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Old April 20th, 2013 (7:08 PM).
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If you study religion even a little you'll probably see something along the lines of a "big five" religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. There's no doubt they are bonafide religions. But they aren't the only ones. There's Sikhism (founded in the 1400s), and Jainism (which I'm not sure how old it is). Then there are the "new" religions. Some are new takes on an old idea, like Mormonism or Jehovah's Witnesses. Some are not as directly related to older religions but are nonetheless widely accepted like Bahá'í Faith and others. Then there are the even newer and more controversial ones like Scientology, Falun Gong, and Wicca. And going even further you have people who say their religion is Kopimism.

The question, simply, is where the line gets drawn. Is there some quality that a religion should have in order to gain our respect? What separates a legitimate new religion from a cult, from a joke or an excuse/trick to behave in certain ways and get the protections of religion, from a social movement?

Please try to be respectful.
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Old April 20th, 2013 (10:15 PM).
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Using a broad definition, they would all be cults.

Anyway, while their are the big five, we can't forget that those big five also have numerous sub-religions. Generally, the sub-religions are regional - Ideology in a area differs from another, so the message is changed to appeal to those area's.

Frankly, I consider Religion to be one big joke/scam that has been duping people over for a very long time. You don't have to look into them real deep to see this either - The subgroups per main religion, and even the number of main religions, is proof enough of this.
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Old April 21st, 2013 (8:40 AM).
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Originally Posted by Mr. X View Post
Frankly, I consider Religion to be one big joke/scam that has been duping people over for a very long time. You don't have to look into them real deep to see this either - The subgroups per main religion, and even the number of main religions, is proof enough of this.
Putting that aside, you have to admit that a great many people within those religions take them seriously and don't consider them excuses for their actions, even among the leaders of the big religions. They get taken seriously, which isn't quite the same for many of the smaller, newer ones.

Since the newest religions can trace their foundings to specific people and writings, would you say that these founding people set out to scam/joke with people?
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Old April 21st, 2013 (9:36 AM).
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That's the very reason they can be seen as scams/jokes though. Because the religions we hold with great reverence today had to have been recent once upon a time. From what I know Falun Gong isn't too different morally from how conservative Christianity and Islam observe it so I can respect that. But Scientology and their E-meters is just baloney so that obviously I cannot respect. Wicca is pretty legit because it seems to me a revival of pagan roots, and that's been around longer than any of the monotheistic gods that damned magical rituals as superstition and witchcraft. I can see why Wicca isn't well respected, because Christianity essentially destroyed (or tried their best) European pagan religions in its meteoric rise to become the dominant faith of Europeans. Coming from my cultural heritage, Wicca in terms of its rituals doesn't seem fundamentally different from Chinese folk religion as well as its pantheism so it seems more or less "normal" to me.

I don't think there's a line, because if I was a Christian, born in Canada, I most likely wouldn't be able to relate to Wicca the same way I can presently. It all depends on what's popular or not and whether it adheres to our current paradigms - so a new religion will be respected if it can piggyback on the Big Five, and if it can't do that it still might be able to if it doesn't run counter to a secular, scientific worldview like Scientology does. Actually now that I write that down, that's probably the big reason why new religions can't be take seriously - because they originate in a secular, scientific paradigm where there's no mystical reverence to back them up. The Big Five religions are basically legacies of the past, and even they will become irrelevant one day if traditions can't keep up.
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Old April 21st, 2013 (12:32 PM).
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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Scarf View Post
    Since the newest religions can trace their foundings to specific people and writings, would you say that these founding people set out to scam/joke with people?
    I don't know about other new religions, but in case of Scientology, it's so obviously a scam it hurts, especially since before creating Scientology, L Ron Hubbard wrote... drum roll... science fiction! Which is exactly what the whole Xenu story is. Not to mention that before he created Scientology, he on numerous occasions expressed his desire to get rich by starting a religion (read more here) .

    On an almost unrelated note, I recently watched quite a few documentaries on cults in Russian-speaking countries (myself being born in one, of course I'm interested ). From all that I can see that there are two types of people who create cults: schemers like Hubbard and lunatics. Let me give you an example of a cult being ran by both: Usmalos, also known as "White Brotherhood", founded by a man who studied psychology and techniques of mind manipulation, and a woman who believed she was told she was God while being high on drugs (ironically, during an abortion) .

