FUNCTIONAL DEFINITIONS OF RELIGION
Definitions of religion seem to fall into one of two categories. Some categories define what religion does while others try to describe what religion is.
Those definitions that focus on what religion does are classified as functionalist; that is, they seek to explain how religion functions within the life of an individual or society.
Now please watch the clip below from the film Le Amistad (1997)
Now please read the following from Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe 1852 :
- At the beginning of the clip from LE AMISTAD who do we see? How does this clip that depicts the utter horror of slavery - have anything to do with religion? How do you think that religion was used by the slave owners?
- What does the extract from Uncle Tom's Cabin tell us about how Christianity was a 'functional' element in the lives of the slaves in American homes and plantations?
These examples I have utilised are extreme. But I feel that they show the ways in which religion has been used to 'unite', 'calm' and 'control' a race for the benefit of the colonial slave masters. As YINGER describes, Christianity in this instance helps the slaves to 'cope with the ultimate problems of human life'. Christianity brought huge 'relief' for the slaves and was adopted by slaves throughout America and Europe.
- Thinking a little further... How do you think MARXISTS would describe the 'FUNCTION' of Christianity for the slaves and their owners?
Post by Mrs R. Agnihotri