As religion so its institutions also play an important role in social life. None can deny the fact that the different kinds of social institutions such as, domestic, economic and political influence on religious institutions. But it is also true that these institutions are sometimes influenced by religious institutions. An important aspect of religion is prayer and different classes of people belonging to different castes of society assemble through religious institutions for performing prayer and worship. By these activities there forms common feelings which thereby further generate a common sentiments and fellowship amongst the worshipers of a particular religion. Sometimes it is found that the members of a particular religion unite together, and for the greater interest of the society they perform different humanitarian activities. It is evident from the above that religious institutions perform not only their religious activities , they also discharge different types of activities related to social welfare such as, charitable hospitals, schools, homes for the homeless. These institutions also run orphanages and collect money for the poor people. It cannot be denied that religion has an external form of social control. The different activities of the people and their different spheres of social life are still influenced by religious rites and ceremonies. People generally express their religious feelings through rituals and ceremonies. It is also true that almost all the aspects of lives of primitive people were covered by religious practices, although these were crude in nature and did not have any precise organization.
We find that there are different important occasions in our social life such as, birth, marriage, harvesting, hunting, death etc. and in all these activities religious rites were performed in primitive societies. By doing these activities there developed a common feeling s and actions which are very much other than religious functions. Not only in primitive societies but also in modern societies religious activities occupy an important place. The different occasions of social life, such as birth, death, marriage etc. religious rites are performed. Similar activities are found in the events related with economic life also. Moreover, it is found that, in almost all communities religious rites are common practices during various occasions in social life such as, inauguration of a new building, oath taking etc. From the above description of the role of religion in social life, it is evident that a regular order of procedure is developed by religion in society and thus it helps to control the society. Religion helps to shape the character of an individual and thereby it moulds social life. It brings forth the sense of social value in the mind of people. In obeying the social laws or to respect the elders and to show sympathy towards the feelings of others, or to discharge the social obligations faithfully, the role of religion is immense. In those cases it acts as a teacher. Not only this, a sense of fellow feeling amongst the people belonging to different communities is also taught by religion. Moreover, religion teaches that the man‟s love and services to God will be real only if he loves and serves humanity. In developing moral consciousness amongst people, religion acts as an inspiring factor. Religion enforces uniformity of behaviour and it strengthens social solidarity and thereby acts as an instrument in stabilizing social order. In primitive age the influence of religion was very great in controlling society and this feature is not totally lost even today. Social life of primitive people were controlled by inspiring God-fear in their minds but in modern age people are inspired not by fear but by the hope for the attainment of virtuous and noble life. Thus by fostering patriotic sentiments in men, religion helps to maintain social integration.
In describing the role of religion Dr. S. Radhakrishanan says that religion has innumerable effects. Religion not only guarantees values but it also gives meaning to life. Moreover, the confidence to go on adventures is also inculcated in our mind by religion. Thus narrating the role of religion he says, “Religion is the discipline which touches the conscience and helps us to struggle with evil and sordidness, saves us from greed, lust and hatred, releases moral power and imparts courage in the enterprise of saving the world”. 4 People live in the third world countries such as, India, Africa, Brazil etc. derive their sense of life from religion and as such religion is very important to them. They get the answers of many questions that appear in their minds. The questions such as, who we are? What is the purpose of life? What is life and what is death? Is there anything after this life? – are very common for human being and they are curious to have answers of these questions. But in the third world countries science is not so developed to answer these questions. Thus, it is religion from which they seek to get answers of these questions.