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Religious Education


UNIT 1 THE NATURE OF RELIGION Chapter 1 Introduction to Religion ................................................. 1 Chapter 2 Dimensions of Religion...................................................16 Chapter 3 The role of Religion.........................................................30

UNIT 2 WORLD RELIGIONS IN BOTSWANA Chapter 4 World Religion in Botswana............................................41 Chapter 5 Religious Founders and their visions..............................53 Chapter 6 Religious Symbols...........................................................72


BOTSWANA Chapter 7 African Tradition Religion in Botswana...........................85 Chapter 8 Christianity in Botswana................................................104 Chapter 9 Christianity denominations I Botswana..........................119 Chapter 10 African Independent church...........................................127

What is religion?

Different people attempt to define and describe religion in many different ways. The definition of religion depends on the experiences, norms and the culture of a particular group of people. Therefore, religion can be defined as any set of beliefs and practices that have the function of addressing the important questions about human identity, ethics, death and the existence of the divine. For more information on the definitions of religion visit your school

library and use the encyclopedia or the dictionary. You can also use this website: Http/

Types and examples of world religions

There are many different religions in the world. These religions were founded in different places by different people referred to as founders. Examples of world religions include; African Traditional Religion in Botswana, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Bahai Faith, Buddhism, Sikhism, Taoism, Jainism, Confucianism, Zoroastrianism and Shintoism. These religions can be classified into two; theistic and non-theistic.

Theistic Religions

Theistic Religions teach about the belief in one or more Supreme Beings called by different names depending on one’s community. Theists are people who believe in the existence of a Supreme Being. Theists have personal contact or relationship with this Supreme Being who it is believed, created the universe and controls it.

Examples of theistic religions are African Traditional Religion in Botswana, Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Taoism.

Non-Theistic Religions

Non-Theistic Religions teach about the non-belief in the existence of a Supreme Being who had appeared to humanity. Non-Theists are those people who do not have a belief in a Supreme Being. There is no personal relationship for this group of believers. Examples of nontheistic religions are Confucianism and Buddhism.

The function of these two types of religions; the theists and nontheists is to maintain peace and respect amongst themselves to prevent acts of intolerance; such as wars, hatred and conflicts. The absence of these functions may lead to the destruction of humanity and the environment. For example, if the followers of one religion disrespect followers of another religion, there will be wars. During these wars, the environment gets damaged and people are killed.

The table below shows the examples of both theistic and non-theistic religions.
The benefits of being a religious person

Religion plays an important role in the lives of people. As followers of different religions meet together for religious purpose they celebrate their faith, share ideas and become closer to the Ultimate Being. Now let us look at the importance of religion in the lives of the followers and see if we will be able to tell the difference between a religious and non-religious person;

Religion gives meaning to life

Religion answers questions like, who am I? Why am I here? Is there meaning in life?’ Is there life-after-death? What will happen when I die? What is death? Then with such questions, people turn to religion to get some answers. Christians believe that when they die, they will go to heaven and those who did not accept Jesus Christ as their Savior will be sent to hell where they shall burn in fire. Hindus believe that when they die and they had lived good lives, they will join Brahman and have everlasting peace and rest. By so doing, they will be released from pain and suffering. In African Traditional Religion in Botswana, Batswana believe that when a good person dies he or she joins the ancestral world and become one of the ancestors (badimo).

Religion brings people together

Religion makes it possible for people to come together and share religious practices and ideas. Religious people come together to worship and it gives them a sense of belonging as they feel they are part of a family. People attend communal activities such as peo ya kgosi, pilgrimages, weddings and funerals. Through these activities, relationships are strengthened. Their faith is increased and renewed. By so doing, it makes it possible for people to feel that

they are part of religious community. They must follow what is expected of them to be safe and secure.

Religion explains events which happen in life

There are some events in life that happen to us and we fail to understand why such things are happening. Religion may offer explanations of the reason for death. Religion may explain why the dead do not return to earthly life. Why natural disasters like droughts and floods occur. This is done through the use of the religious stories known as myths.

For example, in African Traditional Religion in Botswana when cutting down trees during the planting season, there will be storms that will destroy the crops. Another example in African Traditional Religion in Botswana is that certain animals are also not killed before crops are harvested.

In Hinduism, god Shiva who is the god of destruction sends thunders and storms to kill those people who are believed to be evil.

Religion gives its followers a sense of security or protection in life

Religion ensures that people are protected from dangers and the acts of evil. It is through religious teachings, forms of worship and practices that people are assured of their protection. For example, Jews and Christians read the verse such as ‘the Lord is my shepherd’ (Psalms 23) to show that they depend on God to take care of them.

Muslims pray five times a day as a way of asking protection and guidance from Allah. The Buddhists have shrines in the home where their family gods are kept and their role is to take care of the family members. They give them offerings and pray everyday to continue to protect them against evil. In Hinduism, the AUM is written on the tongue of the baby using honey to protect him or her against danger as well as wishing her or him to be a well behaved person.