    I think you can see now why I can't trust modern religions. I trust older religions even less, because the people who wrote those books did it in an age when people knew much, much less about the world than we do today. As I like to say, "The Bible was written by people who thought the Earth was flat".
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    Old April 22nd, 2013 (7:54 PM).
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    Don't conflate the problem of people abusing belief systems to carry out atrocities with the problem of an inherently immoral belief system. The only time there's a problem with a religion (or whatever you want to call it) is if its teachings encourage something immoral. That's really all there is to it.

    As a special note, if you're an atheist (or not, I suppose) and your main problem with religion is that people are "deluding themselves from the truth," you are a fool and a jerk. Delusion isn't inherently bad, and if it has a positive impact on those people, you should not try to take that away from them. I would imagine it is a rare person who hasn't deluded themselves in some way. And while the pursuit of the truth is a noble endeavor, it is not the only way to have a positive impact on the world. I say this as an atheist, myself.
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    Old April 22nd, 2013 (8:10 PM).
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      Quote:
      I don't know about other new religions, but in case of Scientology, it's so obviously a scam it hurts, especially since before creating Scientology, L Ron Hubbard wrote... drum roll... science fiction! Which is exactly what the whole Xenu story is. Not to mention that before he created Scientology, he on numerous occasions expressed his desire to get rich by starting a religion (read more here) .
      I was out walking yesterday and came by a little building nestled between cafes. It was called the "Christian Church of Scientology."

      Big wtf moment for me.

      I think religions are good as long as they don't become the basis for political movements (religion and state should remain separate) and as long as the morals can be perceived as "good" by the populace - noting that "good" for us in Canada may not be the same as "good" for people in, say, China or Tunisia. That might be part of the iffiness, since religions can't really be universal for all cultures; there's always some sort of conflict, be it the law, expressive rights, prejudice, etc.

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      Old April 23rd, 2013 (11:56 AM).
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        Any religious belief that seeks to undermine the civil rights of others, or that seeks to impose its message on others, in my opinion, is not a religious belief that can be respected. Religion is a philosophical discussion, with adherents constantly being introspective to find their place in the world and the meaning of their existence. But it also has been used, far too often, as a device to control and conquer. If a religious belief has the potential to cause harm, it should be dismissed.
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        Old April 23rd, 2013 (12:25 PM).
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          Old April 24th, 2013 (7:29 AM).
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          http://www.seattlepi.com/news/crime/article/2nd-child-of-Pa-couple-dies-after-only-praying-4455524.php

          Saw this fine example of faith-based healing.

          Expected results when relying on faith in something, rather then the skill and knowledge of a doctor, really.
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          Old April 25th, 2013 (5:55 PM).
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            Quote:
            Originally Posted by Jay_37040 View Post
            Any religious belief that seeks to undermine the civil rights of others, or that seeks to impose its message on others, in my opinion, is not a religious belief that can be respected. Religion is a philosophical discussion, with adherents constantly being introspective to find their place in the world and the meaning of their existence. But it also has been used, far too often, as a device to control and conquer. If a religious belief has the potential to cause harm, it should be dismissed.
            You sum it up so well with this.

            Some religions have good tidbits to them, nevertheless. Christianity saw their Jesus fellow saying some sound things, such as love and respect for one another. Yet you see much contradictions on the next page you turn, in their Bible.

            I think it's a mixed bag. People grow up with them, and they can take what most fits them best in their circumstances. The positives like love, open-ness, confort.. these themes in religion may prove helpful to people in their lives, yet other sections may limit them into old useless traditions and outdated, bigot ways of thinking; often designed to control them and their minds.



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            Old May 9th, 2013 (4:27 PM). Edited May 9th, 2013 by Toutebelle.
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              Quote:
              Originally Posted by SaniOKh View Post
              As I like to say, "The Bible was written by people who thought the Earth was flat".
              Yes, but how many Christians today believe that the earth is flat? I don't even know of any evangelicals who believe that.

