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List of Religions

Religion is a system of belief or worship that impacts how a person perceives, thinks about, and interacts with the world. The main source of a person's ethical and moral convictions is generally their religion. Many believers find religion a source of immense comfort, if not the purpose. There are many distinct religions all around the world. Even though religions differ greatly in their theology and practice, it is arguable that most of them have two near-universal themes: how to behave on Earth and what to expect after death. Most religions teach faith in a greater power, whether one's spirituality, nature, or the Hindu deities Vishnu, Shiva, Ganesha, and Shakti, or the God/YHWH/Allah of Christians, Jews, and Muslims.

How Many Religions Exist in the World

For various reasons, determining the actual number of religions in the world is a difficult, if not impossible, undertaking. For individuals unfamiliar with the doctrine of several religions, it might not be easy to distinguish between them. Even more significantly, there are few rules defining what constitutes a true independent religion from what is essentially a denomination (subdivision). To take Christianity as an example, a traditional Mennonite church's practices and beliefs differ substantially from those of a modern Vineyard or Assembly of God church, although both are still considered Christian. Sikhism, on the other hand, is widely regarded as a distinct faith despite its historical roots in Islam.

On a lesser scale, the border between a spiritual but non-religious experience and a genuine religion can vary from person to person-for example, some people regard New Age activities, Wicca, and even certain types of yoga as religions others do not. According to one popular estimate, there are approximately 4000-4300 religions globally, but this figure is heavily disputed. To begin with, it contains extinct belief systems that are no longer practiced. Furthermore, it counts each of a religion's multiple denominations separately. Thus Christianity, for example, would be counted as hundreds of different religions: Protestant, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopalian, Assembly of God, Seventh Day Adventist, Mormon, etc.

World Population by Religion

Around 85% of the world's population claims to be religious. Christianity is the most widely practiced religion, with an estimated 2.38 billion followers worldwide. The second most popular religion is Islam, followed by more than 1.91 billion people. According to population experts, Islam will have nearly caught up to Christianity by 2050. Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and two umbrella groups are among the other religions measured and projected. The first is "folk religions," which includes traditional African religions, Chinese folk religions, and aboriginal faiths from North America and Australia. The second category is "other religions," which includes lesser religions including Shintoism, Taoism, Sikhism, and Jainism. Finally, many people-nearly 1.2 billion people worldwide-are either nonreligious or hold Atheist ideas.

Adherents in 2021

Religion Adherents Percentage
Christianity 2.382 billion 31.11%
Islam 1.907 billion 24.9%
Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist 1.193 billion 15.58%
Hinduism 1.161 billion 15.16%
Buddhism 506 million 5.06%
Chinese traditional religion[c] 394 million 5%
Ethnic religions 300 million 3%
African traditional religions 100 million 1.2%
Sikhism 26 million 0.30%
Spiritism 15 million 0.19%
Judaism 14.7 million 0.18%
Bahá?í 5.0 million 0.07%
Jainism 4.2 million 0.05%
Shinto 4.0 million 0.05%
Cao Dai 4.0 million 0.05%
Zoroastrianism 2.6 million 0.03%
Tenrikyo 2.0 million 0.02%
Animism 1.9 million 0.02%
Neo-Paganism 1.0 million 0.01%
Unitarian Universalism 0.8 million 0.01%
Rastafari 0.6 million 0.007%
total 7.79 billion 100%

Major World Religions

1. Christianity

The life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth form the basis of Christianity, a monotheistic religion. The Messiah and Son of God, according to Christianity, is Jesus. The Torah (also known as the Old Testament) and the story of Jesus, his teachings, and those of his contemporary disciples are included in Christian scripture (the New Testament). The Bible, the core text of Christianity, is made up of these books. Christianity arose in Jerusalem due to Judaism's belief that Jesus was the Christ (meaning "anointed one"). Around the first century CE, this ideology and its supporters quickly spread throughout ancient Judea, then the entire globe.

Numerous reformation movements have occurred in Christianity, resulting in many sects and denominations. There are many other types of practice to list here, but the faith's three main branches are Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism. With around 2.4 billion adherents, or 33 percent of the total population, Christianity is the largest religion. It has had an incalculable impact on world history and current world culture.

2. Islam

Islam is a monotheistic religion with roots in the Garden of Eden, Adam, and the prophet Abraham, much as Christianity and Judaism do. According to Islam, Allah is the one God, and Muhammed is his messenger. According to Islam, God revealed the Quran to Muhammed through the archangel Gabriel in approximately 600 CE. Adherents of the Islamic faith believe that this major text contains God's exact words and gives a complete and unchangeable blueprint for living. From ethics and worship to family matters and economic operations, the Quran and the Islamic legal code known as Sharia inform every part of life.

3. Jainism

Jainism, being one of the first existing religious traditions to originate from the spiritually abundant Indian subcontinent, shares and differs from Hindu and Buddhist traditions that also emerged there. According to its devotees, Jainism is an ancient Indian religion that can be traced back to a succession of 24 wise teachers. Rishabhanatha, who lived millions of years ago, was the first of these teachers. Karma, rebirth, and monastic (as opposed to theistic) spiritual activities are all taught in Jainism, as they are in Hinduism and Buddhism. In contrast to Hindu or Buddhist notions regarding the soul being part of an infinite and constant world, Jainists believe the soul is a constantly changing entity confined to the body only for a lifetime.

