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Featured What does it take to be considered a religion?

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by Wild Fox, Dec 9, 2018.

  1. Wild Fox

    Wild Fox Well-Known Member

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    After hearing so many arguments about atheism and is atheism a religion as well as question about is Wicca really a religion to be taken seriously not to mention the reconstructed pagan religions. It made me wonder about what it takes to be considered a religion if that is even possible. I am not trying to argue against religion in this question but rather to see how people view religion outside of the definition on the internet which are all limited and seem to be too general or specific to cover the variety of religious beliefs.

    1. What is the minimum requirement for a belief system to be considered a religions? What do you have to have to say this is or is not a religion?
    2. Why do we have to have a religion? - What does a religion provide for us that makes it so important?
     
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  2. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    Personally, I have concluded that what I consider to have religious significance is not very aligned with the mainstream perception.

    _To me_ the important factors include a certain genuine interest in quality of life, emotional health, and social responsibility. God-beliefs are definitely not needed, although their presence is not in itself a deal breaker.

    In the general sense, some measure of acceptance of supernaturalism (not always theistic) seems to be considered necessary, although I think that is a bit misguided.

    Religion is not strictly necessary. But it is often useful as a source of common language and background for pursuing social cohesion, although abuses are far too common for confort.
     
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  3. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    For something to be considered a religion, it must have at a minimum eight of twelve specific characteristics. Send me $29.95, and I'll tell you what those twelve characteristics or traits are. :D

    My joke has a point. You cannot, in my opinion, define a religion any better than to list, say, a dozen traits and then require that at least a certain number of those traits be present for something to be a religion. Other ways of defining a religion always -- always -- fail in one way or another. They either include things that are not religions, or they exclude things that are religions.

    Second question. Religions serve many purposes or functions, but even if you stripped religions of those purposes, you would still have humans engaging in religious behaviors. That's because at least some religious behaviors are deeply rooted in our genes. We are genetically predisposed to them. So even if religion served no purpose at all, we'd still be very likely to express at least some forms of religious behavior.

    My two cents.
     
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  4. Unveiled Artist

    Unveiled Artist Veteran Member

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    Religion is a structured practice of spirituality. Usually based on tradition, practice, and a foundation of beliefs for one community of worshipers.

    Wicca is a religion. They have structure. There are many covens that actually have community rituals, dogma, tradition, celebration, and like other religions, bring people together in one unit of worship.

    1.

    1. People
    2. Dogma
    3. Central belief(s)
    5. Practice

    2.

    It gives people a sense of community, structure, ritual practice, connection with the god(s), carried tradition, what holds families and communities together in love and survival. among others
     
    #4 Unveiled Artist, Dec 9, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2018
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  5. Salvador

    Salvador RF's Swedenborgian

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    What Constitutes a Church Under Federal Laws?
    by Heleigh Bostwick, December 2009

    Most churches are easy to recognize when we see them -- a congregation hall, rows of pews, probably a steeple. But what constitutes a church in the eyes of the IRS?

    Definitions of Church

    The issue of establishing definitions for a church has big implications. Institutions that are considered churches are granted tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Tax Code.

    Common definitions of the word "church" refer to the religious entity or organization, not just the building itself. The definition becomes more complicated when taking in to account each religious group's own definition of what constitutes a church.

    Churches and the IRS

    To clarify the federal government's definitions of a churches and other religious institution, the Internal Revenue Service uses clearly-defined guidelines. Over the years, the IRS has revised this list in response to various court decisions. To define churches and other religious entities, some of the IRS guidelines consider whether or not an institution has:

    • a distinct legal existence and religious history,
    • a recognized creed and form of worship,
    • established places of worship
    • a regular congregation and regular religious services, and
    • an organization of ordained ministers
    Most mainstream religions such as Catholicism, Judaism, and common Protestant sects fit easily within the IRS guidelines. However, churches that are less traditional sometimes face difficulty in meeting the federal government's definition.

    Qualifying as a Church

    Some of the confusion over churches arises when the IRS differentiates between religious institutions like churches, and religious organizations. The IRS offers the following with regard to religious organizations, "Religious organizations that are not churches typically include nondenominational ministries, interdenominational and ecumenical organizations, and other entities whose principal purpose is the study or advancement of religion."

    However, in some cases a religious organization may qualify as a church even if it does not appear to be a church in the traditional sense. This is the case with Young Life, a nonprofit organization that the IRS officially recognized as a church following a July 2005 Ruling.


    The bottom line is that the IRS has created specific guidelines on churches and other religious entities to determine their tax status. However, it is not a requirement that a church meet all the criteria. Instead, the IRS offers some flexibility, giving various religious institutions the opportunity to qualify for the highly coveted tax exempt status.

    What Constitutes a Church Under Federal Laws?
     
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  6. Liu

    Liu Well-Known Member

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    Good question - I normally consider myself to have a religion, but well, it's one in which the focus lies on making it up as you go along in order to find the approach to spirituality that fits your needs best.

