Discussion Questions

  • How do classical sociologists theorize the role of religion in society? Compare and contrast the views of Durkheim and Marx.

  • If religion serves as a source of stability, as functionalists claim, does that mean that a nation of atheists would be less stable than a nation of religious believers? Make a sociological case to support your position.

  • Consider the issues related to women and religion raised in this chapter. Where societal norms are increasingly progressive but dominant religious doctrines are traditional, which one might be reasonably expected to change? Explain your reasoning.

  • What are the key characteristics of the current generational shift in religious affiliation in the United States? How might sociologists explain this shift? Do you believe it will continue? Explain your reasoning.

  • Describe the role of religion in U.S. politics today. Has the role of religion in politics changed in recent years or decades? Considering trends in religious affiliation, might we expect it to change in the near future?