Defining Religion Essay
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…
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