Religion and Society

Looking for Answers

christians use the Bible, Church, Conscience and Situation Ethics to work out what is right
The Bible especially due to the Decalogue (ten commandments) and the teachings given by Jesus, found in the New Testament
There are different attitudes towards the authority of the Bible:

  • literally the word of God 
  • interpret it for todays society
  • source of authority for Church leaders to study and then pass on God's message

Church- the community of Christians 
the church decides what is right as they have studies and interpreted the passages of the Bible over the years, they also have meetings to discuss moral issues
People believe that the church has the same authority as Jesus, some believe God can speak directly through priests.

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Looking for Answers

Conscience- an inner feeling of the rightness or wrongness of an action

christians believe that it is an inner part of us given by God as guidance
however some people can claim that their conscience told them to do something bad and so is not always trustworthy.

Situation Ethics- Christians should base moral decisions on what is the most loving thing to do
The Golden Rule- treat oters as you would like to be treated
sometimes the morality of the situation can depend on the situation

Using various methods (Church, Bible, Conscience and Situation Ethics) as often moral dilemmas are complicated and require different approaches. 

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Rights and Responsibilities

human rights- the rights and freedoms to which everyone is entitled
in Britain, every UK citizen has human rights as they are enshrined in law

Bible teachings show the importance of human rights.

electoral processes-the ways in which voting is organised
social change- they way in which society has changed and is changing
political party- a group that tries to be elected into power on the basis of it's policies
pressure group- a group formed to influence government policy on a particular issue
democratic processes- the way in which all citizens can take part in government (usually elections)

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Genetic Engineering

Genetic Engineering- a scientific process that involves the removal of DNA from an organism, altering it and then putting it back in again

Cloning- a form of genetic engineering that produces a duplicate of the parent

some Christians say it is wrong as it is manipulating the structure of living organisms 'playing at being God'

others say it is not bad but it is used questionably -although there may be long-term consequences e.g Dolly the Sheep, it may be a risk worth taking.

the Bible teaches that God creates life, so humans shouldn't intefere. Only God should be perfect
the outcome can lead to good, Jesus heald people. God gave us scientific abilities

Roman Catholics are generally more against GE than Protestants

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Our Environment

environment- the surroundings in which plants and animals live and on which they depend to live

global warming- increase in temperature of the Earth's atmosphere (caused by greenhouse effect)
renewable technology investment, low-carbon cars, reducing air travel, reducing fossil fuel use, energy-efficient light bulbs etc.

land- streets and verges, UK offices 15m tonnes of waste paper a year, landfill, burning, 
sea- factory chemicals, polar bears threatened, 1m seabirds killed every year, 8m litter every day
air- 32,000 deaths a year, engines, fossil fuels, ozone layer, lung/medical issues
recycle, fairtrade goods, think before you buy...packaging etc.

natural resources- naturally occuring materials, which can be used by humans
conservation- protecting/preserving natural resources and the environment

we are not sustainable, overfishing is a problem, there is conservation work going on there.

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Teachings on the Environment


"God looked at everything he had made, and he was very pleased" -shouldn't change it. God's.

creation- the act of creating the universe, the universe which has been created
stewardship- looking after something so it can be passed on to the next generation
many Christians believe they should do their best to protect the environment


Qur'an tells Muslims that Allah created the world and everything in it for a purpose

Khalifa- responsibility that Allah has given Muslims to care for the world; the person who acts as Allah's steward on earth.
Muslim Declaration on Nature- Muslims are Allah's steward

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Fertility Treatment

infertility- not being able to have children

options available to infertile couples:

  • artificial insemination by husband (AIH)
    injecting husbands semen into the uterus artificially
  • artificial insemination by donor (AID)
    injecting donor's semen into the uterus artificially
  • in-vitro fertilization (IVF)
    couples egg and sperm taken, fertilized in a lab and then placed in the womb
  • egg donation
    different egg, partners sperm in a lab
  • embryo donation
    donated egg and sperm fertilised in a lab to form an embryo before womb
  • surrogacy
    a woman bears a child on behalf of another woman (UK not allowed to be paid)
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Teachings on Infertility Treatment

