According to Emilie Durkheim, religion is the functional theory of society. Durkheim defines religion as a ‘unified (Solitaire) system of beliefs and practices related to sacred things, that to say, things set apart and are forbidden beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a ‘church’. This theory serves the purpose in society of social solidary which, is focused on “what holds us together” as a society. Durkheim does not argue that religion creates society. He would say religion is the basis for uniting people. Under his theory, individuals are encouraged to gather together and permits reinforcement of our beliefs. It also serves the purpose of authority figures such as Doctors or law enforcements. In order words, it allows people to socialize.
Durkheim would say that it is critical if all religions divide the world into two classes or to distinct kinds known as Sacred and Profane. Durkheim wants to understand what is common in religion throughout time and in different places. One way to help him understand this phenomenal is by studying the simplest religion called Australian Totemism. It is his belief system that the fundamental separation between the sacred and the profane is most clear. Australian Totemism is recognized as supernatural divinities that are not essential to religion. He made the following statement to better understand his idea:
“If all history of human thoughts exists, there are no examples of two categories of things so profoundly differentiated or so radically opposed to one another. The traditional of good and bad is nothing beside this…while the sacred and profane have always and everywhere have been conceived by the human mind as two distinct classes, as two worlds between which, there is nothing in common…” (P. 138).
To Durkheim, sacred class consists of something that “separate and protect things”. In other words, things that has a meaning with rules and instructions on how one should utilize something. For example, children are the core of a family. They grow up to be the next generation. In today’s society, few people do not consider children to be sacred. A lot of crimes involving children are committed daily such as kidnapping and sexual abuse and neglect. In reference to Durkheim’s second distinct class, Profane, he would say that this category is all that is not sacred such as the everyday matters.