What Is Religion?

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Religion is a broad concept that encompasses many different beliefs, values, and practices. It is often defined as human beings’ relation to that which they regard as holy, sacred, absolute, spiritual, divine, or worthy of especial reverence. It is also a way of dealing with ultimate concerns about the meaning and purpose of life, the fate of the human community and of the natural world, and the place of humans in both.

The concept of religion is a social genus, a category-concept that exists in every culture and can be defined functionally as the beliefs and practices that generate social cohesion or provide orientation in life. It is not, as some have argued, an ideology or a system of belief that can be defended on the grounds that it is true or false.

Learn about different Religions to gain a deeper understanding of other people’s cultures and beliefs. The more that you know, the better equipped you will be to have meaningful conversations and build relationships with people from around the world.

While some textbooks take a standard “dates and doctrines” approach to religion, it’s important to find resources that go beyond this and include first-person accounts of what it’s like to be part of a specific religious community. This will help your students feel engaged with the subject and develop critical thinking skills as they learn about the nuances of modern religion. Also, look for lessons that introduce sophisticated ideas at an introductory level and use analytic tools of scholars in the field of religious studies and related disciplines such as anthropology, history, literature, and critical studies in race, sexuality, and gender.