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10 Factors Common to Religions



It is easy to fall into the habit of thinking that our own religion is the ‘best’ one and that other believers have got it wrong. The following two lists show that religions, even from different cultural and historical backgrounds, have more more in common—for good or for ill—than we may think.


Positive factors


  1. Acts of compassion, service, and generosity.

  2. Affirms moral basis for life.

  3. Change through devotion, faith, meditation, realization, or revelation.

  4. Enduring values—love, peace, justice.

  5. Means for social change.

  6. Recognition of community life.

  7. Rituals pointing to “mysterium tremendum.”

  8. Support in the face of suffering.

  9. Transcendence of cultural conditioning.

  10. Points to the highest truth.


Negative factors


  1. Acts done in the name of God that produce suffering.

  2. Belief in the absolute authority of book, master, or tradition.

  3. Belief in the superiority of one’s own faith.

  4. Discrimination against women.

  5. Lack of real appreciation of the sacredness of life.

  6. Male hierarchical structures and privileges.

  7. Priority of nationalism before enduring religious values.

  8. Promise of a Utopia—herein or hereafter.

  9. Submissive, unquestioning obedience.

  10. Support for wars and the political establishment.






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