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Selections from Religious Traditions of the World, H. Byron Earhart (editor), Copyright © 1993 by HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted with permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"Whoever travels around the world cannot fail to be impressed by the presence of religion in every country and culture."

H. Byron Earhart (ed.), Religious Traditions of the World,
Part One

Whoever travels around the world cannot fail to be impressed by the presence of religion in every country and culture. Whether it is the glory of the past (the pyramids of Egypt and the altars of Mesoamerica) or the grandeur of the present (the Vatican in Rome and the Taj Mahal in India) religion has made its mark on history and continues to shape and be shaped by contemporary life.

Indeed, there is no need to take a trip to be convinced of the significance of religion in all parts of the globe. Almost every day, televisions and newspapers provide accounts of important religious events. Unfortunately, all too often the media information about religion is focused on sensational aspects of religion scandal within a certain religion or conflict between several religious groups. What we see and hear about religions other than our own usually is the exceptional the "newsworthy" stories of huge numbers of pilgrims or inter-religious conflict.

The average person, whether deeply religious or not, is familiar with another side of religion, one often taken for granted the day to day common events. Many people attend regular worship services; and even if a person is not strongly committed to one religion, he or she from time to time will attend a religious ceremony honoring the birth, marriage, or death of a friend or relative. So an individual may not be a follower of member of a particular religion, but may still know the major religious options in the larger community and the appropriate behavior for the people of these religious groups.

This illustrates what we "know" about religion simply as part of our store of common knowledge. For example, by the way in which each of us chooses to be religious (or nonreligious), we acknowledge the fact that every individual is either religious or at least has the potential (and choice) for being so.

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