FEC Leo Hayes High School > Teachers > Posts > What is religion
March 22
What is religion

NOTES:     Other Evidence of Religious Beliefs and Attitudes

Here are some key characteristics of Religion:


1.       All religious people have narratives of some kind.

Whether they appear in written or oral form, they have many things in common:

          They tell about the creation of the universe

          They tell the historical origins of different groups of people

They set standards of proper behavior by telling about the wise and the foolish, the good hearted and the malicious, and the believers and doubters

Religious narratives tell how the universe is organized 

2.       All people use space to express their spirituality

They may have buildings, such as churches, that are constructed especially for religious purposes.

(The Micmac and Maliseet built sweat lodges, which are used for religious ceremonies.)

Building may face a certain direction or have a steeple that reaches up toward heaven

They may be restricted for use only by certain people at certain times. 

3.       People use religious symbols of many kinds.

          Such as a cross, incense, the eagle. 

4.       Music and dance are important in religious rituals for the personal expression of spiritual feelings.

          To Native people of North America the sound of the drum has always had spiritual significance.

          In Christianity Hymns are held as being very sacred. 

5.       People celebrate the significant points in their lives or “transitional events.”

          Why are the moments of birth and death so meaningful to us?

          Why is a Jewish boy made bar mitzvah at age thirteen?

          Why is a wedding a religious ceremony?

          What is the importance of a Micmac/Maliseet boy’s first hunting success?​

The first Jesuit missionaries had arrived at Port Royal in 1610 and met immediate success working among the Micmac. Their first important convert was the sachem Membertou who was baptized with his entire family in 1610. Unfortunately, conversion did not protect him from epidemic, and Membertou died the following year.

Devastating epidemics were sweeping through the tribes in southern New England. The Micmac went home but took the sickness with them. The worst year in the Canadian Maritimes was 1617, and before the epidemic had run its course, it had killed almost three-quarters of the native population. There were not enough survivors to bury the dead, much less wage war.

By 1620 only 4,000 Micmac remained from an original population of 20,000.​ 


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