Social Science - Other

What are the Elements of Religion

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"What are the Elements of Religion"
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Religion has a vast array of elements, depending on the religion that is practiced. Common to most religions is belief, statement, faith, fellowship, worship, sanctification, ritual, and the law.

Common among the practitioners of a particular religion is a shared belief. Whether a God, or divine being with overwhelming power over life, death and the world, or a demon, capable of wreaking nothing but mischief and evil, the followers of a religion agree overwhelmingly that one divine being or power is the ruler that they have chosen to follow. In some religions an anthropomorphic representation of an elemental force, such as nature, water, fire, air, rain and so on is the agreed upon deity. In some religions, an idea that the religions founder believes will be convincing and profitable brings people (and their money) together.

There are thousands of statements about the divine entity. What it looks like, what it's personality is, whether it is evil or good, how much power it has, what it wants, and so on. These statements may be the source of agreement, disagreement, variation, embellishment and even war.

Faith comes when the religion is successful in communicating that faith in things that cannot be proven, actually makes them happen. If not now, then later, only the faithful, who believe unconditionally in the statements, will be rewarded, be protected, or be guaranteed something.

Fellowship is the human collective of the religion. Group activities include worship, study of the statements and laws, teaching of ways to apply the statements and laws, worship and ritual. These endeavors are bolstered and made more fruitful when others are present to share them.

Worship is the group or individual's direct communication with the deity. Prayers of praise, supplication, adoration, invocation, pleas, thanks, and experiences of the deities grace and presence are conducted during worship services, formations, meetings, and at other times of need or when certain rituals apply, such as christenings, funerals, and especially when alone.

Worship services can also include music, dance, affirmations of faith, lectures and teachings, community announcements, collection of funds, general information about the business of the church or temple, and sermons that rouse the congregation to another week of faith and devotion.

Sanctification is the process where people, objects and substances are made holy, have a special connection to, or are anointed by the deity or the agents of the deity. Their very presence is believed to hold special meaning, powers, or connection to the deity.

Ritual is usually conducted by sanctified, trained, educated or anointed individuals, who perform acts which are usually pleasing, requesting, giving thanks, obeying an imperative, imploring, remembering, sacrificing, or keeping a promise that was made to the deity.

There are thousands of rituals and habits that are shared by the members of religions throughout the world. From the rituals of Shabbat to christenings, meditations, calls to prayer, and baptisms, to the Catholic mass, members of the major religions know the common rituals that they can expect whenever they fellowship with others of their religion, anywhere in the world.

Finally, the laws of religions exist in superior form and standing to secular laws. While most religious laws require obedience to secular law, these laws govern and guide all life decisions, behaviors and actions of the individual from a higher plane of existence, with divine imperatives and directives, and not the rule of mankind as their source. In many religions, living as little secular life as possible, while spending as much time as possible in study, meditation and prayer is an entire way of life.

In other religions, combining religious law and practice with secular life, including government, is the rule for the whole society, whether they practice that religion or not.

In some individuals, strong ties to religious law and practice can be apparent in all of their life activities, be they political, commercial, personal or social.

There are a vast number of religions, a lot of them having only one person as a member. There are incredible variations in rituals, practices, and traditions within the great religions of the world. There are many individuals, objects, and substances that have been sanctified throughout the history of religious mankind. And there are a lot of entities, natural forces, and even thought processes which decide what makes a deity of some thing, some substance, or some person.

More about this author: Elizabeth M Young

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