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an institutionalized system of symbols, beliefs, values, and practices by which a group of people interprets and responds to what they feel is sacred and that provides answers to questions of ultimate meaning


set apart from ordinary activity for worship, seen as holy, and protected by special rites and rituals


of the everyday world, specifically not religious


an object or living thing that a religious group regards with special reverence

secular beliefs

the ordinary beliefs of everyday life; may be institutionalized but are specifically not religious


the intensity and consistency of practice of a person's (or group's) faith


the worship of a single god


the worship of more than one deity

patriarchal religions

those in which the beliefs and practices of the religion are based on male power and authority

matriarchal religions

based on the centrality of female goddesses, who may be seen as the source of food, nurturance, and love, or who may serve as emblems of the power of women

religious rituals

symbolic activities that express a group's spiritual convictions

collective consciousness

the body of beliefs common to a community or society that gives people a sense of belonging

protestant ethic

hard work and self-denial will lead to salvation and to the accumulation of capital

religious extremism

actions and beliefs that are driven by high levels of religious intolerance


formal organizations that tend to see themselves, and are seen by society, as the primary and legitimate religious institutions. Tend to be integrated into the secular world to a degree that sects and cults are not


group that has broken off from an established church; emerge when a faction within an established religion questions the legitimacy or purity of the group from which they are separating


religious group devoted to a specific cause or charismatic leader; many arise within established religions and sometimes continue to peaceably reside within the parent religion simply as a fellowship of people with a particular, often mystical dogma


quality attributed to individuals believed by their followers to have special powers

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