What are the elements of religion? There are a few things that separate a religion from any other group of people who are merely fighting for a cause. A religion is something that exists because of a spiritual need to connect to a higher power of some sort. Those who come together for the worship of such a supreme being have a few things in common, and these things are the basis for any religion. So what exactly do you need to make a religion?
To have a true religion, you need to have something to pray too. Whether it be an object like the Sun, or a person like Jesus, any religion will have something that it believes is in control of the universe. Without believing in a higher power, there is nothing to pray too, or come together in the worship of. You could worship a living person, but in my mind that just makes you a cult, or it just makes the person someone who has a nice following.
Every religion will have a sacred text that is written. This text codifies the doctrine of the religion, and it will set the basis for what the religon will believe in, and will have stories that will reinforce the faith. The Christian Bible is full of stories that tell us that God is in charge, and that he is capable of doing anything that he wants too. This helps the reader invest into God as the supreme ruler of the universe, and to respect his power. The stories will also illustrate how faith ultimately leads to the results that we want out of our lives.
A religion will have some sort of opinion of the after-life. Most religions believe that when you die you either go to be with the supreme being for living a good life, or suffer in some sulphur lake for living a bad life. This not only encourages us to be good while we are alive, but it also helps explain the source of bad things in life. Whether it be the devil, or just human nature, we learn to control ourselves so that we can have the best fate after we die.
Religion is an attempt to define what our life is, and gives our lives meaning. If we went about our lives knowing that we were just created as a cosmic accident, and that our lives had no meaning, would they be worth living? Religion helps us to understand why we are here, and give some sort of meaning to us being here. It gives us something higher than us to believe in, and is an attempt to interpret what happens on Earth. You must realize that religion is merely an attempt by people to determine what is right and wrong, and what we are doing here in the first place.
The four main elements of every religion are belief in a higher power, a sacred text, some opinion as to what happens when we die, and some attempt to explain why we are here. While they all work together on some level, these elements taken separately are common bonds that every religion has, or attempts to obtain.