A Huge Variety of Believers

Most believers in a religion were raised in that religion: their parents and friends all believed that religion. So though most people think that they freely chose their religion, this is obviously not true. Thus, the biggest part of the reason most believers stay in their religion is IDENTITY. Yet even believers with the same religious identity vary from each other greatly. They embrace components of their god in very different ways (see my post: “Components of Your God“).

There are thousands of types of believers. For fun, I made the above diagram to illustrate just four of the thousands of types of believers. Each believer identifies with their religion but they settle into a flavor of their faith based on their personality, education and experiences. Here is are some of their traits to illustrate my point:

Awe–> Comfort
This believer is very takes great comfort in knowing they and their loved ones will be see each other after they die. They don’t care much about the rules of their religion and feel that belonging is enough to feel secure in their fate. They find awe in their world in terms of love for their family and their church. They don’t use their religion as a tribal flag and have lots of friends outside their religion.

Fear –> Rules
This believer fears hell but by very careful to follow the rules can avoid damnation. Those rules could be praying often, no alcohol, no sex outside of marriage, regularly reading their holy book and confessing their faith with others. They feel that such obedience will protect them from the wrath of their god. There is little room for real comfort (as they are the nervous sort) and very little awe in their lives.

Fear –> Magic
This believer has fear of bad things in this life. They pray often for miracles, for protection of their health and the safety of their loved ones. They give tithes and hope this may make their god happy. They may practice laying on hand to heal the sick, visiting shrines or using special good-luck religious items. They identify strongly with their religion and hide their superstitious behavior from nonbelievers.

Follower –> Filler
This believer is along for the ride. They aren’t very religious but believe in a god because things wouldn’t make sense if they didn’t. Besides, they were raised in a believing family and all is going well. They use their god to fill the things they just don’t understand.

Can you see how two people could call themselves Christians or Muslims and yet be very, very different in the way they hold their religion? Thus, ignoring theologies, two believers of different religions could be more like each other than they would be like other believers within their own religion. You will notice that some believers identify strongly with their religion, that sort of believer will have a difficult time recognizing those they are similar to.

1. For a fun look at Christians who illustrated 19 types of Christians see this link.

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