religion. If people conformed to a nonextreme, left or right wing, religion the community and culture would be stronger and if there were no false interpretations or decrees produced but instead it wasaccepted by all clerics, priests, or rabbis, conforming to a religion would seemlike an obvious choice. As for religion and science, both can coexist as a bumper sticker once read, “God spoke and bang! It happened”. 3

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