Every religion has its own way of functioning and surviving. People all over the world worship different kinds of “higher powers” and most of them fall under six categories; Christianity, Confucianism, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and Hinduism. These six major religions are all very different from each other, but they also are similar in some ways as well. Religion, as a whole, is the service or commitment to a higher power or a God.
It is a devotion to a religious faith, where beliefs, attitudes, and practices are institutionalized into a community or group of people, forming a church. The first religion is Christianity, which is the religion that stems from the life, death, and the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, which is also referred to as Christ or the Anointed One of God. Christianity has come to be the worlds largest religion. Christianity can be broken down into many different churches, but its largest groups are the Eastern Orthodox churches, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Protestant Churches, and Eastern Christianity. Christianity focuses on the “church” which is the community of people who make up a body of believers. Believers of Christ feel that interactions with the divine don’t necessarily occur in the area of advanced ideas. They believe it happens through ordinary humans, as they feel that Christ is present. They speak of Christ and see Him as “God”, “human nature”, “church” and “world”.
Christianity may seem very broad and simple, but there are actually thousands of separate churches, sects, and denominations that are the foundation of the modern Christian religion and its vast traditions. Christianity has formed around a promised plan of redemption or salvation. therefore, the church feels that they were born into their sins that are inevitable, and they feel a sense of rescue once they accept Christ into their lives. The Bible is the main source of information for Christianity. Christianity is monotheistic, because they believe in one God, but there is the Holy Trinity which appears in the New Testament. Thus, He is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit or the brother. therefore, some people feel that Christianity is polytheistic because they praise 3 Gods; the Father (Yahweh), the Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit (brother), which are three different entities. The most important days in Christianity are Lent (a self-examination that helps to prepare for Easter), Palm Sunday (Jesus comes to Jerusalem), Maundy Thursday (the last meal for Jesus), Good Friday (the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross), Easter (resurrection of Jesus Christ), Pentecost (the coming of the Holy Spirit), Advent (the preparation for Christmas and the second coming of Christ), and Christmas (the birth of Jesus Christ).
The religion of Christianity can be found almost anywhere. In America, as of 2010, 38.6% of people were identified as Christians, while Asia-Pacific is 13.1%, Middle East-North America is 0.6%, Europe is 25.9%, and Sub Saharan Africa is 23.6% Christians.
The number of Christians in the world in the last 100 years has almost quadrupled. Christianity is the largest religion in the world. The next religion is Confucianism, which was taught by Confucius (Kong Fuzi) in China from 6th-5th century BCE. Confucianism is sometimes seen as a philosophy, and sometimes a religion. This religion can be found mostly in China but it has also planted its roots in Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. Confucianism is mainly based on ethical principals that don’t really dress many religious beliefs per say.
Their ideas are based off of Chinese religion, Taoism, and Buddhism. Confucius did refer to Heaven as a personal force in the universe and a positive place to be, and he also taught about human nature and an optimistic view on it. The most sacred text to Confucianists, is the Lun-yu. Confucianism doesn’t really gave a God or Goddess, so therefore it is neither monotheistic or polytheistic. The “Holy Days” that exist in Confucianism are Qing Ming (106 days after winter), Chongmyo Taeje (ceremony in honor of kings and queens), Confucius’ Birthday (September 28th), and the Ching Ming Festival (4th or 5th of April). A few scared sights are the Temple of Confucius, the Cemetery of Confucius, and the Kong Family Mansion.
The third religion is the Islamic religion. Islam is one of the other largest religions in the world, containing over 1 billion followers. It is a monotheistic faith that is based on the revelations that were received by the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century.
The word Islam is Arabic and it means “submission” which is the reflection of submitting to the will of God. The followers of the Islamic religion are called Muslims. The main thought regarding the Islamic religion, is that the angel Gabriel came to the Prophet over the course of 20 years, showing him many messaged from God. The sacred text is the Qur’an and the Hadith. The main holidays are Al-Hijara, Ramadan, and ‘Id Al-Fitr. The practices include the Five Pillars: faith, prayer, alms, pilgrimage, and fasting. They also require ablutions before prayer, no alcohol or pork, and their holidays are related around pilgrimage and the fast of Ramadan. This religion is mainly found in the Arabian Peninsula.
The next religion is Buddhism. The name Buddhism translates to Buddha which means the “Enlightened One”. There are around 500 million followers of Buddhism. Their beliefs vary between Theravada atheistic and a polytheistic view. The religion of Buddhism taught that nothing is permanent. Muslims practice meditation, mantras, devotion to deities, and mandalas. The main holidays that exist vary by region, but they often all celebrate Buddha’s birthday, Buddha’s enlightenment, and lunar quarters. The most sacred texts are the Tripitaka, and Mahayana sutras, like the Lotus Sutra.
Buddhism first originated in India about 2,5000 years ago and all forms of Buddhism have the shared respect for the teachings of the Buddha and the goal to end suffering and the cycle of rebirth. They feel that the only way to understand suffering is to comprehend the true, deep nature of the world. The fifth religion is Judaism, which means the Kingdom of Judah. There are around q4 million followers of this religion and it was founded in modern day Israel, Palestine and Jordan. The main founders of this religion are Abraham and Moses, who created the belief the there is one God (Yaweh) who chooses people in Israel who required worship, ethical behaviors, and rituals. They believe that the Messiah will come.
Believers if the Judaism religion are called Jews. The main practices for Jewish people are to preform circumcision at birth, to have a bar-mitzvah or bat mitzvah at the turning of adulthood, observing Sabbath, wearing tallit and tefilin, and to hold prayer services and attend them. The main holidays that Jewish people celebrate are Hanukkah, Rosh Hashanah, and Purim. The most sacred test are the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) and Talmud. Judaism is a monotheistic religion, because they believe that God revealed himself to Abraham, who was the ancestor of the Jewish people. Judaism portrays the idea that God took care of the Hebrews in a special way, and after rescuing them from being enslaved in Egypt, God brought forth the Ten Commandments to Moses and other ethical guidelines that were implemented into the Torah.
The sixth and final religion is Hinduism, which means the river, or the “Indus Valley”. There are around one billion followers and they believe in one supreme reality, so Hinduism is polytheistic. They believe that they have multiple Gods; Brahman, Shiva, and many others. They also believe in reincarnation is based off of karma. Hindus practice their religion by doing yoga, meditation, worship, devotion to their God or Goddess, pilgrimage to holy cities, Sadhu, Namaste, Kundalini Yoga, Ayurveda, Hindu cow taboo, and they choose to live accordingly to his or hers own purpose or plan. The most sacred texts are the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, and Ramayana.
The main holidays that are important to Hindus are Holi, Diwali, and Mahashivaratri. Hinduismis the third largest religion to date behind Christianity and Islam. About 80% of the population in India refer to themselves as Hindus and there are around 30 million more Hindus that live outside of India.
There are many schools that Hindu children attend, like Eckankar, Hare Krishna, and Vedanta. The six major religions are similar because they do in fact worship at least something, but each religion is unique in its own way. Some religions prohibit their followers from eating meat, while other religions encourage their followers to eat as much as they can, and then fast. Each religion has its own sacred text and is either monotheistic or polytheistic.
All of the religions have special holidays and symbols, and they all also have sacred books that they read out of. Religion is apparent all over the world, and it can be found in a church, in a house, or even in a school. A worshiper of a higher power can be found almost anywhere, which shows that religions widespread and affects almost everyone in the world in one way or another, whether they choose to worship and praise intensely, or to not worship at all. Every religion is different and that is what makes the vast cultures of our world so interesting.