Religion gives people hope, power and courage to cope with pains, fear and sufferings

At times in your life, you become hopeless, discouraged and fearful especially when you are facing a problem. For example; when a family member has passed away, relatives and friends become sad and grieve for the dead. They become confused and ask a lot of questions such as ‘why did he die? Will we ever see him again?’ For religious people these questions are answered in their religious teachings. Muslims know that they will go to paradise after judgement day.

Sikhs believe that the soul of the departed person will be born into another level of life depending on his actions while still alive. Some death rituals will be carried out to help people deal with difficult situations. When a couple gets married, marriage rites are done to bless and protect it. Fears of the new roles

and responsibilities will be explained to the couple through marriage counselling sessions. People will regain energy and courage to move on with life and not despair and give up.

Evidence of the existence of religions in your community

Botswana is a multi-religious country. This means that it allows people to choose and freely practise the religions they like and feel comfortable with. As a result, there are many religious followers in Botswana. We have religious followers such as; Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Sikhs, Jews, Hindus and the traditionalists.

One can be converted into a religion such as in Christianity. For you to become a Christian, you must confess your sins (let your wrongdoings be known to God), and then accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. In other religions, one has to be born into a religion for example, African Traditional Religion in Botswana, Bahai Faith, Islam and Judaism. When a child is born in these religions, she or he is automatically a follower of the religion to which she or he is born. Followers of these religions believe that their religions can not be separated from their cultures or their way of life.


Islam is one of the religions found and practised in Botswana and the rest of the world. If you make an observation in the month of February every year, you will see Muslims fasting and praying. They call this the Month of Ramadan. They carry out activities such as fasting, praying and reading their scriptures. Muslim business people who run shops close those shops every Friday from 1200hrs becasuse men they to go to the mosque to pray. Activities of organizations such as Muslim Women Associations in Botswana show that we have Muslims as part of our community. They donated shelters at the bus stops to be used by people as they await the bus to pick them up. They built houses to those people who come from less privileged families in our communities (the needy and orphans).


Christianity is one of the many religions found and practised in Botswana. There are many Christian activities which are done in our communities to show that we do have Christians among us. We could share ideas with each other on what happens on the 25th of December every year which is Christmas day. This is the day Jesus Christ, their Savior was born. Christians go to church for worshipwhere they exchange gifts, pray and sing thanksgiving hymns. At times after church service on Sundays, they visit the sick in the hospitals, pray for them as well as giving them food baskets. When Christian couples get married they go to church for the blessings for a happy and lasting relationship. There are church buildings where religious activities are carried out. Some Christians do baptism activities in the rivers. They also have Easter pilgrimages, for example, the Zion Christian Church members going to Moria in South Africa.

Baha’i Faith

Baha’i Faith is one of the religions found and practised here in Botswana. Like other religions, they too go to the Baha’i Faith temple and pray. Followers of Baha’i Faith visit the hospitals to pray for the sick. Baha’i Faith followers usually visit the prisoners and share the word of God with them as a way of giving them hope and encouragement.

African Traditional Religion in Botswana

African Traditional Religion in Botswana is also found and practised in Botswana. In this religion, as we mentioned earlier, a child is born into it since it is a way of life, it is part of our culture. Bogosi has some religious importance. We see kgosi as a religious leader taking a lead in religious ceremonies like rainmaking and festivals like dikgafela. He or She calls a kgotla meeting in September every year to instruct people that it is time to go to the lands to plough-‘go bolotsa letsema.’ There are healing and protection activities which are one by the traditional healers (dingaka) to improve the health of followers. There are activities such as, go phekola/phasa as a way of protecting people from bad luck. When a woman has lost her husband she undergoes healing process called go roula by putting on black clothes for a year as well as observing certain taboos.

Origins of world religions

Different religions were founded in different areas or places. A place where a religion started is called a place of origin. Religions have people who started them. They are known as founders of religions. There are some religions which do not have founders. Religions which do not have founders are those which are embedded in the culture of their followers. There are different reasons why religions originated in a particular place. The common reason is that a founder was born in that place or he received his call while at that particular place. You will learn more about the origins of religions as you study the world map and the table that follows.


African Traditional Religion in Botswana


Islam Judaism Bahai faith Sikhism Buddhism

Hinduism Confucianism Jainism




Botswana Palestine

Mecca / Soudi Arabia Israel Iran Punjab India Pakistan (India) China India China



No founder

Jesus Christ

Prophet Mohammed /




Guru Nanak

Siddjartha Gotama / Gautama

No founder





ZCC’s praying

A place of origin can provide solutions to life challenges

A place of origin can also provide solutions to life challenges which can be personal, social, work-related, financially and health-related. Read the case ` study below and see how a place of origin can provide solutions to your problems.

A place of origin can improve and strengthen one’s faith

A place of origin can improve and strengthen one’s faith by carrying out some rituals such as offerings, prayers and sacrifices at the place of origin. For example, when a follower’s faith is weak she can visit a place of origin where prayers and offerings could be performed to uplift her belief.

A place of origin can bring the spirit of unity and cooperation

Visiting a place of origin, can bring the spirit of unity and cooperation amongst followers. In religious terms, this holy visit to a holy place is called a pilgrimage. Followers who undertake this journey are called pilgrims. Believers’ come from different parts of the world to meet and celebrate their faith. They uplift one another and encourage each other not to lose hope and spiritual focus.

