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What are the basic roles played by people in religious organisations? This module describes some of the more basic ones.

The believer

The most basic role of them all is that of the common believer, the so–called "person in the pew". In a way, this is the one role we all play if we belong to any religion. Even if we graduate into a more important position, we never stop just simply being a member of our religion.

Here are some terms that are used to describe the common believer in different religious traditions: layperson, lay member, adherent, congregant, devotee, disciple, parishioner, practitioner.

Although the terms in the above fact file are roughly equivalent, they are still not exactly the same. Use a good dictionary to find out the more exact meaning of each of these words. Also, some of these words tend to be used predominantly in one religion, or in one branch of a religion.

Mediating figures

A very special function among religious people is that of the person who acts as an intermediary between the divine and the people. The most important role here is that of the prophet . A prophet is thought to receive direct communications from God, and can then communicate God's wishes to the people. Prophets are most commonly found in religions that emphasise God's role as creator and divine king.

You have already encountered the names of a few prophets: Muhammad, of course, and Moses and Isaiah in Israel. But according to some, prophethood did not end long ago. The Baha'i Faith sees Baha'u'llah as the most recent prophet. In African Initiated Church circles, you may hear names such as Shembe and Lekganyane spoken of as modern–day prophets.

Another form of mediation is that of the priest . In this case the mediation is performed by means of ritual. In Catholicism, the mass is the central ritual by means of which God and people are reconciled, and this must be performed by an ordained priest. The priest is therefore the link between God and the common worshipper. Similarly, Hindu priests offer worship on behalf of the people and mediate between them and the gods.

In some religions, like Catholicism, priests must be celibate : they are not allowed to marry or to have sexual relations of any kind. In other cases, priests are expected to marry and produce the next generation of priests. This is the case, for instance, with the Hindu priests.

Did you know?

In many of today's religions, priests can only be male. But in ancient times, many religions also had priestesses. However, in those institutions like the Anglican Church that have recently (since about 1980) allowed women to take on priestly roles, the ordained women prefer not to use that title, and just call themselves priests.

Role players
Three religious role players and a politican walk into a bar ... First Gathering of European Muslim and Jewish leaders in Brussels, December 2010 - left to right: Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric - European Council President Herman Van-Rompuy - Rabbi Marc-Schneier - Imam Dr. Abdujalil Sajid. (c) Michael Thaidigsmann/Wikimedia CC BY-SA 3.0, 2010.

Questions & Answers

how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
good afternoon madam
what is system testing
what is the application of nanotechnology?
In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
name doesn't matter , whatever it will be change... I'm taking about effect on circumstances of the microscopic world
how hard could it be to apply nanotechnology against viral infections such HIV or Ebola?
silver nanoparticles could handle the job?
not now but maybe in future only AgNP maybe any other nanomaterials
I'm interested in Nanotube
this technology will not going on for the long time , so I'm thinking about femtotechnology 10^-15
can nanotechnology change the direction of the face of the world
Prasenjit Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Learning about religion. OpenStax CNX. Apr 18, 2015 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11780/1.1
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