|Babel, tower of: A tower mentioned in Genesis 11. The Bible describes
how there was only one language used prior to construction of the
tower. God was offended by the construction, and caused its builders
to speak in different languages. Almost all linguistic experts, except
those who are conservative Christians, consider the story to be a myth.
|Babylonian Talmud: The most authoritative compilation of rabbinic
discussions on Jewish law, ethics, customs, legends and stories. Abbreviated
|Backmasking: A type of
subliminal message in which a second audio
track is recorded backwards on top of a record's music. It is a common
belief among the public that such messages bypass the conscious brain,
enter the subconscious and motivate the individual to take certain
actions. One rock group actually inserted a backmasking section on one of
their records as a joke. There is no evidence that backmasking works or has ever
been used with evil intent.
|Badge: A cloth identifier that the Catholic Church
required Jews to wear. This was later adopted by the Nazi Government in
Germany who required certain groups to wear a badge so that they could
easily be singled out. For Jews, this was a yellow Star of David. For other
groups it was usually a triangle: brown for Roma (a.k.a. Gypsies), purple
for Jehovah's Witnesses, pink for homosexuals, green for criminals, red for
political prisoners, blue for emigrants, and black for "asocials." In recent years, gays and
lesbians have embraced the pink triangle as a symbol of their drive for
Faith: A world religion, founded in 1844 CE by Baha'u'llah
(Glory of God) in Iran. Its roots are based in Islam. With the
exception of its beliefs about homosexuality, and the makeup of its Universal House of Justice,
it promotes democracy
with equal rights to all, regardless of gender, race, nationality,
etc. It has spread across the world. Its followers experience heavy
oppression in Iran.
||Baphomet (a.k.a. Sigil [or Sigl] of Baphomet): A pentagram (a five
pointed star) with one point downwards and two upwards, within a
circle. A goat's head is drawn within the star. This is used by many
Satanists as a religious symbol.
|Baisakhi: The Sikhs' New Year's celebration.|
|Baptism: The English words "baptize" and
"baptism" are derived from a Greek root: "baptizr,"
which means "to immerse," "to dip under,"
or "to wash." Within Christianity, it is usually
performed by a member of the clergy in a church setting, thus
welcoming an individual into the church. Denominations disagree
about the method (immersion or sprinkling), the age at which the
ritual is done, and additional consequences of baptism. Some
Christian groups maintain that baptism is required before a person can be
saved; some say that only those baptized in their denomination or in a
certain way can be saved. Still others consider baptism to be merely
an indication that a person had been saved in the recent past.
|Baptism for the dead: This is a procedure that was employed
among some Christian groups during the second century CE. Today, it is
followed by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints --
the Mormons. Ancestors who died outside the church can be baptized by
their descendents who are alive today.
|Baptists: A group of Protestant Christian who, according to
religious historians, originated in the English Separatist movement of
the 1600s. However, some Baptists believe that they can trace their
history directly back to the New Testament period. In the U.S., they
consist of dozens of denominations that do not
baptize infants, but who baptize individuals by immersion after they have
personally professed their faith. Baptist congregations are
independent; full authority resides in the membership of each church. The
largest American Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, deviated
from centuries of tradition by expelling congregations who had decided to
welcome sexually active gays and lesbians as members.
|Bar Mitzvah: From the Hebrew phrase "son of the commandments."
A ritual performed on Jewish boys at the age of 13 when they attain
|Basmala: An Arabic word
| Muslims use it to refer to the phrase "In the name of God,
Most Gracious, Most Merciful." The Basmala is at the beginning of each
of the suras (chapters) of the Qur'an except for the ninth sura.|
|Christians who speak Arabic sometimes use the word Basmala to refer
to the phrase "In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit."
|Bat Mitzvah: From the Hebrew phrase "daughter of the
commandments." A ritual performed on Jewish girls at the age of 12
years and a day when they attain religious responsibility.|
|BCE (a.k.a. B.C.E.): An anacronym for "Before
the Common Era." A religiously-neutral calendar notation that is numerically
equivalent to the "BC" notation without the connotation that the user recognizes
Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus Christ) to be the Messiah or Christ. Some
non-Christians find the use of "BC" to be offensive.
|Beget: To father, or sire. Etymology is: Indo-European
"ghend" > Old English "begetan" > Middle English "biyeten" > Modern
|Begotten: A past participle of beget.
||Neit Hillel: From the Hebrew "House of Hillel). A liberal
religious school of belief derived from Hillel -- a notable liberal Jewish
philosopher and rabbi who lived during the 1st century BCE. Yeshua of
Nazareth (a.k.a. Jesus Christ) largely followed Hillel's teachings, except
over criteria for marital divorce.
|Believers in exile: This is a term created by John Shelby Spong, a
retired bishop of the Episcopal Church, USA. It refers to Christians "...
