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Religious Society

‘’Religious society is only human society stretched to the stars.’’ This assertion, originating from Emile Durkheim’s sociological writings on religion, seems to echo that religion is something social and a product of society in a number of ways. First, religious representations are ‘collective representations’ which denote realities which inform the collective conscience of individual who practice that religion. Conceived this way, Thompson (2004) reckons that, religion is an expression of a unifying belief systems and practices, which depict the moral norms of a particular collective thinking of human society. This is what Durkheim called Conscience Collective (Thompson, 2004)

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Secondly, Thompson (2004) imagines that the rituals and rites which are performed by a group of people denote decisions arrived at with the intentions of exciting, maintaining and recreating psychological mind-sets of the people involved. He likens the belief by Durkheim to time descriptions. He argues that, because time is itself divided into weeks, days, months, years, seasons among others, religious practices and rituals also respond to periodical occurrences and recurrences which are part of the collective approach. Accordingly, rites, feasts and ceremonies are organized within specific times of the year to express belief systems and practices expressing societal position about them (Thompson, 2004).

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Thirdly, the distinction of religious beliefs justifies religion as a product of society, that is, religion is just but a social construct. In Thompson’s interpretation’s of Durkheim’s sociological thought on religion, all forms of belief systems, howsoever the degree of their complexity, share one feature which supposes religion as thought by man into two things: profane or sacred. In this, profane expresses the evil/bad and the scared the accepted virtues and positive dogmas. Seen this way, religious beliefs are the categorizations which communicate the nature of the scared and the associations which they maintain with each other or with the profane. On the other hand, rituals and rites then come in to define how human beings ought to behave or organize themselves in the midst or presence of these sacred objects, which interestingly, are socially construed (Thompson, 2004).

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In sum, religious society is tied to belief systems common to a determined group, which supposes the practice of such religion and connected to those practicing it. Besides, all the beliefs and moral perceptions in Emile Durkheim’s mind are only but a creation of a particular society.

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