New as Nonofficial

Distinguishing between official and nonofficial religions at first may seem simple, however there are many different factors that go into making those distinctions. The term “nonofficial religion” does not sit well with me, simply because I believe that there are endless ways in which an individual can show their reverence.  Although official religious traditions and staples make it appear that there most definitely is a way in which to live one’s life according to their religion, and display their religiosity, there are countless different ways in which people worship. No matter the size or spectacle of a religious act, an individual’s beliefs are valid. Skepticism and judgement of different and less known “nonofficial”religions are present in many different sects and denominations of official religions, who may look down on the small scale and unorganized religious beliefs of others. For centuries beliefs and rituals that did not fit the status quo of the dominant religion were invalidated and claimed as heretical, feared and therefore persecuted. What is so often forgotten in regards to “official vs. nonofficial religions” is that dominant religions such as Christianity were once persecuted and thought of heresy just as many new nonofficial and untraditional religions of today. In chapter 5, McGuire quotes Emile Durkheim, stating, “It is life itself, and not a dead past which can produce a living cult.” (pg. 186). The liveliness and unique aspects of new religious beliefs and sentiments should be celebrated, no matter if official religions choose to accept them as religions, or cast them aside as a new spiritual youth trend. Differences between official, nonofficial, old, and new religions, no matter their status should be respected and validated.