ABSTRACT

It is difficult to recall a civilisation amongst whose citizens religion has not had a major part to play. Any student of social anthropology knows that when studying the lives and values of even the most localised of tribes, one is almost sure to be involved, among other things, in an examination of some form of religious beliefs. These have varied enormously from tribe to tribe and from one civilisation to the next: but in some form they have persisted. Even the socio-economic revolutions of the past century, which have seen a third of the world’s population fall under Marxist regimes, have come nowhere near to making religion redundant. Persecuted, religious people have gone underground, only to reappear after the period of persecution. Religion has persevered in the face of opposition, defamation, and execution of its adherents; indeed, in some perverse way, such forms of persecution seem often to have served only to strengthen the steadfastness of believers. As one apologist wrote of the early Christian martyrs: ‘The blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church.’