Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is the central bank of the Republic of the Philippines. It was rechartered on July 3, 1993, pursuant to the provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution and the New Central Bank Act of 1993. The BSP was established on January 3, 1949, as the country¶s central monetary authority.

In 1900, the First Philippine Commission passed Act No. 52, which placed all banks under the Bureau of the Treasury and authorizing the Insular Treasurer to supervise and examine banks and all banking activity. In 1929, the Department of Finance, through the Bureau of Banking, took over bank supervision. By 1933, a group of Filipinos had conceptualized a central bank for the Philippines. It came up with the rudiments of a bill for the establishment of a central bank after a careful study of the economic provisions of the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act, which would grant Philippine independence after 12 years, but reserving military and naval bases for the United States and imposing tariffs and quotas on Philippine exports. However, the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act would be rejected by the Senate of the Philippines at the urging of Manuel L. Quezon. This Senate then advocated a new bill that won President Franklin D. Roosevelt's support, this would be the Tydings-McDuffie Act, which would grant Philippine independence on July 4, 1946. During the Commonwealth period, the discussion about a Philippine central bank that would promote price stability and economic growth, continued. The country¶s monetary system then was administered by the Department of Finance and the National Treasury. The Philippines was on the exchange standard using the US dollar, which was backed by 100 percent gold reserve, as the standard currency. In 1939, as required by the Tydings-McDuffie Act, the Philippine legislature passed a law establishing a central bank. As it was a monetary law, it required the approval of the United States president; Roosevelt did not give his. A second law was passed in 1944, during the Japanese occupation, but the arrival of the American liberation forces aborted its implementation. Shortly after President Manuel Roxas assumed office in 1946, he instructed Finance Secretary Miguel Cuaderno, Sr. to draw up a charter for a central bank. The establishment of a monetary authority became imperative a year later as a result of the findings of the Joint PhilippineAmerican Finance Commission chaired by Cuaderno. The Commission, which studied Philippine financial, monetary, and fiscal problems in 1947, recommended a shift from the dollar exchange standard to a managed currency system. A central bank was necessary to implement the proposed shift to the new system.

Original BSP Seal (1949-1993)

BSP Official seal of 1993 Roxas then created the Central Bank Council to prepare the charter of a proposed monetary authority. It was submitted to Congress in February 1948. By June of the same year, the newlyproclaimed President Elpidio Quirino, who succeeded President Roxas, affixed his signature on Republic Act (RA) No. 265, the Central Bank Act of 1948. On January 3, 1949, the Central Bank of the Philippines was formally inaugurated with Miguel Cuaderno, Sr. as the first governor. The main duties and responsibilities of the Central Bank were to promote economic development and maintain internal and external monetary stability. Over the years, changes were introduced to make the charter more responsive to the needs of the economy. On November 29, 1972, Ferdinand Marcos's Presidential Decree No. 72 amdended Republic Act No. 265, emphasizing the maintenance of domestic and international monetary stability as the primary objective of the Central Bank. The Bank's authority was also expanded to include regulation of the entire financial system of the Philippines and not just supervision of the banking system. In 1981, RA 265, as amended, was further improved to strengthen the financial system, among the changes was the increase in the capitalization of the Central Bank from Ps10 million to Ps10 billion. In the 1973 Constitution, the Interim Batasang Pambansa (National Assembly) was mandated to establish an independent central monetary authority. Later, Presidential Decree No. 1801 designated the Central Bank of the Philippines as the central monetary authority (CMA). Years later, the 1987 Constitution adopted the CMA provisions from the 1973 Constitution that were aimed essentially at establishing an independent monetary authority through increased capitalization and greater private sector representation in the Monetary Board. In accordance with a provision in the 1987 Constitution, President Fidel V. Ramos signed Republic Act No. 7653, otherwise known as the New Central Bank Act, into law on June 14, 1993. The law provides for the establishment of an independent monetary authority to be known

as the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, its primary objective being the maintenance of price stability. This objective was only implied in the old Central Bank charter. The law also gives the Bangko Sentral fiscal and administrative autonomy which the old Central Bank did not have. On July 3, 1993, the New Central Bank Act took effect. Within the complex of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the nation's central monetary authority, resides a numismatist's haven - the Museo ng Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Inaugurated on January 3, 1999, as part of the celebration of the 50 years of central banking in the Philippines, the Museo showcases the Bank's collection of currencies. As repository and custodian of the country's numismatic heritage, the Museo collects, studies and preserves coins, paper notes, medals, artifacts and monetary items found in the Philippines during its different historical periods. These collections have been placed on permanent display at the Museo.

Designed to "walk" the visitor through a number of galleries, individually dedicated to a specific historical period of the country, the Museo visually narrates the development of the Philippine economy, parallel to the evolution of its currency. Complementary paintings from the BSP art collection, together with chosen artifacts, enhance each gallery. A panoramic memorabilia of 50 years of central banking in the Philippines, showcases the strides made in bringing about price stability, to sustain economic growth in the country. The exhibition hall also carries the busts of the governors of the Central Bank/ Bangko Sentral. On July 31, 2008, the Central bank entered into a tax compromise agreement with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and settled its P 3.6 billion. It represents 40% of the bank's original P 9 billion tax obligation, for unpaid gross receipt taxes (GRT) and final withholding taxes on government securities sold from 2004 to 2007.[1]

