When someone makes an effort to summarize religions, as appears in the popular book, God is Not One, Christianity comes down to one word, sin. It makes sense that sin would be so big because the concept lends itself to control of people. And, when control requires a new definition of what is sinful, it is easy to change its definition.
In the October 10, 2011, issue of The New Yorker there is a story about sin in the Hindu faith. The author, Akash Kaplr, follows around for several days a cow trader in India. The cow trader’s life has been profoundly affected by “sin”.
The cow trader is something like what we would call in Midwestern U. S. a broker. At local market days in rural towns, cow traders help farmers sell cattle to the buyers who also appear.
This cow trader had grown up in an inferior cast, the untouchables. He had experienced discrimination based on religious beliefs of the majority. From that experience, he had become an atheist.
His wife and children are devout Hindus. One of their three adult children had died in a car accident. People in their local community had concluded the death was punishment for being a cow trader, a sinful occupation. Besides that, he is an atheist. His wife and children remain unsure.
This seems to me to be the universial story of religion. People in the minority are shunned and shamed by sin into conformance to rules of the majority’s unseen spirits.