In this essay, I will be discussing the effect of religion on modern society. It is important to note how religion impacts people differently and how it can change people’s perceptions of others. In the research I have gathered, there have been many sides to the arguments of whether religion is negatively affecting modern society, hence there is a biased argument being made about this main topic. One of my arguments that I will be making are whether Islam and Christianity are impacting our society in negatively. An example could be, ‘Are interfaith marriages accepted in present day even though the Qur’an 2:221 says it is prohibited?’. Furthermore, I will be including a religious theorist named Sigmund Freud and explain his perspective and beliefs on religion. Nevertheless, in this content, people need to understand both sides of the argument. Consequently, I will examine the positive sides to religion. For example, ‘Does religion play a considerable amount of importance to our culture?’, ‘Does the act of religion, such as praying, persuade more people to be happier and thankful for what they have?’. Thus, the impact religion provides in the modern day society needs to be considered and shall be analysed and compared in depth. Firstly, it is essential to consider that religion plays a very important role in the lives of many human beings. In regard to Christianity, many believers attend church, mostly on Sundays as it is known as a day of rest, to pray to God regularly. Looking at this, researchers found that people who attend their place of worship frequently had 3.36 positive emotions a day (on average). Whereas, people who never go to church had only 3.08 positive emotions per day (Amanda L. Chan, Going To Church Linked With Better Mood, Study Finds, 2012). Even after researchers adjusted for factors like education, income and age, the difference in the positive emotions remained true and on Sundays, particularly churchgoers had a higher percentage of positive thoughts than people who infrequently go to church. Furthermore, it has been seen many people adhere to religion for the sake of their well-being and souls, however, research has demonstrated regular participation in faith-based activities actually is good for the body and mind (Stephanie Pappas, 8 Ways Religion Impacts Your Life, 2012). Children with religious parents tend to be well-behaved than other children when practising a religion from day to day, according to a study that looks at the effects of religion on young child development. My primary research indicates 34.2% (of people who took my survey) are religious and 42.1% are sometimes religious (following their religion’s practises) and are generally very happy people overall. Above all, a Canadian study of 70,000 people showed and found that being part of a religion, as distinct from being ‘spiritual’ only, had the stronger positive effect on mental health issues. This study shows people that being part of a religion and its activities can help with depression and mental health, it has been proven patients with ‘no’ or only a ‘slight’ belief in God and religion were twice as likely not to respond to treatment than patients with higher levels of faith and belief. Therefore, religion helps the mind and well-being drastically compared to not being religious at all. This can show non-believers that being religious will help them live a happier and more positive life. On the contrary, research which was conducted out of several UK and European universities found participants with a very religious mindset had a higher risk of experiencing depression. This shows that those of other religions had an 11.5% chance of depression, while Catholics showed a 9.8% chance and Protestants with 10.9% chance (Dr Raj Persuad, Dr Peter Bruggen, Being Religious or Spiritual Is Linked With Getting More Depressed, 2013)However, on another topic, Christianity and Islam (the two religions I am basing this essay on), believe interfaith marriages are wrong and this is due to what their religions believe in, which can affect generations that are living currently in this modern society. This is a result of our present, urban environment as people do have partners who don’t believe in the same faith that they do. In regard to Christianity, the Bible says “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). Looking at this, believers can understand that God doesn’t want believers to be ‘yoked’ with people who don’t follow the faith of Christianity. Therefore, from this part of the bible, people of this faith understand that God intends believers to marry believers of the same faith and not people from other faiths, in order for them to follow the right direction. Comparing this to Islam, they believe interfaith marriages are wrong as well. Yet, in Islam, Muslims believe only Muslim women are forbidden to marry a non-Muslim regardless of what religion he believes in unless her partner converts to Islam which some men normally do in order to appease their partner’s family. Whilst a Muslim man is allowed to get married to a non-Muslim woman who is mainly of the Christian or Jewish faith (People of the Book). Looking at this information, people of this world can’t seem to marry people of another faith, if they are religious, which can affect them because at the moment 21,000 interfaith marriages were recorded in the UK in 2001. (Radabah Abbass, ‘Halal’ interfaith unions rise among UK women, 2012). Furthermore, people who try to get blessings from their elders to marry a believer of a different faith could be disowned therefore this can break up families, which is really sad. From my own knowledge, I know in Hinduism, elders do the same and don’t like their children marrying someone who is not of the same faith. Overall, we can understand these religious’ laws and traditions can affect people of these generations because people can’t help falling in love with a person that is always going to be of the same faith as them. In my perspective, I think it is absolutely fine if a couple are not of the same faith as long as they respect each other.Nonetheless, interfaith marriages do have some positive aspects to modern society. For example, usually, children who grow up with parents of different faiths learn and practise both religions. This actually helps the child to understand what those religions teach their followers. The child can also learn the differences and similarities between their parent’s religions