A tuff one, maybe harder than defining god. Believe in god is the first thing that comes to mind but then scientology wouldn't count so i'll blunty cheat and go with wikipedia definition
"Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values."
"An organized system of beliefs and rituals centering on a supernatural being or beings"
American Heritage Dictionary (2007)
It's not just the personal beliefs...it's the public behavior too. The private and the public...at the individual level and the group membership level. When we talk about religion, I think it's also important to stress the emotional connections that believers have to religious ritual, song, and prayer.
Faith means never worrying about those pesky doubts and inconsistencies!
The segment of the faithful that worry me the most are the ones that encourage apocalyptic visions of our future....like 'bring it on' since the world isn't worth saving, it's time to prepare for the 'End Times'. It's a militaristic 'good v evil' and 'us v them' perspective with a warrior mentality...and they think they can uncover the 'revealed truth' of god by means of signs and messages...conveniently decoded by them, of course, the 'chosen ones'.
A broad definition: An interrelated set of behaviors, activities, rituals and beliefs shared by a group or groups of people. The beliefs generally involve an encompassing worldview, including cosmological and moral / ethical worldviews.
Religion usually involves some belief in supernatural phenomena and beings, and claims to establish a relationship to them. Religion may also be secular, that is, lacking in deities and other supernatural beliefs.
@mojo: Institutions which have many of the trappings of religion, but don't have a deity. An example is the Ethical Humanist movement, which is part of religious humanism.
Here in Philadelphia we have the Philadelphia Ethical Society, which is essentially an atheist church (they don't call it that), complete with hymnals, pews and a talks given by leaders.
The Society is an affiliate of the American Ethical Union.
Perhaps "secular" religion isn't the best word - "nontheist religion" would be more accurate.
I don't see how it's a stretch. I've attended these services and they are definitely "religious".
Secular humanists tend to say they have a 'life stance', as opposed to a 'religion'. Which is fine, but it just strikes me as euphemistic.
But if you even reject the term 'quasi-religious', which is about as mild as you can get, I'm curious why you object to the term so strongly.
This is just my opinion but I think of religion as having a supernatural element....monotheistic, polytheistic....theistic at some level. The program used in AA is quasi-religious because it asks its adherents to look to a 'higher power, if not directly to god.
The way I think about it, the 'life stance' of the secular humanist can be a 'philosophy' or a 'worldview' and not be religious in any way...no deity required. No membership required. No formal doctrine either. If we're going to call it religious, it would be of the weakest possible strength on the spectrum of 'most to least' religious.