Roles and responsibilities
As prescribed by the New Central Bank Act, the main functions of the Bangko Sentral are: 1. Liquidity Management, by formulating and implementing monetary policy aimed at influencing money supply, consistent with its primary objective to maintain price stability, 2. Currency issue; the BSP has the exclusive power to issue the national currency. All notes and coins issued by the BSP are fully guaranteed by the Government and are considered legal tender for all private and public debts, 3. Lender of last resort, by extending discounts, loans and advances to banking institutions for liquidity purposes, 4. Financial Supervision, by supervising banks and exercising regulatory powers over nonbank institutions performing quasi-banking functions,

5. Management of foreign currency reserves, by maintaining sufficient international reserves to meet any foreseeable net demands for foreign currencies in order to preserve the international stability and convertibility of the Philippine peso, 6. Determination of exchange rate policy, by determining the exchange rate policy of the Philippines. Currently, the BSP adheres to a market-oriented foreign exchange rate policy, and 7. Being the banker, financial advisor and official depository of the Government, its political subdivisions and instrumentalities and GOCCs. 8. and be reasonably responsible for the faults of the people behind it get the blame of the opposition to which it is grouped. t of foreign currency reserves, by maintaining sufficient international reserves to meet any foreseeable net demands for foreign currencies in order to preserve the international stability and convertibility of the Philippine peso, 1. Determination of exchange rate policy, by determining the exchange rate policy of the Philippines. Currently, the BSP adheres to a market-oriented foreign exchange rate policy, and 2. Being the banker, financial advisor and official depository of the Government, its political subdivisions and instrumentalities and GOCCs. 3. and be reasonably responsible for the faults of the people behind it get the blame of the opposition to which it is grouped.

Organization of the Bangko Sentral
The basic structure of the Bangko Sentral includes:
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The Monetary Board, which exercises the powers and functions of the BSP, such as the conduct of monetary policy and supervision of the financial system, The Monetary Stability Sector, which takes charge of the formulation and implementation of the BSP¶s monetary policy, including serving the banking needs of all banks through accepting deposits, servicing withdrawals and extending credit through the rediscounting facility, The Supervision and Examination Sector, which enforces and monitors compliance to banking laws to promote a sound and healthy banking system, and The Resource Management Sector, which serves the human, financial and physical resource needs of the BSP.

The powers and function of Bangko Sentral are exercised by its Monetary Board, whose seven members are appointed by the President of the Philippines. As provided for by the New Central Bank Act, one of the government sector members of the Monetary Board must also be a member of the President's Cabinet. Members of the Monetary Board are prohibited from holding certain positions in other government agencies and private institutions that may give rise to conflicts of interest. The members have fixed, overlapping, terms, except for the cabinet secretary representing the incumbent administration.

The current members of the Monetary Board are:
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Amando M. Tetangco, Jr., Chairman Peter Favila Ignacio Bunye[2] Raul A. Boncan Juanita D. Amatong Alfredo C. Antonio Nelly F. Villafuerte

In 2000, the General Banking Law mandated the BSP to recognize microfinance as a legitimate banking activity and to set the rules and regulations for its practice within the banking sector. In the same year, the BSP declared microfinance as its flagship program for poverty alleviation. The BSP has then the prime advocate for the development of microfinance. To this end, the Bangko Sentral aims to: 1. provide the enabling policy and regulatory environment, 2. increase the capacity of the BSP and banking sector on microfinance operations, and 3. promote and advocate for the development of sound and sustainable microfinance operations.

Anti-Money laundering
With money laundering being one of the perennial problems of the Philippines, the BSP has issued a number of measures to bring the Philippines' regulatory regime on money laundering closer to international standards. In September 2001, the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) signed into law and defined moneya a criminal offense, prescribed penalties for such crimes committed and formed the foundation of a central monitoring and implementing council called the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC). The AMLC is composed of the Governor of the Bangko Sentral as Chairman and the Commissioner of the Insurance Commission and the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission as members. It acts unanimously in the discharge of its functions.

Term started Term finished Name

Governors of the Central Bank



Miguel Cuaderno, Sr.



Andres V. Castillo



Alfonso Calalang



Gregorio S. Licaros



Jaime C. Laya



Jose B. Fernandez, Jr.



Jose L. Cuisia, Jr.

Governors of the Bangko Sentral



Gabriel C. Singson



Rafael B. Buenaventura



Amando M. Tetangco, Jr.

Cash Management Center (CMC)
Initially proposed in April 1998 by the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP), the privately-run Cash Management Center (CMC) was envisioned to accept, store, and distribute cash reserves of all Metro Manila-based banks, which is estimated at P40 billion ($800 million). Unfortunately, since all these functions are among the core regulatory duties of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the CMC was declared ³illegal, irregular, extravagant, and unconscionable,´ by the Philippines¶ Commission on Audit (COA) in April 2005. However, the issuance failed to discourage monetary authorities from completing the project. During the same year, while the national government was reeling from the effects of overspending, the BSP, which regulates the country¶s financial institutions, continued to support the project¶s construction, worth anywhere from P150 to P170 million. Thus, directly or indirectly, the BSP contributed to the ballooning fiscal deficit at a time when Malacañang issued orders asking agencies to cut unnecessary expenses. Although the facility broke ground in November 2003 at the BSP¶s compound in Quezon City, the cash center¶s construction²and its eventual completion²proceeded with very little hitches. While the BSP did suspend work on the CMC days after the COA issued the document, the suspension lasted for only a month. In June of the same year, the BSP¶s Monetary Board (MB), whose deliberations are kept private, lifted the suspension, allowing the project to be finally completed late 2005. However, to this day, the CMC remains inoperable.

