Definition of Religion
(noun) A personal or institutional system of beliefs, practices, and values relating to the cosmos and supernatural.
Examples of Religion
- American English – /ri-lIj-uhn/
- British English – /ri-lIj-uhn/
International Phonetic Alphabet
- American English – /riˈlɪdʒ(ə)n/
- British English – /rᵻˈlɪdʒ(ə)n/
- Plural: religions
- Religion is an agent of socialization.
- An individual fervently practicing a religion is a (noun) religionist, is (adjective) religious, and (adverb) religiously advocates for (noun) religiousness.
- “According to [functionalism], a society is composed of interrelated parts, each of which serves a function and (ideally) contributes to the overall stability of the society. Societies develop social structures, or institutions, that persist because they play a part in helping society survive. These institutions include the family, education, government, religion, and the economy. If anything adverse happens to one of these institutions or parts, all other parts are affected and the system no longer functions properly” (Kendall 2006:15).
- “Formal agents of socialization are official or legal agents (e.g., families, schools, teachers, religious organizations) whose purpose it is to socialize the individual into the values, beliefs, and behaviors of the culture. For example, a primary goal of families is to teach children to speak and to learn proper behavior. In addition, school teachers educate by giving formal instruction, and religious organizations provide moral instruction” (Ballantine et al. 2018:298).
- “Fundamentalism, whether of the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or Hindu variety, is a socially conservative political ideology dressed up in religious language. Although fundamentalists claim to adhere to the original doctrinal texts, they are frequently very selective in their use of those texts and traditions . . . As a religious doctrine, fundamentalism often takes religion out of the social context in which it first arose and says that tenets that may have made sense in, for example, a society that practiced slavery, are still applicable today” (Kaufman and Kimmel 2011:51).
- “If there is one truth that history has settled beyond all question, it is that religion embraces an ever-diminishing part of social life” (Durkheim  2004:31).
- “It is not our thesis that the specific nature of a religion is a simple ‘function‘ of the social situation of the stratum which appears as its characteristic bearer, or that it represents the stratum’s ‘ideology’, or that it is a ‘reflection’ of a stratum’s material or ideal interest-situation” (Weber 1948:269–70).
- “Religion is another key agent of socialization. Not only is it a transmitter of core personal and societal values but organized religion also plays a significant role in the development of gender role ideology for many of its adherents. This, in turn, affects many aspects of female/male relationships as well as family organization and functioning. The sacred writings of many of the major religions project traditional gender roles, with men having a dominant status compared to women” (Schwartz and Scott 2012:72).
- “[T]he religious valuation of restless, continuous, systematic work in a worldly calling, as the highest means to asceticism, and at the same time the surest and most evident proof of rebirth and genuine faith, must have been the most powerful conceivable lever for the expansion of that attitude toward life which we have here called the spirit of capitalism” (Weber [1904–5] 1930:116).
- Religion Resources – Books, Journals, and Helpful Links
- Word origin of “religion” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
- belief system
- personified supernatural force
- transcendent value
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Cite the Definition of Religion
ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “religion.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved June 5, 2023 (https://sociologydictionary.org/religion/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
religion. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/religion/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “religion.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed June 5, 2023. https://sociologydictionary.org/religion/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“religion.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 5 Jun. 2023. <https://sociologydictionary.org/religion/>.