A religion postulates some sort of external authority with powers above and beyond what are commonly considered the human purview. Often the authority has anthropomorphic aspects and may be seen as interacting in one way or another with humanity – and may even live nearby though in an inaccessible location.
Religion is usually part of the fabric of every day life, with aspects both mundane and supernatural. The mundane, or liturgical side of religion, would deal with prayers and offerings interwoven with a person's normal living experiences. But often religion includes mysteries that can only be interpreted by a designated intermediary – a priest or shaman.
Many religions include ancestor worship, or veneration of the dead. Religions may also focus on nature-worship, expressing gratitude for natural blessings and life-sustaining resources. Religions usually have moral attributes as well, focusing on various attributes that sustain social virtues and ease personal commerce within the community.
A religion, by definition, tends to be seen as more formal than "faith" or personal faith. Religion implies a doctrine that may have been passed down – and elaborated on – from generation to generation. There are forms and procedures inherent in religion that worshippers usually observe and even methodologies that prescribe appropriate behaviors for expressions of belief.
Religion has been observed with some negativity in the 20th and 21st century, mostly because of socialist and Marxist interpretations of religion. These interpret religious beliefs as a methodology of control that substitutes a bountiful afterlife for achievement and creature comforts during the person's lifetime.
Another criticism of religion is that it stirs negative passions and incites violence as believers will sometimes try to convert others to their faith by whatever means necessary. This latter point of view, especially, may be seen as something of a canard. Religion, when examined historically, does not seem to involve organized violence unless linked to a formal political structure.
The Roman Catholic Church of hundreds of years ago was objectionable, for instance, because it was an admixture of theology and state power. Today's Church, in our view, is less objectionable because there is less intermingling (certainly overt) between Church and State.
It is unfortunate that humanity's spiritual hunger is available for manipulation by the most powerful among us. Yet lacking state coercion, a dominant social theme is hardly actionable. It is, then, merely an opinion to which one can subscribe or not as he or she chooses. Seen from this point of view, the DOMESTIC religious aspect of the power-elite thematic, is dysfunctional if not defunct.
For instance, in the West, "radical Islam exists and is evil" is no longer an opinion once the power of the state has been brought into play to act upon the meme. State coercion is alive and well once the religious elements of the "other" are seen as a national security risk.
Some argue that the state class simply seeks to substitute the state as god and themselves as divinely/evolutionarily ordained "representatives", "deciders" and alpha "leaders" (priests). Most folks who claim to be atheist simply substitute an unsubstantiated faith in collectivist "consensus," government (violence upon those who disagree with them), "agreed upon" standards, etc.
It is only when the state itself becomes involved in a religious promotion that organized destruction – and even genocide – may result. It is not religion, even organized religion, that is the problem, but the coercive power of the state that utilizes faith-based organizations to realize non-spiritual, parochial goals.
News & Analysis
|09/20/12||More than Ever the NFL Reflects the Dysfunction of US|
|03/12/12||Having to Fund Immoral Policies|
|03/01/12||Faiths and Public Affairs|
|11/09/11||Imperialism, Left and Right|
|05/08/12||Biggest Find Since Dead Sea Scrolls?|