For many people who do not have a religious outlook in life, the question ‘What is Religion?’ could be one that they ask frequently. So what is the answer?
Religion is a set of beliefs and practices that link humans with a divinity. Some religions are very organized. They have a book that followers use to guide them, such as the Bible in Christianity or the Koran for Islam. They may have specific places of worship such as churches, mosques or synagogues. It could be that they expect people to attend at certain times of the day or at a particular point during the week in order to prove that they believe.
They will often have a series of rituals that bring new members into the church such as baptisms or confirmations and they will usually provide guidance on the way that people should behave in everyday life. For example, they might tell people that they should not drink alcohol or they should spend time encouraging others to join their religion. Some religions have a very clear idea about the role of men and women in their churches. A good example of this is the Catholic church where women are still not permitted to become priests. However, in the Sikh religion, there is no religious role that a woman is not permitted to carry out.
As there are so many different religions in the world the question of what constitutes a religion is not always easy to answer. People will find a belief that will suit their needs. Some Christians have abandoned the mainstream churches and joined smaller Christian churches such as the Methodists or the Quakers. People have flocked to religions such as Paganism in recent years as they find mainstream religions too constraining.
The most important factor in religion is faith. People want to have something to believe in and with religion it is easy for some to follow them as they provide hope, support and the promise that things can always get better than this. The comfort offered by churches can be a good thing for many people, particularly those who are lonely and need that type of support. For this reason, religion can be something that is much more than just finding a God to believe in.