Religious identity is a coping mechanism. The reason I say this is because "God" is to over-intend, or cause "what is". This comforts those whose lives are in social, or poltical contexts that don't give them voice, or right to "self identify", as to "self identity". There is comfort in these cases in numbers, or, at least not being alone. ("God is with you..."). "God" is viewed as the "end all" solution to every problem or concern.
Besides being a coping mechanism, or giving a "reason to hope" beyond this world, there is the need to defend one's "Self", to make oneself "win" or appear "better than" another, whch is is the attempt to buttress an undeveloped "Ego", or "Self". This is done through various "works of service". These are seen or viewed by others in the religious community, as well as the "religious self", as "performances" that validate ones' existence. And such performances justify one's claims to "truth". Virtue is not about one's essential being, but one's "kind of being". It is as if, one has to "earn" or justify one's existance.
There is a difference between "essence of being" and "kind of being" And the differnece is in one's value judgements. When a community defines what is expected, or "ought to be", then one's performance is based on the "kind of individual" and whether that individual meets expectations. Standardizations are ways that groups define and stamp a person with "Recommended", or "Unrecommended". All groups must evaluate people based on their particular values, otherwise, the group dissolves its cohesiveness.
On the other hand, the "essence of being" is one's very innate nature, in gifting , interests and value. There is no "defined outside source, at least in a free society. One can become whatever one will. This virtue is not a value judgment about performance, but, Being itself. This view of innatedness, is an "essential foundation", as to the value of the human being, apart from definitions, and performance.
Religious identity is "caught up" with how to define oneself 'correctly', because such efforts are "life and death", heaven and hell, or truth or falsehood, as it pertains to "eternal things" And eternal things are more important and valuable than the real world. The religious don't enter into"what is of life", but seek to define life, before they enter it. And sometimes cease to live or enter life at all!! And many times the religious obstruct those that are trying to "enter life" and Be, as to their essestial natures, thinking that they protect and defend "the true faith". All the while, they are invading spaces that are not their to invade!
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