What Is Folk Religion?
Folk religion, in contrast to taught religion, covers beliefs and traditions that are not an officially taught part of our faith, but which are held by ordinary people. Israelite religion allows personal faith; for example, we are not taught in any great detail what happens in the afterlife, but most Followers of the Way have some idea of the afterlife. We are not required to believe in miracles or angels, but most Followers believe in both.
The only caution that Talmidaism makes with regard to folk religion, is that it should complement, not overtake, official religion. If folk beliefs become central to one’s faith – for example, believing that angels play an essential part in our relationship with God – then one’s personal faith has lost its way.
The afterlife (and for some, pre-life), belongs to the realm of folk religion. Such beliefs are entirely personal, and as long as one’s beliefs do not interfere or hinder the fulfilment of God’s kingdom in this life, there is relative freedom of belief (apart from a rejection of reincarnation).
Miracles are another part of folk religion. There is no requirement to believe in them, or to justify them. However, if one’s faith becomes dependent on the supposed truth or existence of miracles, then one has lost faith in the active presence of God in this world, who acts in the natural as well as the supernatural.
Superstition is one aspect of primitive folk religion that is actively discouraged by Talmidaism. This is the belief that certain actions, charms, incantations and people will bring either good or bad fortune. This detracts from the belief in YHVH as the supreme ruler of all that is, that all good things are due to Him alone. Yahwist religion opposed the belief in such aspects of pagan religion that held that objects has the ability to attract good or evil.
Demons and evil spirits
Israelite religion actively discouraged belief in demons and evil spirits, because some ancient Hebrews, in an attempt to assuage the evil caused by them, actually began to make offerings to them. This is in direct contravention to reliance on YHVH alone for one’s prosperity and good fortune. In addition, it tends to a belief that the forces of evil are equal to those of good, again in contrast to Yahwist belief which holds that YHVH is all powerful.
Talmidaism has no objection to those folk beliefs that do not go against the spirit of Yahwism. However, if folk beliefs begin to stand in the way of Yahwist principles, then Talmidaism advises followers of YHVH to treat them with extreme caution.