The World's Religions Introduced
Since the dawn of mankind, humans have sought answers relating to their place and purpose in the universe. Religion is a result of this longing. The world is full of diverse religious groups.
Christianity is the world's largest religion. The three main groups in the Christian faith are Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox and Protestantism. The central text of Christianity is the holy bible, which is divided into the old and new testament. Nearly all offshoots of Christianity are predicated on the belief that a figure named Jesus was crucified and that his death represented the salvation of his followers. The life of Christ is considered to be the fruition of prophecies outlined in the old testament. The followers of Christianity have moral guidelines that vary between denominations.
Judaism is a worldwide faith. Followers of Judaism are called Jews. The majority of Jewish people live in the United States and Israel. The central text of the Jewish faith is the Tanakh. Jewish people believe in a set of laws called the Halakha. Several other texts have defined the various forms of Judaic belief over the centuries. Different branches of Judaism exist, including, Reform Judaism, Orthodox Judaism and Conservative Judaism. Jewish people have suffered persecution over the centuries. During World War II, Jews were persecuted at the hands of Nazis. After the holocaust, the nation of Israel was formed, which many people believe to be the sacred land of the Jews.
Islam is the world's second largest religion. Followers of Islam are called Muslims. Islam is a monotheistic faith. The Qur'an is the holy book the Islamic faith. Muslims believe the Qur'an to be the true word of God. The Qur'an outlines the life and teachings of a series of prophets leading to Muhammad, whom Muslims consider to be the final prophet. The two main groups within Islam are Sunni and Shia. The main disagreement between Sunnis and Shiites throughout history has been the dissemination of religious power. Shia Muslims believe that religious power should be passed through familial bloodlines. Sunnis believe that leaders should be elected regardless of lineage.
Buddhism is one of the world's most ancient religions. The followers of Buddhism are called Buddhists. Buddhists believe in the teachings of the Buddha, who was believed to be a prince named Siddh?rtha Gautama. It is believed that Siddh?rtha forsook his worldly wealth to attain enlightenment and become the Buddha, or the "enlightened one". The Buddha taught that the basis of life is suffering. Based on this assertion, the teachings of the Buddha exemplify a series of actions meant to end suffering and bring enlightenment to his followers. Buddhism is often considered a philosophy as well as a religion. Buddhism is well established throughout Asia. Over the last century, Buddhism has also formed a large following throughout the West.
Hinduism is India's most predominant religion and the third largest religion in the world. Hinduism is interesting in that is often considered to be both monotheistic and polytheistic. There are several gods in the Hindu faith, though Hindus often consider these gods to be emanations of a single god. Due to the diversity and population of India and its surrounding regions, there are many localized beliefs within the Hindu faith. Hindus believe in reincarnation. Hindus also believe in karmic laws which exemplify a belief in absolute universal justice.
Sikhism is another religion based in India. Sikhs believe in the teachings of a series of Gurus beginning with Guru Nanak Dev Ji. The central text of Sikhism is the Gur? Granth S?hib, which translates to "the first volume". Sikhism is a monotheistic religion. Sikhism promotes justice, equality and the pursuit of truth. Males and females are considered equal in Sikhism.
Paganism is both ancient and new in religious terms. In the twentieth century, the term "Pagan" was reappropriated by various groups claiming to represent ancient and/or invented belief systems. Some Pagans choose a traditionalist or indigenous view of their faith. Other Pagans prefer to arrange their beliefs in an eclectic manner, adapting morality, spells and deities from various worldwide faiths. Pagans practice as individuals and groups. There are no strict rules constituting Pagan spiritual practices, however, many Pagans are polytheists and worship nature.
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