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Religion as a Phenomenon

A paradox of human existence is a strong need to believe in some mystical and enigmatic concepts. This social behavior is acceptable in all parts of the world, though the structure and essence of sacred things are different in their nature. Many scientists try to explain the sense of religion and the way it is formed. However, the abstraction is quite complicated for the investigation with the inclined and predisposed direction. Regarding this idea, a lot of scholars intend to develop a single universal approach to it. Robert Orsi, Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, and Elizabeth Shakman have made the conclusion that theologians, scholars, politics, and courts cannot explain the essence of religion. The phenomenon of belief is formed under the influence of history, political relations, social development, and cultural traditions.

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Robert Orsi

A broad appeal of the book History and Presence by Robert Orsi considers religion in different dimensions: religious, social, historic, and even personal ones. The gist of the author's conclusions concerns the debatable conflict of the Catholic and Protestant principles of presence and absence. Orsi evaluates his ideas around the discussions in the sixteenth century in Europe regarding the Eucharist. According to the researcher, this debate makes the biggest problematic category of modernity. The reason is that the issue runs through the modern Western world (45). The problem is that beliefs diminish a possibility for understanding and experience of all the humanity. Considering the author's conceptions, the book is an example of new ideological practice, evaluating the essence of religion from the perspectives of ethnography, history, and sociology. Religion is presented as ideological colonialism, especially provoked by Catholic dogmatists. The historian demonstrates a different theological conception, explaining the historical changes, which made the divine essence change its place of existence. Therefore, the history and religion are mutually associated with the idea of presence. Orsi insists that the humanity does not have the necessary capacity of practical understanding of visible and invisible realities (251). In other words, the new postulates do not destroy accepted conceptions but enlarge them, since there is no difference whether God is present or not. The true essence is that He will always be somewhere. Consequently, the ideas of Orsi propose a different religious explanation being a result of political, social, and theological processes. The scientist insists that the contemporary scholars make a significant mistake, evaluating religion from the perspective of its form. Thus, it is necessary to dig deeper and understand the stages of its creation, as well as the multiple historical and anthropological influences. Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, regarding the religion within the Constitutional freedom and justice, has evaluated the other powerful and convicting arguments.

Winnifred Fallers Sullivan

Religion based on some predispositions, political norms, and social order as its freedom is impossible. Winnifred Fallers Sullivan has presented the provocative and even enigmatic work, known as The Impossibility of Religious Freedom. The author proves the way the Constitution of America is controversial by its nature, regarding religion in the aspect of freedom and justice. It is necessary to admit that the First Amendment of the American Constitution promises free choice of religion to people as it is a personal decision. The writer makes the debatable conclusion that there is no unique idea concerning it, since it is hard to reject it either. The author proves the title of the bookmaking the claim that it is impossible to recognize religious freedom and reject the beliefs of other people at the same time. The notion of religion is declared in two concepts as a part of human traditions and culture and as the issues protected by the legal instance. The last aspect is a modernized and newly investigated phenomenon, which has nothing to do with something sacred and divine. Moreover, this dimension is artificially designed for the differentiation of religions. The history of the USA proves a close mutual relation of religion and business. Thus, the differentiation of a church and state affairs is impossible. It has had the long time of formation. The dilemma being formed in social and political practice as a superstition cannot be evaluated by jurisprudence. Therefore, Sullivan rejects the penetration or participation of courts in religious issues, being incompetent to make some conclusion toward these weakly investigated practices. Religion is a complex philosophical, social, and cultural phenomenon that not only creates law but also is regulated by it (Sullivan 57). According to the conceptions, the American legal system, which concerns religion, is controversial. Spiritual issues are predominantly the sociological points rather than judicial ones. Intriguing investigations of Sullivan from both religious and legal perspectives stress a significant challenge related to freedom and religion. These concepts have some relations to the statements of Elizabeth Shakman Hurd concerning politics and religion, which can be even regarded as the form of Constitutional violation.

Elizabeth Shakman Hurd

Elizabeth Shakman Hurd regards religion as a multidimensional phenomenon, created during a long time of history due to sociological, political and historic processes. It is a consequence of different dimensions of human existence formed as a result of development of the entire humanity. Religion is related to the political issues as it has been formed under its pressure, but spiritual concepts cannot be under its direction. Hurd criticizes the policy of the newly elected president and his administration, presenting a new discriminating policy concerning Muslims. In such a way, Donald Trump makes the determination of religion through the political prism. The contemporary ideas of America form some myths about the Muslims countries. Furthermore, these traditions as well as a political attitude of America concerning Islam are controversial by their nature. These ideas prove that religion has been formed under the pressure of politics and society (Hurd n.p.). The newly executed policy regarding bad Muslims and good Christians exists. It is a certain institutionalization of religious discrimination legalized by political norms of the American president. Moreover, it opposes the First Amendments prescriptions about freedom of religion. Religious affiliations are determined by political relations and constructed by political prejudices. They are conceptualized not only in America but also in entire the world. Therefore, the author claims that the religion in America attains a new form leading to discrimination, extremism, and oppression, though spiritual issues are distant from these dimensions. Thus, politicians associate religion with politics. Hurd rejects the political explanation and coordination of religious issues, since it is a complicated phenomenon of the world history. Social processes in the perspective of culture, traditions, and beliefs can be related to political matters, but not controlled by it.

Humanity has created religion as a social need for social, cultural, and political coordination of life. The need to combine the society into a single unit gives the sufficient impulse for its development. The problem is that many scientists try to investigate this phenomenon taking into consideration some insignificant details. The necessity of religion has been balanced and changed during the history from the perspective of social formations and psychological need of humanity. Thus, different religious dogmas and controversial beliefs confirm the idea that the sources of its evaluation were distinctive. Orsi, Sullivan, and Hurd reject the position that religion can be coordinated and investigated by theologists, courts, and politics. A universal and complicated phenomenon leaves its reflection in the world's history. It is impossible to reject some mysterious and sacred aspects as they are quite possible. Moreover, the background of all religious forms is unique. Different cultures and styles of life in the frames of historical processes, ethnography, and anthropology assimilate the unique spiritual conception for the particular social group. Certainly, religion has nothing to do with politics, the legal system, and scientific conceptions. The reason is that it is a complicated social and historic experience based on sacred beliefs. The paradox of this concept is that the less empirical confirmations it has the more influential it becomes. The essence of religion is related to spiritual experience, strong beliefs without a confirmation, and evidential consequences. If people could prove religious dogmas, it would not be religion. It would be a scientific knowledge, law or a base for politics. A belief should always be free of outside pollutants. Otherwise, the humanity will lose its spiritual need and psychological wish for cohesion.

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The idea of religion is an independent and self-sufficient determination, formed within the global processes, like collective evaluations, relations, and history. The aspect of this phenomenon is too complicated for investigations on its surface and determining it as a single-side incident. Thus, different scholars have concluded this idea regarding the concept in various directions: political, theological, and social ones. Orsi rejects the scientific conceptions of religion, since the scientific classification cannot determine such phenomenon as a presence is a norm of human existence. Sullivan denies legal prescriptions on the religious issues, since religion cannot be defined within law. In addition, Elisabeth Hurd concludes that religion does not define a political behavior of judges. It stands ahead law, politics, and history. Beliefs are a sacred and cultural affiliation of people being changed during the history and under the pressure of cultural and social issues. Nevertheless, the presence of something unexplainable and divine cannot be proved or rejected yet.

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