The Role of Religion in American Society


Religion is a system of rules and beliefs that govern the behavior of its members. It often involves moral laws, specific codes, or criteria. People adhere to religion for a variety of reasons, such as to gain certainty in a world of uncertainty. It has also proven helpful to humans who lack faith by providing guidance and direction.

Although religion is a major component of American life, many people are spiritual but not religious. While only 8 percent of the population identifies as religious, more women than men do. Religious practices are most common among Boomers and Gen-Xers. Religion is not necessarily a necessity for happiness, however. Religious groups may also be a part of a larger cultural resistance.

Traditionally, psychologists have defined religion as a broad concept that encompasses a wide range of institutions and traditions. Those who practice religion seek to cultivate the soul and establish relationships with a higher power. In addition to spirituality, religions foster the development of character, and they often involve adherence to rules and practices that shape a person’s attitudes and actions.

However, religious participation can often be a self-serving activity, with a limited understanding of the core tenets of the faith. For example, religious participation can be an important source of social support, a sense of purpose, and a moral code. The role of religion in society is shaped by its cultural context, but its value cannot be underestimated. Ultimately, religion should enhance spirituality, not diminish it.