    It's fine by me if you instead call it a spirituality, but it's really just a matter of definition.

    I would not consider social responsibility to be necessary for the definition, and for several people religion has been detrimental to their emotional health and quality of life.

    Agreed.
     
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  7. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    It seems that in those two respects my conception of "religion" diverges somewhat from more common understandings, indeed.
     
  8. lukethethird

    lukethethird Well-Known Member

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    My God would have to know more than your god.
     
  9. Marcion

    Marcion Well-Known Member

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    From my perception as someone practising a non-religious form form of Tantra, a religion needs to have at least some of the following characteristics:

    * Some form of superstitious belief
    * Ritualism
    * Extrovertive projection of God
    * Humanity is divided into people inside and outside the religion (sectarian outlook)
    * Mythical instead of a more rational approach
    * Some form of religious dogma (no or too little liberty to question)
    * Few or no practical spiritual exercises
     
    #9 Marcion, Dec 10, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2018
  10. Woberts

    Woberts The Perfumed Seneschal

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  11. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

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    the IRS has a working requirement list
    it was formed for the sake of tax exemptions and the like

    atheism is not likely to fill the list
     
  12. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

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    and communism?.....socialism?......anarchy?.......

    and whatever social event you might consider........?
     
  13. LuisDantas

    LuisDantas Aura of atheification
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    What of them?

    What of those?
     
  14. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    Like descriptors for any human social institution, religion is a construct. Being members of the English-speaking world, the constructs we use to delineate social institutions is biased towards Western norms. For religion, this means that the Western construct called "religion" is strongly biased towards Abrahamic religions and classical monotheism. In the United States, Protestant Christianity in particular seems to be the benchmark for understanding what religion is, which is why religion is often spoken of as a "belief system" or "faith." At the end of the day, it's vital to remember that religion is a construct and that once upon a time, religion was (and in many respects still is) indistinguishable from culture in general. Modern academia is aware of how problematic defining religion can be, and there's no consensus regarding what it is (nor is such a consensus on the horizon).

    That said, this is basically what I look for:

    • Mythos - first and foremost, religion is about myth making or storytelling. It is a body of narratives that informs us about ourselves, others, and relationships. In short, it's about the meaning of life and living.
    • Ritual - religion also includes practices that engage those narratives on an active basis. Stories are not simply told, they are living entities and enacted through behavior. In short, it's about outlining a way of life and living.
    • Values - inevitably, the myth and ritual as an articulation of personal and/or cultural values. Religion deals with our sacred things, that which we deem worthy of worship, that which we hold as a centerpiece in our lives.
    • Community - humans are social animals, and shared myth and ritual among humans creates community. It is through this community that religions become organized or institutionalized, a structure that facilitates passing mythos, ritual, and values between generations.
     
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  15. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    There are legal benefits to be called a religion:
    - tax deductions for donations where that's applicable, many countries
    - rights of priests to sign off on weddings
    - purchase of land zoned religious, often at a discount, many jurisdictions set some lands aside for this
     
  16. GoodbyeDave

    GoodbyeDave Well-Known Member

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    Language is a social phenomenon. If you ask "what does the word X mean in language Y?" the answer is "what the majority of competent first-language speakers of Y say it does". Such usage is carefully recorded in dictionaries, such as the Oxford English Dictionary:
    Whether we can come up with a superior usage is beside the point. Words mean what the majority think they mean, not what we'd prefer them to mean.
     
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  17. Marcion

    Marcion Well-Known Member

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    Not everyone is comfortable with the majority socially accepted viewpoints. Nor is there any compulsion to conform. If there was, it would be cultural fascism.
    So language can change in meaning if viewpoints shift through influential new ideas or paradigmas.
     
  18. columbus

    columbus yawn <ignore> yawn

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    Religion is like pornography.
    I don't pretend I can define it clearly, but I know it when I see it.
    Tom
     
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  19. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    Dictionary definitions are not supposed to be a tool of "cultural fascism" as you call it, but unfortunately they get used that way. Standard dictionaries only capture common (and thus majority) usages of words and are not intended to cover specialized or subcultural usages exhaustively. The more complex and culturally contextual a term is, the less standard dictionaries are useful for defining it. Religion is both highly complex and culturally contextual.
     
  20. Wild Fox

    Wild Fox Well-Known Member

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    I agree with you completely. I asked this question while reading an book on wicca out of interest. Because it is a relatively new religion if was interested in the view of god/goddess symbolically and yet also as real aspects. This raises the question are the a part of the natural world or still outside of the natural world. The one think I found interesting is was both its individuality yet having a feeling of connection with others of the same belief. Religion seems to social impact - feeling of community which seems important to humans. Maintaining individuality yet finding connection with others without forcing beliefs makes wicca and other pagan religions interesting approaches.
     
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