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Religion as a Group Phenomenon Essay

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Updated: Apr 29th, 2022


According to Michael and Beit-Hallahmi (70), religious socialization refers to the process through which religious ideas and values are passed or gradually attained from one generation to another. This process is acquired right from childhood through adolescence to adulthood (McGuire 34).

Religious socialization requires active participation and support from conscious agents that play significant roles in the continued passage of these beliefs. These agents include parents, religious organizations, and society (Argyle and Beit-Hallahmi 60). It is worth noting that it is through parents, religious movements and society that values and ideas are disseminated among individuals (Argyle and Beit-Hallahmi 84).

This paper aims at examining religion as a group phenomenon, the church-sect typology, and the conflicts associated with religion. In the same vein, it relates the importance of religious conflicts to the existing state of religion in the modern world, the comparison of religious conflicts to the church-sect typology, and the application of religious conflicts in the Islam religion.

Religion as a group phenomenon

In examining religion as a group phenomenon, it is important to look at three following: childhood, family, and community.


It is at the childhood stage that the aspect of ‘our’ (our religion, our tribe, our clan, and our family) is incorporated into an individual (Sinani 23). Religion, hand in hand with socialization, inputs into an individual, the social groups’ moral norms and basic values. A child learns through watching his or her parents or through his/her participation in ongoing social activities.

These activities may include listening to a storyteller after a meal or just before bedtime where he/she learns about the central myths of a tribe. Bangura (80) claims that, from a religious point of view, children have no other option, rather than adopting the traditions and beliefs of their parents. In this case, parental faith or religion becomes the faith of the children.


Ruiter and Tubergen (51) assert that family is the foremost influence in the socialization of a child. They further add that an individual’s sense of belonging is first experienced in the family set up with the individual being an indirect participant in society.

The morals, values, motivations, and attitudes attained during childhood and teenage, within the family, become the very pillar on which full participation of an individual is based in the community (Sinani 24). Rituals, such as child naming and birthday occasions, are a significant source of the first identity. Therefore, it is quite clear that a family is a critical religious part. It is more than an agent of religious socialization.


The neighborhood, friendships and ethnoreligious groups that surround a family provide both an initial and subsequent sense of belonging and identity of an individual at childhood and later stages (Argyle and Beit-Hallahmi 45; McGuire 12). However, the process through which a child is socialized into society is gradual. A child has to learn to distinguish other ethnic or religious groups from the groups with which he or she is identified.

The internet is one agent of religious socialization that cannot be ignored. A considerable number of peers accesses the internet that has a lot of information about various subjects (Ruiter and Tubergen 51). This resource can either draw one towards his/her religion or push him/her further away. The internet has greatly led to some of the religious conflicts that the world is experiencing today.

The church-sect typology

There has been a sudden rise of cults and new religious movements in the recent past, which has led to total confusion in the sociology of religion. These religious movements/cults have varied forms of principles and religious philosophies towards the society at large (Wilson 67).

Most of them operate on the platforms of very secretive beliefs, values, and traditions that are contrary to the existing religions, including Christianity, Jewish, Hinduism, and Islam. These differences in beliefs result in the stigmatization of cult members by their families and the community at large.

Conflicts associated with religion

Today, the most violent conflicts have the element of religion. These wars are characterized by high levels of brutality and mortality rates since the participants believe that there cannot be a common ground to resolve their differences (Wilson 90). A very pertinent example of a religious war is the North-South Sudan conflicts within and between the Islam and Christian groups.

The furious Nigerian religious conflict is another example. The Boko Haram rebels are aiming at destroying all Christians in Nigeria. The latest being the kidnapping of two hundred schoolgirls from school, a matter that has resulted in a massive outcry on social media.

Religious conflicts about the state of religion in the modern world

I am tempted to ask a question at this point, how did Syria shift from a simple internal uprising to massive war that would attract funding and fighters across the Middle East? The answer is religion, and, to be more precise, Islam religion. Two major groups within the Islam religion, the Shiite and Sunni are at each other’s back with each group having such a strong hatred for one another.

The Shiite Muslims are fighting with all their might to defend the sacred sites, whereas the Sunnis who are known as Al Qaeda accomplices are out to destroy these sacred sites (Ruiter and Tubergen 48). It is quite evident from these case studies that varied religious beliefs, values, and cultures have greatly affected the religion of the modern world

Religious conflict about the church-sect typology

In my view, conflicts related to religion occur as a result of misconceived beliefs, values, and traditions by a small percentage of a religious group population. These small groups are so secretive and have guarded values that contradict the normal ways of the larger population, or rather the larger religion (Ruiter and Tubergen 51).

The groups come as sects or new religious movements. We have a sect in Syria, for example, called the Alawites. Extraordinary beliefs in members of the movement have resulted in many crises. For example, mysterious beliefs have brought about the bitter rivalry between the Alawites and the non-Alawites in Syria.

Religious conflicts within the Islam religion

The Islam religion has been highly linked to terrorism in the recent past. Many world countries are fighting against Islamic states, and terrorist gangs due to they’re strong believe against non-believers, especially Christians (Sinani 36). The Muslims’ belief in the Jihad (Holy war) has led to many attacks and brutal deaths across the world.


For an individual to be brought up well, rituals and religious experiences have to be incorporated right from childhood to adulthood. The modern world has become globalized with different ethnoreligious groups interacting and assimilating. These have resulted in myriad issues, such as the religious conflicts, that have been discussed in this paper. Others are wide-ranging cults and religious organizations.

Works Cited

Argyle, Michael, and Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi. The Social Psychology of Religion (Psychology Revivals). London, United Kingdom: Routledge, 2013. Print.

Bangura, Yusuf. The Search for Identity: Ethnicity, Religion and Political Violence. New York, NY: UNRISD, 2012. Print.

McGuire, Meredith B. Religion: The social context. Illinois, IL:Waveland Press, 2008.

Ruiter, Stijn, and Frank Van Tubergen. “Religious Attendance in Cross‐National Perspective: A Multilevel Analysis of 60 Countries1.” American Journal of Sociology 115.3 (2013): 49-52. Print.

Sinani, Danijel. “On the criteria for classifying religious organisations, or how Wallis” ascended” the Moonies.” Etnoantropološki problemi, Beograd 8.1 (2013): 19- 40. Print.

Wilson, Bryan R. Sects and society: a sociological study of three religious groups in Britain. London, United Kingdom: Heinemann, 2011. Print.

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