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What if Religious Rituals Did Not Exist?

Updated on July 31, 2012


Catholic Church in Peje, Kosovo
Catholic Church in Peje, Kosovo | Source
Bombed out Orthodox Church, Kosovo
Bombed out Orthodox Church, Kosovo | Source

Looking at Rituals

Rituals remind people of traditions and help them focus on worship. Rituals are part of every religion to some degree and sometimes religions are made up almost entirely of rituals. Rituals and traditions have been around since the first generation of humans. What would life be like if rituals suddenly disappeared? Can humans live without rituals?

Christianity is usually viewed as a somewhat spontaneous and untraditional religion. Yet, there are many different denominations within the religion of Christianity and each vary on specific details. Evangelical Christianity has a few rituals and services can be rather unstructured. However, on the other side of the spectrum, Roman Catholicism is a highly structured and ritualistic wing of Christianity. For the sake of this argument, Evangelical Christianity will be the division of the Christian religion focused on. An Evangelical Christian worship service would most likely include singing and a sermon or teaching. Unless one would consider singing and teaching as rituals, Evangelical Christianity is not a ritualistic religion. Thus, if rituals were to suddenly disappear, Evangelical Christianity would only be slightly affected, if affected at all. However, other major denominations of Christianity where rituals play a significant part of worship would have serious problems and deficiencies were rituals to vanish. Overall, one cannot give a blanket statement and say that Christianity would, or would not be effected by a disappearance of rituals. Some parts would, and others would not be.

Judaism is one of several religions that date back a considerable number of years. And as with those other religions, Judaism is rooted in traditions and rituals. These traditions control most parts of a Jewish person’s lifestyle. Activities motivated by tradition include daily prayers, specific holiday celebrations, and certain food requirements. Although, just like Christianity, there are variations to the original Jewish religion, most still follow the original traditions and rituals. If rituals were to vanish, clearly the Jewish religion would suffer immensely, and might even vanish itself. Holidays such as Yom Kippur, Hanukah, and Pesakh are traditions passed down from generation to generation to help Jews remember what has occurred in the past. These kinds of traditions and rituals make up the Jewish religion. Thus, if rituals were to disappear so would much of Judaism. Other religion such as Buddhism and Hinduism would be in the same boat as Judaism because they are also both religions embedded in rituals. It appears that older religions, such as Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism, are more entrenched in rituals whereas, more recent religions, such as Islam and Christianity, are based not so much on rituals and traditions as feelings, thoughts, emotions, and experiences, although, Islam has a fair number of ritualistic observances. Thus, an extinction of rituals would only affect older religions.

As one can see, the ramifications of a sudden disappearance of rituals in religion would be enormous because of the massive amount of people who follow the older ritualistic religions. Countries based on these religions such as Israel, Japan, and India would be thrown into chaos because of the sudden disappearance in what people know and love. Although religions such as Christianity and Islam would be affected, it would not be in a major way. All in all, if rituals and traditions were to vanish, life would be much different for many people around the world, but would it be different for you?

This article is written for fun, examining an implausible situation to gain a better understanding of other religions around the world. Post you thoughts and comments below!

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  • no body profile image

    Robert E Smith 

    4 years ago from Rochester, New York

    Hey buddy, How have you been? I liked the article. I would say that any practice that is considered as essential in the communal worship service or in individual worship has become a ritual.

    I am not a fan of ritualistic worship as a general rule but all churches have things they do, things they have always done, so that that thing is the "expected and necessary" thing to do for familiarity sake alone. As soon as something is done just out of habit MINUS WORSHIP it removes from the spontaneous worship aspect of the activity...

    That being said, all worshipers have HABITS that threaten to do precisely that, just be habit and not communication to God made from the heart.

    Each church has its own comfortable pattern of how a reasonable structured time of communal worship looks. Some Christian churches go so far as to write the order of the service, what songs will be sung, what Bible verses will be quoted and echoed back and forth in the assembly. This is not necessarily wrong in my opinion, as long as the worship part is in front of each person. I mean who hasn't impatiently waited "until the last song is over and the final prayer is prayed" so that they can get to the restaurant for Sunday brunch before the place fills up and you have to wait for a table?

