Religion (Unit 1)

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Religion (Unit 1)
Religion (Unit 2)

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Unit I



Ex. 1. Read the text and discuss it with your partner


Many religions exist on our planet. Among them there is Christianity, the Orthodox, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and others. But God is unique for every confession.

The science says that there are physical laws that govern the physical universe. The Church says that there are spiritual laws which govern our relationship with God.

The universe, the world and man came into existence in the beginning when God created heaven and earth and all creatures. The Bible presents a true and historical account of Creation.

Man was created by God in his own image. He was created perfectly and without sin. Man can talk with God by praying with his mouth or simply his heart since God knows man's heart.

The Bible promises eternal life to all who believe in Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God. Jesus lived a life without any sin.

He was then crucified to pay for our sins. By faith in Jesus as people's Savoir from sin, they have the confidence that they will join him in heaven after the die.

Faith in Jesus Christ is a living force within the believer given by the Holy Spirit. They may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness knowing that their sins are taken away by God.

They know that Jesus Christ will come again. Though no one can tell the exact time of Jesus' return.

This is what people believe, teach and confess.


Word List

Christianity – христианство

Orthodox – православие

Islam — мусульманство


Comprehension Exercises


Ex. 1. Think of names for them:

a)      belief in a god or gods (religion)

b)      to admit that you have done something illegal or wrong (confess)

c)      relating to the part of a person that many people believe continuous to exist after death (spiritual)

d)      to make something new to exist or happen (create)

e)      an action, thought, or way of behaving that is wrong according to religious laws (sin)

f)        to kill someone by fastening them to a cross with nails or rope (to crucify)

g)      a strong belief that someone or something is good (faith)

h)      a name that Christians sometimes use for Jesus Christ who saves us from trouble or danger (Savior)


Ex. 2. Answer the questions:

a)      What religions do you know?

b)      Is there any difference between science and church?

c)      What does the Bible present?

d)      How man can talk with god?

e)      Why was Jesus Christ crucified?

f)        What do people believe in?

g)      What religion do you belong to?


Ex. 3. Complete the sentences:

a)      Many religions …

b)      god is unique …

c)      The Church says that there are …

d)      Man was created …

e)      The Bible promises eternal life to …

f)        By faith in Jesus Christ …

g)      They know that Jesus …

h)      Though no one can tell …


Ex. 4. Give the description of these words:

religion; confess; spiritual; create; sin; to crucify; faith; Saviour


Ex. 5. Reread the text and give a short summary of it using new words and word combinations.


Ex. 6. Read some more information about religion of the British people and put questions to these texts:

The British People


Throughout British history religion has been closely connected with kings, queens and politics. England was a Roman Catholic country until 1534. Why did this change?

In 1525 King Henry VIII decided to divorce his queen, Catherine of Aragon who, at the age of forty, was five years older than Henry. Also, she had only given him a daughter, and Henry wanted a son. He fell in love with Anne Bolleyn who was younger, but when Henry asked the Pope for permission to divorce Catherine, he refused. Henry was so angry with the Pope that he ended all contact between England and Rome, divorced Catherine of Aragon without the Pope's permission and married Anne Boleyn. In 1534 Parliament named Henry head of the Church of England. This was the beginning of the Anglican Church. This quarrel with Rome was political, not religious. The Anglican Church did not start as a Protestant Church and Henry certainly did not regard himself as a Protestant. In fact, the Pope had given Henry the title of "Defender of the Faith" in 1521 for words he wrote attacking Martin Luther, the German Protestant. (British kings and queens still have this title, and you can see the letters FID DEE or F. D. on British coins today). However, the Protestant movement in Europe was growing very strong at this time. When Henry quarrelled with Rome and ordered the Bible to be translated into English, the way was open for Protestantism to spread in England. Over the years many people changed to this new religion.

