A religion is a set of faith-based beliefs and practices, which may involve following rituals, as well as ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, or mythology. Group rituals and communication may result from shared principles and may provide mystic experiences for followers.
Religion is often described as a system of thought based on belief in an unseen being, person, or object that is considered to be supernatural, sacred, divine, or of the highest truth. Moral codes, practices, values, institutions, tradition, rituals, and scriptures are often traditionally associated with the core belief in this entity. Beliefs about the influence of the divine or ordering entity may influence non-religious codes of morals and ideas of appropriate behavior. Religion is also often described as a "way of life," a set of rules that a person and community may live by in order to lead what is considered a fulfilled life.
The development of religion has taken many forms. "Organized religion" generally refers to a community of people who regularly gather to exercise, acknowledge, or honor some aspect of their belief system in a divine or ordered entity. Other religions are more centered on individual practice, and in these religions the practice of worship may not require sharing these experiences with others.
Religion may be defined as the presence of a belief in the sacred or the holy. Sociologists and anthropologists tend to view religion as an abstract set of ideas, values, or experiences developed as part of a cultural matrix.
Understanding a patient's religious belief system may be crucial in providing culturally-appropriate medical consultation. For instance, some individuals' religious beliefs may require healing practices which are given as an adjunct to or sometimes instead of what may be considered standard care. For instance, a religious practice may dictate that a newborn's placenta is taken home for burial under a corner of the house due to beliefs about the afterlife when the standard protocol is to dispose of it in a biohazard container after giving birth. In other situations, a person's religious beliefs may forbid such medical procedures as a blood transfusion.
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