There’s such a huge Protestant bias toward religion in the western world: everyone assumes that all religions are about good morals, sincerity, and having the right beliefs.
This is so much the case that when I suggest that some religions are concerned with orthopraxy rather than orthodoxy, the students think this is tantamount to nonsense. For them, this amounts to me saying that there are belief systems that aren’t concerned with beliefs (which is why I hate the phrase “belief system”).
In any case, when I explain what orthopraxy is, I inevitably have students who ask: “why would they practice if they didn’t believe in it?” They absolutely insist on the priority of belief.
My usual response is to invoke Paschal’s line about belief following practice (you believe because you kneel down) and a Zen thinker I once read who explicitly denounced belief (he said zazen will work no matter what you believe).
I think students are relatively unconvinced; they still think belief is prior. I’m trying to come up with a good example. This is what I’m presently thinking: most of us wouldn’t say football (or any sport) is primarily about belief. You don’t play or watch football because of some sort of “belief” about football. Football isn’t a belief system—it’s a game you play. Similarly, some religions you just practice—beliefs about such practices are secondary or tertiary at best.
Or maybe greeting practices: I shake hand with people, and that’s just a practice—I don’t hold beliefs that lead me to practice it.
Anyone have other ideas?