While the reasons for people’s religious affiliations are not completely understood, researchers have suggested a number of possible explanations. According to a recent Gallup poll, 47% of U.S. adults belong to a religious organization. It is believed that culture and parenting play a role in the development of people’s religious beliefs. For example, people tend to identify with the religion that their parents or grandparents practiced.
In a traditional religion, leaders conduct rituals that are based on core beliefs. These rituals provide guidance about how a person should live their lives. Religion also functions as a social network. It produces practical implications for daily behavior, including dress code and moral code. Moreover, members of a religion generally adhere to specific ethical codes, and are expected to do so because these rules were dictated by a supernatural being.
A person’s set of beliefs may change as they study various spiritual practices. Usually, however, the beliefs of a religious group are predetermined. However, changes to these beliefs are communicated to its members by recognized authorities within the group. This entails the submission of people to the belief system and discourages them from following their own intuition or feelings.
Overall, Western Europeans’ attitudes to religion are mixed. While nearly half of the adult population express positive attitudes toward religion, only 17% express negative attitudes toward it. In countries such as Italy, France, Ireland, and Finland, attitudes toward religion are more positive. In contrast, public attitudes in Denmark and Sweden are negative toward religion.