Institutional Religion- Relgious pluralism

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  • Steve Bruce (1992):
  • Argues that religious pluralism results from a variety of sources, all of which have undermined the communal base to religious orthodoxy.
  • Modernization and industrialization of society into a plurality of cultural and religious groups.
  • The state cannot support one religion without causing conflict.
  • The plurality of religions reminds individuals that their beliefs are a personal preference, a matter of choice, and no longer part and parcel of their membership of society.
  • Bruce sees these processes as central to secularization.
  • Strong religion, which dominates people's lives and shapes how they live in profound ways, cannot be widespread in a fragmented society.
  • Weak religion is more suited to fragmented societies. It accepts that there is more than one way to to spiritual truth and does not seek to dominate individual lives to the same extent as strong religions.
  • Religious pluralism exercises a strong influence on society in general, encouraging a toleration of diversity in which a plurality of beliefs can thrive.
  • (1995, 1996 and 2002): Argues that NRM's only recruit very small numbers compared to the massive decline in mainstream Christian religions.
  • Bruce estimates that active membership of eastern-based spiritual groups is not likely to be more than 10,000 fewer than the number lost the christian church in a month.
  • Ethnicity and religious diversity:
  • Bruce acknowledges that certain ethnic groups often retain strong religious beliefs.
  • Bruce believes religion remains strong because of its social importance rather than because the members of the group have deep religious convictions as individuals.
  • Bruce claims the religion tends to serve 1 or 2 main purposes for ethnic groups: Cultural defence or transition.
  • 1. Cultural defence:
  • From Bruce's point of view, it is their ethnic identity that is important, rather than religiousity. E.g Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party ( Represent Northern Irish protestants who strongly support the union of Northern Ireland within the UK)
  • 2.Cultural Transition:
  • Religion is used as a resource for dealing with situations where people have to change their identity to some extent. E.g Asian, African and Caribbean migrants to Britain and…


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