Originally Posted by Bandobras
Not that I am a purist, but I wonder, do you know any priests in Middle Earth? Anything close? I guess Numenorean kings, the good and the bad ones, I guess lots of evil men, if you want evil religion, anything else? I seem to remember Silmarillion and other unfinished tales have more magic and more religion in them. In LOTR and Hobbit it is all but absent. Frodo calls Varda, anyting else? I've heard something about a dwarven (secret?) religion, or was it Silmarillion?
Religion as we understand it was pretty much absent. There is mention of priests in Numenor; they used to offer "first fruits" to Iluvatar on the Meneltarma (the mountain at the centre of Numenor, wnich was described as a "hallowed place"). But this, like the Gondorians always looking to the West before they ate, was more a givnig of due respect than a prayer - there was no real concept of faith.
As you say, though, there was considerable worship of Sauron and Morgoth, but it was something that they tricked or forced their followers into. As you also say, calling out certain names seems to have had an effect, particularly on evil things - "Elbereth" was supposed by Aragorn to have hurt the Ringwraiths, not just frightened them.
I find myself feeling better about the existence of priests now