Religions Evolve and Change

This is another truism but again requires explanation due to the common practice of representing religious traditions without social or historical context and solely (or primarily) through ritual expression and/or abstract beliefs. Religions exist in time and space and are constantly interpreted and reinterpreted by believers. For example, the Confucian concept of the “mandate from heaven” evolved within dynasties, geopolitical regions, and historical eras and continues to evolve today.  Another example is that the practice of slavery has been both justified and vilified by all three monotheistic traditions in differing social and historical contexts. Finally, in a more specific example, the Southern Baptist convention in the United States passed a series of resolutions in the 1970s supporting the moral legitimacy of abortion and reversed those resolutions in 2003.[1]

[1] For a full text compilation of all the Southern Baptist resolutions on abortion from 1971-2005, see www.johnstonsarchive.net/baptist/sbcabres.html.