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Indigenous Religions

Are the indigenous religions really "religions" based on the following definition?

According to the American Heritage Dictionary (2000), religion is defined as "a set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader." In light of this definition, it makes sense that religion defines identity and guides relationships. As religion is a set of beliefs, values, and practices of an individual, by nature these are components of identity. We are what we believe, what we value, and how we behave. So religion most definitely has the ability to identify us as individuals. As for guiding relationships, this also appears to be inherent by definition. People relate to one another based on beliefs, values, and behaviors.

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Interesting question! Let's take a closer look through discussion and example.

1. Are the indigenous religions really "religions" based on the following definition?

According to the American Heritage Dictionary (2000), religion is defined as "a set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader." In light of this definition, it makes sense that religion defines identity and guides relationships. As religion is a set of beliefs, values, and practices of an individual, by nature these are components of identity. We are what we believe, what we value, and how we behave. So religion most definitely has the ability to identify us as individuals. As for guiding relationships, this also appears to be inherent by definition. People relate to one another based on beliefs, values, and behaviors.

This question is debated worldwide, and is somewhat controversial, as it depends whom you speak to. Where do you position yourself in this debate?

It seems reasonable, though, to argue that, like other religions, and based on the above definition, that the beliefs, values, and practices afforded the indigenous people from their 'religion' clearly has the same impact of identity formation and guiding relationships as it does for other religions. For example, to the indigenous people, the religious elements of tradition do indeed define their identity (e.g., thinking that nature and the land is sacred, results in valuing nature and the land and ...

Solution Summary

Based on the definition of religion, this solution examines if the indigenous religions are really "religions."

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