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Religious information / Comparison of religions


Definitions of the word "religion"
(None are totally satisfying)

There are serious problems with the attempts made to define of "religion:"

Many people have their personal favorite definition of religion. Unfortunately, there does not exist anything approaching a consensus. Thus many people hold their own definition to be absolutely correct, and believe that those held by everyone else are false.

Probably most commonly used definitions contain a requirement for belief in one or more deities. If belief in at least one God or Goddess is to be a requirement for a religion, then Buddhism would not be considered a religion. Yet it is always included as a major religion in books about the religions of the world; it is considered the fourth most popular organized religion on Earth, after Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. Also, requiring a belief in deity/deities would eliminate Unitarian Universalism (a.k.a. Unitarianism) as a religion, because they do not require such a belief.

Back in the 1990's, when this web site was evolving from a personal hobby to an organization with a registered name, we attempted to have the group recognized as a non-profit charity so that some donations could be tax exempt for the donors. We were refused because the Government of Canada's definition of "religion" required religious non-profits to teach the belief in the existence of a God. In spite of their definition, the federal government still recognizes Buddhist and Unitarian groups as non-profits.

Topics covered in this section:

bulletProblems with definitions. Dictionary definitions.
bulletDefinitions by academics, etc.
bullet More definitions, including the one used on this web site.

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or: Home page > Comparison of religions > here

Copyright © 1997 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2016-JAN-31
Compiler: B.A. Robinson

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