The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with faith or belief system, but religion differs fromprivate belief in that it has a public aspect. Most religions have organized behaviors, including clerical hierarchies, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership,congregations of laity, regular meetings or services for the purposes of veneration of a deity or for prayer, holy places (either natural or architectural), and/or scriptures. The practiceof a religion may also include sermons, commemoration of the activities of a god or gods, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services,meditation, music, art, dance, public service, or other aspects of human culture.
The development of religion has taken different forms in different cultures. Some religions place anemphasis on belief, while others emphasize practice. Some religions focus on the subjective experience of the religious individual, while others consider the activities of the religiouscommunity to be most important. Some religions claim to be universal, believing their laws and cosmology to be binding for everyone, while others are intended to be practiced only by aclosely defined or localized group. In many places religion has been associated with public institutions such as education, hospitals, the family, government, and political hierarchies