Roman Catholic-
anything other than natural is wrong 
IVF process involves several fertilised eggs (some are killed)
some agree with Roman Catholic view
some agree with Roman Catholic view on IVF
Other Christians-
God gave us knowledge to help infertile couples
other sperm/egg seen as adultery

Muslim attitude-
IVF- acceptable as long as it is couples egg and sperm
AIH- acceptable to many Muslims
AID- forbidden (adultery)
Surrogacy- (adultery) and upsets the idea of lineage so is a sin
Adoption- is good for couples who can't have children. no legal adoption process as Muslims don't believe it is right for the child to be given the identity of the adoptive family

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Transplant Surgery

organ donation- giving organs to be used in transplant surgery

Christians Views:
-no right to intefere with God's creation, resurrection (body needed)
-living organs given freely out of love, loving your neighbour, donated by relative ok
-the gift of life is precious, resurrected in spirit, Golden rule, sacrifice and helping others 

Muslim views:
-bodily resurrection sanctity of life (shouldn't harm Allah's creation), no right to alter Allah's plan
-Muslim's duty to alleviate suffering, as long as doesn't risk donors life, donor card, save lives

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the UN:

  • impose sanctions on those threatening world peace
  • authorise use of force against those threatening world peace
  • send in peacekeeping force to keep opposition apart; enforce peace agreements

    in the 1980's, Kosovo became part of Serbia and tried to peacefully gain independance. Many were Albanians and formed the KLA to gain it forcefully.the Serbian army began ethnic cleansing. NATO bombed Serbia until it's forces withdrew. the UN then took over

How the UN dealt with the situation:

  • peacekeeping forces to keep the Serbian army out
  • protected Kosovan independance
  • allowed democracy to develop
  • helped EU aid kosovo to develop into an independant democractic state

conflict resolution- bringing a fight/struggle to a peaceful conclusion

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War and Peace

Religious Organisation (Pax Christi or Muslim Peace Fellowship):

  • public debates about the horrors of war
  • anti-war protests and inter-faith conferences
  • work for economic fairness

why wars occur:
Religion- one Christian country sees another country treating it's Christians unfairly(protection)
Nationalism- all minorities should be removed from your country (Hitler)
Economics- to take resources
Ideological/political differences- 1949- NK invaded SK in order to unite them under communism

Just War Theory(St. Thomas Aquinas):

  • removing injustice
  • in an attempt to restore peace
  • last resort
  • avoid killing civilians

the UN- international body set up to promote world peace and cooperation

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Attitudes towards War

Christian pacifists (Pax Christi):
'turn the other cheek'
'love your enemies'
'those who live by the sword die by the sword' 
5th commandments 'do not kill'

Can fight in just wars (not always possible to avoid):
all churches agree
St Paul said you should follow orders of your government
Jesus never condemned soldiers he met
Jesus said 'give to Caesar what is Caesar's'

Islamic attitudes:
don't believe in turning the other cheek
greater Jihad(good Muslim), lesser Jihad(struggle with others through war)
Qur'an says must fight if attacked
Muhammed fought in wars
Muhammed said Muslims must fight in just wars
if Muslims die in a just war they go straight to heaven

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Attitudes towards Bullying

Christian (all against):
violence with cause is sinful
mistreating God's creation
the Golden Rule
the Good Samaritan

Muslim (against):
society based on mutual respect
violence without cause is sinful
Qur'an says Muslims should protect the weak and innocent
mistreating Allah's creation

 Religious conflicts within families:

  • no longer want to be part of parents religion(won't be with them in after life/become immoral)
  • marry outside of faith(which religion for child/where will couple be buried)
  • children more religious(priest=no grandchildren/criticise life of the parent)
  • moral issues(catholic getting divorced/living together before marriage)
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Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Christian teachings:

  • Jesus died to bring about forgiveness of man's sins/reconcile humans with God
  • God forgives those who ask
  • St. Paul- Christians should try and live in peace with eachother
  • all churches agree with these ideas

Muslim teachings:

  • Allah is compassionate to sinners
  • Qur'an tells Muslims to forgive
  • Muhammed forgave and reconciled with people after battles
  • can only ask God for forgiveness if you have been so on Earth

bullying-intimidating/frightening people weaker than yourself
forgiveness- pardoning someone for what they have done wrong
reconciliation-bringing people together who are opposed to eachother

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Need for Law and Justice


  • all groups need rules that it's members will follow
  • laws in business make sure we are paid and treated fairly
  • protect the weak from the strong
  • keep organisation

Law and Justice connection-
St. Aquinas said an unjust law is not a proper law because:

  • people will feel it is right to break the law
  • if some are unjust, people may think all are unjust
  • if they don't give justice, they will take it into their own hands
  • is their legal system is not working, it may lead to a civil war (Kosovo)
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Four reasons:

  • Retribution- punished in proportion to the crime 'kill those that kill', criminals should suffer for what they have done.
  • Deterrance- to stop them from doing it again and stop others from doing the same crime. cutting someone's hands off for stealing so they can not steal again.
  • Reform- educating criminals so they can gain qualifications and don't have to turn to crime
  • Protection- keep criminals in prison for so long that when they are released, they are no longer a danger and protects the people in the meantime

most forms of punishment are a mixture of these

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Attitudes towards Justice

God rewards the good and punishes the bad

  • the Bible says God is a God of justice
  • Jesus said the rich should share with the poor
  • New Testament has lots of phrases about how we should treat people fairly


  • Qur'an says God is just
  • Last Day is concerned with justice
  • as Khalifas, they should share the Earth's resources equally
  • Islam teaches people they should all have equal rights (Zakah)
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Capital Punishment

a crime punished by death is called 'capital offence'. abolished in the UK in 1970

non-religious for:

  • deter crimes like murder and terrorism
  • murderers are a threat to society, should be permanently removed
  • only retribution/compensation for murder is death

non-religious against:

  • could be wrongly convicted
  • countries without the death penalty have lower murder rates, doesn't work
  • executed terrorists may become martyrs and inspire others to become terrorists
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Attitudes toward Capital Punishment

Christian against-

  • Jesus came to reform sinners (can't do this if they are dead)
  • Jesus banned the Old Testament law of 'an eye for an eye'
  • human life is sacred and only God can take it away
  • Jesus said 'turn the other cheek'

Christian for-

  • Bible mentions it as a punishment for certain crimes
  • Catholic/CofE churches have not condemned it
  • Church used it for crimes like heresy
  • Aquinas said peace in society was more important than reforming sinners

Islamic against-
allowed for 3 crimes, murder, adultery and apostasy (someone working against Islam)

  • set down by God in the Qur'an and Muhammed sentenced people to death
  • Shariah law lays down the crimes to be prescribed death
    some are against this. Shariah law allows families blood money in place of death penalty
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Drugs, Tobacco and Alcohol


  • tobacco can't be sold to under 18's and commercials are banned
  • supervised 16 year olds can go anywhere in a pub and can have a drink with a meal
  • drug punishments can vary from 2-life years in prison and an unlimited fine

Christian Attitudes:

  • all against illegal drugs as the body is a temple and shouldn't be abused and drugs have mental effects making it harder to worship God properly
  • tobacco and alcohol are okay in moderation. Jesus turned water into wine, St. Paul said ok and Jesus drank wine at the last supper
  • some practise abstinence because the Bible warns against drunkenness and the Bible says it impairs judgement, inflames passion and invites violence

Muslim Attitudes:

  • prohibited as haram as Satan uses them to keep them from God, Muhammed calls them 'khamr'(forbidden), seen as suicide by Muslim lawyers, Muhammed told them not to
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