Discuss: Religious Beliefs Justify Social Inequality

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Religious beliefs justify societal inequality. Discuss.

In many instances spiritual beliefs can be seen to warrant cases of societal inequality. For a huge sum of persons worldwide, faith is a powerful beginning of influence and information of the justification of what is, and is non “equal” or socially right, this is based upon sacred spiritual texts or by word of respected spiritual figures. In the state of affairs of faith increasing or cut downing the inequalities within a society it frequently deduces from the manner in which people interpret faith through word of person within the spiritual hierarchy or through spiritual Bible. Despite this faith is able to function many positive maps which benefit societies, it is even able to advance equality. It is hence merely the instance of which faiths, and to what extent there is grounds of them legalizing inequality.

From the theoretical stance of Marx, societal inequality in the West is inevitable due to the category construction of society and the unequal capitalist forces which control it. Harmonizing to Marx the important characteristics of a capitalist society are the power struggles between the laden labor ( working category ) and the suppressing middle class ( governing category ) . From Marx’s apprehension, the middle class are able to command and subordinate the labor through a figure of ways ; nevertheless, Marx believed that faith specifically, is used as a agency of warranting the labors hapless life and on the job conditions. For illustration, in Christianity it is said that it is easier for the camel to go through through the oculus of a needle than it is for the rich adult male to come in the Gatess of Eden ; intending that despite the labor ( multitudes ) life in hapless conditions, they will be more likely to come in and hold a better hereafter in Eden than the rich adult male. This enables the middle class to work the labor because faith is able to maintain them from deriving ‘class consciousness’ , gaining their subjugation and revolting against the opinion category. Alternatively the labor are trapped in what Marx calls ‘false consciousness’ whereby the on the job category are incognizant of their development ; Marx refers to religion as being the “opiate of the masses” which is dished out by the opinion category. This refers to the proletariat’s battle of life conditions and their development being temporarily numbed. Similarly Lenin ( 1870-1924 ) a follower of Marx’s theories ; implies that faith is a ‘spiritual gin’ which momently masks the labors development and prolongs the being of false consciousness. With this said, it must be noted that, from Marx’s position, societal inequality does non stem from entirely faith itself, but it is a tool of capitalist control to forestall a category consciousness.

In contrast to Marx, we have the consensus functionalist prospective which would reason that faith Acts of the Apostless as a mechanism to implement societal solidarity, that it is a critical map within society and does non warrant societal inequality. However, they do non disregard that there is societal inequality, but would reason against the fact that faith justifies it as it serves so many positive maps for society. For functionalist Emile Durkheim, he believed that the kernel of all faiths could be understood by analyzing the simplest and most basic signifiers of faith. In Durkheim’s survey of the ‘totemic system’ ( Year ) in certain Australian folk, he found that the ‘totem’ is made up of figures in the form of specific species of workss and animate beings ; profane objects that have become sacred because they represent the group itself. It is Durkheim’s position that when a group worships the totem it basically worships itself, hence making societal coherence and a sense of individuality through the sacred totem. It is Durkheim’s position that it is non faiths function to implement societal inequality but societal solidarity and the coherence for society to work efficaciously.

It is frequently that certain persons under some spiritual patterns are treated less every bit and denied entree to things which others may be granted. For illustration, it has merely been late made possible for adult females to go priests in Christianity. Additionally, some Islamic civilizations forbid adult females from both being allowed to come in the mosque or touching the Qur’an whilst they are flowing. The bar of women’s entree to the spiritual hierarchy, Bible, and topographic point of worship, prevents them from making an equal societal degree with work forces hence originating a sense of societal inequality. It is the instance that faith is frequently able to legalize equality by modulating regulations which favour work forces over adult females, for illustration under some spiritual patterns it is more than acceptable for work forces to hold more than one married woman at a clip, nevertheless adult females must be monogamous and faithful to their hubbies or hazard being charged for criminal conversation ; adult females who commit criminal conversation in Islam frequently face being stoned to decease. Feminists such as Nawal el Sadaawi ( 1964 ) make a valid point that faith is able to subordinate adult females because of patriarchal signifiers of society coming in being ; she claims it is in fact spiritual male figures of the church who interpret texts ( as adult females are non allowed ) in a manner that keeps them dominant in society, therefore leting faith to warrant gender inequality. Another manner in which spiritual reading is able to warrant inequality is when female venereal mutilation ( FGM ) takes topographic point, although venereal mutilation is besides carried out on males, is most traditionally a process endured by females. This pattern is normally performed on immature kids as an Islamic pattern and takes topographic point in many parts of the African continent, viz. Egypt, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Gambia. El Sadaawi, being a victim of FGM herself as a kid,campaigned for many old ages to halt this inhuman treatment from go oning, and emphasizing that this act of FGM is non faith. When runing in her birth state of Egypt she found her efforts to halt FGM were largely ignored, and it was merely after a miss had died in 2007 after being mutilated that there was a jurisprudence passed censoring FGM. El Sadaawi claims that although this jurisprudence has been implemented she believes that the bulk of adult females are still circumcised due to it being a strong historical and cultural tradition. Therefore El Sadaawi puts frontward the point that it is non religion itself that justifies inequality, but those who interpret it.

The old points made high spot that faith can be used a tool and a signifier of power over society, specifically making inequalities amongst gender from the theoretical position of women’s rightists, and from the Marxist position ; category. With this said, it can be observed that these two theories both examine faith as being used as an agent of justification of societal inequality, nevertheless, faith is non what they recognize as the beginning, but the construction of society.

