Religion and Community Cohesion

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Changing attitudes to roles of men and women

Attitudes towards women have changed in the following ways:

  • Women gained the right to vote in 1918.
  • The Equal Pay Act 1970 made employers give women the same pay as men for the same work.
  • The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 made it illegal to discriminate in jobs on the grounds of sex.
  • The 1996 Employment Rights Act made it unfair to dismiss a woman for being pregnant or taking maternity leave.

The reasons for these changes were:

  • During the First and Second World Wars women had to take on the jobs previously done by men and proved they could do them just as well.
  • Successful women in business and politics around the world show that women are every bit equal to men.
  • The UN Declaration of Human Rights includes equality for all people no matter of race or gender.
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Christian attitudes to equal rights for women

Some Christians (such as Evangelical Protestants) have a traditional attitude and believe that men should be head of the family and provide for them. They also believe that women should not be priests.

  • In the Bible, St. Paul teaches that women should not teach or speak in church.
  • Adam was created before Eve.
  • Jesus' apostles were men.
  • Jesus was a man and the priest represents Jesus in Mass.

Some Christians (such as Liberal Protestants) have a modern view and believe that men and women should have equal roles in life including religion:

  • St. Paul also said "There is neither male nor female for you are all one person in Christ".
  • Men and women were created at the same time.
  • Jesus treated women as equals.
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Muslim attitudes to equal rights in religion

Some Muslims have a traditional attitude and believe that men and women should have different roles in life and religion, and therefore they should have different rights. Women should perform their religious duties at home and men should worship Allah at Mosque.

  • The Qur'an teaches that men should support women because Allah made men physically stronger.
  • The Qur'an also teaches that women have been created to bear children.
  • Men should provide for the family.

Some Muslims have a modern attitude and believe that men and women should have equal rights:

  • The Qur'an teaches that men and women are equal in religion and education.
  • There is evidence that Muhammad encouraged both men and women in the Mosque.
  • There were women religious readers during the early stages of Islam.
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The UK as a multi-ethnic society

The problem of discrimination and racism:

  • Racially prejudiced employers will not give jobs to certain ethnic groups.
  • Prejudiced landlords are likely to refuse accommodation to certain ethnic groups.
  • Prejudiced police officers are likely to target certain ethnic groups.

The main effect of discrimination and racism is that if certain groups feel that they are being treated unfairly by society, they will begin to work against that society.

The benefits of a multi-ethnic society:

  • People from different backgrounds get to know each other.
  • Progress will be made; new people bring in new ideas.
  • Life is more interesting with a much greater variety of food, music, fashion and entertainment.
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Promoting community cohesion

Community Cohesion is different communities living and working together all having a shared vision for the future. The Government try to promote this by:

  • Giving money to groups which work for community cohesion.
  • Community cohesion is taught as part of the National Curriculum.
  • Paying for research into community cohesion.
  • Introduction of the Race Relations Act: this was brought in to help with racial harmony in 1976 which banned all forms of racial discrimination and any attempts to stir up racial hatred.
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Christianity and Racial Harmony

Christianity teaches that all forms of racism are wrong and that Christians should work to bring about racial harmony. It teaches this because:

  • Jesus treated people of different races equally, for example in the parable of The Good Samaritan. Jesus showed that races who hated each other (as did the Jews and Samaritans) should love each other as neighbours.
  • St. Peter had a vision from God telling him that God has no favourites among the races.
  • St. Paul said "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).
  • Many Christian churches have members, ministers and priests of all different races and colours.
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Islam and Racial Harmony

Muslims should promote racial harmony because:

  • The Qur'an teaches that Allah created the whole of humanity from one pair of humans, so all races are equal.
  • Prophet Muhammad said "Every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim".
  • Islam itself has members of most ethnic groups.
  • Islam teaches that Muslims form one brotherhood, Ummah.
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The UK as a multi-faith society

For a multi-faith society to work, people need to have the same rights regardless of the religion they do or do not belong to (religious pluralism).

Benefits of a multi-faith society:

  • It increases tolerance and understanding, allowing people to have different insight into different religions.
  • It makes believers think seriously about their own beliefs.
  • It allows broader thinking through shared religious ideas.
  • It makes people think about the truth in religion and the need for religious freedom and pluralism.
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Issues of multi-faith societies

A multi-faith society can cause problems for a religion because:

  • Religious people attempting to convert each other could be a form of discrimination; they are saying that the members of the other faiths are inferior.
  • Interfaith marriages could be a problem as some religions will not do this.
  • Upbringing of children if two people are of different faiths, this can cause disagreements when deciding how to teach their child about faith.
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Religions promoting community cohesion

Different religions are beginning to work with other religions to try to discover what is the same in their religions. Religions are united in a belief in a higher presence, something greater than themselves.

Some religious groups are developing ways of helping interfaith marriages.

Religions are dealing with the bringing up of children - even in faith schools children are taught about other faiths than their own.

The main way in which religions are trying to promote community cohesion is through working together in special groups.

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Issues of community cohesion in the media

Film: East is East

The issues of community cohesion are presented in this film because of how modern life conflicts with traditional values of parents.

Reasons its portrayal was fair include:

  • The family was loving and generally happy.
  • Parents wanted what was best for their children and thought the traditional way was best.
  • Religion was not really the source of conflict but culture.
  • Dad was worried what other people and families thought of his kids rather than the right thing to do in their faith.

Reasons its portrayal was unfair include:

  • Dad seemed out of touch and a hypocrite.
  • Kids were disrespectful to Islam did not show the value of Islam in community cohesion.
  • Forced marriage is against the teaching of Islam and this was not clear in the film.
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