Religion in an Oppressive Society: The Antebellum Example


Religion: a socio-spiritual phenomenon that pervades and influences human actions in all realms of human existences plays diverse and divergent roles in the society. Therefore, it is difficult to define with a simply and a single category. Hence, on the one hand, Karl Marx saw it as an instrument that supports the status quo and oppresses the less privileged and the powerless and as such a vital force in the legitimization of social ills in the society. On the other hand, Marx Webber and other functional theorists maintain that religion as a social fact is a force in mobilizing social solidarity and unified actions against the social order. In this direction religion therefore plays revolutionary roles in any given society. Against the backdrop of the seeming contradicting and conflicting positions of these two main schools of thought in the field of sociology of religion, this paper is poised to reassess the divergent roles religion has played in history among the oppressed people of the world, using the both Marxian and Webberian paradigms as a matrix. This paper considers oppressive society as a society that maintains a social and economic classification of its members as a norm. It is also noted that it is through such classification of its members in their nexus that social injustice, discriminations, dehumanization are maintained. This situation is the defining paradigm of the global village (the new World Order), governed strictly by economic dictum. To this end therefore, this paper re-invokes the roles religion played in the ‘Antebellum’ America, with a view of applying the same in the modern era, which has great resemblance with the Antebellum America, in terms of oppression, though not in its magnitude.

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Okoro, K. (2012). Religion in an Oppressive Society: The Antebellum Example. Open Journal of Philosophy, 2, 251-259. doi: 10.4236/ojpp.2012.24037.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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