Organized religion

Organized religion (or organised religion—see spelling differences), also known as institutional religion, is religion in which belief systems and rituals are systematically arranged and formally established. Organized religion is typically characterized by an official doctrine (or dogma), a hierarchical or bureaucratic leadership structure, and a codification of rules and practices.

Definition

Organized religion, or institutional religion, is religion in which belief systems and rituals are systematically arranged and formally established.[1] Organized religion is typically characterized by an official doctrine (or dogma), a hierarchical or bureaucratic leadership structure, and a codification of rules and practices.

Organized religion is distinguished from the broader idea of religion especially in anthropology, sociology and philosophy. American philosopher William James states that

Religion... shall mean for us the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual men in their solitude... in relation to whatever they may consider the divine. Since the relation may be either moral, physical, or ritual, it is evident that out of religion in the sense in which we take it, theologies, philosophies, and ecclesiastical organizations may secondarily grow.[2]

James further comments that the essential elements of "institutional religion" are "worship and sacrifice, procedures for working on the dispositions of the deity [i.e.] theology, and ceremony and ecclesiastical organization".[3]

Organized religion seems to have gained prevalence since the Neolithic era with the rise of wide-scale civilization and agriculture.[citation needed] Organized religions may include a state's official religion, or state church. However, most political states have any number of organized religions practiced within their jurisdiction. Due to their structured, standardized, and easily proliferated form, organized religions comprise many of the world's major religious groups.[citation needed] The Abrahamic religions are all largely considered organized (including Christianity, Islam, Judaism and the Bahá'í Faith), as well as some schools of thought within Indian religions (for example, some schools of Hinduism and Buddhism).[citation needed]

Religions that are not considered organized religions, or only loosely so, include many indigenous and folk religions, such as traditional African religions, Native American religions and prehistoric religions, as well as personal religions including some strands of Hinduism.[citation needed]

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