According to the Marquis de Sade, "This opium you feed your people" is religion, and Karl Marx wrote that "religion is the opiate of the people." The implication here is that religion dictates to people what to think and do. For some people, this is true. However, for others relgion simply provides a moral and often a cultural frame for their lives. They make many of their own decisions, although often life choices are certainly faith-based. Therefore, people of different religious beliefs are usually quite different from one another in their perspectives. For instance, for some people it is all right to commit certain acts whereas doing so under the guidance of different beliefs is wrong. In the final analysis, conscience is formed from moral/religious beliefs.
Religion is easily accessible personal and family therapy! Think about it! Whatever religion you are affiliated with meets on a specific day each week. Some churches even have youth groups, worship (choir) groups, and other activities throughout the week. These serve as community builders and support systems for everyone in the family. Even if a person isn't as active in the church that they go to by going to all of these activities, s/he knows when the main worship service is and can feel a sense of belonging to a community. Sometimes people feel left out in these areas, too, but as a whole, religion is a good community builder and refuge from the storms of life. The spiritual leaders who are available for their congregation, too, are deeply involved in their paritioners' lives. That adds support to individuals and families, too, where counselors could be tough to find (a good one) and expensive.
This is going to be a very subjective question, so I am pleased to see it on the discussion board. Essentially, I believe that everybody responds differently to any religion they may or may not adhere to, as for each of us we will respond to a different extent to the truth claims and expected behaviour of religious groups. We would expect however to see some change in somebody who has recently converted to a particular religion, however small.
Each religion will offer its own specific code of conduct. While many moral and ideals might be similar, each religion will have some differences. Each religion will also create its own culture and social dynamics. This can most easily be seen in a region where the majority of the population follows one religion. An individuals choices will be led by their religious beliefs. They will also be led by the social constructs created by their particular religious group. Religion plays a key role in how we view society.
You cannot really separate a person from his religious beliefs. Politicians always try to separate themselves from their polarizing features. It is not really possible, because a person’s religious beliefs really are the core of who the person is. That being said, this does not mean that every quirky thing about a person’s religion is going to influence the politician’s leadership. Consider the posthumous baptisms for example. Romney took some fire when it became known the Mormons sometimes baptize deceased non-Mormons. He admitted he had taken part in some of these rituals himself. However, this is not really going to affect how he would govern as president. It’s just a minor facet of his religion previously unknown. All religions have strange beliefs and rituals.
Most religions include codes of moral strictures, things that individuals should not do. So a person who subscribes to a religion, and takes these moral imperatives seriously, would be limited in the range of actions that are available to them to consider. People who subscribe to different religions might be subject to different moral codes. On the other hand, most of the major religions have very similar moral codes- murder, theft, adultery, blasphemy, and so on are pretty much universally proscribed.
This completely depends on the people involved and the religions, doesn't it? I think it would be really tough to answer this in generic terms.
Religion can definitely make one person behave differently than another. Rick Santorum and his wife chose to have her carry their little girl to term rather than have an abortion because she was sure to be born disabled. It is very possible that someone from another religion or no religion would have chosen differently. But it's also possible that another Catholic who is less devout would also have chosen an abortion.
@ liteacher8: You said
"That being said, this does not mean that every quirky thing about a person’s religion is going to influence the politician’s leadership."
I feel like everyone thinks that it will though. Well then if every religion has its own set of beliefs or rituals, why do people care so much?
This is what I hate about religion, christianity for example i know says to be tolerant of all religions. The people who say they are tolerant of other religions are just hypocrites in my opinion. I get alot of crap from my neighbor, who is supposedly a devote christian, just because I am atheist and that my parents don't go to church. So basically I'm just trying to figure out why if we understand that everyone is different and has "free will," then why do we judge so harshly?
Sorry i might have posted a vague question. An example of what I was really trying to get at witht his question would be Mitt Romney. Alot of people think of him badly just because he is mormon. My goal is to figure out what does his religious beliefs have to do with the way people judge him. Would people think of him differently if he was atheist or hindu, even islamic?