The Security Plant Complex
The Security Plant Complex was formally established in September 7, 1978 to safeguard the printing/minting/refining, issuance, distribution and durability of coins, banknotes, gold bars, government official receipts, lottery tickets, internal revenue stamps, passports, seaman identification record books, strip stamps, official documents, registration certificates, Torrens titles, treasury warrants, stocks and bonds, government contracts, ration coupons, official ballots, election return forms, checks and other security printing of minting jobs of the government.

Security Printing Plant

Banknotes Official ballots Torrens titles Passports





Political system
A political system is a system of politics and government. It is usually compared to the legal system, economic system, cultural system, and other social systems. It is different from them, and can be generally defined on a spectrum from left, e.g. communism, to the right, e.g. fascism. However, this is a very simplified view of a much more complex system of categories involving the views: who should have authority, how religious questions should be handled, and what the government's influence on its people and economy should be.

There are several definitions of "political system":

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A political system is a complete set of institutions, interest groups (such as political parties, trade unions, lobby groups), the relationships between those institutions and the political norms and rules that govern their functions (constitution, election law). A political system is composed of the members of a social organization (group) who are in power. A political system is a system that necessarily has two properties: a set of interdependent components and boundaries toward the environment with which it interacts. A political system is a concept in which theoretically regarded as a way of the government makes a policy and also to make them more organized in their administration. A political system is one that ensures the maintaining of order and sanity in the society and at the same time makes it possible for some other institutions to also have their grievances and complaints put across in the course of social existence.

Commonalities between political systems:


Interdependent parts o Citizens o Government Boundaries o Citizenship o Territory o Property

Basic forms of political systems
The following are examples of political systems, some of which are typically mutually exclusive (eg Monarchy and Republic), while others may (or may not) overlap in various combinations (eg Democracy and Westminster system, Democracy and Socialism).
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Anarchism Democracy

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Monarchy. Monarchies are one of the oldest political systems known, developing from tribal structure with one person the absolute ruler. Meritocracy o Technocracy Republic. The first recorded Republic was in India in the 6th century BC. Sultanates. an Islamic political structure combining aspects of Monarchy and Theocracy. Islamic Democracy. an Islamic and democratic political structure, which combines aspects of Theocracy (as the framework) and Democracy (as the decision making method under Islam's ethical system). Iran's constitution is based on such a system. Theocracy Westminster system Feudalism

Anthropological forms of political systems
Anthropologists generally recognize four kinds of political systems, two of which are uncentralized and two of which are centralized. [1]


Uncentralized systems o Band o Tribe Centralized systems o Chiefdom o State

A religion is a system of human thought which usually includes a set of narratives, symbols, beliefs and practices that give meaning to the practitioner's experiences of life through reference to a higher power, deity or deities, or ultimate truth.[1] Religion is commonly identified by the practitioner's prayer, ritual, meditation, music and art, among other things, but more generally is interwoven with society and politics. It may focus on specific supernatural, metaphysical, and moral claims about reality (the cosmos and human nature) which may yield a set of religious laws, ethics, and a particular lifestyle. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and religious experience. The term "religion" refers to both the personal practices related to communal faith and to group rituals and communication stemming from shared conviction. "Religion" is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system,"[2] but it is more socially defined than personal convictions, and it entails specific behaviors, respectively. The development of religion has taken many forms in various cultures. It considers psychological and social roots, along with origins and historical development. In the frame of western religious thought,[3] religions present a common quality, the "hallmark of patriarchal religious thought": the division of the world in two comprehensive domains, one sacred, the other profane.[4] Religion is often described as a communal system for the coherence of belief focusing on a system of thought, unseen being, person, or object, that is considered to be supernatural, sacred, divine, or of the highest truth. Moral codes, practices, values, institutions, tradition, rituals, and scriptures are often traditionally associated with the core belief, and these may have some overlap with concepts in secular philosophy. Religion is also often described as a "way of life" or a life stance.

Definitions of religion
Religious scholars generally agree that writing a single definition that applies to all religions is difficult or even impossible, because all people examine religion with some kind of critical eye, and the term is therefore fraught with ideological consequences for anyone who might want to construct a universal definition. Talal Asad writes that "there cannot be a universal definition of religion ... because that definition is itself the historical product of discursive processes"[5]; Thomas A. Tweed, while defending the idea of religion in general, writes that "it would be foolish to set up an abstract definition of religion's essence, and then proceed to defend that definition from all comers."[6] The earliest definition of religion is from Johnson's Dictionary, which simply calls it "a system of faith and worship". Friedrich Schleiermacher in the late 18th century defined religion as das schlechthinnige Abhängigkeitsgefühl, commonly translated as "a feeling of absolute dependence".[7] His contemporary Hegel disagreed thoroughly, defining religion as "the Divine Spirit becoming conscious of Himself through the finite spirit."[8] Clifford Geertz's definition of religion as a "cultural system" was dominant for most of the 20th century and continues to be widely accepted today.

