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Glossary of religious and spiritual terms
Starting with the letter: "R"
||Rabbi: From Hebrew phrase meaning "my master." A leader of
a Jewish synagogue.|
|Racism: Any attitude, action or institutional structure which
systematically treats an individual or group of individuals differently
because of their race. The most common form of racism in North America is
in the form discrimination against African-Americans. However, it occasionally is
manifested as preferential treatment for blacks. A secondary meaning is
the belief that one race -- normally caucasian -- is inherently superior
to other races. See also colorism, homophobia, religism, sexism, shadeism, and transphobia|
"Racism" is occasionally used to refer to discrimination against an ethnic
group or even a religious groups. We do not recommend this use because it generates considerable
||Radical theologies: Nonsupernaturalist concepts of deity that reject belief in a personal God -- one who
has a personal consciousness, created the world,
and interacts with humans.|
||Ramadan: A Muslim period of daytime fasting, sexual abstinence, and contemplation
which lasts for a lunar month of about 28 days. It commemorates the
transmission of the Qur'an by the archangel Gabriel to Muhammad.|
||Rapture: From the Latin "rapio"
which means to snatch. The belief held by many conservative Protestants that
Christ will soon appear in the sky and that all of saved individuals,
both living and dead, will rise to meet him. Although this belief
is supported by some passages from the Christian scriptures (New
Testament), it is not shared by many mainline and liberal Christians. (See
also the secret rapture)|
||Rastafarianism: A new religious movement centered among
persons of African origin in Jamaica and the U.S. They revere the late
Emperor Selassie of Ethiopia (1892-1975), as the Elect of God and savior of the
black race. They regard black people to be the reincarnation of Israel
in the Bible.|
movement in the 18th century Protestantism which abandoned the
idea of Biblical inerrancy and adopted the belief that the Bible can be
analyzed as a historical document. Some Rationalists assert that the
existence of some form of deity can be proven by reason. Others see
Rationalism and Atheism as synonyms. |
||Among Roman Catholics: The belief that the bread and wine
at the Eucharist are transubstantiated (transformed) by the Holy
Spirit into Jesus' actual body and blood through its belief in
transubstantiation. The priest actually performs a dual miracle: first by changing the bread and wine into a recreation of Jesus'
actual flesh and blood; the second by having the flesh and blood appear to any observer or any conceivable scientific test to be ordinary bread and wine.
||Among Lutherans: They also use the term "Real Presence"
which they also call "Sacramental Union." They believe that
the body and blood of Christ are "truly and substantially present
in, with and under" the bread and wine. This is based on Martin Luther's belief in
consubstantiation -- that Jesus body and blood coexist with bread and wine.
||Rebirthing: A form of therapy in which the patient engages in
continuous deep breathing. It is supposed to cure emotional problems in adulthood.
||Redactor: A document editor. The term is often used to refer to
individuals who revised books in the Hebrew Scriptures.|
||Redaction criticism: A method of analyzing those portions of
the Bible which appear to have been created by an editing process in which
redactors (editors, compilers) have combined various source document into
the form that we see in the Bible. The Gospel of Luke, for example, is
regarded by most liberal theologians as being compiled from the Gospel of
Q, the Gospel of Mark, and some independent oral or written material.
