What Is Religion?


Religion is a set of beliefs, values, and practices that help people live meaningful lives. These beliefs, values, and practices are common throughout human history and are reflected in many different cultures worldwide.

Religious practices include belief in a god, a divine power or spirit, a supernatural realm or spiritual dimension, or a greater reality (e.g., Buddhism). There are also beliefs that involve salvation of the soul either in a literal way with a heaven after death as in Christianity or in a more symbolic sense such as reaching an end to suffering, as in some Eastern religions.

The term “religion” comes from a Latin word meaning “sacred.” It can refer to a system of beliefs and practices that is sacred to some group of people or to an entire society. There is no clear definition of what constitutes religion; it varies widely from culture to culture and from one time period to the next.

Among the main reasons for this is that it can be difficult to define what is considered “religious” in a culture, and many of the different religions that are found around the world differ in their beliefs, rituals, and practices.

Sociological Perspectives

The main societal function of religion is to promote social cohesion, promote behaviour consistency, and offer strength during times of crisis or transition (e.g., when someone dies). These functions are important in a society because they help people stay together during difficult times and allow people to form social groups that share similar values and beliefs.