All religion is a social phenomenon. Although faith has a private dimension, human beings experience religion in groups or through forms created by social organizations. Every religion creates and is maintained by institutionalized rituals or concrete organizational forms. Professed beliefs are passed down by religious traditions, and ideally, these beliefs have consequences for one’s social behavior. Religious life has spawned times of war and times of peace; changed human beings and human history. Each of these social dimensions of religion can be investigated with the research methods of the social scientist. Much can be learned about religion from a sociological perspective, from reading classical sociological theories of religious organization and practice including those of Weber, Durkheim, and Marx.
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