Through redaction criticism, the theological goals and purposes of the
redactors can be inferred. Conservative Christians generally have a dim
view of this technique because it impacts on their belief of the
inerrancy of the Bible.|
|Rede: Old English word for a law or rule. The
is the main behavioral rule for Wiccans. It is commonly stated as: "A'in it harm none, do what you wilt. In
modern English it can be translated as "As long as it harms none, do what
you wish." |
||Redemption: A general term meaning to set loose or release a
person from bondage. In Christianity, it generally refers to the
deliverance of believers from a state of sin which is possible because of
the death of Jesus on the cross.|
|Red letter Christian: A Christian who follows a conservative
typically Evangelical theology, but who rejects most of the concerns of the
religious right. They stresses issues related to human suffering, justice,
poverty, and human rights, including the environment, climate change, the
AIDS crisis, war, violence, education, gun control, etc. The term originated in the red letter Bible; this is an ordinary Bible in which the words of Jesus are printed in the red.|
||Reflexology: A holistic, alternative, health treatment which
associates each organ in the body with a spot on the individual's foot or
hand. Massage of the foot or hand is then believed to unblock the body's
energy and heal the organ. Medical researchers generally discount any
mechanism linking points on the feet and hand to internal organs.|
|Reformation: A Christian movement which was started by Martin
Luther in the early 16th century as an attempt to reform Roman
Catholicism. It was joined by Zwingli, Bucer, Calvin and others, and
resulted in a complete break with Catholicism. Millions of people died
during the resulting religious wars. The massive slaughter was a main influence on the writers of the U.S. Constitution to establish a wall of separation between religion and government, commonly referred to as church and state. The reformation led to the fracturing
of Christianity into approximately 35,000 faith groups.|
||Reformed theology: A system of religious belief based on the
writings and beliefs of Calvin.|
||Regeneration: The process by which God is believed to work on a
born-again person, whereby her/his soul is renewed and becomes a new
||Reincarnation: the belief that when a person dies, their soul is reborn into
another living human. In North America, belief in reincarnation is found among
Buddhists, Hindus, some followers of the New Age, and most Neopagans. It
was a common belief in early Christianity. Often confused with the Hindu
concept of the Transmigration of the Soul. |
||Relativism: A philosophical belief that many
forms of "truth" -- particularly in the area of morals and ethics are
relative and not absolute. That is, it varies from time to time and culture
to culture. Antonym: absolutism.|
||Relativist: one who is convinced that religious disagreements are neither
productive nor important. Relativists tend to emphasize areas of harmony among religions, minimizing or ignoring
||We define the term very inclusively to include "Any specific system of belief about deity,
often involving rituals, a code of ethics, and a philosophy of
life." Thus we would include Agnosticism, Atheism,
conservative Christianity, Humanism, Islam, Judaism, liberal Christianity, Native American Spirituality,
other Neopagan traditions as religions. We deviate from the normal rules of
writing by capitalizing all of these religion in our essays.
||Other sources restrict the definition to include only those systems
of belief involving a supreme being.
||Excessive religious ardor or zeal
||Discrimination, hatred, or prejudice against others on the basis of
one's religious beliefs. 3
||Within Roman Catholicism, the Anglican Communion, the Orthodox
churches, this term is often used as a noun to refer to an order of
nuns. It is also used to refer to individuals such as monks, friars, and
other s who have taken vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
||Within the field of religion, the term is used as a noun to refer to
texts, beliefs, practices, education, etc.
||A person is often described as religions if they are pious,
prayerful, and/or are very committed to a faith group.
|| In a secular sense, it is used to refer to a person who is
very scrupulous and conscientious in behaving according to rules.
||Within a religion, this is a measure by which individuals can hold beliefs that deviate from those taught by their faith group, without incurring oppression,
expulsion, or trial for heresy.
||Within a nation, this is a measure of an individual's right to
hold beliefs that differ from the dominant religion; to worship
freely according to these beliefs; to attempt to peacefully convince
others to convert to their faith; and the right to change their
religion or set of beliefs. Historically, countries with a strict separation between governments and
religion have tended to exhibit the greatest religious liberty for
||Religious market, Religious marketplace: We have seen the
following two uses of these terms:|
||The social arena in which congregations,
denominations, and para-church organizations compete for members and
||The economic expenditure by religious individuals on religious
retreats, meetings, conventions, missions, etc.
|Religious Right: A group of very conservative, politically active organizations within
Fundamentalist Christianity which is attempting to implement conservative changes to society and its
laws. The American Family Association, Christian Coalition, Concerned Women for America,
Family Research Council, Focus on the Family form part of the religious right. Their main
areas of activity are in reducing choice in abortion
rights, same-sex marriage, rights of transgender individuals and transsexuals, physician assisted suicide, and prayer in the public
||Among religious conservative, this means that one must accept
all religious faiths as equally true. It is normally looked upon negstively.
||Among others, it means to grant full religious freedom to
persons of all religions, including those different from your own
The second definition is used in this web site.
|Religious Trauma Syndrome: painful experiences associated either with chronic abuses from one's faith group or with separating from one's faith and faith community.|
||Religism: "the expression of fear towards, hatred
towards, or discrimination against, persons
of a specific religion affiliation, usually a minority faith."
