The third major component of heritage consistency is religion. The word religion showed 170,000,000 results on February 23, 2012, on the Internet. Again, a random review of the material yielded information that was similar to existing data. One way to understand religion is that it is “the belief in a divine or superhuman power or powers to be obeyed and worshipped as the creator(s) and ruler(s) of the universe; it is a system of beliefs, practices, and ethical values.” Religion is a major reason for the development of ethnicity (Abramson, 1980, pp. 869–875). Another way is to see religion as, “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual ob- servances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs and a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects” (, n.d.).

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The Office of Minority Health has adopted the definition of religion as “a set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader” (Office of Minority Health, 2001, p. 132). The practice of religion is revealed in numerous cults, sects, denominations, and churches. Ethnicity and religion are clearly related, and one’s religion quite often determines one’s ethnic group. Religion gives a person a frame of reference and a perspective with which to organize information. Religious teachings in relation to health help present a meaningful philosophy and system of practices within a system of social controls having specific values, norms, and ethics. These are related to health in that ad- herence to a religious code is conducive to spiritual harmony and health. Illness is sometimes seen as a punishment for the violation of religious codes and morals.

Religion plays a fundamental and vital role in the health beliefs and prac- tices of many people. The following are general examples of the influences reli- gion has on health practices:

1. Meditating 2. Being vaccinated 3. Being willing to have the body examined 4. Maintaining family viability 5. Hoping for recovery 6. Coping with stress 7. Caring for children.

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