Like the family and economy, religion is a universal and pervasive phenomenon, a part of the cultural system, because it is assumed to meet some basic need of human being. Religion is n integrated part of human experience and shows remarkable continuity through time. Even in the modern secularized societies in the West, religion has persisted and still exerts a great influence in the lives of people (Smart, 2004).
Almost all known peoples in all places and times have some set of specific cultural patterns made up of beliefs and codes of conducts, tinged with emotional feelings, although not all people are religious.In addition, religion is a faith and practices involving the relationship between mankind and what it regards as sacred. Religion almost always includes the belief in the supernatural and a code of ethical behavior. Scholars find it difficult to frame a definition of religion that will include every religion past and present. Many believe that the idea and of the supernatural is universal to religion and should, therefore, be a part of its definition (Nielsen, 2003). Others reject this viewpoint. It is interwoven with the social, economic, and political life of the people.
It is properly one of the areas of interest to a sociologist because of its influence on the individual and its functions in society.Thus, religion unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, (Hopfe, 2003) things set apart and forbidden—beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a church all those who adhere to them. Important practice of religion is the observance of rituals which prescribe some courses of action for dealing with sacred. These rituals are repetitive sets of action and patterns of behavior in relation to the sacred for the regulation and ordering of social lives (Ellwood, 2002). Ritual acts may be in the form of prayers, singing, chanting, and sharing certain foods. The rituals bring the believers of any given religion together.
Reference:Ellwood, R.S. Many People, Many faiths: an Introduction to the Religious Life of Mankind, 7th edition (Prentice-Hall, 2002).Hopfe, L.M. Religious of the World, 5th edition (Macmillan, 2003).
Nielsen, N.C. Religious of the World (St. Martin’s Press, 2003).Smart, Ninian.
The Religious Experience of Mankind, 5th edition (Scribner’s, 2004).