Religion is a topic that most experts say you should never talk about. It’s religion and politics that should be shunned upon. However, today we are going to discuss the main religions of the world. What do people believe in these days? Over the centuries, religion has shifted. There was a time in ancient history when mankind believed in astrology, sun and moon Gods, one God, multiple spirit guides and much more. Today, there are a few major religions in the world such as: Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
Religion is a system of beliefs that one believes in. It often includes prayers, textbooks, songs, spiritual gatherings and prophecy. It is often passed down from generation to generation as a belief that a culture or people operate from. Religious beliefs often affect every area of your life from love to money. When a person thinks about their spirituality, they will often ask themselves, “Who am I and how does my faith determine my fate?”
There is often a supernatural power/person/spirit that someone believes in. There are certain feast days in religion and fast days as well. One might say that a person must prove themselves to their God. If their God is unhappy with them, then the person often feels the need to change their life to please their higher power.
There is usually a day/s in worship each day for the person that is practicing a religion. It often means that a person must set aside time each day, week or month to spend time with their religion. It is more of a growth and learning type of environment for the person that is trying to learn about their faith.
Ancestors often pass down their religious stories from one generation to the next. Often, testimonies are given from one human being to another. It is often known that spiritual beliefs become more positive with time and hearing the stories from a previous generation. Therefore sacred textbooks are used in religion. Without sacred text or testimonials from other ancestors, its hard to form a religion and have it believed by future generations.
There are over 11,000 religions worldwide. The 5 main religions are: Buddhism, Christianity, folk religion, Islam and Hinduism. Religion helps to define laws within countries and creates a system of feeling guilt and remorse when you do something wrong.
In many religions, dance is often associated with faith. A culture may decide that dancing to spirits is necessary to call them up from the dead. It is taught that you must believe in what you are seeing in order to have something happen.
How Many People Are in the Major World Religions?
- Christianity 2.2 Billion
- Folk Religion 0.385 Billion
- Hinduism 0.811 Billion
- Islam 1.2 Billion
- Buddhism 0.360 Billion
The protestant faith began in Europe during the 16th century. This was more of a revolt against the Catholic church for its practices during medieval times. Those that opposed the Roman Catholic church, branched off and started the protestant faith. It wasn’t until the 19th century, that it spread to various parts of the earth.
Protestants believe that the Holy Bible is the only sacred text that people should follow. It is even higher than the Popes words or spiritual customs. It is believed that someone can have a personal relationship with Jesus Chris. A protestant can speak in tongues or share their faith amongst others. Protestants are encouraged to tell people about their faith.
The core belief of the protestant faith is that one only needs to ask Jesus Christ into their heart and ask for forgiveness. Once a person does that, they will automatically go to heaven when they die to be with Jesus. Many people refer to this faith as being “born again”.
Protestants do not believe in praying to saints like Catholics do. They believe that every prayer should be prayed to Jesus Christ and God the father. Martin Luther is an important figure in the protestant faith because in 1507, he came to reject a lot of the mainstream teachings of the Catholic church. He rejected indulgences most of all.
The day of worship for most Protestants is Sunday, except for Seventh Day Adventists that have worship on Saturdays. Protestants believe that if you live in sin, you will go to hell. Hell is a permanent place where there is not rest and you burn forever. There is no hope for your soul once you enter hell.
Mormons believe that anyone can be saved through Jesus Christ. Mormons believe that a man or woman must repent of their sins in order to be forgiven. They practice baptism and wanting to be like Jesus. Many of their youth are often seen doing missionary trips to evangelize the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Mormon church.
Mormons believe that their founding father Joseph Smith restored the Christian faith. He was believed to have heard from God, prophets and apostles alike. Polygamy is often associated with Mormons because it was practiced by many church members during the 19th century. Today, some Mormons practice polygamy, while others believe that it is wrong in the eyes of God. Polygamy was a common practice in the 19th century by the Latter-Day Saints.
Mormons do read the Holy Bible. However, they also have other religious texts such as The Book of Mormon.