Frequently associated with Religism is the belief that persons who follow one
religion are inherently superior to those of other religions.|
This is a word that is not found in printed dictionaries, but
is largely being circulated via the Internet and online dictionaries.
Religism is one of a class of words in the English language that
refer to bigotry. Others are homophobia, racism, sexism, shadeism, transphobia, and xenophobia, etc. But we have no
word that refers to bigotry based on religion. Yet religious bigotry
and hatred may be the most serious threat to the survival of humanity in
the 21st century. Religism seems to be catching on: On 2006-MAY-07,
Google found 54 hits for the word. By 2009-JUL-12, there were 469. On 2003-MAY-20, there were 4,350. On 2014-MAR-09 there were 6,990. We seem to be gaining.
The most common form of religism in North
America is in the form of discrimination against non-Christians, up to
and including the promotion of genocide against them. According to FBI
statistics, anti-semitic attacks against Jews is the most common form of
religism. On a per-capita basis the major victims are probably conservative
Muslims, and Wiccans and
other neo-Pagans. More
Unfortunately other people have latched onto the word and given it different
meanings. For example, Globe-Guardian.com defines it as: any religion that
is without merit; i.e. phony religion.
||Repentance: Being sorry for past sins against God or
transgressions against other humans. It implies a sincere desire to
change one's behavior in the future. Conservative Protestants
generally consider it the first step towards salvation. The second step is
to trust Jesus as Lord and Savior. However, some religious conservatives
reject repentance as needed for salvation, because it is a form of good
||Replacement Theology: (a.k.a.
Supercessionism). This is the theological concept that,
because the vast majority of Jews in the first century CE did not accept Jesus as their Messiah, God unilaterally terminated his
covenants with the Jewish people and transferred them to the followers of Christianity.
It relegates Judaism to an inferior position and recognizes Christianity as
the 'true' or 'spiritual' Israel. This concept was first developed by Justin
Martyr (circa 100 to 165 CE) and Irenaeus of Lyon (circa 130 to 200 CE). It was largely
accepted within the church by the 4th century. It has led to a great deal of
persecution of Jews by Christians. Although the
Catholic Church reversed its stance on replacement theology in the 20th
century, many conservative
Protestant groups still believe in this principle. In opposition to
replacement theology is the dual covenant theory
that God's covenants in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) are still in
| Responsible parenting, responsible parenthood: Procreation by a married woman and man. This is a term often used by religious conservatives to condemn other methods of adding children to a family, such as adoption by infertile couples including same-sex couples, artificial insemination, and other medical assisted procreation methods. |
|| Restorationism: The belief that the true
Christian church died out in the early 2nd Century CE, and was restored by
Joseph Smith when he established the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS, Mormon). This movement currently consists of almost 100 denominations, many centered in Utah and
An even in which a dead person returns to life. It is often used to refer to
the belief that Jesus died, and later returned to life after about a day and
a half in the grave. This
is not to be confused with the resuscitation of Jesus, as taught in Islam.
