One of the great needs of the social animal is to belong.
For the rational animal this takes on a more complicated form. Reason is practical and theoretical. Thus, there is a longing both for belonging to the GOOD and the TRUTH. To the degree that choice is involved, and it is to some degree in even the enslaved who chooses to continue in his state rather than exit, there is in the rational being a need to rationalize the choice of membership in a group as the best and truest. The rationalization comes in the form of a comparison with alternatives which are deemed at least not as good otherwise they would have been chosen.
For the religious the risk seems to me to be exaggerated, and most societies have been religious. How the god has chosen us. How the god blesses, favors, protects, preserves…us. What membership the individual who has chosen the “right” religion has…membership with the wisest, most powerful, the best, the truest.
I pick on the church because of my familiarity with it. It is not to be picked out for special attention. Attention given to it is merely accidental and the result of time and place. Were I in a tribe in Papua New Guinea I could likely have similar thoughts. How much of attraction to and membership with the church has to do with scoring membership in the ultimate community the Sunday morning celebration of which amounts to something like self-congratulation.
I consider myself deeply religious. The plan I have devised to avoid this folly is to dissociate the moral and spiritual from worldly correlation. I think that righteousness and virtue can lead to wealth in an otherwise stable society, and they can enable one to endure instability better. But those are secondary values, and they only amount to secondary arguments for the value of virtue and righteousness to the individual concerned with earthly things. And I am at least part earthly, part animal. So, the concern is there.
But righteousness and virtue are ultimately for their own sake. They are there own reward. Let me say that again. To get them is to get all. If they are aimed at for anything else they are missed. Let me say that again. If they are aimed at for anything else they are missed. I repeat to emphasize. I repeat in self-discourse as much as in the communication to the other. I repeat because the animal and earthly is everywhere. It appears to be evertything. To care about anything else first appears crazy. And so to aim at righteousness and purity first and for their own sake and to not expect anything else for their achievement is difficult and requires focus.