Leadership, Authority, and Religious Roles

Is there a Shinto system of religious law?

There have been numerous bodies of legislation concerning the structure and administration of the Shinto shrine system, and about governmental controls over the spread of religious organizations in Japan generally. Laws have decreed relationships between imperial rule and religion, and between Shinto and Buddhism, and others have stipulated conditions for religious liberty. But there has never been the kind of comprehensive codification of religious law that one finds in Islam’s Shari’a, Judaism’s rabbinical law, or Roman Catholicism’s Canon Law. Virtually everything related to the regulation of conduct in Shinto tradition has been integrated into an all-encompassing and very demanding, but mostly unwritten, code of ethics. People learn what is expected of them religiously through family and local community tradition.


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