DO WE NEED RELIGION?-1 (Post No.8690)

WRITTEN BY R. NANJAPPA                        

Post No. 8690

Date uploaded in London – – – –16 SEPTEMBER 2020   

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DO WE NEED RELIGION?

RELIGION AS BASIS OF IDENTITY – 1

R. Nanjappa

For over 300 years, religion has been under assault from various quarters, in various guises, for various reasons. It has been attacked in the name of reason, science, politics – almost any stick is good to beat it with.

To be or not to be….religious!

But the surprise is that it is the stick which is often broken, not religion. According to estimates, there are about 19 major religious groupings in the world. They have spawned about 10,000 distinct branches or sects! In the US alone, there are supposed to be about 2500 distinct religious groups, or what we may call ‘sects’. In this sense, the US is one of the most ‘religious’ countries, whatever may be the image its glamorous media projects and the rest of the world carries.

Indeed it was the religious nature of the country that first impressed  the celebrated French diplomat and historian Alexis de Tocqueville on his arrival in the US  in 1831. He said that America had disproved the theory of the French philosophers that religion and freedom could not exist together. Obviously, the leopard has not changed its spots after nearly two centuries!

“Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.”

Alexis de Tocqueville


On the contrary, surveys suggested that in the UK, about 48% of the people said they had no religion in 2011! 
According to another way of looking at it, poll pundits say that fully 63% of the world population is religious i.e they are affiliated or owe allegiance to some particular religion or sect. 23% are classed as “irreligious” while another 14% are treated as “confirmed atheists”. It may come as a surprise to many Indians that Asia holds more of the last two categories!


There is a further class called “Spiritual But Not Religious ” SBNR! In America, this is supposed to constitute about 20% of the population, mostly among the youngsters. The PEW forum on Religion said in 2013:

The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling… Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14%).


Paganism has to be counted in!



Beating all this is the new trend in Europe and America of groups of people joining voluntarily to revive and celebrate the old “Pagan” or Heathen religions which prevailed in Europe before the Christians destroyed them. This essentially involves direct contact or communication with forces of Nature which are personified and deified. This is not just one religion but a broad spectrum of disparate beliefs and practices. As usual, so-called “scholars” and academics have complicated matters and invented new terminology, theories, controversies and disputes.. And they have founded a new academic discipline called “Pagan studies” so that their own tribe of PhDs may increase and flourish at public expense! Religion seems to let people make money- in its name or against it!

This shows that the religious instinct is part of human nature and will keep manifesting whether its attackers are Churches or Communists. Rise of modern Paganism is a direct slap on the face of the Christian claims that only Christ can save souls.

A Pagan or Heathen altar and ceremony in Sweden, 2009 in honour of their gods. In fact, several gods are represented on the altar. The central pole represents their god Frey. This is a pre-Christian practice.
By Gunnar Creutz, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Religion and Spirituality

But what exactly is “religion”? What is ” Spiritual” ?

There are any number of definitions and explanations. In short, we may say that religion involves a belief in God who is Creator. Spirituality involves a conviction in some Higher Power who/ which is behind this universe and also constitutes our own Higher Self. Both involve a set of further beliefs and observances in practice. Thus religion consists of theology, mythology, philosophy, churches, rituals, temples, priests and other paraphernalia. Spirituality does not involve so many things but that also in the end is a belief system. When people say they are SBNR, it means that they do not believe in organised religion, not that they shun all belief. They would have the tiger, but not its stripes! To say one has no belief is also a belief!

                             *          to be continued

tags – need, religion, fan club