A religion is a set of stories, symbols, beliefs and practices, often with a supernatural quality, that give meaning to the practitioner's experiences of life through reference to an ultimate power or reality.
All right, people said last month that they thought Oz had a religion. I must ask now where it is.
In L. Frank Baum's Oz books (I'm not evaluating the whole Famous 40, just Baum's work), we never see a church or a place of worship or temple, with the exception of a china church that the Cowardly Lion breaks in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in the brief misadventure in the Dainty China Country.
After reading over Baum's life, I believe he was unsatisfied with organized religions. He and his wife registered as Theosophists, though how firmly Baum held to these beliefs is up in the air. Certainly we see some of it in his writings, mainly that everything has a fairy guardian or some magical being connected to it. In "Laura Bancroft"'s Twinkle's Enchantment, we even find a live rock.
My personal opinion about Baum's beliefs in his works is that he was entertaining his audience, not preaching to them. He even let his own sons choose to believe what they wanted, instead of forcing his beliefs on them. Really, I begin to think that Baum may very well have been closer to being Agnostic.
In Oz, it seems we do have a goddess of sorts, as Lurline the Fairy Queen is credited with making Oz a fairyland and making people live forever. But while Lurline is known in Oz, and likely respected, we are never given any indication that anyone worships or prays to her. Here we do have one aspect of religion: there are stories about Lurline in Oz.
As for symbols, Baum never mentions such an item in his text. Neill's Oz insignia (the famous Z enclosed in an O) comes to mind, but Baum never designed it. (In fact, it's earliest appearance in Ozma of Oz contradicts how Baum describes it.)
Now, as for beliefs, we're not told that anyone in Oz doesn't believe in Lurline or fairy magic. For them, magic is commonplace, and they have Ozma (who says she was part of Lurline's band) to remind them of Lurline's existence. While they do believe in Lurline, very much it is believing she exists. It's similar to believing someone you've only e-mailed once or twice exists.
As for practices, we are never told that there are any practices people in Oz do to please Lurline or become closer to her. We are told of practice in magic, which could be interpreted as religious acts, including rites (motions and magic words) during the act. I rather feel that this is to accomplish something rather than a religious act, but I also feel this is up for personal interpretation.
Just as there are no churches or places of worship in the Oz series, we are never told that Ozma or Glinda (or anyone else) do obeisance to Lurline or any other higher power or deity. The closest Baum had to mentioning God in any of his Oz or Oz-related books is a "Great Master" in The Life And Adventures of Santa Claus, and this character, whether it is God or someone else, is only briefly mentioned.
Really, I don't think Oz has a religion, but rather a belief system where they believe that there are powerful forces in the world.
Honestly, I don't think they need religion in Oz. Everyone is allowed to live as they please (as long as they don't hurt anyone else), and they're all well-provided for and they live forever. What would be the point of hoping for something else?
By the way, this whole blog entry is solely my opinion, I have not spoken with anyone else on this matter, and as such, is my own interpretation on Baum's fantasy world. My views here are open and very debatable.