Sociologist Robert Bellah used the term 'Civil Religion' to refer to a set of symbols, beliefs, values and practices about ultimate meaning of life in a particular society. "Religion can be viewed as a system of sacred things and their interrelationship. Religion is a social phenomenon, having to do with these aspects of human existence that are socially defined as sacred by people. Religion is a social product, and people collectively produce religion".
Positive Aspects of Religion
Religion is a source of comfort and consolation in crisis. Religion helps accept the inevitable and unchanging aspects of life, catastrophes etc. Religion provides a world view of cosmology which helps explain reality and provides a world view that acts as a guide in uncertain world. Religion provides guidelines on moral and ethical issues and helps in maintenance of societies. Religion provides a sense of identity. In a society marked by rapid changes, identification with a religious community gives answers to many questions.
Negative Aspects of Religion
Religion diverts the fact that society is constructed by people and therefore can be changed by them. Religion comes in the way of change. For example, a Hindu cannot marry a Christian. Religion provides an overarching explanation of life and reality which is viewed as sacred and inviolable. This view does not allow for searching further knowledge.