onboard Delta flight 1518
"... it is so far interwoven with religion as to lay us under the obligation to pay that rational homage to Deity which constitute our duty, our happiness ..."
What constitutes religion? Religion in classical term comprises of belief to a notion of existence of Higher Being(s), standard practices or rituals performed by the leaders and the group for the benefit of both sides and an understanding that obedience to the prescribed actions or reactions will be looked upon as show of fidelity hence, worthy of the covenant. It is important to consider what constitute this belief in the context that would take into account other than Christian view. It is indeed very easy to make a comment what is and what is not when we close our mind to already formulated conviction. My God is better than yours, my religion offer more for less effort. My God is better than yours for we have to do more hence, shows more faith than yours. My belief is better than yours for we devote our whole life praising our God. Same end game with different mode of travel.
What if a belief is about acknowledgment of the existence of Supreme Being who for a reason wont call Him by His Name not just out of respect but because for a simple reason that the Name is truly unknown? What if a principle does perform their standard practices or rituals not because of they are required by their legal constitution but because they are an integral part of the organization? What if this system does have a hierarchal organization that supervises the proper conduct of the rituals and performance by their priests? What if believers or members does truly trust that participation, either by going through or actively participating in the act of the standard practice/ritual, along with adhering to the teachings of the tenets that a Heavenly reward is therefore expected--- just like any religion. What if this belief grows so strong and confident that it dabbles into a system of governance or politics with the high hope of providing secular mixed with theological living condition for general population---just like some religion? And just like any religion, when its members were persecuted by both political and religious orders for what they believed in, will this concept or system be also called religion?
If not, why we can’t call it as such? What could be the main or real reason other than “just because it is not?” Is it because their priests did not go through the same school and training their priests undergone? But how would other religious order could prescribe training of priests from different belief? Would lack of so-called formal training for the priests makes this religion non-religion? If we looked into material aspect, even some recognized religion does not even own a building where they could gather and exercise their belief. With basic necessities satisfied, it is impressive to watch the phenomenon of social denial. It is reminiscent of the societal acceptance of existence of Santa Claus, Easter bunny rabbit which for some religion is a pagan idea or as in Christian tradition that Christmas is being celebrated during winter. Despite of the physical, historical, and other evidences or lack thereof, the common rationale is that it is the spirit of such events that really matters.
So, if we subscribed with this reason that the essence or “spirit of such event that really matters” is the key for public acceptance, why would the above notion or system is not considered religion if all the basic requirements are present? Could it be the answer is that because the members who practice such belief themselves won’t call it as such--- a religion. And why not? Was it because the members are instructed during the early indoctrination, that it was not? Could it be the reason why majority of the leaders won’t recognize that the system is a form of belief is because of expected political and other religious order backlash as a manifestation of hard lesson learned? Or is it because the members and the public are all in agreement to engaged in a collective phenomenon of social denial in reminiscent of easter bunny rabbit, effects of global warming and in the spirit of this season, Santa Claus? An interesting issue indeed but depending which side the believer is on, the issue is serious and not serious enough to question the very essence of the belief --- just like religion.
Note: See the October 9, 2007 article published by The Pew Forum "Court Says Freemasons Fall Under Religious Protection Law." /rmo31Dec07.