Ultimately religion and culture are inseparable in many ways. For thousands of years, various societies have had some form of religion at the center of their cultural beliefs and practices. Frequently, such as in ancient near eastern societies or even in early Rome, the practices of religion were so ingrained...
Ultimately religion and culture are inseparable in many ways. For thousands of years, various societies have had some form of religion at the center of their cultural beliefs and practices. Frequently, such as in ancient near eastern societies or even in early Rome, the practices of religion were so ingrained into the belief systems of citizens that the religion and culture of the society in question were indistinguishable.
As a tangible example of this, many of the architectural elements in ancient Egypt, such as the adornment of buildings with carvings and hieroglyphics, are regarded as cultural characteristics. Yet when examining the content of these adornments on buildings, or even the direction buildings faced (such as the Israelite temple in the Judeo-Christian tradition) they frequently reflect religious stories and were created to tell those stories. Thus, something as tangible as the way in which buildings were decorated is tied to religious tradition. Even the commissioning of Michelangelo can be considered an example of this. His painting of the Sistine Chapel is a cultural phenomenon that is world-renowned, but it reflects a religious ideology and was ultimately created for religious purposes.
In a more recent example that is still evidenced today, the practice of attending church in certain parts of the world is a strong pillar of cultural practice. This is prominent in places such as the southern area of the United States or even in the attendance of Mass in many areas of the world that were built upon the Catholic tradition. Even though many people do not go to a service on Sundays, the attendance of church is still widely regarded as a cultural practice, though it is fundamentally a religious one.
Ideologically, religion is always in relationship with culture, whether in tension or cohesion. The United States provides a stellar example of this. In the 1960s and 1970s, the sexual revolution, rock and roll, and the drug culture were all spawned in reaction to many of the more conservative elements of society (frequently established by religious practices), and this led to a schism between culture and established religion. However, in the 1980s, the moral majority movement came as a direct reaction to the secularization of the country in the 60s and 70s and served as religion’s effort to influence culture back to conservative practices by using political influence.
Thus, religion and culture are inseparable phenomenons that constantly feed off of one another within society. More often than not, changes in one will cause tremors of reaction in the other.