Defining Religion Essay

881 Words 4 Pages
Eileen Barker states that there is no agreement on a definition, yet to study religion, a working definition is important. It provides parameters for the student. The study field for religion is very wide. Some may even interpret sport as a religion though not necessarily correctly.

Definitions may include deities, such as Islam and Christianity; others not (Buddhism and Shinto.) A broad definition of religion would generally include rituals, special symbols and artistic and music style, sacred or special texts and a set of doctrines, (good) moral and behavioural codes. Usually there are designated days and meeting places, for devotees to gather. The belief system will likely include spiritual self-progression and perhaps a
…show more content…
These all make interpretation and definition difficult.

An Introduction to Humanities, Block 3 (p46,) points out that, in practice, it is not possible to achieve a position of complete neutrality. It is however, possible to reach a broad consensus about what constitutes a religion.

"Religions start...from different assumptions and appeal to different authorities. Finding a way to judge the respective merits of their truth claims is, therefore, extremely difficult." (An Introduction to Humanities, Block 4 p52) So even for the spiritual enquirer of religion, the task of understanding religion is far from easy.

There is further clouding of the issue for students when one needs to separate religions from cults. The Church of Scientology has been unable to register its centre as a place of worship in Britain - the closest an organization can get under British law to being recognised as a `religion.' (Block 3, p29) Some regard the Mormon Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,) as a cult.

Generally a modern definition of a cult indicates a quasi-religious organization that holds a strange or dangerous aspect, either to the mental or physical well-being of its followers.

The student of religion must weigh up the cultural, emotional and historical aspects of a religion (sometimes from

Related Documents