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The Beginnings Of "religion", The Essentials Of Religion, The Functions Of Religion, Religion As An Item Of Public Discourse

Like all items of culture, words have a history; meanings and usages change over time. So too, "religion," and the assumption that the world is neatly separated between religious and nonreligious spheres (i.e., Church/State), is a product of historical development and not a brute fact of social life. In the early twenty-first century, long after the modern usage of the word was first coined, it is no longer obvious how it was understood or how it ought to be used. Therefore, contrary to other articles that employ the term as if it refers to a universal feature animating those social movements called "the world's religions"—a term first coined in Europe in the nineteenth century (see Masuzawa)—this discussion will be concerned instead with the history of the idea of "religion."

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