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Religion 101: "Religion Made Simple" Mba Mbulu, Instructor

Class # 2: What Is Organized Religion?

Read the following ESSAY. To the best of your ability, relate what you read to what you know about religion. Also, consider the following question(s).

(1) Do you think people generally have a "from the inside out" understanding of religion?

(2) How many people do you think have thought of religion and organized as separate realities?

(3) Can you see how organized religion constructed a light veil between people and the greater power?

(4) What, according to this essay, is the difference between religion and organized religion?

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"Religion, Organized Religion and Religious Ideology," Part 2 [Audio Version]

To find out what something is, one has to do more than look at it from a distance. To find out what something is, one has to do more than get a vague feel for it. To find out what something is, one has to break it down to its components, it smallest parts, and get an in depth view of that thing from the inside out. That type of understanding, the "from the inside out" understanding, is rarely acquired by people who "believe in" a greater power. For that reason, they are apt to confuse religion with what looks like religion.

Organized religion looks like religion. If one gives the early organizers of religion the benefit of doubt, it could be argued that they meant the people no harm, that it was their intention to make the world a better place for everybody by formalizing a belief code based on a greater power whose existence and influence few individuals doubted. If that is the case, their intent can be appreciated, but they should be condemned. They tried to formalize religion when religion, by its very nature, has nothing to do with formality.

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By formalizing religion, religion was opened to all types of invasions. Religious rites bulldozed their way into the picture, as did religious obligations, religious punishments and religious rewards. Religion began to resemble human beings, as evidenced by the emergence of religious offices, religious structures, religious financial obligations, religious bickering and religious edicts. With religion, the more one knew about the greater power the better. With organized religion, people began losing contact with the greater power. Magic and mystery nudged knowledge out of the picture and placed faith/superstition in its stead. With that development, any promise religion had offered humanity was lost.

Most people make the mistake of failing to understand the difference between religion and organized religion. Religion is internal and personal; it is your relationship to whatever you think that greater power is. Organized religion is external and ordered; it is an agreement among a group of people to observe certain beliefs and worship an agreed upon greater power. Organized religion, therefore, takes religion away from the realm of the individual and places it within the realm of the group. Organized religion constructed a light veil and then a cumbersome curtain between people and the greater power. Thus, religious momentum moved away from the person and surged in search of another destiny. This left the womb of organized religion both fertile and in heat. The emergence and maturation of religious ideology resulted. That is the subject of the next lesson.

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