In contrast to Hindu or Buddhist notions regarding the soul being part of an infinite and constant world, Jainists believe the soul is an ever-changing entity linked to the body just for a lifetime. The Jainist caste system, which, like Hinduism, encourages members to forego social liberty in favor of spiritual liberation, reflects this stress on the body. Today, India is home to most of the world's four to five million Jains.

4. Hinduism

Some consider Hinduism the world's oldest religion, dating back to the Vedic period on the Indian subcontinent. Civilization evolved from tribal and pastoral living to settlement and agricultural living, 1500-600 BCE. As a result, social classes, state entities, and monarchies arose. The Vedas, the principal writings narrating this period of history, would have a tremendous impact on the so-called Hindu Synthesis. Between 500 BCE and 300 CE, the Hindu Synthesis was a period in which Hinduism's precepts consolidated from numerous intertwining strands of Indian spiritual and cultural history, evolving from a wide range of philosophies to share a unified set of beliefs.

5. Buddhism

Buddhism is a philosophy as well as a religion. The fundamental teachings of Gautama Buddha, a wise thinker who lived between the fourth and sixth centuries BCE, can be traced back to the traditions and beliefs that surround Buddhism. The Buddha lived and preached in ancient India's eastern region, laying the groundwork for a faith founded on moral rectitude, freedom from material attachment or desire, meditation-based tranquility and illumination, and a life dedicated to wisdom, love, and compassion. The Buddha's teachings spread throughout much of Asia during the years that followed.

6. Bahá'i

The Bahá'i faith is mainly a spiritual worldview that promotes universal equality and harmony and teaches the worth of all religions. The Bahá'i faith's founder, Bahá'u'lláh, developed his doctrine in Persia in 1863. (or modern-day Iran). Bahá'i sprang from the Babism lineage, which arose from an Islamic sect known as Shaykh. Bahá'i includes certain Islamic teachings and some Christian concepts, similar to Babism. The Universal House of Justice, a nine-member council in Haifa, Israel, is the Bahá'i faith's central governing body. Around the world, the Bahá'i religion has between five and seven million followers.

7. Judaism

Judaism is one of the world's oldest monotheistic religions, having been one of the first ethnoreligious groups to reject idolatry and paganism in favor of recognizing a single deity. Abraham is supposed to be the founder of Judaism, a man who lived in the Land of Canaan, which included parts of Phoenicia, Philistia, and Israel at the time. According to the Tanakh, God spoke to Abraham and told him to recognize God's uniqueness and omnipotence - the Jewish scripture collection comprising a foundational document called The Torah. Later auxiliary texts were called the Midrash Talmud. Abraham accepted, becoming the forefather of all monotheistic (or Abrahamic) religions that followed.

8. Sikhism

Sikhism is a monotheistic religion that arose in the Punjabi region of Northern India and Eastern Pakistan and has remained largely concentrated there. The Sikh religion emerged in the late 15th century, and it is based on a scripture known as the Guru Granth Sahib, which teaches faith, meditation, social justice, and human equality. Guru Nanak, Sikhism's first spiritual guru, lived from 1469 to 1539 and preached that a good spiritual life should be linked with a good secular existence. He encouraged people to be active, creative, loyal, self-controlling, and pure. A life in which one enacts God's will is more significant than the metaphysical, Guru Nanak maintained.

Guru Nanak was replaced by nine spiritual teachers known as gurus. Guru Gobind Singh, the eleventh in this series of successors, named the scriptures as his successor. In the Sikh faith, this marked the end of human authority and the establishment of the texts as the sole spiritual guidance.

9. Zoroastrianism

Some of Zoroastrianism's foundational doctrines, including messianism, postmortem judgment, and the duality of heaven and hell, are thought to have influenced the development of Judaism, Gnosticism, Christianity, and Islam. Zoroaster, the organization's founder, was a Persia-based religious thinker and teacher who lived between 700 and 500 BCE (modern-day Iran). The Avesta, the Avesta's principal text, combines the Gathas (Zoroaster's writings) and the Yasna (Zoroaster's poetry) (the scriptural basis of Zoroastrianism). In his day and age, Zoroaster's influence was enormous. Indeed, Zoroastrianism was quickly recognized as the Persian Empire's official state religion, and it remained that way for about a thousand years.

After the Muslim conquest of Persia in the seventh century CE, Zoroaster's views lost their authority. Following that, Muslim conquerors persecuted and suppressed Zoroastrians for centuries, nearly eradicating Zoroastrian doctrines and rituals throughout the Arabic-speaking globe. These rituals saw a brief comeback in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Some Iranians and Iraqi Kurdish populations adopted Zoroastrianism as a form of resistance against the theocratic rule. Approximately 190,000 Zoroastrians live today, predominantly in Iran, Iraq, and India.

10. Shinto

Shinto is a Japanese religious tradition. Shinto began as a loose collection of beliefs and legends, more akin to a Japanese cultural practice than a religion. Shinto is essentially the connective tissue between old Japanese customs and modern Japanese society, with the first recorded use dating back to the sixth century CE. The naive belief in kami (spirits) and engagement with them through public shrines is at the heart of Shinto. These shrines are both an artifact of Shinto observance and a conduit. Japan has around 80,000 Shinto shrines. Shinto customs are also reflected in traditional Japanese attire, dancing, and ceremony.

Shinto is a religion that is unlike any other. Shinto observance is not confined to individuals who consider themselves religious devotees as a representation of Japanese identity. About 3-4% of the Japanese population considers themselves members of a Shinto sect or congregation. In comparison, around 26% of Japanese respondents said they visited Shinto shrines in a 2008 survey.

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