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Religious Studies

The study of religion does not only comprise the different beliefs of people throughout history and the modern world but also the specific institutions and behaviours of people of faith. As an academic branch of study Religious Studies is secular-based when compared to Theology. However both are included in this category. A study of religion will include the historical consideration and often requires an understanding of the culture and anthropology of the area of study. Mythology and philosophy are closely aligned to Religious Studies.

Religious Studies compromises both Western and Eastern religions, atheism and agnosticism, and the comparison of religions as well as religions in the modern world. Some historical perspectives can be found here, and others in related History, Literature, and Art History categories.

The major issue in religious studies is the complication of objective study and subjective belief. There are two main ways to study religions: phenomenology and functionalism. Functionalism uses the functions of the specific religion to describe and analyse it, however it does not address social changes and conflicts¹. Phenomenology is a more methodic way to study a religion, by treating the different parts of the religion themselves without bias from the observer’s personal opinions. 



1. Subedi, D. Structural Functional Perspective in Sociology [PDF document]. Retrieved from : http://subedi.orgfree.com/docs/Structural_Functionalism.pdf

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Categories within Religious Studies

Abrahamic Religions

Solutions: 528

Three core faiths (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) comprise the majority of religious-affiliated people throughout the world. The similarities between the three include monotheism, a belief in good and evil, and the idea of an end time.

Indigenous Religions

Solutions: 24

Ethnic religions that compromise those found all over the world. These religions are very different from "world religions" (Christianity, Buddhism, etc) as they specifically refer to smaller communities and their culture.

New Religious Movements and Spirituality

Solutions: 30

NRMs are not specifically related to another established religion but some are considered offshoots of more established religious groups. They are also not necessarily tied to a culture or geographic location and they range from Christian to Eastern to pagan sources. Spirituality is considered an alternative to an organized religious group.

Comparative Religion

Solutions: 134

Comparative religions helps in understanding the differences between religions and belief systems.

Religion in the Modern World

Solutions: 167

The modern world has challenges not expected by many ancient religions. This area addresses the systematic study of how modern cultural shifts have affected religions and their members. Conflicts from interactions of different religions are included.