Sociologists and anthropologists tend to see religion as an abstract set of ideas, values, or experiences developed as part of a cultural matrix. For example, in Lindbeck's Nature of Doctrine, religion does not refer to belief in "God" or a transcendent Absolute. Instead, Lindbeck defines religion as, "a kind of cultural and/or linguistic framework or medium that shapes the entirety of life and thought« it is similar to an idiom that makes possible the description of realities, the formulation of beliefs, and the experiencing of inner attitudes, feelings, and sentiments.´[9] According to this definition, religion refers to one's primary worldview and how this dictates one's thoughts and actions. Thus religion is considered by some sources to extend to causes, principles, or activities believed in with zeal or conscientious devotion concerning points or matters of ethics or conscience, and not necessarily including belief in the supernatural.[10] The English word religion has been in use since the 13th century, loaned from Anglo-French religiun (11th century), ultimately from the Latin religio, "reverence for God or the gods, careful pondering of divine things, piety, the res divinae".[11] The ultimate origins of Latin religi are obscure. It is usually accepted to derive from ligare "bind, connect"; probably from a prefixed re-ligare, i.e. re (again) + ligare or "to reconnect." This interpretation is favoured by modern scholars such as Tom Harpur and Joseph Campbell, but was made prominent by St. Augustine, following the interpretation of Lactantius. Another possibility is derivation from a reduplicated *le-ligare. A historical interpretation due to Cicero on the other hand connects lego "read", i.e. re (again) + lego in the sense of "choose", "go over again" or "consider carefully".[12]

Specific religious movements
In the 19th and 20th centuries, the academic practice of comparative religion divided religious belief into philosophically-defined categories called "world religions." However, some recent scholarship has argued that not all types of religion are necessarily separated by mutually exclusive philosophies, and furthermore that the utility of ascribing a practice to a certain philosophy, or even calling a given practice religious, rather than cultural, political, or social in nature, is limited.[13][14][15] The list of religious movements given here is an attempt to summarize the most important regional and philosophical influences, but it is by no means a complete description of every religious community.

Abrahamic religions are practiced throughout the world. They share in common the Jewish patriarch Abraham and the Torah as an initial sacred text, although the degree to which the Torah is incorporated into religious beliefs varies between traditions. o Judaism accepts only the prophets of the Torah, but also relies on the authority of rabbis. It is practiced by the Jewish people, an ethnic group currently centered in Israel but also scattered throughout the Jewish diaspora. Today, Jews are outnumbered by Christians and Muslims. o Christianity is centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the Gospels and the writings of the apostle Paul (1st century CE). The Christian faith is essentially faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, and as Savior and Lord. As the religion of Western Europe during the time of colonization, Christianity has been propagated throughout the world. However, Christianity is not practiced as a single orthodoxy but as a mixture of Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and many forms of Protestantism. In the United States, for example, African-Americans[16] and Korean-Americans[17]



usually attend separate churches from Americans of European descent. Many European countries as well as Argentina have established a specific church as the state religion, but this is not the case in the United States nor in many other majority Christian areas. o Islam refers to the religion taught by the Islamic prophet Muhammad, a major political and religious figure of the 7th century CE. Islam is the dominant religion of northern Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. As with Christianity, there is no single orthodoxy in Islam but a multitude of traditions which are generally categorized as Sunni and Shia, although there are other minor groups as well. Wahhabi Islam is the established religion of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. There are also several Islamic republics, including Iran which is run by a Shia Supreme Leader. o The Bahá'í Faith was founded in the 19th century in Iran and since then has spread worldwide. It teaches unity of all religious philosophies and accepts all of the prophets of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as well as additional prophets including its founder Bahá'u'lláh. o Smaller Abrahamic groups that are not heterodox versions of the four major groupings include Mandaeism, Samaritanism, the Druze, and the Rastafari movement. Indian religions are practiced or were founded in the Indian subcontinent. Concepts most of them share in common include karma, caste, reincarnation, mantras, yantras, and dar ana. Islam in India has also been influenced by Indian religious practices. o Hinduism is a synechdoche describing the similar Indian religious philosophies of Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and related groups.[13] Hinduism is not a monolithic religion in the Romannic sense but a religious category containing dozens of separate philosophies amalgamated as San tana Dharma. o Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded on the teachings of Guru Nanak and ten successive Sikh Gurus in 15th century Punjab. Sikhs are found mostly in India. o Jainism, taught primarily by Parsva (9th century BCE) and Mahavira (6th century BCE), is an ancient Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence for all forms of living beings in this world. Jains are found mostly in India. o There are dozens of new Indian religions and Hindu reform movements, such as Ayyavazhi and Swaminarayan Faith. Buddhism was founded by Siddhattha Gotama in the 6th century BCE. Buddhists generally agree that Gotama aimed to help sentient beings end their suffering by understanding the true nature of phenomena, thereby escaping the cycle of suffering and rebirth (sa s ra), that is, achieving Nirvana. o Theravada Buddhism, which is practiced mainly in Southeast Asia alongside folk religion, shares some characteristics of Indian religions. It is based in a large collection of texts called the Pali Canon. o Under the heading of Mahayana (the "Great Vehicle") fall a multitude of doctrines which began their development in China and are still relevant in Vietnam, in Korea, in Japan, and to a lesser extent in Europe and the United States. Mahayana Buddhism includes such disparate teachings as Zen, Pure Land, and Soka Gakkai. o Vajrayana Buddhism, sometimes considered a form of Mahayana, was developed in Tibet and is still most prominent there and in surrounding regions. o Two notable new Buddhist sects are Hòa H o and the Dalit Buddhist movement, which were developed separately in the 20th century.

