Characteristics of Religion

Characteristics of Religion

Growing up I always heard that polite behavior dictated avoiding the subjects of politics and religion. Both subjects cause conflict between families and friends. They are personal, touchy, and complex subjects. I feel that avoiding these subjects only creates more ignorance instead of understanding. Since I prefer learning and discussing religions over politics, I want to create a series to learn and discuss the different world religions.

Theologists, philosophers, sociologists, and more have looked into religion. One thing they all agree on is that each religion is different. That can make discussion difficult, and make common ground hard to find. I have found that most studies have come to agree that religions have all or some similar characteristics. In my search, I have found anywhere from 3 to 12 common characteristics. With this in mind, I chose four characteristics that I feel embodies it all.


According to Google belief means “an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.” Basically in religion belief encompasses anything taken as truth. Most religions have some sort of belief about a supernatural being or deity. These beliefs would contain something about salvation and the nature or reason for humans. In fact, most people would say that the belief in supernatural/deity and salvation are integral to being a religion. Keeping the subject open a religion must have beliefs, generally common beliefs among all followers.


Religions include some sort of literature, generally considered sacred. The literature can come in oral or written format. The literature will teach about the beliefs. It can inform and sometimes entertain. Some followers look only at the moral, while others may take each story as fact.


Another characteristic of religion is rituals or symbolic behavior. Secularly, rituals mean a set of actions or behavior followed by a person or group. In religion, rituals take a more sacred tone to followers. The rituals remind the followers of their beliefs. Sometimes certain rituals are part of those beliefs.


Ethics means the moral code of the religion. It tells the followers how to behave in their lives. It also tells them how to treat others. Religions have some sort of moral code to guide their followers.

While all religions are different and teach differently, they generally have these four characteristics. Each religion will have some beliefs, sacred literature, rituals, and ethics. Seeing the similarities and differences in these four areas will help bring understanding. I will attempt to research religions using these four characteristics and report about them. Admittedly the information for most religions can fill books, so I will try to report concisely the major points of each religion. The point is to learn and understand.

Bibliography of Characteristics of Religion


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