Some Muslims believe that Jesus did not actually die, but perhaps entered
into a coma and later returned to consciousness. Others believe that Jesus was
not crucified; another person may have been substituted in his place.|
||Retrogression: A Buddhist term that refers to one's rebirth
after death on earth or one of the lower realms.|
||The last book in the Bible, which has
been interpreted in many different ways.
||The gift of knowledge that God gives to humanity through the Bible
or other holy text, and by other means. Most members of the almost 300 major
religions of the world regard their faith group as having received
revelation from God, often in the form of a holy book like the Torah, Hebrew
and Christian Scriptures (a.k.a. Old and New Testament), Qur'an, etc. Many
regard the holy texts of other faith groups as purely human creations.
||Rhema: A Greek word that means any spoken word having a
definite meaning. Romans 10:8 uses "rhema" in place of the more
common word "logos."|
||Righteous: This very important term is often mentioned in the
Bible. In 2 Corinthians 6:14, for example, Paul states that
all non-Christians are "unrighteousness." Unfortunately, the word
has three somewhat different meanings. A person:|
||Acting according to divine law, or
||Who is free from sin, or
||Consistently exhibits moral behavior.
Of course, an individual may be acting according to divine law, be free
from sin, and be moral, within the standards of one religion, but not by another.
||Righteous among nations: A term used to refer to non-Jews who
helped save Jews from the Nazi Holocaust.|
||Rite, Ritual: Speech, action, singing, and other activities which
often contain a symbolic meaning, performed in a specific order - typically
during a religious service. |
|Ritual Abuse: Involuntary psychological,
physical, sexual or spiritual maltreatment, associated with a (normally
religious) ritual. There is typically one accidental death per year in North
America as a result of ritual abuse in the form of a conservative Christian
exorcisms. Satanists were widely perceived during the 1980's and early 1990's
as perpetrating widespread Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA)
involving the torture, murder and even eating of tens of thousands of human sacrifices per year. After
15 years without any evidence of its existence, most investigators
regard SRA as non-existent.|
||Role Playing Games: See Fantasy Role
||Roman Catholicism: This is the largest of the four branches
of Christianity; the others being the Anglican Communion, Protestant denominations
and Eastern Orthodox churches. During the fourth century CE, the
branch of the early Christianity which was founded by Paul became the official religion of
the Roman Empire. The authority of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope,
gradually increased, as Christian missionaries spread out through
western and northern Europe. Starting in the 15th century, Roman
Catholicism spread to the Americas. The church lost its religious
monopoly in Western Europe at the time of the Protestant Reformation
in the 16th century, but remains today the largest single Christian
faith group, by far, with about a billion members.|
||Rosary: Prayer beads strung on a thread, used primarily by
||Rosetta stone: A black basalt stone monument found in Egypt in
1799, which contained the same messages in three different languages: one
was ancient Greek, which was known by linguists. The other two were
Demontic script and Egyptian hieroglyphics. Over time, the stone enabled
linguists to understand both of the latter languages. 1|
||Rosh Hashanah: The New Year celebration in the fall, according to
the Jewish calendar.|
||Routinization of character: To change your character to have
distinct traits that conform to your religious beliefs.|
||RPG: See Fantasy Role Playing Games|
||Ruach: Hebrew word for spirit or wind.|
||Rupa: A Hindu and Buddhist term which generally refers to
||Rune: (Derived from an early Anglo-Saxon word "runa"
meaning "secret" or "mystery.") It was originally a
pictorial alphabet used Northern Italy, circa 500 BCE. Its use later spread
across Europe. There are a number of different sets of runes, each derived
from a specific alphabet, such as the Elder Futhrk, Saxon Futhork and
Norse Younger Futhark. The word "rune" also refers to a small piece
of material marked with a rune symbol. The latter are used in divination
by many Wiccans, other Neopagans and New Agers. Their use is generally
condemned by conservative Christians as a practice forbidden by the Bible.|
||Russelites: An early name for the Bible students who later
became the Jehovah's Witnesses in 1931. The name
is derived from their founder, Charles Taze Russell..|
Richard Strachan & Kathleen Roetzel, "The Story of the Rosetta
Stone, 'Finding a Lost Language'," at:
"Real Presence" Wikipedia, as of 2005-NOV-07, at:
Adapted from Wiktionary at:
Copyright © 1996 to 2018by Ontario Consultants on
Originally published on: 1998-APR-22
Last update: 2016-JAN-08
Author: B.A. Robinson