In India the being of Hindu caste systems is a premier illustration of how religion justifies societal inequality. The caste separation is a rigorous division of society which splits persons up into categories. In these different castes there are virtually small or no mobility between them, the single members of a caste are inclined to eat, marry, and interact entirely with the other members of their caste. The Hindu philosophy provinces that the lone manner to travel into a different dramatis personae is when an individual’s psyche is reincarnated into a caste based on the manner they behave in their current caste ; a consequence of bad or good karma. There are 5 different castes which form the hierarchal Hindu caste system, with Brahmans’ being at the top terminal ( priests who perform rites and read sacred texts ) and the last two lowest castes being ‘Shudras’ and ‘Dalits’ . ‘Shudras’ are retainers to the three higher castes above them, whilst Dalits who are non technically portion of the caste system, because they are regarded as so low down, are the lowest rank in Indian society. They face a broad scope of favoritism from their deficiency of handiness to instruction and medical specialty, to their limitations on where they can populate and work. Sometimes referred to as “the untouchables” there are over 167 million Dalits in India and despite whether or non single members are Hindu, they will still confront favoritism. Therefore, this acts as an illustration of a state of affairs where it is non merely people who follow the oppressive spiritual pattern that are oppressed, inequality manifests still, to those who do non portion the same or any spiritual belief. The mechanics of this caste system are able to legalize and act upon a huge population in India that it is extremely acceptable to know apart against their ain people merely because they belong to another societal caste. Members of the three respectable castes do non experience guilty of their place or holding a better life style because they believe they have been reborn into it as a wages for being good in their old life, every bit much as why members of the lower castes do non arise for the belief they will be reborn into a higher caste. Here faith is non merely capable of warranting societal inequality, but keeping it.

Despite this, in some societies, faith can in fact be seen to forestall societal inequality. Evans Pritchard ( 1976 ) studied witchery in the Azande folk which he found efficaciously enforces societal equality. This is done so by impeaching 1s neighbour of witchery when bad luck happens e.g. when harvests fail or when person falls sick. In fact any bad luck that takes topographic point is blamed upon witchery, and everyone possesses the power of witchery. Evans-Pritchard describes witchery in the Azande as a “psychic act” whereby “the psyche of witchcraft” travels from a witch’s organic structure to antagonize its victim. The act of witchery is believed to of been either volitionally or unwilling done so non through thaumaturgy or enchantments but ‘will power’ . A witch’s motives to do unfortunate events to members of the folk are non random, but are due to envy or hatred directed at a specific individual. This is why a victim searches for a suspect among those with whom they have argued, or in a individual who may hold cause to be covetous of him. For this, and other intents, the Azande consult many different prophets. In this instance the prophet used is what Evans-Pritchard calls the “poison oracle” , used to reply a series of inquiries ( 1976 ) to find whether a specific catastrophe is due to the action of a enchantress, this is done so with a toxicant affair known as “benge” , this is administered to a poulet ( 1976: 134-8 ) . The poulet is either unaffected by the toxicant, has violent cramps, or dies. It is the mode in which the poulet reacts to the toxicant is interpreted as bespeaking the presence or absence of witchery. If the chicken’s reaction indicates that the neighbor has used witchery they must apologize to whomever they have affected. This is a regular happening which enables the creative activity of societal solidarity because differences within society are solved immediately and easy.

Overall, spiritual beliefs have the power and influence to either enforce or cut down societal inequality. It is frequently the manner in which people in the spiritual hierarchy, such as priests and vicars for illustration, interpret spiritual Bible that affects the equality amongst persons. For the three theories Feminism, Marxism, and Functionalism, despite holding different positions on faith, all promote the thought that society, non faith is the beginning of inequality but faith is indefinitely a tool. The statement ‘religious beliefs justify societal inequality’ is right to the extent that it acts as the footing for many signifiers of unfair segregation and patterns of persons. However, it must be noted that to look to religion as entirely the Providence of justification of inequality is wrong as some promote inequality more than others or make non legalize it at all, whilst other beginnings such as the construction of a society, cultural norms and values, and single actions are merely as capable of implementing the legitimisation of inequality. I personally find that the bulk of persons should hold an in-built sense of morality in what is, and what is non acceptable, i.e. bring downing hurting upon person else or handling person below the belt merely because they can. Regardless of what faith a individual follows, in most instances people should of course be cognizant of what inequality is, but faith frequently reduces to whether or non people do/can do something about it.


Evans-Pritchard, E. ( 1976 ) ,Witchcraft, Oracles, And Magic Among The Azande” ,pp. 1-56, 134-8. Clarendon Press, Oxford.

Elacqua, Joseph, et. Al. ( 2013 ) “ Hindu Caste System ” , Faithology,4th March. Retrived from: Faithology.com

Pickering, W. and Durkheim, ( 1975 ) “Chapter 7: The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life: The Totemic system in Australia“ from Pickering, W.S.F. ,Durkheim on faithpp.102-166, Atlanta, Ga: Routledge

El Saadawi, N. ( 2011 ) “I am traveling to transport on this battle for of all time” By Roberts, G. 16ThursdayOctober. Retrieved from: hypertext transfer protocol: //www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/nawal-el-saadawi-i-am-going-to-carry-on-this-fight-for-ever-2371378.html

Marx on Religionby Raines, J. Reappraisal by: Kivisto, P“Contemporary Sociology”Vol. 32, No. 6 ( Nov. , 2003 ) , pp. 721-722: American Sociological Association, Retrieved from: hypertext transfer protocol: //www.jstor.org/stable/1556656

Navsarjan Trust, Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights: ”Understanding untouchability” , ( 2010 ) ,A Comprehensive Study of Practicesand Conditionss in 1589 Villages.Retrieved from: hypertext transfer protocol: //navsarjan.org/Documents/Untouchability_Report_FINAL_Complete.pdf


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