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"See Value: Religion" • Chapter 4 • Religion - the social value

The benefits of religion at the social-sociological level

The social value of religion is significantly reflected in culture, community life and social codes. Here are some of his positive expressions:

identity preservation

Religion serves as an important and central marker for confirming group identity and connecting to the roots. It helps individuals feel like partners and part of a larger community in place and time.

Roots (creating AI)
Roots (creating AI)

The Jewish people managed to maintain their identity under difficult conditions and for 2,000 years without sovereignty. This impressive survival is attributed, first and foremost, to the credit of religion and tradition, which Jews made sure to preserve at least their symbols.

social values

In order to maintain a normative society, it is necessary to observe basic laws. A religion comes with a set of rules that conform to a certain social convention. Rules such as "Thou shalt not murder", "Thou shalt not steal" and many others, come as religious imperatives that support the existence of a reformed society.

The Ten Commandments (creating AI)

One can argue with the saying "human nature is bad from youth". However, it is clear that there are many people for whom maintaining basic social values ​​is not necessarily their natural inclination.

Religion is not a necessary condition for the existence of social values. On the other hand, the believers are threatened with a punishment that will come from heaven for not observing religious mitzvahs. This kind of threat can have a profound effect on believers. In particular, the same is true for those who believe that the basic social values ​​were not assimilated in any other way.

Religion, in this way, can make "bad" people do "good" things.

Mobilization for missions, contribution to society and social justice

Religious motivation can be used as a lever for mobilization for community, social and national tasks. In Israel, institutions such as Zaka, Yad Sara and Gamahim of various kinds are fine examples of commitment to the service of the community motivated by religious motivation.

Mobilization for missions with religious motivation • Yad Sara and Zaka
Mobilization for missions with religious motivation • Yad Sara and Zaka

The settlements project in Judea and Samaria is also a task of this type, even if its usefulness and justification are disputed.

The damage of religion at the social level

Lack of understanding, intolerance and oppression

There are countless examples of this in history.

In Jewish history we can point to the struggle between the Pharisees and Sadducees in the days of the Second Temple. Nowadays, this can be seen in the struggle between the ultra-orthodox sects and themselves, and between them and other currents in Judaism.

There were even more difficult struggles in the past between Catholics and Protestants of all kinds in Christianity. Nowadays, you can see the struggle between Sunnis and Shiites in Islam.

Conflict with other communities

A community whose religious "truth" is rigid and irrational has difficulty accommodating other communities that do not share this truth with it. Such a community will choose at least one of the following two options:

  • Creating a cultural ghetto - the community will build a wall separating it from other communities and adopt a mentality of living under siege.
  • If it is a missionary community - it will strive to bring the other communities into its ghetto.
Ghetto Walls (AI creation)
Ghetto Walls (AI creation)

The damage of religion as a political force

The problem is especially exacerbated when religion becomes a significant political force. Then the force will be used to further promote the interests of the ruling religious community, and to create inequality in society. A striking example of this is the control of the Protestants over the Catholics in Ireland until the 20th century.

The places where religion takes political control experience socially devastating results. This can be seen, for example, in most Islamic countries that exhibit cultural desolation. The Islamic revolution in Iran and the damage caused by Hezbollah to Lebanon are contemporary examples of this type of enormous social damage.

The Islamic Revolution in Iran
The Islamic Revolution in Iran (AI creation)

This phenomenon also spills over into the Western countries which, lacking foresight bordering on irresponsibility, have imported radical Islamic communities, which are gaining political power and causing enormous damage to the social fabric of those countries.

Islam in London (AI creation)
Islam in London (AI creation)

A closer example:

The ultra-Orthodox community in Israel blatantly uses the power it received as a result of political conjuncture. It promotes a blatant sectoral preference, and even uses this power to finance an aggressive demographic, which causes an imbalance in society as a whole.

In the long run, these results pose a threat to the existence of the state.

religious wars

We have already mentioned religious extremism as the factor responsible for significant psychological damage to the believer. The same extremism is also responsible for the worst social damage that religion can create - a religious war.
A religious war is a most destructive form of war. In this kind of war, each side sees only its own absolute truth, and knows for sure that God is on its side.

The Crusaders - War of Religion (AI creation)
The Crusaders – War of Religion (AI creation)

The religious wars are responsible for a huge part of the hardships of the human race, and they are still going on today. This is how fanatical Islam incites wars of this kind wherever it goes, sowing global destruction and destruction.

Stopping the progress of free society

Religion perpetuates superstitions, intolerance and dogmas. Religion promotes irrationality, and often hinders and fights scientific and technological progress.

The story of Europe until the 17th century is like this, and the situation of the societies controlled by a radical Islamic regime is an example of this nowadays. The number of Muslim Nobel Prize winners is one of the indicators of the negative social impact of Islamist regimes.


The damages we have mentioned so far have led religions, along with their benefits, to be one of the most harmful factors in human history.

Although religion can cause "bad" people to do socially "good" deeds, it is also a significant factor in "good" people doing "bad" and even terrible deeds.

religious extremism

Religious extremism is an inevitable phenomenon

The prevailing claim is that the damage caused by religion can only be attributed to its extreme manifestations. Even if this is true, it is important to understand that every religion will have them Necessarily Extreme shows.

If someone seriously accepts the principles of religion as absolute truth, it would be very logical, and even natural, to take these principles and the "commander's spirit" to their natural end. In fact, if he does not do so, he will show inconsistency and be forced to accuse himself of hypocrisy.

From here the road is paved: if missionary work (internal or external) is part of that unshakable "truth", the believer can easily justify inquisition, crusades, pogroms, murderous jihad or any other disturbed idea, which aligns with this irrational "truth" .

The Inquisition • Public domain
The Inquisition • Public domain

The thing is, once you accept irrational axioms as absolute truth, you can continue from there to "logically" conclude anything illusory.

Results of religious extremism

The extreme religious way of thinking is responsible for the unimaginable atrocities committed in the name of Christianity in the past and in the name of Islam today.

In Judaism, these horrors were spared, at least in modern times, for the following reasons:

  1. Judaism is not a missionary religion that seeks to impose itself on other peoples (the exception, probably the only one, was the Hasmonean king Yochanan Hyrcanus who converted the Reds by force).
  2. Judaism, in terms of the number of its believers, is a negligible religion, and cannot pose a real threat to other nations.

Irrational thinking and conduct

Going along with the extreme manifestations of religion almost always leads to illogical conduct, to the point of disconnection from reality.

A small example from our districts: there is a significant public in the State of Israel who is convinced with all their hearts that their prayers are the true iron dome of the state. This idea follows almost logically from the acceptance of the religious "truth", as it is marketed to this public in all seriousness.

It is clear to anyone with an understanding that if this delusional idea is adopted by the general public, the State of Israel will not survive.

I chose the following sentence to summarize this chapter:

Religion may be the only factor capable of making bad people do good deeds, but it is also the main factor capable of making good people do bad deeds.

Contact Chai here: At watsapBy email

Yoram Katz
Yoram Katz
Graduate of the Israeli hi-tech industry, journalist, writer and blogger. Link to my website and to purchase the books Born in Haifa (1954), studied at Geulah School and Harieli School. Graduated in philosophy and psychology (Hebrew University) and computer engineering (Technion). Books: • "Lethal Scripture" (English) – a historical suspense novel • “Days of Redemption” – childhood stories from the neighborhood of "Redemption"

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