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Yazdânism is a non-Abrahamic monotheistic category including the traditional beliefs of the Yazidi, Alevi, and Ahl-e Haqq. Religious movements centered in the United States are often derived from Christian tradition. They include the Latter Day Saint movement, Christian evangelicalism, and Unitarian Universalism among hundreds of smaller groups. Folk religion is a term applied loosely and vaguely to disorganized local practices. It is also called paganism, shamanism, animism, ancestor worship, and totemism, although not all of these elements are necessarily present in local belief systems. The category of "folk religion" can generally include anything that is not part of an organization. The modern neopagan movement draws on folk religion for inspiration. o African traditional religion is a category including any type of religion practiced in Africa before the arrival of Islam and Christianity, such as Yoruba religion or San religion. There are many varieties of religions developed by Africans in the Americas derived from African beliefs, including Santería, Candomblé, Umbanda, Vodou, and Oyotunji. o Folk religions of the Americas include Aztec religion, Inca religion, Maya religion, and modern Catholic beliefs such as the Virgin of Guadalupe. Native American religion is practiced across the continent of North America. o Australian Aboriginal culture contains a mythology and sacred practices characteristic of folk religion. o Chinese folk religion, practiced by Chinese people around the world, is a primarily social practice including popular elements of Confucianism and Taoism, with some remnants of Mahayana Buddhism. Most Chinese do not identify as religious due to the strong Maoist influence on the country in recent history, but adherence to religious ceremonies remains common. New religious movements include Falun Gong and I-Kuan Tao. o Traditional Korean religion was a syncretic mixture of Mahayana Buddhism and Korean shamanism. Unlike Japanese Shinto, Korean shamanism was never codified and Buddhism was never made a social necessity. In some areas these traditions remain prevalent, but Korean-influenced Christianity is far more influential in society and politics. o Traditional Japanese religion is a mixture of Mahayana Buddhism and ancient indigenous practices which were codified as Shinto in the 19th century. Japanese people retain nominal attachment to both Buddhism and Shinto through social ceremonies, but irreligion is common. A variety of new religious movements still practiced today have been founded in many other countries besides the United States and Japan, including Cao ài in Vietnam. o Shinsh ky is a general category for a wide variety of religious movements founded in Japan since the 19th century. These movements share almost nothing in common except the place of their founding. The largest religious movements centered in Japan include Soka Gakkai, Tenrikyo, and Seicho-No-Ie among hundreds of smaller groups.

Sociological classifications of religious movements suggest that within any given religious group, a community can resemble various types of structures, including "churches", "denominations", "sects", "cults", and "institutions".

Religion and superstition
While superstitions and magical thinking refer to nonscientific causal reasoning, applied to specific things or actions, a religion is a more complex system about general or ultimate things, involving morality, history and community. Because religions may include and exploit certain superstitions or make use of magical thinking, while mixing them with broader considerations, the division between superstition and religious faith is hard to specify and subjective. Religious believers have often seen other religions as superstition.[18] Likewise, some atheists, agnostics, deists, and skeptics regard religious belief as superstition. Religious practices are most likely to be labeled "superstitious" by outsiders when they include belief in extraordinary events (miracles), an afterlife, supernatural interventions, apparitions or the efficacy of prayer, charms, incantations, the meaningfulness of omens, and prognostications. Greek and Roman pagans, who modeled their relations with the gods on political and social terms scorned the man who constantly trembled with fear at the thought of the gods, as a slave feared a cruel and capricious master. Such fear of the gods (deisidaimonia) was what the Romans meant by superstitio (Veyne 1987, p 211). Early Christianity was outlawed as a superstitio Iudaica, a "Jewish superstition", by Domitian in the 80s AD, and by AD 425, Theodosius II outlawed pagan traditions as superstitious. The Roman Catholic Church considers superstition to be sinful in the sense that it denotes a lack of trust in the divine providence of God and, as such, is a violation of the first of the Ten Commandments. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states superstition "in some sense represents a perverse excess of religion" (para. #2110). Superstition is a deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this feeling imposes. It can even affect the worship we offer the true God, e.g., when one attributes an importance in some way magical to certain practices otherwise lawful or necessary. To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand is to fall into superstition. Cf. Matthew 23:16-22 (para. #2111)

Ideally, a history of religion could include all human religious practices, but archaeological study of religion is a relatively new and undeveloped field.[19] Therefore, the history of religion is largely limited to those practices which have been described in writing.

Development of religion
Like the definition of religion, the construction of religious history is a task fraught with ideological implications. Early studies of religions were often written to imply that the author's own religion was the most accurate. Even in a secular history, to imply that religion "progresses" towards better understanding of reality makes a value judgment about past religions; likewise, to consider religion an essentially social construction with no transcendent meaning denies the claims of every religious authority. There is no time or place in human history where religious movements are not being founded, and religious practice is not merely a matter of founding prophets but also of local traditions and

reforms. There is not even a single era when the Abrahamic religions were developed; the Jewish prophets lived some centuries before Jesus, Muhammad came six centuries after him, and Bahá'u'lláh founded the Bahá'í Faith over a millennium later.

Middle Ages
The Middle Ages (800 AD-1500 AD) was a time of philosophical development for several major religions. As Christianity became the focus of scholarship throughout Europe, Buddhist missions were sent to East Asia, and Islam was spread throughout the Middle East, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, North Africa and parts of Europe and India. Meanwhile, the decline of Buddhism in India led to the flourishing of folk religion there. Many medieval religious movements emphasized mysticism, such as the Cathars and related movements in the West, the Bhakti movement in India and Sufism in Islam. Monotheism was articulated distinctly in Christian Christology and in Islamic Tawhid. Hindu monotheist notions of Brahman likewise reached their classical form with the teaching of Adi Shankara. Religion was the dominant ideology behind many conflicts of the Middle Ages. Muslims were in conflict with Zoroastrians during the Islamic conquest of Persia; Christians were in conflict with Muslims during the Byzantine-Arab Wars, Crusades, Spanish Reconquista and Ottoman wars in Europe; Christians were in conflict with Jews during the Crusades, Reconquista and Inquisition; Shamans were in conflict with Buddhists, Taoists, Muslims and Christians during the Mongol invasions; and Muslims were in conflict with Hindus during Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent.