In 1533 Mary, Henry's daughter by Catherine of Aragon, became Queen of England. Because she was a Roman Catholic, the country re-entered the Roman Church. While Mary was Queen, many Protestants were burned at the stake for their beliefs. She also put her non-Roman Catholic sister, Elizabeth (the daughter of Henry and Anne Boleyn), into prison in the Tower of London. Protestants were glad when Mary died in 1557 and Elizabeth became Queen. Elizabeth also became Head of the Anglican Church, like her father, and Roman Catholicism was never again the established (official) religion in England.


The Different Religions

Studies show that about 9 in 10 Americans identify with a religion and that about 6 in 10 belong to a church. About 94 percent of Americans who identify with a religion are Christians. Among Christians there are more Protestants than Catholics. However, there are many different Protestant denominations, or groups. For example, Protestants include, among others, Baptists, Methodists, and Lutherans, and each of these groups is divided into smaller groups. So Catholics, although outnumbered by Protestants, are the single largest religious group. Jews are the largest non-Christian group, with about 4 percent of the population. About 2 percent of the population is Moslem, and smaller numbers are Buddhists and Hindus. Native Americans of ten preserve their tribal religions.


Vocabulary Practice


Ex. 1. Read and translate the text using the dictionary if necessary:


Part I

We have already studied cultural universals, i.e. general practices found in every culture — such as dancing, food preparation, the family, and personal names. Religion is clearly such a cultural universal and religious institutions are evident in all societies. At present, an estimated 3.6 billion persons belong to the world's major religious faiths.

Religion is found throughout the world because it offers answers to such ultimate questions as why we exist, why we succeed or fail, and why we die. It is difficult to determine with certainty when religious behavior began, but anthropological evidence suggests that such behavior was evident at least 100 000 years ago.

Nowadays the world's principal religions include the following religious faiths:

1. Christianity or the Christian religion. This religion is based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and is named after him. Jesus Christ was expected to save the Jews. He established Christianity and was considered by the Christians to be the son of the God. Christianity was established in the 1st century AD. and later developed into a ruling religion. Now it is one of the world's major religions.

In the course of time Christianity was divided into several branches Roman Catholicism is a branch of the Christian religion, the Roman Catholic Church, whose leader, the Pope, rules from Rome. Protestantism is a part of the Christian Church that separated from the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century. These two religious faiths are the national religions of many countries in Europe, North and South America, and Australia. The third major branch of Christianity is Orthodox. The Orthodox Church or the Eastern (Greek) Church is contrasted with the Roman or Western Church. It came into being with the fall of the Roman Empire in the 4th century and developed into a world's major religion in the IX-X1 centuries in the Eastern part of the Roman Empire, Byzantium. Nowadays the Orthodox Church includes the national churches of Eastern Europe. Among the other Christian faiths is the Anglican Church or the Church of England which was established in the 16th century as a branch of the Christian Church and now it has about 30 mln followers. All in all, there are over 1.6 billion total Christians in the world.

2.  Islam. The founder of this religion is the great Arabian prophet Mohammed or Muhammad (570(?)—632 AD). The followers of Islam are called Moslems or Muslims. This religious faith is the national religion of many countries in Asia and Africa. The followers of this religion worship  Allah (the Arabic word for «God»).

3.  Buddhism. This religion is founded by Buddha, the great religious teacher who lived in India about 2500 years ago. The followers of this religion are called Buddhists. This is the national religion of India and some other countries of Asia.

4.  Judaism, the religion of the Jews.

5.  Hinduism, the religious system of the Hindus (the largest social and religious subdivision of the population of India).

6.  Chinese Folk Religions. Although some particular religious faiths dominate some areas and countries of the world, nowadays even within the same society, there is a diversity of beliefs, rituals, and experiences that characterize its religious life, and people turn to a variety of religions for answers to ultimate questions of existence


Part II

In modern societies religious behavior is organized in four basic forms: the ecclesia, the denomination, the sect, and the cult.

An ecclesia is a religious organization that claims to include most of or all the members of a society and is recognized as the national or official religion. Examples of an ecclesia include the Lutheran church in Sweden, the Catholic church in Spain. Islam in Iran. In a society with an ecclesia the political and religious institutions often act in harmony and mutually reinforce each other, though within the modern world, the ecclesia tends to be declining in power

A denomination is a large organized religion that is not officially linked with the state or government. Though considered respectable within a society, it lacks the official recognition and power held by an ecclesia. No nation of the world has more denominations than the United States because many settlers in «the new world» brought with them the native religions of their homelands. Thus, there is a diversity of Christian religions in the United States and some non-Christian faiths as well.

