AQA SCLY3 Beliefs in Society - Religion and social change: Examples of religiously inspired change

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  • Examples of religiously inspired change
    • Liberation Theology
      • Maduro - Believes that religion can be a force for change.
      • Religious justification for the liberation of oppressed people.
      • Poor can take control of their situation and accept responsibility for ending their poverty.
      • Began in 1960's Latin America. Grew out of deepening rural poverty. It was pioneered by Priests who supported the poor; under protection of the church.
        • However, Pope John Paul II condemned liberation theology as it resembled Marxism. (Conservative Force)
    • American Civil Rights Movement
      • Began in the 1950s/60s attempted to end racial segregation as blacks were denied legal and political rights such as schools were segregated, excluded from voting
      •  The black clergy led by Dr Martin Luther King were the backbone of the movement giving support and moral legitimacy to activists. They shamed whites into changing the law by appealing to their shared christian values of equality.
      • Taking the moral high ground- pointing out the hypocrisy of white clergy who supported racial segregation. Channelling dissent- Martin Luther Kings funeral was a rallying point for the civil rights cause.
      • Acting as honest broker- they are respected by both sides in a conflict and standing above mere politics. Mobilising public opinion- by campaiging for support
      • The movement began in 1955 and direct action thhrough protest. boycotts until in 1964 when segregation was outlawed,.
      • Bruce sees religion as an ideological resource- beliefs that protesters could draw on for motivation and legitimation. Religious organisations are well equipped to support protests and contribute to change
    • New Christian Right
      • Believes in a traditional family and gender roles, campaigns for the teaching or creationism and wants to ban sex education in schools.
      • The Moral Majority (a right wing christian pressure group and part of the NCR) became the focus for political campaigning and for influencing the republican party
      • The NCR use televangelism where church owned TV stations raise funds and broadcast programmes aimed at making converts.
      • Bruce argues that the NCR has been unsuccessful because it has never has the support of more than 15% of the population. The democratic values of American society mean that most Americans are comfortable with legalising activities such as abortion.
      • Aims are to make abortion, homosexuality, divorce illegal and to take the USA back to god turing back the clock back to a time before the liberalisation of American Society.
      • The NCR is a politically and morally conservative. Protestant  fundamentalist movement. Gained prominence since 1960s.
    • Millenarian Movements
      • An example of the desire to change things here and now such as bringing the kingdom of God on earth. Worsley argues they expected through the total transformation of this world by supernatural means - creating heaven on earth.
      • European colonialism shattered the traditional tribal social structures and cultures of the colonised peoples.
      • Appeals mainly to the poor as they are promised immediate improvement, and they often arise in colonial situations.
      • Worsley studied the cargo cults - millenarian movement in Melanesia where islanders felt deprived when 'cargo' arrived for the colonists.
      • Can link to the relationship between religion and social change because these movements sometimes develop into secular political movements that overthrew the colonial rule in the 1950s and 60s.
      • Cargo cults asserted that the cargo had been meant for the natives but had been diverted by the whites for themselves and that this was about to be overturned. These movements often led to widespread unrest.
    • Bruce is interested in the relationship between religion and social change. Comparing two case studies of the role of religiously inspired protest movements in America: the civil right movement and the New Christian Right.


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