which can aid the child to live a better life while knowing how to live their life on the right path as they see the rules of both faiths.However, we need to examine another argument which suggests religion is one of the most important things in the majority of peoples lives. Many people believe their religious stories from their chosen faith help them understand their lives even more. They can tell right from wrong by reading these ancient stories from their religions and they can aid their moral development, helping people realise how God wants his followers to live their lives. The notion that religion is a need for morality is deeply ingrained and widespread in people’s minds. Talking specifically about Christianity, The New Testament generally spreads the knowledge that all morality flows from the Great Commandment, to love God with all one’s heart, mind, strength, and soul, and to love one’s neighbour as oneself (Deut 6:4-9 and Lev 19:18). This shows Christian people that their religion is helping them become better people, which is additionally teaching their offspring that they will grow up to be good people if they follow the Christian way, helping them with their role in modern society. In Islam, morality is a key aspect. This can be seen in the Qur’an where Allah describes Prophet Muhammed and says (translated): “And indeed, you are of a great moral character.” (Quran, 68:4). In the Muslim religion, the prophet’s high standard of manners leads him to be an ideal role model for Muslim people. Furthermore, the prophet empathised to his followers that manners is such an essential thing and helps you become a disciplined person. He has said: “The best of you is the best among you in conduct.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim). Consequently, both religions believe morality is needed and assists you to become a better person and following God’s words will help you do so. Thus, religion helps you become an improved person and help you do correct things because when following these rules and traditions, believers understand what the consequences will be, due to what religion they follow. On another note, there are many religious theorists which may say otherwise. According to Sigmund Freud, his views on religion are described in several of his books and essays (as well as other peoples). He regarded religion and God as an ‘illusion’ based on the infantile need for a powerful father figure, God and that “it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires.”(Sigmund Freud, New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis, 1933). By saying this, Freud meant that religion is not “real”. It is something the mind made up because it brings pleasure and satisfaction to it and because it comes so naturally to the mind as well. Even though Sigmund Freud did become an atheist, he did grow up being Jewish and understood and argued that Judaism, “helped free humanity from bondage to the immediate empirical world, opening up fresh possibilities for human thought and action”. He also suggests faith in God facilitated a turn toward the life within, helping to make a rich life of introspection possible.”(Mark Edmundson, Defender of the Faith?, 2007). So, looking at this, modern society can understand both sides as to what Freud is explaining on religion and what his perspective and view are on it. They, and I personally, can examine the two factors Sigmund Freud had with religion throughout this life and relate it to their own or mine too.Whilst looking at religious extremists I discovered one that particularly caught my eye which was a cult who name themselves ‘Heaven’s Gate’. This is a destructive, doomsday cult which is based in California. 21 women and 18 men, who were a part of the cult, voluntarily committed suicide on three consecutive days in three groups starting on 23rd March 1997. Most of the people who committed suicide were in their forties; the rest covered an age range of about twenty-six to seventy-two. (B.A. Robinson, Heaven’s Gate: Christian / UFO believer, 2009). This shows that religion can really influence lives in such a catastrophic way and impact people considerably to the extent where they sacrifice themselves believing it is the right thing but worse, actually take other people’s lives. Therefore, Heaven’s Gate is an example of how religion can affect modern society negatively.To summarise, after looking at all the research I have conducted, I saw and understood that I actually agree with my question and believe that religion does have a negative effect on our modern society. This is mainly because of the destruction and some rules and conditions that some religions consist of. This includes the actions of religious theorists such as Heaven’s Gate which I mentioned in my arguments. People can take religion way over the line and do some things which result in pain and tragedies however there are more reasons as to why I believe so. Throughout my time of research, I have learnt some new knowledge like the beliefs and requirements in Islam mostly to do with their sight of interfaith marriages. In this essay, I think I did really well with not using proper English and synonyms for words so I don’t repeat myself too much and I felt like I understood my topic well. In my opinion, I think this topic was quite easy in some areas but when looking at religious theorists and their perspectives I did struggle with getting the information correct and valid. Apart from the struggles of this essay I did enjoy producing it as it helped me be more knowledgeable of Christianity and Islam. When evaluating my essay altogether, I think I did quite well with understanding what I need to do to achieve a good grade. I did a lot of research and identified many statistics and included both quantitative and qualitative data in my work. Moreover, I was knowledgeable about this topic beforehand and this gave me an idea as to what I could include in my essay as a whole. If I were to start again, I would change my question slightly and add the idea of whether God affects people and whether he does exist. To be honest, I think I have developed my project really well as I limited my research to the facts I thought was most important which I believe I did quite good in so I didn’t go off topic. However, I could have done more if I added the topic of homosexuality and LGBTQ+ in my essay to make it more interesting.
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