What is Religion?

Religion means different things to believers.  To some it may be a church, temple, or mosque, but to others it may be any group worshiping their god or gods in unique ways.

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.

Dalai Lama (b. 1935), the current Dalai Lama

How do believers view their religions?

Believers generally have definite objectives which they think their religion offers.  Whether they know it as a baptismal rite, belief in a savior or saviors, and salvation of their souls – from sect to sect these conditions may vary considerably.

Whether you call it Buddhism or another religion, self-discipline, that’s important. Self-discipline with awareness of consequences.

Dalai Lama

 I have an everyday religion that works for me. Love yourself first, and everything else falls into line.

Lucille Ball (1911–1989), an actress and comedian

 It is my goal to love everyone. I hate no one. Regardless of their race, religion, their proclivities, the desire of their heart and how they want to live their life and the decisions that they make. I can even respect people’s decisions and lifestyle choices just as I hope they have the courtesy to respect my decisions and my choices.

Kirk Cameron (b. 1970), an actor

I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit.

Khalil Gibran (1883–1931), a Lebanese-American writer

 Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.

Buddha (563 or 480 BC–483 or 400 BC), an Indian religious leader

 We must seek the loving-kindness of God in all the breadth and open-air of common life.

George A. Smith (1817–1875), a leader of the Latter Day Saint movement

 What are some tenets of religions?

Teachings vary among religions.  But regardless how people may regard them there exist some universal truths.

I like the religion that teaches liberty, equality and fraternity.

R. Ambedkar (1891–1956), an Indian jurist

 Human rights is a universal standard. It is a component of every religion and every civilization.

Shirin Ebadi (b. 1947), an Iranian lawyer

 To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.

Martin Luther (1483–1546), a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation

 Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams – they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do – they all contain truths.

Muhammad Ali (1942–2016), a professional boxer

 The truth is that killing innocent people is always wrong – and no argument or excuse, no matter how deeply believed, can ever make it right. No religion on earth condones the killing of innocent people; no faith tradition tolerates the random killing of our brothers and sisters on this earth.

Feisal Abdul Rauf (b. 1948), an Egyptian American Sufi imam

All religions and all communities have the same rights, and it is my responsibility to ensure their complete and total protection. My government will not tolerate or accept any discrimination based on caste, creed and religion.

Narendra Modi (b. 1950), a Prime Minister of India

What part does music play in religions?

All religions have their own music.  It ranges from the secular to the sacred.  Chanting, singing, and with accompaniment of instruments devotees participate in praising their deity or deities.

Music is one of the most powerful things the world has to offer. No matter what race or religion or nationality or sexual orientation or gender that you are, it has the power to unite us.

Lady Gaga (b. 1986), a singer

What are some ill-effects of religions?

Throughout the ages there have been wars fanned by religious beliefs.  In contemporary times there have been atrocities spurned by intolerance.  Yet religions teach people must show love and live in harmony.

Religious wars are not caused by the fact that there is more than one religion, but by the spirit of intolerance… the spread of which can only be regarded as the total eclipse of human reason.

Montesquieu (1689–1755), a French political philosopher

 In the long term we can hope that religion will change the nature of man and reduce conflict. But history is not encouraging in this respect. The bloodiest wars in history have been religious wars.

Richard M. Nixon (1913–1994), a president of the United States

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

Karl Marx (1818–1883), a German philosopher

Why do unknown questions arise with all religions?

Some passages in sacred texts contradict each other.  At times statements about natural phenomena are not supported by science.  Often mythology is used to explain events, so some obvious questions arise.  Some of these explanations leave religious leaders and their followers unsure of their meanings.  In these instances, sages, theologians, and philosophers interpret doctrines giving diverse reasons.  But there still remain these problems.

God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought. It’s as simple as that.

Joseph Campbell (1904–1987), a professor of literature

 Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes.

Pope John Paul II (1920–2005), a head of the Catholic Church

 If one has the answer to all the questions – that is the proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble.

Pope Francis (b. 1936), a head of the Catholic Church

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