List of Religions:
- African Religions
- New Age Religions
Religious beliefs differ from person to person in any given religion. In every religion, you have some people that believe that doing something is worse than doing something else. For example, in the Christian faith, one member may think that murdering someone is far worse than using bad language. In the eyes of the church, every sin is equal. However, most people choose to suit what works best for them. One might say that eating pork is bad, but not having a job and being lazy is okay if you have someone else to support you.
Religious beliefs tend to change slightly from generation to generation. What people believed in 5,000 years ago is often not a mainstream religion. For instance, our ancestors often worshipped the sun, moon and stars. However, in today’s world, people often don’t worship planets. However, this was a common practice in everyday life for thousands of people.
Freedom of Religion
The first amendment of the United Sates teaches us that congress cannot take away a person’s religious system. In the United States, nobody can tell you what you should believe in. In many countries around the world, such as North Korea can tell you that you cannot worship the God of your choice. The amendment was made so that anyone can come to the United States and worship as they choose. The USA is one of the freest countries in the world where most any kind of worship is tolerated.
Who Was Gautama Siddhartha A.K.A. Buddha?
Who Was Buddha?
The word Buddha means “enlightened one”. People that don’t study Buddhism often believe that Buddha was a God and that people worship him. Buddha is not a God and not considered to be a God by those that follow Buddhism. Buddha lived approximately 2700 years ago. His real name was Siddhartha Gautama.
The life lessons that he learned allowed him to share his knowledge with thousands of people. Today, Buddhism is followed by millions of people. Siddhartha Gautama was called Buddha because he was thought to be enlightened. If you follow Buddhism, it teaches us that we are born into this world with a lot of negativity that comes to us throughout the day. We all have feelings of hate, greed, laughter, anger, fear, jealousy and many more emotions. These are known as “fog” emotions. When someone reaches the stage of Buddha, they are free of these kinds of negative thoughts.
If a person can reach the stage of Buddha in their lifetime, they will not have to be reborn again. Instead, they will go on to a state of Nirvana (complete peace). Buddhist do not believe in a heaven. They believe in a state of being that can be complete nirvana.
Siddhartha Gautama lived in Nepal 25 centuries ago. Growing up he lived a rather sheltered life. His father was a king and was protected by everyday life. He eventually went on to get married. His life remained pretty much the same until he turned around 29 years old.
He never spent time outside of the palace before his 29th birthday. When he finally got out of the palace and went on a carriage ride, he began seeing ordinary people suffering. He saw a sick person, a corpse and an older person. When he saw regular people suffering, he knew inside of his heart that nothing could prevent this from happening to him. He knew that no matter how rich or poor someone was, you could get sick, die and get old.
He started to think more spiritual thoughts when he came across a spiritual man. It gave him the thought to sit under a tree until he found enlightenment. When he did this, he became known as the Buddha.
The Buddha decided to not accept his life anymore. He rejected it and began finding teachers that could help him to become more enlightened. He also did fast that was rather risky. In his heart, he felt that true wisdom could be found only when you are about to die. He wanted to take his body to an almost death like state to become more enlightened. Siddhartha Gautama did this for 6 years and did not find the answers that he was looking for. He grew in frustration and wondered what he was missing. What was he doing wrong?
He once again began to sit under the Bodhi tree and meditate. He decided to sit in this place until he felt more enlightened. Once becoming enlightened, he decided to begin teaching others how to reach this stage. He would go from village to village teaching people about becoming enlightened. He began attracted followers.
Eventually, many of his disciples went on to become teachers themselves. In the teachings of Theravada Buddhism, it is believed that only 1 Buddha can exist. If someone else achieves the stage of enlightenment, they are not called Buddha also. They are instead called perfected one. Only the Buddha can offer teachings.
Many historians believe that Gautama Siddhartha was not the first Buddha since some older historical text point to others having similar enlightenment and teaching.
Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism teach us that we can have many Buddhas in one lifetime. You don’t only need to have one. If you look at Mahayana and Vajrayana art, you will often see multiple Buddhas appearing in ancient artwork.
