Leading religions throughout the history shared some common characteristics, functions and elements. Some common characteristics include the belief in a deity, a doctrine of salvation a code of conduct and religious rituals.
The existence of a deity or deities have three main philosophical views; the views of the Atheist, Theist and the view of the Agnostics.
The Atheist believe that deity does not exist, Theist believe that deity exist while the Agnostics states that the deity’s existence cannot be approved or disapproved.
Major religions are theistic, believing on the existence of deity’s which they believe greatly influence the events in nature and the actions of humans. Major religions also teaches about the doctrine of salvation. Salvation means to be saved and acquires the life after death which should be the highest goal that all the follower should achieve.
Major religions also have a code of conduct. It is the set of moral guidelines of conduct and values. The code of conduct guides every member on how to act towards the deity, to the other people and to the community. Major religions have their religious rituals such as ceremonies or acts practice by believers.
Religion function in several ways as identified by Calderon (1998). It serves to function as one of the social institution that provide social control, it influence on personality development, allays fear of the unknown, tries to explain some events which cannot be explained by science or by human comprehension, transmit some knowledge,skills cultural as well as spiritual values, serves as instrument of change, promotes closeness, love, cooperation, and helpfulness, alleviate suffering from calamities and provides hope for a blissful life after death.
The element of religions are; sacred, legitimation of norms, rituals and religious community.
Sacred refers to the unexplained events that was considered as extraordinary, transcendent and supernatural. It is represented by many symbols such as god or gods, holy person, different religious writings, objects or places.
The legitimation of norms are the belief in religion or sanctions that are considered as legitimate by many roles or norms in the community such as the consideration of abortion to be an illegal act, by believing and considering that life is sacred and that it begin from conception.
Rituals serves as patterns of activity that expresses religious and spiritual symbolic meaning such as baptism or communion for the Holy Catholic Church and several others.
Religious community; as a religion it establishes code of behaviors for the members and therefore establishes a community of believers that think and act alike making themselves comfortable with one another.