A sect is a relatively small religious group that has broken away from some other religious organization to renew what it views as the original vision of the faith. Sects are fundamentally at odds with society, they are often short-lived and do not seek to become established national religions.

A cult is a generally small, secretive religious group that represents either a new religion or a major innovation of an existing faith.

Sociologists have recognized the critical importance of religion in human societies. They see its appeal for the individual and due to that appeal they view religion as a social institution and evaluate its impact on human societies.

Since religion is a cultural universal, it fulfills several basic functions within human societies. In viewing religion as a social institution sociologists stress the following major functions of religion in modern society: integration, social control, and social support. Religion offers people meaning and purpose for their lives, it gives them certain ultimate values which help a society to function as an integrated social system, reinforce other social institutions and the social order as a whole. Religion can offer people social support. Most of us find it difficult to accept the stressful events of life — death of a loved one, serious illness, bankruptcy, divorce, and so forth, especially when something «senseless» happens. Religion encourages us to view our personal misfortunes as relatively unimportant, as being “God's will”. This perspective may be much more comforting than the terrifying feeling that any of us can die senselessly at any moment. Besides, religion offers consolation to people by giving them hope that they can achieve eternal happiness in an afterlife.

But not all social scientists look upon religion in this perspective. Karl Marx described religion as an «opiate» particularly harmful to oppressed peoples. In his view and later in the view of conflict theorists, religion often drugged the masses into submission by offering them a consolation for their harsh lives on earth: the hope of happiness in an ideal afterlife. In simpler terms, religion keeps people from seeing their lives in political terms and diverts their attention from earthly problems. From Marx's perspective, religion promotes stability within society and therefore helps to maintain social inequality. Religion reinforces the interests of those in power and the subordination of the powerless.

Finally, Marxists suggest that religion lessens the possibility of collective political action that can end oppression and transform society.

In contemporary industrial societies, scientific and technological advances have increasingly affected all aspects of life, including the social institution of religion. The term secularization refers to the process through which religion's influence on social life diminishes. But despite the fact that this process is evident and other social institutions — such as the economy, politics, and education — maintain independence of religious guidance at present, it would be incorrect to conclude that religion is in decline. Religion will survive in the private spheres of individual and family life and on a personal level because people appear to be turning to religion as they lose confidence in other important institutions of social life. At present, religion continues to be an important influence on human society.


Ex. 2. Find in the text English equivalents of the following:

вера (вероучение), по крайней мере, с течением времени, отделиться от, сравниваться с (противопоставляться чему-либо), возникнуть, падение Римской империи, установить, последователь, основатель (основать), пророк, поклониться кому-либо, разнообразие (2), экклесия (верность церкви), вероисповедание (отличное от официальной религии), секта, культ, претендовать (заявлять), взаимно усиливать друг друга, терять власть, не иметь официального признания, отделиться (порвать с), привлекательность, социальная поддержка, несчастье, утешать (успокаивать), бессмысленно, утешение, приводить кого-либо к покорности, тяжелая жизнь, проще говоря, отвлекать чье-либо внимание от земных проблем, обеспечивать стабильность, сохранять неравенство, власть предержащие, бесправные, успехи, уменьшаться (снижаться), несмотря на, руководство, выжить, терять веру в, вечные ценности.


Ex. 3. Supply the missing words and word combinations choosing among those given below.