Different Buddhas Represent Something Different:
Vairocana – Buddha for absolute reality.
Bhaiṣajyaguru – Power of healing Buddha.
Amitabha – Endless light Buddha.
Most men and women in America and other parts of the world think of the only Buddha as being the overweight Buddha that is often seen laughing. This Buddha is known for abundance and happiness.
Religion can be defined as a collection of views, beliefs, and culture shared by a particular group of people who believe and worship the same superhuman. It aims at connecting humanity with spirituality that is associated with the use of certain symbols which point out to a specific religion. It is estimated that there are more than four thousand religions in the world that have their own believers, sacred histories, religious beliefs, traditions, and symbols. Religion tends to make and individual whole as they engage in religious activities with the sole aim of getting favors from the superhuman. Religion is what defines us as human beings as we are affiliated and associated with it for the rest of our lives. Christianity and Islam are the most popular religions in the world since they carry a huge portion of the world’s population. Other religions include Hinduism, Wicca, Zoroastrianism, Sikhism, Polytheism, Atheist, Mormon beliefs, among many others.
This article will shed light on some of the religions practiced in the world with the aim of getting a better understanding.
Christianity is the most followed religion in the world, with over 2 billion followers. Christianity base its teachings and beliefs towards the life of Jesus Christ. Christians believe that God sent His only son to come and save us from sin. Repentance and practicing good rather than evil would guarantee eternity. Christianity encompasses around the birth, life, and death of Jesus Christ. The tool that unites them all is the Holy Bible that Jesus Christ leaves behind to guide and teach the people the art of humankind. Ther are Christian denominations referred to as branches but share a common agenda and beliefs. There are six branches which include Anglicanism, Catholicism, Assyrians, Protestantism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Oriental Orthodoxy. They believe in the second coming of Jesus Christ, who will come for the righteous and those who acknowledge their sins and repent.
It is believed that Islam originated from the Middle East in the early 7th century. It has taken the world by storm to occupy the number two position as the most practiced religion in the world. Some of the most interesting facts about religion are Indonesia boosts as the nation with the highest number of Muslim in the world, which is 13% of the estimated total. The Asia Pacific also has the highest number of Muslims who are at least 62% of the total number. Another interesting fact is that there are two Muslim denominations which are Sunni Muslims who take up to 80% and Shia Muslims take 20% of the whole Muslim population. Islam believes in a prophet sent by Ala called Muhammad, who is said to be the main link between God and His people. Muhammad is also thought to be a teacher who teaches the people of the world the art of humankind. The Holy Quran is used as a tool to pass the good message and teachings to its people.
Defining the word pagan could bring about a lot of meanings, but it can be defined as a nature-oriented belief or religion. Pagans are basically polytheistic in the sense that they are aware of the gods but fail to choose sides. Having a pagan who fails to acknowledge the existence or presence of gods, then it would be right to label them as an atheist. Some people identify themselves as atheistic pagans which some of the religions teach against. However, atheist put their trust in ideologies and theories on secular faiths such as communism, environmentalism, liberalism, among many others. Some forms of atheism include Jain Atheism, Hindu Atheism, Buddhist Atheism, Modern Paranormal Religions, Jewish Atheism, Christian Atheism, Humanistic, Naturalistic Religions, Confucian and Taoist Atheism.
Wicca is a neo-pagan belief system that involves the practice of pre-Christian beliefs and traditions from our ancestors. Some of these traditions and practices originated from Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. The Wiccans cannot be compared to witchcraft, which is done to cause harm or malice. This religious belief aims at reverting to the old traditions, believes and ways of worshiping as our ancestors practiced it before the advent of Christianity. Wicca religion, which is known as The Old Religion, acknowledges nature and everything in it. It views the world as self-sufficient and revers people by referring them to as gods. Wiccan Rede guides the Wiccans which emphasizes on doing things that please the soul and the diety as long as they don’t harm others.
