Original Research - Special Collection: T.F.J. Dreyer Dedication

Religion, civil society and conflict: What is it that religion does for and to society?

Jaco Beyers
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 67, No 3 | a949 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v67i3.949 | © 2011 Jaco Beyers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 August 2010 | Published: 01 August 2011

About the author(s)

Jaco Beyers, Department of Science of Religion and Missiology, University of Pretoria, South Africa


Human consciousness instinctively tries to make sense of reality. Different human interpretations of reality lead to a world consisting of multiple realities. Conflict occurs when differing realities (worldviews) encounter one another. Worldviews are socially created and determine human behaviour and, as such, most often find expression in religion. The discussion of conflict and the role of religion in civil society take place within the discourse of the sociology of religion. Religion is socially determined. Peter Berger’s insight into the sociology of religion therefore plays an important role in establishing the relationship between religion and civil society as one that takes on different forms. Thus, a clear definition of both civil society and religion was needed to understand the nature of these relationships. The role of religion in civil society with regard to the presence of conflict in society was further investigated in this article. The conditions under which conflict in society occurs were discussed, as were the conditions for tolerance in society, for religion ultimately becomes the provider of moral discernment when conflict occurs in civil society.


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