Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Religion Vs. Culture

It's a common mistake to conflate the beliefs of a religion with the cultural quirks of its practitioners. Example: Islam. Religion: belief in the modesty of women. Culture: wearing the hijab.

Mormonism is not immune to the conflation of religion and culture, particularly in Utah where the culture grew up around the religion. Religion: believing all worthy and capable young men should serve missions. Culture: ostracizing capable young men who don't go on missions. Religion: needing the support of fellow members to help build your understanding of the Gospel. Culture: not socializing with non-members at all. A lot of what non-Mormons and ex-Mormons find objectionable about the Mormon religion is not actually religion, but culture. I think the same goes for people who dislike Muslims etc.

Religion: believing that Jesus is the Christ. Culture: celebrating Christmas by putting up Nativity sets to remind you that Jesus is the Christ.

What in your own religious practice is actually religion, and what is really culture? Comments please.