Sikhism has its roots from the Punjab area in India, and it established its roots in the late 15th century. It is monotheistic and aims at reaching the goals of equality and justice for all. This religion is widespread, and it is rated as the world’s ninth-largest region with around 25 million followers mostly living in Punjab. The Guru Granth Sahib is the essential guide to this religion that emphasizes on meditation and faith. It also articulates the need for selfless acts, honest living, and justice to all.
This form of religion is pre-Islamic and is believed to have been founded in the 6th Century B.C. It is also based on both monotheistic and dualistic traits, which has its roots from Parsis who were the Zoroastrian Persian immigrants. The religion has a lower following of estimated 200,000 adherents that may be found in India. The religion believes in a Persian prophet called Zarathustra, who was aged thirty and was believed to have seen vision sent to him by god. They call their god Ahura Mazda whom they view holy and good.
Polytheism is a religion that worships a variety of gods who are known to have different functions for specific reasons. These gods were assigned human characteristics, which helped to distinguish them. This religion is the opposite of the other religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, who are monotheists. This form of religion had its roots in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. These gods took shape and objects associated with nature, such as sacred herbs, animals, and even trees.
Mormon beliefs are a collection of traditional Christian beliefs alongside revised doctrines. In the 1800s, Joseph Smith is believed to have recorded what was said to be divine revelations from God. The Mormons perfectly align with the teachings of Jesus Christ. However, the belief as a Christian is accompanied by distinctive beliefs which set them apart from the pure Christians. Mormons hold similar beliefs with Christians that Jesus is the son of God and the savior of the world.
Why Did Ancient Religions Practice Human Sacrifices and Offerings?
In ancient and present cultures, human sacrifice was a practice. People use human sacrifice as a way to make an offering to a God or other spirit. Many cultures have practiced human sacrifice for different reasons. The humans that were used as a sacrifice were said to be sacrificed in a way that pleased the God that was receiving the offering. Human sacrifice was not the only sacrifices that the God’s liked. Animal sacrifices were known to please the God’s as well.
The majority of countries today consider human sacrifice as murder. Many human and animal sacrifices today are considered to be associated with Satanism. However, many Satanists argue that they do not use humans or animals for sacrifice.
In the ancient civilizations of Japan, burying maidens alive was a form of human sacrifice to keep buildings from collapsing. It was known as Hitobashira. The meaning is human pillar. In China, some people believe that within the walls are remains of people that were buried in the walls.
The Holy Bible taught Yahweh’s children to not practice human sacrifice. God told the Israelites that those that practice human sacrifice were an abomination to him. Many pre-trial societies practiced headhunting. They would cut the heads off of people to produce magic or ceremonial worship.
The Maya were said to practice human sacrifice according to historians. The sacrifices were often performed by their priests. The movie Apocalypto by Mel Gibson was a story about the Mayans and how they used human sacrifice as a way of life. They were shown sacrificing human lives to the Gods. Nobody knows for sure what destroyed the Mayans.
The Incas were known for sacrificing children. The children were sacrificed to the mountain and to other Gods. Many people that are Albinos are sacrificed in modern day Africa. The media has recently published stories on Albinos losing their limbs in parts of Africa or being killed completely for magic. Many witchdoctors believe that they have the power to help people through their body parts.
In India, a couple kidnapped a young child because a “guru” told them that if they sacrificed this child, they would have one of their own. They believed the guru because they could not have a male child of their own. The couple was later arrested.
In Liberia, a commander by the name of Milton Blahyi practiced human sacrifice in order to increase his power. This happened between the years 1979 and 1993. He believed that the devil told him to do this to increase his power. Eventually he turned his life over to Jesus Christ and became a preacher. This happened in 1996. He is currently the president of an organization called End Time Train Evangelistic Ministries. They are located in Liberia.
In Southern Chile, the Mapuche Indians believed that by sacrificing a 5 or 6 year old boy would stop the earthquakes that were happening. This group was from a community called Lago Budi. The police eventually arrested two of the murders and told the cops that they wanted there to be a calmer sea and earth.