20 Ways in Which You Can Use the Word Religion


Religion is the most complex and most common of human phenomena. It is about what people regard as holy, sacred, divine, or worthy of especial reverence. It combines beliefs, practices, and social organizations. It usually involves some type of moral code. It often deals with the supernatural and spiritual, about forces beyond human control. It may or not involve a deity (or gods).

The term was first derived from the Latin religio, which means “scrupulousness” and approximates to a sense of “conscientiousness” or a feeling of devotion or an urge to act. Historically, scholars have defined religion in terms of its distinctive kind of reality and of the roles it can play in life. In the twentieth century, Emile Durkheim introduced a more functional definition, which drops the substantive element. A functional approach is also associated with a less passive image of humans, since the notion of religion suggests that humans take some sort of active role in maintaining a religious viewpoint.

It is common today to treat religion as a polythetic concept, a classification of sets of social formations. This is a strategy that allows the discovery of patterns and the co-appearance of properties, which can lead to explanatory theories.

In the case of religion, it is possible to find a list of more than 20 ways in which the word can be used, as shown in the following examples from Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary. These use-cases are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage.

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