    That is the problem you see... If we are not communicating with our hearts to a holy God with every aspect of our being and every facet of activity in church then it will be just something to do before we go to the restaurant. Perhaps what we need is to shake things up a bit. Change the order and let the Spirit lead in what should and should not be done.

    Just sayin' that there is inherent danger in familiarity to the point that it is possible to erase all worship in favor of performance of a ritual. Voted up and interesting. Bob.

  • internpete profile imageAUTHOR

    Peter V 

    7 years ago from At the Beach in Florida

    Rodric29 - Right on! Thanks for your insightful comment and for reading!

  • Rodric29 profile image

    Rodric Anthony 

    7 years ago from Peoria, Arizona

    Rituals help to point us to God. Sometimes we get caught up in the action more than the significance of the actions. In Judaism, God prescribed those laws through Moses to point them to a coming Savior, whom they believe has not come yet. The sacrifices and manner of so ding were in similitude of what the coming Messiah would endure. Christianity claims to be the end of that law, and I agree. The first Christians were Jews. I think we forget that. Jews are who spread the gospel to the world first. We forget our heritage. Judaism is the source of Christs mortal life and teachings. He learned as a Jew and teaches us to live the same things. Each prayer is a ritual.

    I voted this hub up because it is though provoking.

  • internpete profile imageAUTHOR

    Peter V 

    7 years ago from At the Beach in Florida

    Denise - yep, you're totally right. I actually have sat through a Catholic mass and it was a very interesting experience. Thanks for reading/commenting!

  • Denise Handlon profile image

    Denise Handlon 

    7 years ago from North Carolina

    I have to say that the Roman Catholic Church is ALL about rituals. If you've ever studied the RC religion you will find that there is a time and way to do most everything. Sit through a mass and you will instantly realize the deeply entrenched rituals. Interesting hub.

  • internpete profile imageAUTHOR

    Peter V 

    7 years ago from At the Beach in Florida

    Kenneth, you are very kind to take the time to read my hubs and leave such flattering words and incredible encouragement! I hope I can I can live up to all the good things you said about me ;-). Thanks for your heartwarming note, and I look forward to many more of your hubs. God Bless!

  • kenneth avery profile image

    Kenneth Avery 

    7 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

    internpete, another amazing hub. Voted up and away. Since you didn't have a CONTACT slot on your page, I am leaving my Personal Note of Thanks for Following me here in this box.

    Please take a moment to read . . .

    Dear internpete,

    I wanted to send you a Special Hello, and to tell you that I am Very Glad that you are in my world. I hope that when you read my hubs, that boredom will not overtake you. And please, write me anytime that you want to. I always love to hear what my Valued-Followers are up to and what they are doing.

    You are an amazing. Talented writer. And I'm positive that your writings will touch many lives as they have mine.

    Please accept My Note of Thanks . . .a SINCERE THANK YOU for following me. I TRULY VALUE my followers and I shall NOT take YOUR Warm Gesture for granted. Hopefully, my hubs will be educational, entertaining, and hopefully, interesting. But I promise you that my hubs will NOT be negative, abusive, or demeaning to anyone.

    If at any time my hubs offend or upset you, simply tell ME FIRST, and I will rectify the situation pronto.

    Again, THANK YOU!

    Sincerely, Kenneth

    Your Friend for Life

  • internpete profile imageAUTHOR

    Peter V 

    7 years ago from At the Beach in Florida

    Robert - A very valid point, I think I sometimes forget how many rituals there are in Christianity because I am so accustomed to it. Thanks for the comment!

  • Robert Erich profile image

    Robert Erich 

    7 years ago from California

    You have made some great points here. I think that Christianity would also be greatly effected without rituals. I mean, how many Americans would actually have a "walk with Christ" if all of the churches were destroyed and they had to develop this relationship on their own, in their own homes. Very thought provoking piece. Thanks for writing!


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