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What are the positive effects of religion?

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Kale Emmerich eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Religion can be controversial, for sure, and there have been quite a few negative events done in the name of religion. However, at its heart, religion is intended for good. Religions are meant to be guiding posts for human morality and an opportunity for people to either commune with a higher power or center their life to make the world a better place.

Religion’s first intention is typically to give a purpose to humans. In a sometimes senseless world, this is vital, as it guides them and gives them something towards which to work. Beyond that, religion is used to teach morality. When used properly, religion combats evil and despair in the world by providing morally upright leaders and teachers. There are numerous other benefits to religion, such as community, shared values, encouraging positivity, and even simple enjoyment.

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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While much evil has been done in the name of religion, religion has made many positive contributions to society.

First, religious institutions have done a staggering amount of charitable work. Giving to the poor is one of the five pillars of Islam, for example, and is integral to the Christian message, as it is to all the major world religions. Religious institutions are responsible for establishing hospitals, schools, orphanages, prison visitation, and soup kitchens. Before the growth of the modern welfare state, churches provided most of these humanitarian services to the poor, who otherwise would have been without a place to turn. Even today, it is religious groups who often spearhead and are at the front lines of programs to help those in need, opening homeless shelters and food banks to fill gaps in the social welfare state.

Second, religious groups have often peacefully advocated for social justice in ways that have brought needed change and protected the rights of the most vulnerable. It is difficult to fight convictions which are not motivated by personal need or greed, but by deeply held beliefs that it is wrong to treat any person in a way you would not want to be treated.

Third, even...

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