Religion IS NOT God
Definition of religion in Merriam-Webster: a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices… scrupulous conformity
Frans de Waal suggests this definition: religion is “the shared reverence for the supernatural, sacred, or spiritual as well as the symbols, rituals, and worship that are associated with it”. De Waal’s definition echoes one given by sociologist Émile Durkheim, who also emphasised the importance of shared experiences that “unite into one single moral community”. [How and why did religion evolve?]
Religion began as an organizing ideal for a cohesive community, a shared sense of behaviors beneficial to the communtiy, or what we loosely term morality. Morality is a shared expectation of behaviors and traditions which are beneficial to the cohesiveness of community structures. Religion isn’t the only such organizing principle; and, any such principle may be manipulated and misrepresented for malign reasons, leading to extremism, for example, the MAGA movement manipulated and misrepresents our constitutional democratic ideals for the malign corruption of white identity politics.
The institution of religion too has been used in a similar way. At least in the American Christian Nationalist evangelical movement, the institution of religion became a means to contain, to box in the power of the divine. It became a vehicle for man’s aspirations to power over the community — to control and to impose legalistic dogma over the hearts and minds of the people. From that dichotomy, it became a legalistic means to limit intellectual and emotional freedoms, and to dictate identity freedoms. Religion is being used as a way to impose rules about how you will be allowed to exist as a person within the community.
But, such religiosity doesn’t necessarily translate to Faith in God. Indeed, it more often translates to trust in the institution of religion — which is, ultimately laying trust in men within the institution rather than a God who is…