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Discussion: Religious Authority

Just about every world religion has an authority figure that presides over the religious institution and interprets and oversees the doctrine. In Christianity, for example, the structure of the religion’s institution has shifted over time and is currently rigidly centralized in some sects while decentralized in others. The related role of religious authority has been particularly contentious and has shifted as the institution itself changed over the centuries. Today, many Christian sects have split from others because of conflicting beliefs in who has authority. In this Discussion, you will compare religious authority and attendant institutions of two religions you have studied in the week’s readings.

To prepare for this Discussion:

1.    Review your course text’s selected readings for this week.

2.    Choose two religious traditions to compare. Be sure one of the traditions is the tradition you selected to focus on in your Final Project.

3.    Consider these questions:

o    Who is in charge?

o    Who is allowed a say in religious actions?

o    Are the religions deeply centralized? Loosely hierarchical?

o    How does a culture evolve and change if religious institutions govern the values and practices of the culture?

Post a paragraph of your evaluation of religious authority and power in the two religions you chose. In a second paragraph, discuss the idea that if a higher power confers authority and shapes the religious institution, how does this influence the culture that practices the religion? Can people change values in the culture if the religion originally sets the precedence? Support your assertions by making at least 2 references, in proper APA format, to your course readings.

Be sure to support your ideas by connecting them to the week’s Learning Resources or something you have read, heard, seen, or experienced.

Project: Final Project—Week 3 Milestone

Learning Resources

Required Readings

Kurtz, L. R. (2016). Gods in the global village: The world’s religions in sociological perspective (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

  • Chapter 1, “Religious Life in the Global Village”

o    “Religious Rituals” (pp. 30–42)

  • Chapter 2, “A Sociological Tour: Turning East”

o    “Hindu Rituals” (pp. 62–67)

o    “Buddhist Rituals” (pp. 74–75)

  • Chapter 3, “The Tour: Western Religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam”

o    “Jewish Ritual” (pp. 99–101)

o    “Christian Rituals” (pp. 106–108)

  • Chapter 4, “Indigenous Religions”

o    “Indigenous Rituals” (pp. 141–150)







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