‘The relationship between religious beliefs, religious organisations and social groups is complex and diverse. Different groups have different needs and priorities.’ To what extent do sociological arguments and evidence support this view?
Statistics show that women have a greater participation rate in religious organisations than men. Women are more likely to express a greater interest in religion, to have a stronger personal faith and believe in life after death. They are more likely to involve themselves in religious rituals and worship, for example, attend religious services and lead a more religious life generally.
There are many sociological explanations as to why women are more ...view middle of the document...
Religious participation, particularly in religious sects or new age cults, may help to overcome or compensate for this. Due to women staying at home for child care or having part time jobs, some would argue that this allows women to have far more spare time to be able to attend religious groups, therefore increasing their attendance.
Statistics show women’s attendance to religious organisations are higher than men’s, however some Marxist feminists such as Bevoir and Bird argue that religion is used to oppress women. The view that religion has negative consequences for women is conveyed in the study by Bevoir, who sees religion as patriarchal and oppressive. She supports the Marxist perspective and suggests that religion is oppressive and serves to control and reimburse the second class status given to woman. Which is similar to Marx’s viewpoint on the polerteriants who believe religion gives women a false belief that they will be compensated for their suffering on earth by equality in heaven. This argument suggests that religion is patriarchal therefore it is inevitable that it will end up having negative consequences for women.
According to feminists there are countless example of patriarchy which have been used to control and later oppress women. Places of worship show this as they often segregate the sexes. An example of this is the Jewish synagogue in which women are placed behind screens separate from the men who in turn are situated in the main centre space. This highlights the marginalisation between the men and women.
Although there are some rising female readers of religion, scriptures were first and foremost written and interpreted by men and it is men that are the head of the churches in Islam and Catholicism. This could mean that many values and ideologies such as wearing the Burka, beatings, female circumcision and bans on contraception may have been misinterpreted for men’s gain and passed on through generation to generation. May religious women are still not permitted to become priests or are only allowed to work themselves up to a certain level before they hit a religious ‘glass ceiling’, identifying where they want to be, but not being able to reach it due to the constraints set upon them. On the other hand, there are views to suggest that women are no longer oppressed in religion. For example, many cults are run by women and Paganism, from which many New Age religions originate, remains the most female-friendly approach to religion with a strong feminist element, where God is a mixture of male and female, and strong female leadership is common.
Individuals seem to develop a greater attachment to religion as they grown older. Religious belief is lowest among those under 34, and highest among those over age 55. Young people are not only less likely to...