Why is it helpful to study religion from a philosophical perspective?
Religion is usually studied from a spiritual perspective, allowing no interpretation other than the acceptance of the religious tenants and texts as fact. This means that religious study is often done from a perspective blinded to science and philosophy, both of which are not necessarily linked to religion and spirituality in any significant sense. To study religion from a philosophical perspective allows a view of the ideas behind religion without contradicting the religion itself; it is unnecessary to approach the study as explicitly critical, although a critical approach is often more informative.
A philosophical approach to religion also allows a more objective approach to religious history, examining the morality and ethics behind major religious incidents. By examining religious history from the outside, the specific events can be examined and defined with modern ideas and ideals. It also creates improved dialogue about the roles of religion in society and government. This can lead to religious reform if leading figures embrace the study, and resistance if they do not.
Finally, more than one religion can be compared and contrasted, allowing a broader range of opinion and thought about the entire concept of religion. Religious beliefs are often rooted in dogma based on centuries of continuation; examining religion as a concept allows questions about the nature of God, spirituality, and religious morality that cannot be asked under other perspectives.