Religion is a cultural phenomenon that brings people together with common beliefs, worldviews, practices, values, and social organization. Many scholars believe that this distinctive set of shared attributes, called a religion, is a central part of human life and helps people define their sense of identity and purpose in the universe.
Many different societies have their own versions of Religion. They may worship different Gods and have their own holy texts, but most Religions share several common elements. These include:
The majority of Religions also believe that a divine agency created the Universe. This agency is known as their Religion’s God and the believers show devotion to their God through prayer and celebrations. Religious people try to live morally and conduct themselves in a way that shows respect to other humans and other creatures. They are often involved in charity and volunteer work to help improve the lives of those less fortunate than themselves.
Sociological perspectives on religion attempt to understand the function that it serves in society, the problems it can reinforce and perpetuate, and the role it plays in our daily lives. These perspectives are divided into two main categories:
Traditional definitions of religion, including Frazer’s, depend on a substantive element such as belief in disembodied spirits or cosmological orders. More recently, however, researchers have attempted to define religion using a functional approach. This approach is based on Emile Durkheim’s idea that a religion is whatever system of practices unites people into a single moral community.