Sample Essay on Introduction to Religious Studies

Introduction to Religious Studies

Religion is a set of beliefs, personal views and cultures that are systematized to relate to human beings order of existence. It is however through religious studies where people get to learn and understand the different cultures, behaviors and beliefs that are related to different religious movements that are meant to be followed or abided to by the followers of the movement. In most cases, different religions have traits that require human beings to follow, in order for them to be said as accepted by the society due to their moral ethics.

According to the philosopher Marx, he believes that religion does not make a man who he is but the man makes the religion. He argues that the only thing that religion does to human beings is to understand them partially. The reason why the philosopher criticizes religion is because he found the institution of religion as delusional of appearances that created obstacles to reality. He also argued that religion was also misleading human beings, through the services they offer to humans. Moreover, religion was believed by Karl Marx to be an institution that hypocritical, since most of the people following them, will not do as it is expected of them, but they will undertake tasks to benefit themselves (Kalu, 2011, p. 191).

For instance, in Buddhism followers of the religious denomination are expected to believe and accept fully the system of believing in that religion as well as memorizing the doctrines of the religion. The real thing about this religion is that, if you want to be a Buddhist, one only needs to practice Buddhism. Therefore, understanding what the religion is all about and all that the religious practices should be the major consideration before joining the religion. Firstly a new believer of the religion needs first to have an information on the rituals of the religion, liturgy and other religious practices associated with the religion. However, after one becomes a Buddhist, one will need to make vows on committing oneself to making daily meditation practices as well as following the teachings of Buddhism. In relation to Marx believe in religion, we are able to see that religion should only help one understand oneself as well as understand what they should engage themselves in according to the religion and what not to be engaged with. In this case, believers of Buddhism are made to make vows on having meditation on a daily basis and committing themselves to following the teaching the religion. Marx argues that religion creates a platform of disguising reality, just like any person who would engage in ‘Unreligious’ practice and still make their daily meditations.

According to Buddhists teachings, they are required to treat the people around them with care, love, patience, compassion and kindness. In relation to Marx, who says that religion is hypocritical and those following different religions, will not follow what is expected of them due to the sense of nature. For instance, in this case, the believers are required to live in Dharma which could be a difficult situation living in a world full of disappointing a disrespectful person and it becomes for one to ‘live the Dharma’ due to these natural incidences (O’Brien, 2014, n.d).

However, due to the different believed and laws associated with different religions, Marx therefore is able to argue that religions and hypocritical. For instance, Buddhism follows Precepts, which are not necessarily a list of rules or commandments, but are mostly in relation to morality. Unlike the Buddhist religion, a number of other religions have laws and rules that are said to come from God, and these laws are in subject to morality. Therefore, the contradiction in this case comes where, both religions have values that they have to follow, but it becomes hard to understand which are generally ethical to follow, yet they are from different sources. Therefore, a mistake in one religion could be a correct move in another religion (O’Brien, 2014, n.d). It is therefore clear to Marx argued that, religion is supposed to help one recognize themselves fully and understand for themselves what is right and not dictate on what people should strictly follow and abide to.

However, Buddhism also has different Precepts that different Buddhists abide to. Buddhism has major differences, and that is the Normative Buddhism and the ‘actual’ Buddhism. Both of the Buddhism groups, have a great similarity to their beliefs and also they have differences in some of the set Precepts they are supposed to follow. However, there are Buddhists who are believed to follow the both teaching of the groups of Buddhism and those are the Buddhists who speak Buddhism (Smith, 1976, p. 105).

However, the creation of the Buddhism is currently seen as a mode of disrespecting others, most headed by leaders in the denomination. The religion, according to their teachings, is supposed to be an institution that helps the needy, the poor, teach its congregation on the right moral values according to the Precepts, and protect the society when it tends to go astray. Recently, Buddhism religion has potraying to help the poor and being kind and loving to others but, most of these institutions have failed to follow what they are expected. Some of them actually discriminate others from their background such that they have to have some certain qualification to join the religious group. However, in relation to Marx believe in religion, we are able to see that the religion is truly an obstacle to reality, where the leaders who are meant to teach the Precepts are humans and are facing the same economic effect that has hit the area, and therefore, it would not be impossible to use the funds they collect from their congregation to better and fulfill their economic wants.  Therefore, by Marx describing religion as hypocritical could be a right argument, since the Buddhist followers and believers are not supposed to follow the Dharma and the major Precepts, such as not killing, not stealing among others. In the recent times, a number of criminal incidences Buddhist believers would be mentioned and that makes it clear that religion should only help people discover what is right and what is wrong. The different people found in different situations that are contrary to their beliefs, could have undertaken such practices due to different natural influences that are not easy to evade. For instance, when and economies, inflation goes up, the chances of more people losing their jobs and more criminal activities will increase. Moreover, the religions could be major positive institutions, if the followers understand the teachings of the religions, and not only knowing them because they are for their religion. 


Kalu, H. (2011). Essays on World Religious Thoughts: A Comparative Study. Bloomington: Indiana.

O’Brien, B. (2014).Every Moment, Every Step: The Practice of Buddhism. U.S. Retrieved from

Smith, Bardwell L. 1976. Religion and social conflict in South Asia. Leiden: Brill.