Religion is a system of personal, institutionalized attitudes, customs, and teachings, which manifest itself in taboos, symbols, customs, and rites, that regards humanity as a whole and seeks to provide a sense of meaning and purpose to life. Religious ideas, practices, institutions, and rituals have been passed down from generation to generation in many societies all over the world for more than three thousand years. The term “religion” can also be used to describe certain types of philosophies and systems of thought considered to be religious by some but not by others. Some examples of religions are Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and Hinduism.
Each religion would have a different set of followers with different denominations such as Catholic Church (Catholicism), Orthodox Church (Orthodox Christianity), Protestant Church (Protestants), Church of the Holy Sepulcher (Christians), Church of the Holy Land (Christians), Buddhist faith (Buddhistism) and other Hindu faiths (Hinduism). All these denominations trace their origins back to the original religion of God in the Old Testament of the Bible. They further developed during the centuries of Roman rule in Europe, spread across the Middle East and parts of Asia, and became popular in other cultures. Today, there are hundreds of denominations, each with its own particular philosophy, rituals, and beliefs.
There are two distinct concepts that define religion. One is the right of an individual to practice any religion as they deem fit. This right is universally recognized under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is legally defined as freedom of belief and worship. The other concept is that religion should have no role in public life except as a form of private belief, expression, and association. This concept has been repeatedly debated between governments and civil society throughout the history of Europe, with the result that at present there are few countries in the world where religion enjoys a free and respected status. Although these two concepts are seldom understood, they can be used as an analytical framework to understand religion and religious differences within Europe.