Religious dogma does not have to be competitive

A new religious community (a Christian church) was formed by a small group in a neighbouring suburb. The members autonomously drew up their operating guidelines and associated beliefs, including ‘speaking in tongues.’ So I was told. There was also another religious community operating in my city. A couple of neighbours and 2 other friends of mine were members of these communities. I noticed that there was some effort in recruitment; and that governance was authoritarian. I can imagine that mergers or a progressive expansion could lead to a broader religious institution.

Historically, religious communities would have been formed all over the world in this manner. They were probably well separated geographically. To find extra meaning, each religious community or institution may have tacked onto its core beliefs some enriching symbolism; viz. a more grand Afterlife. Any such development would imply control, with authority. Assumed or granted? Bureaucratic or democratic? Did alpha-males rise to positions of control?

Faith and worship would be the objective of religious groups and communities. Since all those who pray do so for the same reasons or needs, differences in the mode of prayer should not lead to challenge or competition.

In the course of time, members of each religious community could be expected to realise that even those who do not belong to the clan or tribe most likely to be at the core of the community are joined to them under the same god or deity. A code of ethics may then develop. For example, ‘Do not do unto others … …’ Ethical values are surely not going to vary much between normal peoples, communities, and institutions are they? No scope for competition here!

It is only when an explanatory system or theology is coined to define practices, utterances, and underlying beliefs, that each religious community or institution may create a framework which might evolve into dogma; dogma to be eventually defended. This explanatory system would bond more strongly each membership.

The difference between ‘them’ and ‘us’ will then be stronger than before. But, should that lead to competition? If so, for what purpose? How would that purpose relate to the objectives of that religious faith?

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