Modern period
European colonisation during the 15th to 19th centuries resulted in the spread of Christianity to Sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas, Australia and the Philippines. The 18th century saw the beginning of secularisation in Europe, rising to notability in the wake of the French Revolution. By the 20th century, religion was no longer the dominant ideological force behind international wars, but had generally been unseated by political ideals such as democracy and communism. In the 20th century, the regimes of Communist Eastern Europe and Communist China were explicitly anti-religious. A great variety of new religious movements originated in the 20th century, many proposing syncretism of elements of established religions. Adherence to such new movements is limited, however, remaining below 2% worldwide in the 2000s. Adherents of the classical world religions account for more than 75% of the world's population, while selfreported alliegance to indigenous folk religions has fallen to 4%. As of 2005, an estimated 14% of the world's population identifies as nonreligious.

Religious belief
Religious belief usually relates to the existence, nature and worship of a deity or deities and divine involvement in the universe and human life. Alternately, it may also relate to values

and practices transmitted by a spiritual leader. Unlike other belief systems, which may be passed on orally, religious belief tends to be codified in literate societies (religion in non-literate societies is still largely passed on orally[20]). In some religions, like the Abrahamic religions, it is held that most of the core beliefs have been divinely revealed. Religious belief can also involve causes, principles or activities believed in with zeal or conscientious devotion concerning points or matters of ethics or conscience, not necessarily limited to organized religions.[21]

Related forms of thought Religion and science
Religious knowledge, according to religious practitioners, may be gained from religious leaders, sacred texts (scriptures), and/or personal revelation. Some religions view such knowledge as unlimited in scope and suitable to answer any question; others see religious knowledge as playing a more restricted role, often as a complement to knowledge gained through physical observation. Some religious people maintain that religious knowledge obtained in this way is absolute and infallible (religious cosmology). The scientific method gains knowledge by testing hypotheses to develop theories through elucidation of facts or evaluation by experiments and thus only answers cosmological questions about the physical universe. It develops theories of the world which best fit physically observed evidence. All scientific knowledge is subject to later refinement in the face of additional evidence. Scientific theories that have an overwhelming preponderance of favorable evidence are often treated as facts (such as the theories of gravity or evolution). Many scientists have held strong religious beliefs (see List of Christian thinkers in science) and have worked to harmonize science and religion. Isaac Newton, for example, believed that gravity caused the planets to revolve about the Sun, and credited God with the design. In the concluding General Scholium to the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, he wrote: "This most beautiful System of the Sun, Planets and Comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being." Nevertheless, conflict has repeatedly arisen between religious organizations and individuals who propagated scientific theories that were deemed unacceptable by the organizations. The Roman Catholic Church, for example, has in the past[22] reserved to itself the right to decide which scientific theories were acceptable and which were unacceptable. In the 17th century, Galileo was tried and forced to recant the heliocentric theory based on the church's stance that the Greek Hellenistic system of astronomy was the correct one.[23][24] Today, however, only 7% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences believe in a god.[25]

Many theories exist as to why religions sometimes seem to conflict with scientific knowledge. In the case of Christianity, a relevant factor may be that it was among Christians that science in the modern sense was developed. Unlike other religious groups, as early as the 17th century the Christian churches had to deal directly with this new way to investigate nature and seek truth.

The perceived conflict between science and Christianity may also be partially explained by a literal interpretation of the Bible adhered to by many Christians, both currently and historically. The Catholic Church has always held with Augustine of Hippo who explicitly opposed a literal interpretation of the Bible whenever the Bible conflicted with Science. The literal way to read the sacred texts became especially prevalent after the rise of the Protestant reformation, with its emphasis on the Bible as the only authoritative source concerning the ultimate reality.[26] This view is often shunned by both religious leaders (who regard literally believing it as petty and look for greater meaning instead) and scientists who regard it as an impossibility. Some Christians have disagreed or are still disagreeing with scientists in areas such as the validity of Keplerian astronomy, the theory of evolution, the method of creation of the universe and the Earth, and the origins of life. On the other hand, scholars such as Stanley Jaki have suggested that Christianity and its particular worldview was a crucial factor for the emergence of modern science. In fact, most of today's historians are moving away from the view of the relationship between Christianity and science as one of "conflict" ² a perspective commonly called the conflict thesis.[27][28] Gary Ferngren in his historical volume about Science & Religion states: While some historians had always regarded the [conflict] thesis as oversimplifying and distorting a complex relationship, in the late twentieth century it underwent a more systematic reevaluation. The result is the growing recognition among historians of science that the relationship of religion and science has been much more positive than is sometimes thought. Although popular images of controversy continue to exemplify the supposed hostility of Christianity to new scientific theories, studies have shown that Christianity has often nurtured and encouraged scientific endeavour, while at other times the two have co-existed without either tension or attempts at harmonization. If Galileo and the Scopes trial come to mind as examples of conflict, they were the exceptions rather than the rule.[29]

