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Menu

Religions of the world: Information about
40 organized religions and faith groups.

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Symbols of some of the largest religions in the world:

Religious tolerance web site logo

The symbols of fourteen religions are shown. Clockwise from the North Pole, they are: Baha'i, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, Wicca and some other Neopagan religions, Zoroastrianism, and Druidism.

This graphic was donated to us along with the copyright. We are making it available free of charge to anyone.

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A menu with links to non-theistic beliefs, ethical groups,
philosophies, spiritual paths, etc
is located elsewhere on this site.

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Approximate religious membership as a percentage of the world population:

approximat membership by religion

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Introductory thoughts:

bullet 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 manner.
 
bullet 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.
 
bulletChristianity:
bulletThere are many  definitions for this term as well. Again, we use an inclusive definition: "
"We accept as Christian any individual or group who devoutly, sincerely, thoughtfully, seriously, and prayerfully regards themselves to be Christian. That is, they honestly believe that they follow Yeshua of Nazareth's (a.k.a. Jesus Christ's) teachings as they understand them to be."
This generates a lot of angry Emails from some visitors to this site who are insistent on excluding the Jehovah's Witnesses, Roman Catholic Church, the Mormons, and some other denominations as sub-Christian, quasi-Christian, non-Christian, or anti-Christian. 
 
bullet We treat Christianity in much greater detail than other religions, simply because about 75% of North Americans identify themselves with that religion. Christians outnumber the next largest organized religions, Judaism and Islam,  by about 35 to 1 in the U.S. and Canada. We are not in any way implying that Christianity is superior or inferior to other religions. It is simply much more popular in our primary catchment area.
 
bulletDestructive, doomsday cults: These are fortunately few in number, and are listed elsewhere.

bullet

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 and often fragment. 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 a successor to the founder.

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.

These beliefs were expressed very clearly in the "Pardon My Planet" comic strip for 2013-APR-26 where a woman on a park bench said to a friend:

"I can honestly say that I have finally found solace in the fact that many of the world's faiths and religions can at least agree on one thing -- and its that one thing I am attracted to -- that what I believe is right and everyone else is wrong."

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."

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Disclaimer:

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.

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World religions:

There are many, long established, major world religions, each with over three million followers.

bullet

A map showing where the main religions of the world are practiced

bulletBaha'i SymbolBaha'i Faith

bulletBuddhism Symbol Buddhism

bullet Christian Symbol Christianity
Christian groups, denominations and families (Amish to The Way)
 
bullet Confucius Symbol Confucianism [Actually, this religion has no formal symbol. But this one is sometimes used unofficially]
 
bulletHinduism Symbol Hinduism
 
bulletIslam Symbol Islam

bullet Jainism Symbol Jainism

bullet Judaism Symbol Judaism

bulletShinto Symbol Shinto

bullet Sikhism Symbol Sikhism

bulletTaoism symbol Taoism

bullet Vodun (Voodoo)

A thought-provoking image donated by Global Caring Ethics:

Community 2000 Trust image3

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.

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Neopagan religious faiths:

Neopagan symbol 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.

bulletÁsatrú (Norse Paganism)

bulletDruidism

bulletGoddess Worship

bullet Wiccan Symbol Wicca

bulletWitchcraft

Notes:
bullet Many followers of Asatru refer to themselves as "Heathens" rather than "Neopagans. "

bulletMany 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.

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Other organized religions:

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:

bulletCaodaism
bulletDamanhur Community
bulletDeism
bulletDruze
bulletEckankar
bulletElian Gonzalez religious movement
bulletGnosticism
bulletGypsies
bullet Hare Krishna Symbol\ Hare Krishna - ISKCON
bulletIfa, the religion of the Yoruba people of West Africa
bulletLukumi
bulletMacumba
bulletMowahhidoon
bulletNative American Spirituality
bulletRom, Roma, Romani, Rroma, (a.k.a. Gypsies)
bulletSanteria
bulletElian Gonzalez religious movement
bullet Satanism Symbol Satanism; The Church of Satan
bulletScientology
bullet Unitarian Universalist Symbol Unitarian-Universalism
bulletThe Creativity Movement (formerly called World Church of the Creator)
bulletThe Yazidi branch of Yazdanism
bulletZoroastrianism

Related sections and essays in this web site:

bullet Ethical groups, philosophies, spiritual paths, etc. From Agnosticism and Atheism to Vampirism

bullet About the largest religious groups in the U.S.

bulletComparison of beliefs among different religious groups

bulletGeneral information about religion

bulletA glossary of religious terms

bulletA list of books on religion and spirituality

bullet Resources on religious beliefs and practices for chaplains, medical personnel, hospital personnel, and anyone else dealing with the public.

bulletSelecting holy texts from the world's religions for public meditation rooms, personal library, etc..

Religious inclusion 4

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Inclusive religious web sites:

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:

  • Beliefnet.com discusses topics from all religions re: inspiration, spirituality, faith, news etc.

  • Christian.com is a free social network dedicated to the entire Christian world.

  • Patheos.com provides balanced views of religion and spirituality.

  • A British Broadcasting Corp. TV religious series called "Around the world in 80 faiths" can be viewed on You Tube. Peter Jones, an Anglican priest from Suffolk in the UK travels to six continents and experiences the widest possible range of religious beliefs and practices. See: http://www.youtube.com/

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Links to more specific web sites and books:

Web sites:

  • ReligionFacts provides provides free, objective information on religion, world religions, comparative religion and religious topics.

  • Logo The Pluralism Project at Harvard University document "... the contours of our multi-religious society, explore new forms of interfaith engagement, and study the impact of religious diversity in civic life." See: http://www.pluralism.org/

  • Ernest Valea has created a web site to provide "A comparative analysis of the major world religions from a Christian perspective." He compares various religions' teaching on ultimate reality, the human condition, salvation, the nature of evil, etc. See: http://www.comparativereligion.com/

  • "The Comparative Study of Religion" is a blog by Professor Arvind Sharma at McGill University that deals with comparative religion and religious tolerance. See: http://comparativestudyofreligion.wordpress.com/

  • A group of essays prepared by Sociology classes at the University of Virginia lists many unusual faith groups. This is archived at: http://web.archive.org and is currently being migrated to the University of Waterloo. The new editor-in-chief is Douglas E. Cowan.

Books:

Additional links to religious information sites

Find a faith group that matches your beliefs:

bullet Visit the Spiritual belief system selector quiz by SelectSmart.com

According to WebCounter, this menu has received visits since 2002-AUG-24 -- about a third of a million a year.

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Site navigation:

Home page >  here

or Home page > Religious information > Basic data >  here

Images used:

Images used by permission.

  1. Image courtesy of Jaz's Pagan Page
  2. Image copyright © by Solar Web
  3. Image courtesy of Global Caring Ethics
  4. Image taken from the ReligiousTolerance.org Facebook page; posted by Terence Byrn

Copyright © 1996 to 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last updated: 2013-APR-26
Hyperlinks last checked: 2012-MA&-27
Author: B.A. Robinson

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