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Of Religion in Utopia
Utopia has many religions that are practiced. Some Utopians worship the sun, moon and various other planets while other people worship great and good men of the past. Yet the majority worship a single power that they call the 'Parent.' This power has all the attributes of divinity. It is unknown, eternal, infinite, inexplicable, and incomprehensible. It is present throughout the world and is the cause of all that happens. They call him Mythras. Many have discarded the polytheistic forms of religion for this devotion to Mithras while others were converted to Christianity, as preached by Hythloday and his companions.
Religious freedom is promoted in Utopia and acolytes can preach their religion to others as long as it is in a reasoned manner. King Utopus realized that religious controversies led to endless feuds and disturbances so he has banned religious propaganda. He also decreed that all Utopians believe in two things: that there is a power in the universe greater than them and that the soul is immortal. Those who did not believe in these two precepts had to give up their Utopian citizenship.
Some Utopians believe in austerity. Some believe that animals too have immortal souls. Death is considered as the soul changing from one state to another. Therefore, it is not considered a great calamity. They only mourn the death of a person who has died unwillingly and consider this a bad sign. People should be eager to reach God, only a bad man will hesitate to meet his Maker.
They sing joyfully at funerals and mark the place of cremation. A good man's death is a happy event and they discuss his life and virtues after the funeral. This is to encourage others to follow him. They believe that the souls of the dead mix freely with the living. Most Utopians are too sane to be superstitious, but they believe in miracles. They believe that good deeds bring rewards. Therefore, a great many of them try to help others.
These zealots are divided into two sects. One sect is celibate and abstain from sex, meat and often any other form of animal food. They are very austere and give up all joys of life. Members of the other sect marry, enjoy themselves and see enjoyment as the road to salvation. This sect is more respected although the former are more admired.
Male priests can marry. Women can also become priests. Priests are highly respected and very carefully chosen. They are so good that they are even respected abroad and in times of war, soldiers appeal to them to intercede with the enemy and save their lives.
Utopians have many religious festivals. Theirs is a joyous religion. Their churches are beautiful, large and dark. Any religion can use these churches, as there is no visual image of a deity. Only a Supreme Being is worshipped. They pray for their country and their family at the beginning and end of each month. Confession exists, but it is a family confession with the children confessing to the parents and the wife to the husband before heading to church.
Churches are segregated -- the men on one side and women on the other. Children sit under the watchful eyes of parents and guardians. There is no animal sacrifice. Innumerable candles and music and incense add to the sanctity. The congregation wears white while the priests' dress is very intricate -- richly woven and decorated with feathers. The feathers are arranged in mystical orders.
The Utopians thank God for being citizens of such a good country and for being followers of the true religion. After church, people are free to follow any pastime or do military exercises.