Social control? Yikes!

Certain concepts presented in McGuire’s seventh chapter honestly make me feel uncertain and a little paranoid. Religious legitimation is one of these ideas in which I can think of many harmful modern examples: conservative political stances fighting against abortion due to the belief that every person is a “gift of God”, extreme and radical terrorists who believe in “holy” wars, oppressive caste system societies in which awful living conditions are allowed due to a religious legitimation, etc. The idea that religion can be forced onto people and create oppression is frankly unsettling. It is disheartening that religion, which can be such a positive and beautiful light in people’s lives, is also being used to manipulate and oppress. The next concept that has the potential to cripple individuals is religious socialization. This is the idea that religions can reinforce roles that may be extremely harmful to some but are justified by the supposed religious content. This has the power to keep people “in line” and following a system without contemplating whether or not their prescribed social role or moral guidelines has their best interest in mind or not. It is apparent that this concept is a useful strategy for establishing conformity and a peaceful society, but it inhibits change and awareness that can be vital for the happiness and freedom of the people. Last but not least, social control is frightening in the sense that when religious socialization dominates a society, people become like minded and the fire is fueled by group-think. This can be harmful to people who exist in the society but have aspects of their life or lifestyle are deemed “deviant” by the religious group and are thus excluded, oppressed, or even targeted by that society. This has the potential to be possible in America where seventy percent of the people are Christian and thus, have the same set of ethics and ideas of what is “bad” and what is “good”. I am aware that these concepts are all inevitable results of religious life joining with greater society, it is frankly a little scary to think of how powerful religion can be in a negative way.