Why Religion Matters

Lesson Objectives

• Define Key Terms

• Appreciate the inclusion of Judaism and Islam into the category of "religion"

• Appreciate how Eastern religions came to be included in the world's religions

• Understand why it's important to study the world's religions

• Understand how religion has been used to both conquer and free people

• Appreciate that religions asking and answering completely different questions

Key Terms

"Jewish" as religion

Mohammadan vs Muslim

The origin of "Hindu"

Religious freedom

Religious discrimination

Religious persecution


Hate crime

Domination theology

Liberation theology

Review: A Brief History of "Religion"

Before Religion

• Before the Romans, there was no such concept as "religion"

     • Some ask, "Well, what did they call it?"

          • The thing is, there was no "it." It's hard to wrap your head around,

          but pre-Roman societies didn't think in terms of "religion"

     • This was legitimate for the ancient world, just as it is legitimate for us           modern people to think in religious terms. It's not that there's a right           and a wrong way to think of "religion" or "sacred practice." It's just that the           ways that we organize ideas and acitivites change and evolve over time

Religion in the Roman Catholic Church

• The Greek word threskeia is used by historians when studying temple rituals

• This word threskeia makes it into the New Testament (originally a Greek text)

     • In the 400s, the Latin word "religion" replaces "threskeia" in the Bible

• Religion starts out as a word connected to behaviors and rituals

     • This is similar to when we say we do something "religiously," even           profane things like "I wash my hands religiously."

• Throughout the Medieval period, our understanding of "religion" was that of a public, universal, and obligatory enterprise

Our Modern Concept of Religion

• In the modern world, religion in the West has come to mean a private belief system (often in the context of Christianity or Islam), locally managed, and something that you typically get to choose based on your personal convictions.

• In this way, our modern concept of religion is the opposite of it's classical past

• Today, religion is thought of as private, local, and voluntary