One reason is because the ‘moral majority’ was never a majority, but 15% of the population at most. The democratic values of American society mean most Americans are comfortable with legalising activities such as abortion and homosexuality. This shows that the New Christian Right were ignoring how the perception of certain activities within society had changed, therefore did not get support from a lot of the population. As well as this, its campaigners found it very difficult to cooperate with people from other religious groups, even when campaigning on the same issues such as abortion. Lastly, the New Christian Right lacks widespread support and has met with strong opposition from groups who stand for freedom of choice, such as Planned Parenthood and people for the American way.
Using material from item A and elsewhere, assess the contribution of religion to social change (18 marks)
Some sociologists have argued that religion can bring about social change, however others have argued that religion in fact causes social change. Nevertheless some believe that religion can be both a conservative force and a force for social change.
Max Weber believed in the social action theory whereby religious beliefs of Calvinists helped to bring about social change. This is supported in item A ‘religious ideas can be a powerful motivation for change, as Weber showed in his study of Calvinism.’ The surfacing of modern capitalism in Northern Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries was due to Calvinist beliefs. Calvinists had several distinctive beliefs such as predestination (where god had predetermined whether a soul will be saved or not and there is nothing a person can do to change this), devine transcendence (no individual can claim to know god’s ill, which made people feel inner loneliness), and asceticism, self-discipline and self-denial were required by Calvinist’s and this prepared them for a life under capitalism. Vocation or calling, Calvinist’s introduced the idea of this worldly asceticism, which meant constant methodical work in occupation and was a religious duty. Again preparing people of life under capitalism as it requires hard work. Weber did not say that Calvinism was the cause of modern capitalism, but that it was one of the causes.
Bruce was interested in the relationship between religion and social change whereby he compared two examples of religiously inspired protests movements in the USA - the civil rights movement and the new Christian right. According to Bruce, the black civil rights movement was an example of religiously motivated social change. Bruce sees religion as an ideological resource - it provides beliefs and practices that protesters could draw on for motivation and support. In the civil rights movement Bruce argues religion was supportive and contributed to social change in the following ways: taking the moral high ground, challenging dissent, acting an honest broker, mobilising public opinion. So for Bruce, religion can become involved in non religious struggle and help to bring about change.
Liberal theology set out to change society. Priests took the lead in educating the poor about their situation. During the 1970’s, Catholic priests resisted state terror and were the only ones to take the side of the oppressed. In Christianity, Millenarian Movements refers to the idea that Christ would come to the world for a second time and rule for a thousand years. These movements are examples of religion having the potential to bring about change, as they desire the total transformation of this world by supernatural means. They largely appeal to the poor because they promise immediate improvement. Worsey studied Cargo cults in Melanesia. He argued that cults included elements of Christianity such as ideas of a heaven where the righteous would be rewarded. The cult members were deprived as their