1) Cultural universals are ... found in every culture. 2) Religion is ... such a cultural universal, and religious institutions are ... in all societies. 3) It is difficult to ... with certainty when religions behavior began. 4) Christianity is ... on the life and ... of Jesus Christ. 5) The Orthodox Church is ... with the Roman Church. 6) Although some particular religious faiths ... certain areas and countries of the world, people turn to ... of religions for answers to ... questions of existence. 7) In a society with an ecclesia, the political and religious institutions often act... and mutually ... each other. 8) Most of us find it difficult to accept... events of life. 9) Religion ... us to view our personal ... as ... unimportant. 10) Religion offers ... to people by giving them hope of... happiness in ... . 11) Karl Marx described religion as particularly ... to oppressed peoples. 12) From Marx's perspective, religion ... stability and helps ... social inequality. 13) In ... industrial societies, scientific and technological ... have ... affected all aspects of life. 14) At present, other social institutions maintain ... of religious ... . 15) People ... to be turning to religion as they lose ... in other important institutions of social life. 16) At present, religion continues to be an important ... on human society.


influence, appear, confidence, independence, guidance, contemporary, advances, increasingly, promotes, to maintain, harmful, consolation, eternal, an afterlife, encourages, misfortunes, relatively, stressful, in harmony, reinforce, dominate, a variety, ultimate, contrasted, based, teachings, determine, clearly, evident, general practices.


Ex. 4. Study the following word combinations and use them in sentences of your own:

to belong to, to offer answers to ultimate questions, in the course of time, to come into being, to be recognized, to decline in power, to break away from, to renew smth, to be at odds with, to offer social support, to offer consolation, to look upon smth, to drug smb into submission, to keep smb from doing smth, to reinforce the interests of those in power, to lessen a possibility to do smth, to. maintain independence of, to lose confidence in, to be an important influence on.


Comprehension Exercises


Ex. 1. Reread the text and answer the following questions.

1) Why do you think that religion is a cultural universal? 2) What are the world's principal religions? 3) What are the basic forms of organized religious behavior? What is the difference between them? 4) Why do you think sociologists have recognized the critical importance of religion in human societies? 5) What are the major functions of religion, if viewed from the sociological perspective? 6) How are these functions fulfilled by religion? 7) In what perspective did Karl Marx and other conflict theorists look upon religion? 8) What diminishes the role and influence of religion within the contemporary society? 9) How can you prove that religion will survive and remain an important aspect of life in modern industrial societies?


Ex. 2. Define the following key terms and memorize the definitions:

religion, ecclesia, denomination, sect, cult, secularization.


Ex. 3. Speak on the following topics:

1) The world's principal religions. 2) Basic forms of religious behavior. 3) Functions of religion as a social institution. 4) Different sociological approaches to religion. Which of them do you share and why? 5) Secularization of modern society. 6) The increasing influence of religion within the contemporary Russian society.


Revision Exercises


Ex. 1. Revise the active vocabulary and the definitions of the key terms of unit and translate the following into English.

Трудно определить наверняка, когда возникла религия, но антропологи утверждают, что религиозные отношения существовали, по крайней мере, уже 100 000 лет назад. Хотя определенные религиозные вероучения господствуют в некоторых областях и странах мира, сейчас даже внутри одного общества существует большое разнообразие верований и обрядов, которые характеризуют религиозную жизнь этого общества. В современном мире экклесия имеет тенденцию ослаблять свою власть. Ни одна нация в мире не имеет столько вероисповеданий, как Соединенные Штаты, так как переселенцы в «Новый свет» привезли с собой религию своей родины. Социологи признают важное значение религии в человеческом обществе и ее привлекательность для отдельного индивидуума. Религия предлагает людям вечные ценности, которые помогают обществу укрепить другие социальные институты и общественный порядок в целом. Религия предлагает людям утешение, давая надежду на вечное счастье в загробном мире. Карл Маркс и другие теоретики рассматривали религию как опиум, особенно опасный для угнетенных народов, так как религия отвлекала их внимание от земных проблем и снижала возможность коллективного политического действия, направленного на то, чтобы покончить с угнетением и преобразовать общество. Секуляризация современного общества ослабляет влияние религии на общественную жизнь, но было бы неверно заключить, что религия в наше время находится в упадке.


Ex. 2. Comment on the following quotations thinking like sociologists.

«Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the feelings of a heartless world.... It is the opiate of the people» (Karl Marx «Introduction to the Critique of the Hegelian Philosophy of Right», 1844).

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