for whom the God experience is still real, but most of the religious forms
used to interpret that reality have lost all meaning." They have outgrown
the faith of their childhood and are searching for a new path.
|Beltane: One of the four major Sabbats celebrated annually by
Wiccans and other Neopagans on the evening of APR-30. It is based on an
ancient Celtic seasonal day of celebration.|
|Besom: A broom often used by Wiccans or other Neopagans to purify a
circle or other sacred area before a ritual is conducted.|
|Bhagavad-Gita: The "Song of the Lord" -- a holy text revered by
followers of Hinduism and Iskcon.|
|Bhaki: A Hindu expression of devotion to and adoration of a God.|
|Bhajan: A Hindu devotional song/prayer.
|Bible: This word has many meanings:
|The holy text used by Christians. It is includes
Hebrew Scripture (Old Testament),
Christian Scripture (New Testament). Some faith
groups also include a group of writings called the Apocrypha.
|It is sometimes used to refer to the holy texts of other religions.|
|It is sometimes used to refer to an all-embracing book on a specific
topic, from computers to fly fishing to astronomy.|
|Bible Code: A book by Michael Drosnin which promoted the
concept that the Bible contains prophecies which are hidden by a special
code. This belief became popular during the 1990s, but collapsed when it
was found that similar codes could be extracted from any book of similar
|Biblical authority: This is the belief -- near universally
held among conservative Christians -- that: "the Bible, as the
expression of God's will to us, possesses the right supremely to define
what we are to believe and how we are to conduct ourselves."
1 Steven Ibbotson states:
"The Bible is authoritative because it is God's inspired word to
Religious liberals commonly discount some sections of the Bible as
authoritative because they are judged to be
profoundly immoral when compared to today's religious and secular
|Biblical wordview: A personal perspective on humanity, deity
and the rest of the universe based on the Bible. There are many such
worldviews, reflecting various conservative, mainline, liberal, Gnostic,
post-Christian and other belief systems. The Barna Group defines a
conservative Protestant biblical worldview as including eight beliefs:|
|Absolute truth exists.|
|The source of moral truth is the Bible.|
|The Bible is without error in all of
||That eternal spiritual salvation
cannot be earned through works while on earth.|
|Jesus led a sinless life while on
|Everyone has a responsibility to share their religious beliefs
||Satan is a living entity, not just a
symbol of evil.|
|God is the creator of the universe,
omnipotent, omniscient who still rules the universe today.|
Barna found that 8% of adult American Protestants, 5% of adults
generally and less than 0.5% of Roman Catholics "have a [conservative
Protestant] biblical world view." 3
||Biblicism: A belief that the Bible exhibits exclusive authority, infallibility, clarity, self-sufficiency, internal consistency, self-evident meaning, and universal applicability. It is a common belief among Christian fundamentalists and other evangelicals. Considers the text of the
Bible as the Word of God and
the ultimate authority for religious belief and morality.
|Bibliolatry: Worship of a book, particularly the Bible. A
term of criticism levied against individuals who are judged to give an excessive
regard to the text of the Bible.|
|Bibliology: This word has a secular and a Christian meaning:
|Secular: A discussion of books.|
|Christian: The study of the Bible and the doctrines derived from it.
|Bid'a: A Muslim term referring to a false belief or
practice. A heresy.|
|Biocentrism: Rejecting humanity as having supreme importance on
Earth, and considering all living species as equally important.
|Biofield: A subtle energy field that allegedly permeates a person's
body and extends beyond it. It may be similar to Qi, an energy field believed to
exist in traditional Chinese medicine. It has never been detected and measured
by conventional scientific instruments. However, some alternative medicine
practitioners believe that they can detect and even see it.
|Bind: A ritual found in conservative Christianity, Wicca and other
Neopagan traditions to prevent a person or spirit from harming individuals.
|Birth of the Bab: A Baha'i holy day honoring of
the founder, Mirza 'Ali-Muhammed, (1819-1850 CE).
He assumed the title Bab ("the Gate.")
|Birth of Baha'u'llah: A Baha'i
celebration of the birth of their teacher and Messiah, Mirza Husayn-'Ali-i-Nuri
(1817-1892). He was the
Manifestation predicted by the Bab.
|Birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji: A day when Sikhs
commemorate the birthday of their founder.
|Bisexual: An individual who is physically and emotionally
attracted to both males and females.
|Bishop: (From the Greek word episkopos: supervisor). In the
very early Christian movement, he was the main leader at a church. Later, the role became
that of a priest with administrative duties over a group of churches
within a geographical area called a diocese.|
|Bitheist: Synonym for duotheist; a person who believes that
there are two deities -- typically one female and the other male, as
in Wicca, or
one all good and the other all bad, as in Zoroastrianism.