What is Religion?

PopeandArgentinaYes, ladies and gentlemen, we have a new pope.

As I was driving to work this morning, the radio (news) was, of course, helping us get to know Pope Francis 1.  The report included these two statements about Argentina, the Pope’s home country:

  1. The reigion of the majority of the people is Roman Catholicism, yet very few attend Mass.
  2. Soccer is “the second most popular religion” of Argentina

I don’t want to get to caught up in the whole “words have meanings” thing.  This too often ends up being a tool used for suppression by those in the majority.  On the other hand, how can the word religion be used in both these senses together?

Regarding the Roman Catholic religion, the meaning is basically lip service.  The Argentine people do not, as a whole, attend Mass or the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church (over 70% favored gay marriage in 2009, before it was legalized).

Regarding soccer, though, religion means something that the people of Argentina overwhelmingly support, enjoy, and spend time and resources toward supporting.

So, is “religion” a category of which things like Roman Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Buddhist are subgroups, or is “religion” that which one feels strongly about to the point of dedicating a good bit of one’s life and energy toward?

I look forward to your answers!

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