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history, its myths, and ethical codes. They are also replete with religious symbols. Ritual action has sometimes been described as taking place in a “sacred space and sacred time.”Rites of PassageMost religions have religious rituals associated with different important stages in human life. These are called Rites of Passage. For example: -birth: circumcision: baptism, infant dedication- puberty/ adulthood: bar/ bat mitzvah, confirmation, vision quest/ordeal- marriage: weddings, hand-binding-death: funeral rites, burials, funeral masses Religious RolesMost of the time, people are so preoccupied with the business of raising a family, earning a living, and dealing with challenges like sickness, poverty, conflict, and war that they have little time to devote to religious pursuits. Thus they have delegated many activities associated with the teaching, transmission, maintenance, and practice of the religious tradition to a special, much smaller group that exists for thesepurposes. Religious Pluralism
World Religions NotesMost religions, including pre-literate religions, have a specialized group of individuals (like shamans, priests in agricultural societies, nuns, rabbis, imams) who have “dedicated” their lives to their religious beliefs, practices, experiences, and serving the religious community. These persons study the religion’s sacred texts, learn and teach the traditions, instruct the larger religious community, and preside at ritualsand in communal cultic actions. Until literacy became more widespread among modern people, these religious leaders were often the only ones who could read and write. Frequently, but not always, they were male. Often these leaders were believed by the larger community to possess special faculties or powers, like superior spiritual insight and wisdom, the ability to heal, the ability to produce supernatural effects, and work miracles, etc.Our modern “globalized” world has brought the great diversity of religious traditions worldwide into the consciousness of each individual religious tradition. This has raised questions about how other religions “fit into” the theology (creed) of each religious tradition:Can members of other religions attain the religious goal of a specific religious tradition (e.g., “be saved,” “make it to heaven,” “be enlightened,” etc.)? if so, then how? Is it possible that all religions are merely different paths to the same goal? Should a religion try to “convert” members of other religious traditions? If so, then why? If not, then why not?Theologies of Religious PluralismDifferent religions use these models differently and alter the models slightly. We can, however, identify three basic models used by all traditions, with minor variations:Exclusivism: One must be a member of a particular religious tradition in order to attain the religious goal of that tradition. Those outside of the tradition cannot. Proselytizing is therefore encouragedInclusivism: One religious tradition is the “correct” one; however, members of other religious traditions