A Virtual Issue of Social Problems


Religion is often seen as an abstract concept by anthropologists and sociologists. While this is certainly true, religion is also a cultural framework. According to George A. Lindbeck, “Religion is a cultural framework that influences all aspects of life and thought” (p. 1). While the definitions of religion vary greatly, they all generally describe the primary worldview of a culture.


There are many different theories about the origins of religion. Many of these theories are faith-based and relate the origins of religion to revelations from deities. However, no matter what the source, religion has been an integral part of human experience from the beginning of recorded history.


Religion and its meanings are fundamental resources for generating meaning in life. They involve a shared set of beliefs and a sense of community. This study explores how to distinguish between the beliefs themselves and the community that surrounds them. Twelve women from four different religious traditions participated in qualitative interviews about religion and its meanings. They were drawn from the fundamental Christian, Catholic, Jewish, and liberal Protestant faiths. While the groups had similar characteristics, the differences between them were based on the nature of their beliefs.


There are several common characteristics of religions. Some of these characteristics are common to many religions and others are unique. Not all religions exhibit all these characteristics, but most do. Moreover, the more characteristics a religion exhibits, the more likely it is to be classified as a religion.

Impact on society

Religion is a social force that intersects all the major institutions of our society. It embodies the good and the bad of social life. This Virtual Issue of Social Problems highlights past scholarship about religion and how it has influenced political, civic, and individual lives.

Diversity of religions

While it is possible to compare the numbers of religions in various countries, there are many factors that contribute to the diversity of a country. First, a large percentage of the population does not identify as religious. While this may seem a negative attribute, the fact is that nonreligious people do exist. In fact, they are increasing as a percentage of various populations.

Evolutionary psychology

The field of evolutionary psychology and religion is an approach to the psychology of religion that uses evolutionary principles. This approach is based on the idea that humans evolved according to their biological makeup. This approach also considers the role of culture in religious beliefs.

Social constructionists

Social constructionists believe that all meaning is constructed by dynamic interactions among individuals. They believe that individuals are the products of their cultural, political, and religious contexts, rather than being innate or inborn. The theory of social construction is a contrast to essentialism, which holds that everything is pre-existing and can’t be changed.