Religion or Ritual?

Re-enactment of the crucifixion

I have always been interested in religion. Not as a true believer, but more from a scholarly point. There are so many interpretations of religious beliefs that one would not be surprised to learn that there are many people who are confused by this.  Why are there so many different religions? and why do they all do different things?

Each religion focuses on their particular brand of belief. Christians, Seventh Day Adventists, Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Mormons, Muslims, etc…, all have a system which defines the way they worship, and the way they demonstrate their beliefs.

One of the most prominent ways of showing your beliefs is by way of following ‘rituals’ which are laid down by the church of ones association.

We have for example: communion, the sign of the cross, no church on Sunday, wearing of headscarves, wearing of the Kipa or Yarmulke, even weddings, are all ritualistic things which people do to demonstrate their faith.

It seems to me that there many people who profess to be ‘believers’ and there are also many who profess to being ‘religious’ The questions is; are these 2 things one and the same, or different?

“I am a christian, I go to church”

How often has this remark come up when the conversation turns to religion?  The answer is, ‘often’

Many people believe that the fact that they attend church regularly makes then a “good christian” whereas people who have a strong belief in god but do not attend church regularly, are called ‘ungodly’ or similar expressions, purely because they chose to worship away from a church, or place of worship, thus no ‘demonstration of faith’.

Merely performing a ritual or set of rituals on a regular basis, in my book does not a christian or believer make.

An extract taken from a section about Catholic rituals. Why so many rituals?

To non-Catholics, the Roman Catholic Church often seems mysterious and ritualistic. The rituals associated with Catholic worship — such as crossing oneself, genuflecting or kneeling — have meaning and purpose for those who perform them as well as those who observe them. Some Catholic rituals serve to bring worshippers together, as with Holy Communion during the Mass. Other rituals are more individual and are meant to develop one’s inner life. Overall, Catholic rituals express devotion and reverence and draw worshippers together as a body.

(Courtesy of

The issue here is that the vast majority of people who follow this religion follow the rituals, believing them to be the only thing they need to do to ‘go to heaven’

Committing sins, and going to “a priest” for forgiveness does not absolve one of the fact that they committed a sin. A priest is a man like any other, and he cannot forgive sins. In fact in the modern day, Catholic church, priests are among the top offenders and the most sinful (which has always been washed over by the church).

No ‘man or woman’ no matter how long he or she has studied religion, and devoted their lives to god, can forgive sins. Confession is just another part of the ‘rituals’ people use to justify their ‘religious beliefs’. Murderers, rapists, drug dealers, prostitutes, etc…, all know that what they are doing is ‘illegal’ and morally wrong, but once they return from confession with ‘the slate wiped clean’ they just go back to it as though it is business as usual.

This is the sole reason that people: go to Mass, pray the Rosary, take communion, make the sign of the cross. They believe that making these gesture, and that is all they are, gestures, keeps them pure and godly.

The reason I make reference to the Catholic religion, is that growing up in England, many of my friends were, Irish, or of Irish descent, and Catholicism played a huge part in their lives. For the majority of them, their ritual was ‘going to church on Sundays to do mass and take confessions and then go straight to the pub and spend the day drinking, smoking and gambling etc…, I always found this behaviour hypocritical, but as I was not a catholic,  nor a person of strong faith, I refrained from commenting.

I am also married to a Catholic, my brother was also married to a Catholic, although neither of us are Catholics. I have seen the religion practiced around me for a major part of my life.

Catholicism is not the only religion entrenched in ritual. Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, are all examples of religions based on ritual.

It is good for people to have faith and to believe in a higher power, but to ‘go through the motions’ of ritualistic behaviour without any foundation of solid belief, makes one ‘religious’, but not a ‘believer’ The 2 are very different.


Part-time blogger with many views that need an outlet.