Durkheim: Religion and Conscience Collective

For Durkheim, to think on the individual level like Weber was to miss social causality and collective fact. Society is real.
Religion is a means, whatever is the given individual reason for religious believing, for people to actually believe in (affirm and give commitment to) society.
Religion comes from religio which means to bind, and religious rituals bring people together in a solemn way, emphasising what is common between them, legitimising social relationships blessed by the Church and seeing overall purpose. This was a major function in creating a "conscience collective".
Religion is a structure that functions to keep a society as one.
Like Marx religion is conservative - against change
Unlike Marx religion is a tool of consensus not conflict as it is, and therefore is conservative.
Of course it is a very Catholic or at least national view of religion, and for Durkheim religion is part of Mechanical Solidarity.
Mechanical Solidarity is society as one organism, its own entity, as under feudal conditions of commonly held beliefs and practices. It is this way around: people personify what society believes.
Yet it does not take account of religious diversity and plurality which is more like the organic solidarity of the division of labour.
Organic Solidarity is the interdependence of later specialising and market connected society. Diverse religion cannot bind mechanically!
A criticism is that this mechanistic history is rather a French view universalised: Anglo-Saxon society was never as mechanistic (collective and unified) as Durkheim might suppose.
His sociologist nephew Marcel Mauss had more to say about ritual as binding. He called it the gift - give something material and take something spiritual. It is a means of exchange and has a unifying impact. Religion is important, but the gift is seen in all forms of exchange (for example, giving money to receive something you want, binds you into the market economy, or sex is an exchange that binds you to your lover).