Eastern religions
In the Bahá'í Faith, the harmony of science and religion is a central tenet.[32] The principle states that that truth is one, and therefore true science and true religion must be in harmony, thus rejecting the view that science and religion are in conflict.[32] `Abdu'l-Bahá, the son of the founder of the religion, asserted that science and religion cannot be opposed because they are aspects of the same truth; he also affirmed that reasoning powers are required to understand the truths of religion and that religious teachings which are at variance with science should not be accepted; he explained that religion has to be reasonable since God endowed humankind with reason so that they can discover truth.[33] Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, described science and religion as "the two most potent forces in human life."[34] Proponents of Hinduism claim that Hinduism is not afraid of scientific explorations, nor of the technological progress of mankind. According to them, there is a comprehensive scope and opportunity for Hinduism to mold itself according to the demands and aspirations of the modern world; it has the ability to align itself with both science and spiritualism. This religion uses some modern examples to explain its ancient theories and reinforce its own beliefs. For example, some Hindu thinkers have used the terminology of quantum physics to explain some basic concepts of Hinduism such as Maya or the illusory and impermanent nature of our existence.

The philosophical approach known as pragmatism, as propounded by the American philosopher and psychologist William James, has been used to reconcile scientific with religious knowledge. Pragmatism, simplistically, holds that the truth of a set of beliefs can be indicated by its usefulness in helping people cope with a particular context of life. Thus, the fact that scientific beliefs are useful in predicting observations in the physical world can indicate a certain truth for scientific theories; the fact that religious beliefs can be useful in helping people cope with difficult emotions or moral decisions can indicate a certain truth for those beliefs. (For a similar postmodern view, see grand narrative).

Religion and philosophy
Being both forms of belief system, religion and philosophy meet in several areas notably in the study of metaphysics and cosmology. In particular, a distinct set of religious beliefs will often entail a specific metaphysics and cosmology. That is, a religion will generally have answers to metaphysical and cosmological questions about the nature of being, of the universe, humanity, and the divine.

Mysticism and esotericism
Mysticism focuses on methods other than logic, but (in the case of esoteric mysticism) not necessarily excluding it, for gaining enlightenment. Rather, meditative and contemplative practices such as Vipassan and yoga, physical disciplines such as stringent fasting and whirling (in the case of the Sufi dervishes), or the use of psychoactive drugs such as LSD, lead to altered states of consciousness that logic can never hope to grasp. However, regarding the latter topic, mysticism prevalent in the 'great' religions (monotheisms, henotheisms, which are perhaps relatively recent, and which the word 'mysticism' is more recent than,) includes systems of discipline that forbid drugs that can damage the body, including the nervous system. Mysticism (to initiate) is the pursuit of communion with, or conscious awareness of ultimate reality, the divine, spiritual truth, or Deity through direct, personal experience (intuition or insight) rather than rational thought. Mystics speak of the existence of realities behind external perception or intellectual apprehension that are central to being and directly accessible through personal experience. They say that such experience is a genuine and important source of knowledge. Esotericism is often spiritual (thus religious) but can be non-religious/-spiritual, and it uses intellectual understanding and reasoning, intuition and inspiration (higher noetic and spiritual reasoning,) but not necessarily faith (except often as a virtue,) and it is philosophical in its emphasis on techniques of psycho-spiritual transformation (esoteric cosmology). Esotericism refers to "hidden" knowledge available only to the advanced, privileged, or initiated, as opposed to exoteric knowledge, which is public. All religions are probably somewhat exoteric, but most ones of ancient civilizations such as Yoga of India, and the mystery religions of ancient Egypt, Israel (Kabbalah,) and Greece are examples of ones that are also esoteric.

Members of an organized religion may not see any significant difference between religion and spirituality. Or they may see a distinction between the mundane, earthly aspects of their religion and its spiritual dimension. Some individuals draw a strong distinction between religion and spirituality. They may see spirituality as a belief in ideas of religious significance (such as God, the Soul, or Heaven), but not feel bound to the bureaucratic structure and creeds of a particular organized religion. They choose the term spirituality rather than religion to describe their form of belief, perhaps reflecting a disillusionment with organized religion (see Major religious groups), and a movement towards a more "modern" ² more tolerant, and more intuitive ² form of religion. These individuals may reject organized religion because of historical acts by religious organizations, such as Christian Crusades and Islamic Jihad, the marginalisation and persecution of various minorities or the Spanish Inquisition. The basic precept of the ancient spiritual tradition of India, the Vedas, is the inner reality of existence, which is essentially a spiritual approach to being.

The word myth has several meanings. 1. A traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon; 2. A person or thing having only an imaginary or unverifiable existence; or 3. A metaphor for the spiritual potentiality in the human being.[35] Ancient polytheistic religions, such as those of Greece, Rome, and Scandinavia, are usually categorized under the heading of mythology. Religions of pre-industrial peoples, or cultures in development, are similarly called "myths" in the anthropology of religion. The term "myth" can be used pejoratively by both religious and non-religious people. By defining another person's religious stories and beliefs as mythology, one implies that they are less real or true than one's own religious stories and beliefs. Joseph Campbell remarked, "Mythology is often thought of as other people's religions, and religion can be defined as mis-interpreted mythology."[36] In sociology, however, the term myth has a non-pejorative meaning. There, myth is defined as a story that is important for the group whether or not it is objectively or provably true. Examples include the death and resurrection of Jesus, which, to Christians, explains the means by which they are freed from sin and is also ostensibly a historical event. But from a mythological outlook, whether or not the event actually occurred is unimportant. Instead, the symbolism of the death of an old "life" and the start of a new "life" is what is most significant. Religious believers may or may not accept such symbolic interpretations.

