Hinduism differs from Christianity and
other monotheistic religions in that it does not have:
a single founder,
a specific theological
a single concept of deity,
a single holy text,
a single system of morality,
a central religious authority,
the concept of a prophet.
Hinduism is generally regarded as the world's oldest organized
consists of "thousands of different religious groups that have
evolved in India since 1500 BCE." 1 Because of the wide variety of Hindu traditions, freedom of belief and practice have traditionally been notable features of Hinduism.
Most forms of Hinduism are henotheistic religions. They recognize a
single deity, and view other Gods and Goddesses as manifestations or aspects of
that supreme God or Goddess. Henotheistic and polytheistic religions have traditionally been among the world's most
religiously tolerant faiths. As a result, India has traditionally been one of the most religiously tolerant in the world.
However in 1998, a Hindu nationalistic political party
the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) controlled the government of India. The linkage of religion, the
national government, and nationalism led to a degeneration of the
separation of church and state in India and a decrease in the level
of religious tolerance in that country. An escalation of anti-Christian violence
was one manifestation of this linkage. With the subsequent change in
government, the level of violence has diminished somewhat, but intolerance still exists in some areas of the country.
Hinduism has grown to become the world's third largest religion, after Christianity
and Islam. It claims about 950 million followers -- about 14% of the world's population. 2
It is the dominant religion in India, where 95% of the world's Hindus live. It is also very common in Nepal, and among the Tamils in Sri Lanka.
According to the "Yearbook of
American & Canadian Churches," there were about 1.1 million Hindus in the U.S. during 1999. 3
The "American Religious Identification Survey"may have under-estimated the numbers of Hindus because of communications problems with non-English speaking households. 4
They estimated: 766,000 Hindus in 2001 and 1.2 million in 2008.
During 2015, the Pew Research Center conducted their Religious Landscape Study and estimated 2.23 million Hindus live in the U.S.
Statistics Canada conducted their National Household Survey In 2011. They estimated that 157,015 Hindus live in Canada (1.51% of the total population). Unfortunately, they only update these numbers once each decade. 5
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