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About Me:Hi I’m Nadege and I study French at the University of Leeds, and I have just completed my third year abroad in Montpellier studying literature and enjoying the sunshine! I love art; painting and being creative, as well as photography and baking. Travelling is my favourite hobby at the moment; experiencing the French language and culture. I hope you enjoy reading some of my articles!
Jim Jones, the leader of the People’s Temple, shows how religion can provide a sense of community, harmony and consensus, but very quickly it can escalate to social conflict, divisions and cause deaths. Jones created a happy environment where people of all ethnicities could unite together to worship. However, when Jones build Jonestown in Guyana in order to create a ‘socialist paradise’, Jones treated the people poorly and he convinced them that the American government were after them so they could not escape. The people were forced to lie to the media, showing Jones’ control. When 16 people asked to leave, they were shot and Jones wanted everyone to commit mass suicide. People were injected with cyanide poison and around 900 people died. This disaster shows how social conflict was caused because society had no idea what Jim Jones had done or was doing to the people. It shows how religion can force people to do certain things, be divided from the rest of society and have no escape. The fact that the American government did not act on the case before it was too late created social conflict. Consequently, though this may be an extreme example, it shows how the religious organisation began harmoniously and created a consensus, but social conflict and divisions resulted from it.
Wars also occur due to religion. Numerous wars, for centuries have taken place to do social conflict and divisions in religion. The social conflict in Ireland took place because there were divides between the Catholic religion and the Protestant religion. Conflict is still taking place, however The Good Friday Agreement in 1998 set the terms for the final peace settlement. It can be argued that wars are the biggest, most dangerous forms of conflict in the world, and if most of them are being caused by religion, religion cannot be maintaining harmony or providing a consensus.
As we live in a multi-cultural society, there are many different ethnicities in Britain. However, their religion can also bring conflicting values to society, causing divisions. Ethnic minorities are often discriminated against as their values conflict with those of mainstream society as Britain has a main religion of Christianity. The Islamic religion for example believes in the segregation of women, that arranged marriages should take place and that due to Sharia Law, they are not allowed to drink alcohol or smoke. These values conflict with those of Christianity and the laws of Britain. However, Modood et al states that ethnic groups become even more religious in Britain because their religion acts as a support network which helps with racism and discrimination. As some may be marginalised from society, they turn to their religion to help them deal with this as it gives them a source of identity and community through shared values. Consequently, their religion gives them harmony and a consensus within their own community.