Humans have many different methods which attempt to answer fundamental questions about the nature of the universe and our place in it (cosmology). Religion is only one of the methods for trying to answer one or more of these questions. Other methods include philosophy, metaphysics, astrology, esotericism, mysticism, and forms of shamanism, such as

the sacred consumption of ayahuasca among Peruvian Amazonia's Urarina.[37] The Urarina have an elaborate animistic cosmological system,[38] which informs their mythology, religious orientation and daily existence. In many cases, the distinction between these means are not clear. For example, Buddhism and Taoism have been regarded as schools of philosophies as well as religions. Given the generalized discontents with modernity, consumerism, over-consumption, violence and anomie, many people in the so-called industrial or post-industrial West rely on a number of distinctive religious worldviews. This in turn has given rise to increased religious pluralism, as well as to what are commonly known in the academic literature as new religious movements, which are gaining ground across the globe.

Criticism of religious belief
The most widely known Western criticism of religious constructs and their social consequences has come from atheists and agnostics. Anti-Catholic/anti-Christian sentiment first gathered force during the 18th century European Enlightenment through pioneering critics such as Voltaire and his fellow Encyclopedists, who were for the most part deists. The French Revolution then instituted what later became known as secularism, a constitutional declaration of the separation of church and state. In addition to being adopted by the new French and United States republics, secularism soon came to be adopted by a number of nation states, both revolutionary and post-colonial. Marx famously declared religion to be the "opium of the people".[39] This conception was applied in the state atheism of social systems inspired by Marx's writings, most notably in the Soviet Union and China, and most notoriously in Cambodia, although Marx himself believed that religion would disappear by itself once the perceived social ills of capitalism were eliminated, therefore requiring no actual repression of religion.[39] Systematic criticism of the philosophical underpinnings of religion paralleled the upsurge of scientific discourse within industrial society. T.H. Huxley in 1869 coined the term "agnostic," a term subsequently adopted by such figures as Robert Ingersoll. Later, Bertrand Russell told the world Why I Am Not a Christian. Many contemporary critics fault religion as being irrational.[40][41][42] Some assert that dogmatic religions are in effect morally deficient, elevating to moral status ancient, arbitrary, and illinformed rules²taboos on eating pork, for example, as well as dress codes and sexual practices[43]²possibly designed for reasons of hygiene or even mere politics in a bygone era. In North America and Western Europe the social fallout of the 9/11 attacks contributed in part to the appearance of numerous pro-secularist books, such as The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, The End of Faith by Sam Harris, and God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens. This criticism is largely, but not entirely, focused on the monotheistic Abrahamic traditions.

Memetic theory of religion
Although evolutionists had previously sought to understand and explain religion in terms of a cultural attribute which might conceivably confer biological advantages to its adherents, Richard Dawkins called for a re-analysis of religion in terms of the evolution of self-replicating ideas apart from any resulting biological advantages they might bestow. He argued that the role of key replicator in cultural evolution belongs not to genes, but to memes replicating thought

from person to person by means of imitation. These replicators respond to selective pressures that may or may not affect biological reproduction or survival.[44] In her book, The Meme Machine, Susan Blackmore regards religions as particularly tenacious memes. Many of the features common to the most widely practiced religions provide built-in advantages in an evolutionary context, she writes. For example, religions that preach of the value of faith-based belief over evidence from everyday experience or reason inoculate societies against many of the most basic tools people commonly use to evaluate their ideas. By linking altruism with religious affiliation, religious memes can proliferate more quickly because people perceive that they can reap societal as well as personal rewards. The longevity of religious memes improves with their documentation in revered religious texts.[45] Aaron Lynch attributed the robustness of religious memes in human culture to the fact that they incorporate multiple modes of meme transmission. Religious memes pass down the generations from parent to child and across a single generation through proselytism. Most will hold the religion taught them by their parents throughout their life. Many religions feature adversarial elements, punishing apostasy, for instance, or demonizing infidels. In Thought Contagion Lynch identifies the memes of transmission in Christianity as especially powerful in scope. Believers view the conversion of non-believers both as a religious duty and as an act of altruism. The promise of eternity in heaven to believers or hell to non-believers provides a strong incentive to accept and retain Christian faith. Lynch asserts that belief in the crucifixion in Christianity amplifies each of its other replication advantages through the indebtedness believers have to their Savior for sacrifice on the cross. The image of the crucifixion recurs in religious sacraments, and the proliferation of symbols of the cross (itself a meme) in homes and churches potently reinforces the wide array of Christian memes.[46]

Criticism of the concept of "religion"
The Canadian scholar of comparative religion Wilfred Cantwell Smith argued that religion, rather than being a universally valid category as is generally supposed, is a peculiarly European concept of comparatively recent origin. His work has been enlarged upon by E.J. Sharpe, C.F. Keyes, and Timothy Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald especially notes in The Ideology of Religious Studies that the concept of religion as a study irreducible to sociology, history, etc., is a fallacy caused by a desire to protect the transcendent ideals of world cultures. He claims that writers cannot define a single concept called "religion" that applies to all cultures, because all definitions of religion have the dual effect of setting up an imaginary ideal onto which real practices are merely mapped, and serializing individual identity to include a separate aspect called "religion." In short, "there is no coherent non-theological theoretical basis for the study of religion as a separate academic discipline."[47] The implication of Smith's and Fitzgerald's work is that religion, rather than being a special category which can be criticized or praised as a group, is merely one type of ideology, alongside humanism, Marxism, nationalism and so forth.

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