Religions of the world: Information about
|What is religion? There are many
definitions for the
term "religion" in common usage. On this web site, we define it very
broadly, in order to include the greatest number of belief systems:
"Religion is any specific system of belief about deity, often involving
rituals, a code of ethics, and a philosophy of life." Thus we include
here all of the great monotheistic religions, Eastern religions; Neopagan
religions; a wide range of other faith groups, spiritual paths, & ethical
systems; and beliefs about the existence of God(s) and Goddess(es). We
recognize that most people define "religion" in a much narrower
|What is our web site's "unhidden agenda?" Many religions, many subdivisions within religions, and many secular philosophies have a holy book or tradition that promotes an ethic of reciprocity, like the Golden Rule. This promotes harmony and caring. But many also have passages and sections that are often interpreted as promoting hating and even the extermination of "the other" -- those different from themselves. We feel that if the human race is going to survive into the next century without destroying itself in a religiously triggered nuclear war, then we are going to have to get along with other faith groups within our religion and with people of other religions much better than we have in the past. The best way to promote this is to spread accurate information about other religions, so that people can understand not only what others believe, but why they believe it. That is our main goal. Another goal is to help believers become aware of any evil teachings and practices advocated by their faith group in the hope that they will work to correct them. These goals separate us from at least 99.9% of other religious web sites on the Internet.|
doomsday cults: These are fortunately few in number, and are listed
Finally, we have America's real religion. It can be summed up in two behaviors: ignore thy neighor and worship the dollar. Alton C. Thompson has written an essay on this topic, viewing the United States as a third-world country.
What doesn't make sense about religion: Religions and the sciences differ greatly in their teachings. There are certain topics where science and religion overlap. Examples are the origin of the universe, cosmology, how animal species came to exist, the age of the earth, many topics associated with human sexuality, etc. Sciences are largely based on observations, facts. and data. Religions are largely based on the beliefs of the founder(s) as later recorded by the authors of various holy books and still later interpreted by theologians. Thus scientists tend to converge on a consensus, while many religions continue to diverge in their teachings; their beliefs often fragment so that individual traditions, sects or denominations within a religion will follow different beliefs.
And so, for example, the vast majority of paleontologists, geologists and biologists accept the theory of evolution, whereas most religions in the world each have their own creation stories. Another example is that much of the religiously-based violence in the Middle East is not among Jews, Christians and Muslims. Rather, it is between the Sunni and Shi'ite branches of Islam -- two groups that separated shortly after the death of Muhammad because they differed over the election of his successor.
Religions of the world -- and individual denominations or traditions within these religions -- teach very different beliefs about the existence of God, Gods, the Goddess, Goddesses, pantheons of Gods and Goddesses, etc. They have very different views on the nature of deity, humanity, and the rest of the universe. But almost all share one belief: that they alone have the fullness of truth, and that every other religion in the world is wrong. Even within a single religion, many denominations, traditions and faith groups teach mutually exclusive beliefs, including the belief that they are right and all of the other faith groups within their religion are wrong -- at least to some degree.
Susan Humphreys has donated an essay that touches on this attitude. It is called: "About hubris: extreme pride or arrogance -- particularly as it applies to religious belief."
Information for these essays was extracted from reliable sources, and believed to be accurate and reasonably unbiased. Where possible, they have been reviewed by a group (typically of 3 or more persons) who follow the belief before the material is placed online. However, the entire field of religion is very subjective. Multiple, conflicting, and often mutually exclusive opinions abound. Before accepting anything on this web site that may have a direct impact on your own or somebody else's life, we recommend that you check out its validity with other information sources.
If you find any errors here, please report them so that we can list them on our errata page and correct our essays. A Contact Us link is at the bottom of almost every page in our web site.
There are many, long established, major world religions, each with over three million followers.
Christian groups, denominations and families (Amish to The Way)
Confucianism [Actually, this religion has no formal symbol. But this one is sometimes used unofficially]|
If we had been born in Saudi Arabia, we would almost certainly hold Muslim beliefs; in Alabama: conservative Protestant Christian; in Thailand: Buddhist; in much of Europe: secular. Pure chance. So. please use the menu above to find out what your beliefs might have been if the stork who delivered you had been blown off course.
1 Neopagan faiths are modern-day reconstructions of ancient Pagan religions from various countries and eras. They experience a high but diminishing level of discrimination and persecution in North America. They were once rarely practiced in public for reasons of safety. This is rapidly changing for the better.
|Ásatrú (Norse Paganism)|
|Many followers of Asatru refer to themselves as "Heathens" rather than "Neopagans.
|Many followers of these religions refer to themselves as "Pagans." We use the term "Neopagan" because it is less ambiguous. "Pagan" has a variety of unrelated meanings.|
These are smaller religions, with a well defined belief in deity, humanity and the rest of the universe. Of the many hundreds of faith groups in the world, we have chosen these because of their historical significance, or because of the massive amount of misinformation that has been spread about them in North America:
|Elian Gonzalez religious movement|
|Roma (a.k.a. Gypsies) |
Hare Krishna - ISKCON|
|Ifa, the religion of the Yoruba people of West Africa|
|Native American Spirituality |
New World Fellowship (NeWFism) -- a proposed religion with no mandated beliefs, clergy or scripture:
|Rom, Roma, Romani, Rroma, (a.k.a. Gypsies)|
Satanism; The Church of Satan|
|The Creativity Movement (formerly called
World Church of the Creator)|
|The Yazidi branch of Yazdanism|
|Ethical groups, philosophies, spiritual
paths, etc. From Agnosticism and Atheism to Vampirism|
| About the largest religious groups in the U.S.|
|Comparison of beliefs among different
|General information about
|A glossary of religious terms|
list of books on religion and spirituality|
|Resources on religious beliefs and practices for chaplains, medical personnel, hospital personnel, and anyone else dealing with the public.|
|Selecting holy texts from the world's religions for public meditation rooms, personal library, etc..|
There are probably tens of millions of religious web sites on the Internet. A Google search for "God" returned almost 500 million hits. Most describe and promote only a single tradition or faith group within a single religion. Some of the sites that do cover a broad range of faith groups are:
|Visit the Spiritual belief system selector quiz by SelectSmart.com|
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Copyright © 1996 to 2015 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last updated: 2015-JUN-11
Hyperlinks last checked: 2012-MA&-27
Author: B.A. Robinson
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