Religious values define what people expect of themselves and of others based on the beliefs common to the religions they practice. Such values represent the core principles that guide daily decision making. They help people determine which actions to take, and to make judgments about right or wrong and good or bad. The world’s most commonly practiced religions often have similar values, although variations exist in the way some values are prioritized over others.
One of the most important Christian values is directly linked to the belief that all people are made in the image of God and all members of the faith are said to be united in the Body of Christ. This core belief is central to Christian teachings, which express that there is value to be found in all people, no matter their appearance or social status. Christians are commonly taught to respect the people around them, to help those in need and to treat others as they themselves would want to be treated.
One religious value that is central to the Jewish faith involves learning. The principal figure guiding followers in the faith is called a “rabbi,” which is a Hebrew word meaning “my teacher.” A rabbi’s principal function is not to perform rituals, but to study, continually growing both intellectually and spiritually. The wisdom gained from his studies is then called upon to guide community members in their own growth. A rabbi is also a judge, in that he can render decisions in matters relating to religious law.
Modesty is one of the most important Islamic values. Muslims believe that modesty is what keeps people above animals. This value is often made visible through dress. Women typically cover themselves to protect their modesty, although the degree to which they are covered in public varies, depending on their specific beliefs. Some cover even their eyes, using veils that leave only a small slit to look through or that include a thin section of fine mesh that enables them to see. Men are also expected to dress modestly, covering themselves from the waist to the knees in loose fitting and opaque clothing.
Compassion is a core value in Buddhism. Followers of this religion believe in the interconnectedness of all things and the universality of suffering. Such interconnectedness makes compassion empathetic in nature; the compassion extended to others is reflected in the person showing that compassion. Also central to this value is the belief in reincarnation and karma. Bad deeds might go unpunished in this life, but, through karma, the person performing bad deeds might pay for them by being reincarnated as a lower form of life, such as an insect. Being compassionate and nonviolent to all living things is returned with good karma and a better life.
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