Typically, the term religion refers to a social-cultural system that includes beliefs, texts, ethics, and morals. It also includes institutions, organizations, and designated behaviors and practices.
Traditional religions are rooted in the lives and teachings of historical figures. These details are often passed on through oral traditions, and are documented through written scriptures. This gives the community a sense of history and ground for action. Until colonization, traditional religion was the foundation of many African societies.
Organized religions, on the other hand, are rule-based. They govern the behavior of their members and have specific codes to follow. These rules pertain to justice, healthcare, and moral conduct.
Religious institutions conservatively guard the practice of religion, and are rigidly dedicated to the founder’s original interpretation of key teachings. While these institutions may have the power to organize the best of humanity, they can also impose limitations on people.
Some people have a deep and personal connection to a higher power. They devote their lives to that higher power. In fact, people with an intrinsic religious orientation are less physiologically reactive to stress.
People with an extrinsic religious orientation use religion for external purposes. This can include using religion for publicity or service. However, it can also include a shallow understanding of core tenets of the faith. Likewise, many professional and lay preachers live sordid lives behind closed doors.
People with an “spiritual but not religious” (SBNR) perspective are often ambivalent about religion, holding both traditional and unorthodox views. They are just as likely to be polytheistic as monotheistic.