Different ways which expose people to world religions

There are many ways in which people get to know about different world religions. Some of the ways are through learning and teaching processes, migration, use of media and the internet.


A study of world religions provides a better understanding of other religions. As students, you are therefore exposed to world religions by studying Religious Education at schools. This is where you meet other students whose families practise religions that are different from yours. It is in such cases that you share religious ideas with each other and learn more about those religions that you did not know before.


People have learnt about different religions in a variety of ways such as, seeking for better opportunities in urban areas like Francistown and Gaborone. In these cities we have different people who are followers of different religions such as Muslims, Christians, Jews and Buddhists. These believers meet with each other and learn about each other’s religious beliefs and practices.

Going for studies or work in other countries like China and India also expose people to different world religions.

The use of media

We are living in technological times and it is through these forms of media where we are exposed to things that happen around the world. One of the things we learn from these forms of media is world religions. The examples of forms of media which people use to learn about religions include radios, television, newspapers and internet. One may use the websites to know more about religions. People listen to the radios and watch televisions about religious Ideas and activities. They also read articles in the newspapers which talk about religions.

The term religion can be defined in many different ways such as a belief in any set of beliefs and practices that have the function of addressing the important questions about human identity, ethics, death and the existence of the divine.

There are many world religions, such as African Traditional Religion in Botswana, Islam, Christianity, Jainism, Judaism, Confucianism and Taoism. Some of these religions are theists and others are non-theists.

Religions originated in different places by different founders. For example, Christianity originated in Israel, Islam in Mecca, Taoism in China and Sikhism in Punjab. Such places of origins play an important role in the lives of followers. Followers visit these places to get healed or revived. Solutions to life problems are found in such places of origins as well.

There are many ways in which one can show the existence of different religions such as through religious activities like prayers, fasting, baptism, charity deeds, festivals and rites of passage (birth, puberty, marriage and death rituals). Religion plays an important role in people’s lives. It is through religion that mysteries of life are answered; it helps people to cope with pains and sorrows. Religion develops the spirit of brotherhood amongst the believers.

learn more about religions in different ways, such asPeople education, media and migration.


Different religions have their own rituals. The rituals may differ inthe way they are practiced. The ritual dimension consists of formal and informal religious activities and practices which are regularly performed by the followers of a religion to show their beliefs and teachings.

The examples of rituals include prayers, baptism, meditation, rainmaking, pilgrimages, fasting, offerings, payment of bogadi, cremation, burial, sacrifice and circumcision. Some of the rituals performed in different religions are: Christians pray whenever need arise.

Jews pray three times a day.

Muslims pray five times a day.

In Islam, a baby boy is circumcised when he is eight days old to introduce

him into an Islamic religion. Hindus and Sikhs burn the dead (cremation) and they throw the ashes into

the flowing river. Christians and Muslims bury the dead so that the souls wait for the day of


Buddhists and Jews make offerings and sacrifices during worship.

The importance of the rituals

You may wonder and ask yourself why do followers carry out these activities? There are many reasons and some of them include the following:

It is a way of worship-to show reverence to the Supreme Being. For example, when followers pray, they believe that they are talking to the Supreme Being. It is very important to pray as it strengthens the believers’ faith and enriches the relationship between the Supreme Being and the believer.

As the followers carry out these acts, they believe that their needs and problems will be solved by the supreme being, hence strengthen their faith. For example, in African Traditional Religion in Botswana, during drought, the Kgosi calls a meeting to make rituals so that they get rain from Modimo through the help of badimo.

They make the relationship between followers and their Supreme Being very strong and special. Some rituals such as baptism, fasting and giving offerings are meant to please the Supreme Being and gods. When the Supreme Being and gods are happy, they will continue taking care of their followers. Followers will be given guidance on how to live properly. In Judaism, Abraham was ready to give Yahweh his only son as sacrifice. This shows a special bond between Yahweh and Abraham which was based on faith.

They bring the followers together as they meet for communual and congregational rituals. For example, Moslems gather together in Mecca on a pilgrimage. The Traditional Batswana gather as they celebrate dikgafela festival after good harvest. These activities make followers to feel that they are a family and belong together.


Different religious people have different ways of getting messages or teachings from the ultimate being. These messages improve the faith of followers and encourage them to continue in their faith. It is through the experiential dimension that followers receive instructions and directions from the ultimate being. Religious people can receive such messages through; dreams, visions, revelations, enlightenment and prophecies.

An example of a revelation is when Jesus Christ was baptized by John the baptist; Jesus Christ received the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. God said that Jesus Christ was his Son. In some Christian denominations some followers experience the possession of the Holy Spirit during worship.

When Siddhartha Gautama was meditating under the Bodhi tree he received enlightenment. This means he got answers to his questions on sufferings and these became the teachings of Buddhism known as The Four Noble Truths.

When Prophet Mohammed was praying in the mountain he saw a vision in which Angel Gabriel asked him to say some messages, which became the teachings of Islam.

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