Religion, Cohesion, and Conflict

Often, religion has a negative connotation affiliated with the name. Rightfully so, many of the things that religion has been guilty of historically like colonialism, war, social exclusion, etc. can not be forgotten. However, religion has also played an immense role in the social cohesion of societies as well. Even now, with a “separation of church and state” America is considered very religious, and religion binds together the very fabric of the United States. One concept that I found especially fascinating was the idea of “civil religion”, and God’s hand in “protecting” the United States. Looking at America as a “religion” with the symbols being freedom, soldiers, and the president show how religion acts as cohesion with national identity. While the goal for America is to protect what is considered sacred, there are many competing thoughts about what is considered sacred. For some, it is the sanctity of a women’s choice, and for others it is for the life of a child unborn. The division of people found within the political landscape today can be attributed to the competing notions of what is sacred. Civil religion is an example of how “religious ideology” can contribute to both social cohesion and conflict.