Developed by: W. Huitt
Last revised: December 2006
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The term religion has its origin in the Latin religere, which means
to bind fast, to moor, or to unite. It is an activity that is found in every
society and culture throughout human history and is generally focused on the
spiritual development of individuals,
societies, and cultures.
According to the American Heritage Dictionary (1996), religion is defined as:
- a. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and
governor of the universe; b. A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such
belief and worship.
- The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
- A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
- A cause, a principle, or an activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.
Khavari (1999) states that religions have several basic features:
- the claim that there is a Creator
- the clear set of statements about right and wrong
- the requirement for obedience to its teachings
- the promise of reward for the faithful and punishment for the rebellious
- the emphasis on the heart and feelings, rather than the mind and reason. (p. 42)
Greeley (1997) proposes that in the context of educating children and youth, religious
organizations are an important source of social capital. Religious organizations have an
especially important influence in the area of character and moral development where
religious scripture has provided guidance for centuries (Carter, 1993; Nord & Haynes,
1998). In addition, Ginsburg and Hanson (1986) reported that students expressing a
religious affiliation had higher school achievement (see Huitt, 1999, for a further
discussion of this issue as it relates to school reform).
American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (3rd ed.). (1996). New York: Houghton Mifflin Co.
- Carter, S. (1993). The
culture of disbelief. New York: Basic Books.
- Ginsburg, A., & Hanson, S. (1986). Gaining ground: Values and high school success.
Washington, DC: U. S. Department of Education.
- Greeley, A. (1997). Coleman revisited: Religious structures as a source of social
capital. American Behavioral Scientist, 40(5), 587-594.
- Huitt, W. (1999). Implementing
effective school achievement reform: Four principles. Paper presented at the
School Counseling Summit, Valdosta State University, Valdosta, GA, April 20.
Retrieved December 2000, from
- Khavari, K. (1999). Spiritual
intelligence: A practical guide to personal happiness. New Liskeard,
Ontario, CA: White Mountain Press. Retrieved December 2000, from
- Nord, W., & Haynes, C. (1998). Taking
religion seriously across the curriculum. Alexandria, VA: Association for
Supervision and Curriculum Development.
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