All religions have certain things in common:
- They separate ‘us’ from ‘them,’ believers and non-believers, members and non-members.
- They lay down set beliefs, creeds and rites of practices. Usually they insist that followers subscribe to the whole package.
- They usually expect followers to contribute financially.
- An appointed ‘priesthood’ or ‘clergy’ sporting special robes and/or role symbols.
- Have sacred days, festivals etc. in which followers observe certain practices such as feasting, fasting, visiting a place of worship and exchanging gifts.
- They are willing to distort or discount scientific and other evidence that conflicts with their beliefs.
Some religions also:
- Look down on non-believers and try to scare people who don’t agree, e.g. by preaching eternal damnation.
- Are exclusive to a certain race/group of people They dismiss other cultures on the grounds that, ‘he or she is not one of us.’
- Encourage followers to believe that they can only connect with a Higher Power with the help of an intermediary and by taking part in specified rites and rituals. For example, you could live as ‘Jesus’ intended and still not be regarded as a good Christian if you do not attend church and observe the sacraments.
Wisdom, love, peace and truth are not a result of belonging to a particular religious group (although this may help some), but understanding spiritual truths such as right thinking, humility, love and forgiveness – and putting them into practice.
©David Lawrence Preston, 25.1.2017
Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @David_L_Preston
How to Books, 2007