              It is rude to assume that all Christians are evangelicals just as it is rude to assume that all atheists are obsessed with Richard Dawkins. I also hate when people assume that 99% of Christians live in the United States - not even 10 percent do. Some parts of the US are as atheistic as Scandinavia. Go to the Pacific Northwest and there's lots of atheists. While it's true that most Republicans are Christian, most Democrats are too. I'm Catholic, and Catholics are well-represented in both parties.

              On the other hand, I am very suspect of many new religious movements. I am perfectly fine with Wicca. Neopaganism is okay since at least they're trying to reconstruct dead religious systems. But Scientology is a scam. Scientology targets celebrities because it needs the money. That's why a lot of Scientologists are people with money. But not all - average people can be Scientologist too.

              I enjoy being Catholicism, but I hate how a lot of Catholics are. Most of the Catholic fundamentalists seem to be American. The fact that we have goons like Phyllis Schlafly and Pat Buchanan in our church makes me sick. The fundamentalists that aren't American are bad too. I wanted to shoot my head off when I found out that this politician in England converted to Catholicism just because she liked that women weren't in the clergy. That is just ridiculous - and it gives the unfortunate (and FALSE) idea that most Catholics have very Victorian attitudes towards women. Seriously, we don't need Catholic women represented by Anita Bryant wannabes.
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              Old May 9th, 2013 (5:03 PM).
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              Quote:
              Originally Posted by SaniOKh View Post
              I trust older religions even less, because the people who wrote those books did it in an age when people knew much, much less about the world than we do today. As I like to say, "The Bible was written by people who thought the Earth was flat".
              I don't think the Bible explicitly states the Earth is flat though. There are allusions like "ends of the earth" or "four corners" to express the vastness. But these sayings persist today.

              Anyway, that was kind of the point of these so-called holy books and stories. Humans, by nature, are curious. They seek answers. These tales were a way of providing comfort to people who had deep existential questions that, at the time, could not be answered by science or logic. The problem is when people take these tales literally still today. The Catholic Church, for instance, has stated that there are no problems with evolution or the big bang theory, and yet many followers (and teachers too) still hold on to the Adam and Eve and seven days nonsense as fact - ignoring the purpose of these tales in their original context.

              That aside, I think the "big five" as you described them have some degree of legitimacy (or something like that) due partly to their age. Or more specifically, all the extra that came along with their longevity. They've contributed to art, culture, history, philosophy, etc. The new guys don't have that backstory that contributes to a perceived legitimacy. If any of the big five started today in a vacuum, like the other new religions of today are, I'd think people would look at them like comic books lol
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              Old May 9th, 2013 (5:54 PM).
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              I don't really believe in anything, but I'll just say a couple things.

              First off, I don't really care. Whatever floats your boat. Believe in what you want to believe. This is a free world (in.. most places anyway). People should be able to exercise their beliefs.

              But there are a few exceptions. If you try and convert me after I've said I'm not interested, you're doing something wrong by trying to force someone to join your little cult.

              Lastly, do not shove your religion in my face. If you wanna talk about religion, how it helped you, what it is, etc, that's fine, but please don't try and convert me.

              I dunno. New religions are cool and stuff, because people can specify what they want to believe.
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              Old May 9th, 2013 (6:37 PM).
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              On the other hand, I am very suspect of many new religious movements. I am perfectly fine with Wicca. Neopaganism is okay since at least they're trying to reconstruct dead religious systems. But Scientology is a scam. Scientology targets celebrities because it needs the money. That's why a lot of Scientologists are people with money. But not all - average people can be Scientologist too.
              I think this is a really interesting point, the part in bold. The point about how it's got roots in an older religious system. It kind of raises the idea of legitimacy being tied to age and if you can connect your belief system to something old - the older the better - then you've got more legitimacy.

              Quote:
              Originally Posted by TRIFORCE89 View Post
              That aside, I think the "big five" as you described them have some degree of legitimacy (or something like that) due partly to their age. Or more specifically, all the extra that came along with their longevity. They've contributed to art, culture, history, philosophy, etc. The new guys don't have that backstory that contributes to a perceived legitimacy. If any of the big five started today in a vacuum, like the other new religions of today are, I'd think people would look at them like comic books lol
              This is another good, similar point, that we give more credence to religions that have contributed things to the world. It does seem like an underlying reason we're hesitant to accept new religions.
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