What is religion?

RELIGION

To some it’s a way of life, to others a set of values governing their day-to-day activities and trajectory of life, to some a relationship, to Ziggy Marley it’s love.

Religion. It’s talked about daily, declared publicly, lived out privately (and not so privately), but what is it?

The dictionary defines religion as:

    1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a super human agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
    2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
    3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
    4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
    5. the practice of religious  beliefs; ritual observance of faith.

Now that we’ve got the definition out of the way, let’s imagine–hypothetically speaking, of course–there was a college senior, a journalism student at an awesome university (probably Murray State), who was taking a public affairs reporting class and wanted to focus on something that interests her. She would probably choose religion as her topic because she loves Jesus.

OK, enough with the annoying third person chatter. I’m here to tell you about the different kinds of religions a journalist covering religion would need to have a handle on, in order to educate readers.

There are three major religions most prevalent in the world:

  • Christianity
  • Judaism
  • Islam

Within Christianity are another set of denominations. BBC has listed 20 religions and I’ve included them below to hopefully give you a greater idea of the world’s belief systems. Be educated:

  • Atheism

    Atheists are people who believe that god or gods are man-made constructs.

  • Baha’i

    One of the youngest of the world’s major religions.

  • Buddhism

    A way of living based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama.

  • Candomblé

    A religion based on African beliefs, originating in Brazil.

  • Christianity

    The world’s biggest faith, based on the teaching of Jesus Christ.

  • Hinduism

    A group of faiths rooted in the religious ideas of India.

  • Islam

    Revealed in its final form by the Prophet Muhammad.

  • Jainism

    An ancient philosophy and ethical teaching that originated in India.

  • Jehovah’s Witnesses

    An evangelistic religious movement.

  • Judaism

    Based around the Jewish people’s covenant relationship with God.

  • Mormonism

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  • Paganism

    Contemporary religions usually based on reverence for nature.

  • Rastafari

    A young religion founded in Jamaica in the 1930s.

  • Santeria

    Afro-Caribbean syncretic religion originating in Cuba.

  • Shinto

    Japanese folk tradition and ritual with no founder or single sacred scripture.

  • Sikhism

    The religion founded by Guru Nanak in India in the 15th Century CE.

  • Spiritualism

    Spiritualists believe in communication with the spirits of people who have died.

  • Taoism

    An ancient tradition of philosophy and belief rooted in Chinese worldview.

  • Unitarianism

    An open-minded and individualistic approach to religion.

  • Zoroastrianism

    One of the oldest monotheistic faiths, founded by the Prophet Zoroaster.

Sources:
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/religion
http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/

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2 thoughts on “What is religion?

  1. tk2012 says:

    Jehovah’s Witnesses aren’t Christian…to be Christian you have to believe in the deity of Christ…they don’t. He is just some angel to them.

  2. I agree with you 100 percent. The above list was taken from BBC in hopes to inform others, but I will make that edit. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

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