How do religions both unite and divide humanity?

How do religions both unite and divide humanity?


The term religion is generally used to describe a set of beliefs and practices associated with the worship of superhuman beings. The major religions of the world include Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, and Buddhism (Altglas, 2018). Some people consider religion to be a source of hope and comfort. Others believe in religion simply because they were raised in religious families (Yamane, 2016). In as much as these are good reasons for believing in religion, it is also important to note that religion has some bad aspects. It sometimes causes wars and violence (Yamane, 2016). The current essay examines how religions both unite and divide humanity.

Religions and Society

Religion influences many aspects of societal life. One of such aspects is gender relations. The perceptions held in the society about the role of women and men in leadership vary from one religion to another. While some religions allow both men and women to take religious leadership, others do not (Sophia, n.d.). An example is Roman Catholicism.  The church does not allow women to be ordained as priests. This demonstrates how religion divides humanity. The practice discriminates against women since it restricts religious leadership to males. It excludes women from such leadership opportunities.

Another aspect that is influenced by religion in the society is the legal system. In some nations, civil law and other laws derive from religions laws (Yamane, 2016). Examples are Muslim majority countries whose law is referred to as sharia. All citizens in such countries are expected to obey the law. Anybody who acts contrary to this law is likely to be punished. In this case, religion serves as a unifying factor of humanity. This is due to the fact that it acts as a source of law that is supposed to guide the people of a nation.

Religion in Global Affairs

Religion also influences global affairs. One of these cases is the role that religion plays in influencing religious wars and violence. A good example is The Crusades. This refers to a series of religious wars that occurred between 1096 and 1192 (Sophia, n.d.). During this era, Muslim and Christian armies fought against each other for control over Palestine, Eastern Europe, and other territories. One of the popular propagandas that motivated the Christians in the wars is that it was necessary to recover the city of Jerusalem. It was believed that those who died in the battlefield would go to Heaven. This belief also illustrates the unifying power of religion.

The global distribution of different religions in the world as well demonstrates the influence of religion. This distribution creates many “worlds” in one. For instance, Christianity originated in the Middle East. From there, it spread to Europe, America, Africa, and other parts of the world. Today, about one-third of the world population identifies with Christianity (Altglas, 2018). This is another important situation in which religion tends to unite humanity. The Christians around the world consider themselves as the members of one family that follows the teaching of Jesus Christ.


From the discussion above, it is evident that religions have the power to both divide and unite humanity. In the society, religion causes divisions by restricting the leadership of religion to males. On the other hand, it unites people by forming the basis for law in the countries dominated by Muslims. In the global context, religion causes serious divisions since it sometimes leads to religious violence and wars. On its part, the distribution of different religions globally demonstrates the power of religion to unite different people of the world.


Altglas, V. (2018). Religion and Globalization: Critical Concepts In Social Studies. London: Routledge.

Sophia. (n.d.). Unit 3 Tutorials: Religion’s Impact on Individuals, Society, and the World. In Approaches to Studying Religions. Retrieved from–2/unit3/study-guide/8190/national-religions-2

Yamane, D. (2016). Handbook of Religion and Society. Cham: Springer International Publishing.

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