Official Religion vs. Nonofficial Religion

In class last Monday we focused on what it means to be an “offical” religion vs what it means to be a “nonofficial religion.” We learned that official religions have a set time, place, doctrine, and leader whereas nonofficial religions can meet anywhere, anytime, with anyone. Growing up in a very small, Catholic community, I would have had difficulty understanding what nonofficial religion was, becase the only religion I knew was “official.” Now, as an adult at a liberal arts university, I see people practicing nonofficial religion sometimes more than official religion. In class we talked about different examples of nonofficial religious practices and we came up with many ideas. We talked about setting up mini alters,  sometimes at cemetaries or a specific place where a loved one had passed away, like on the side of the road or at a tree. We talked about how the act of meditating or praying in your home (or any other location) is an example nonofficial religion, and many people do this without realizing it. During times of hardship or tragedy, many find themselves praying or meditating to find a sense of peace and comfort. Many people practice nonofficial religion without even realizing it, which I think should be included in future religious polls in the US, to accurately determine the religiosity in America.