Let's try and define religion ...

May 2011
Rural Australia
For arguments sake we could introduce a spectrum to describe religion where at one end we have an ideology, in the middle we have a philosophy, and at the other end we have some form of metaphysics. Buddhism might provide a reasonable example of this. However from the historical perspective IMHO most of the world's book religions were based on a creed. (eg: the Nicene Creed). This is IMO firmly situated on the religion "spectrum" at the ideology end. When in ancient history warlords promoted and legislated for a religion, it may as well be perceived as an ideology from a political standpoint. When the church institued laws related to heresy and the state legal systems related to blasphemy (ie: what one could believe and express could no longer get one executed) were relaxed (maybe 150 years ago) the preception of religion as a top-down controlling ideological institution became less visible.

So for arguments sake we could introduce such a spectrum for today's world, so long as we do not lose sight of the history of religious institutions (and their utterly corrupt control mechanisms) prior to the modern epoch. To conclude, even Buddhism needs to factor in the role of the warlord Ashoka.

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