Chapter 6: Religion

Where Are Religions Distributed?

Universalizing Religions


  • Has more than 2 billion adherents
  • most widespread distribution
  • predominant religion in North America, South America, Europe, and Australia
  • has 3 major branches: Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox
Roman Catholic-

  • 51% of the worlds Christians,
  • in Europe, Roman Catholicism is dominant in the southwest and east.
  • 93% of Christians are Roman Catholic in Latin America, and 40% in North America, Protestants have 24%

  • 24% of the worlds Christians
  • dominant in the northwest
  • churches have approximately 82 million members

  • 11% of the worlds Christians
  • a collection of 14 self-governing churches in Eastern Europe and the Middle East

Smaller Branches of Christianity:

  • developed independently of the 3 main branches because of differences of doctrine
  • Two small Christian churches survive in northeast Africa, the Coptic Church to Egypt and the Ethiopian Church


  • has 1.3 billion people
  • predominant in Middle East
  • "Islam" in Arabic means "submission to the will of God"
  • Five Pillars of Faith:
  1. There in no god worthy of worship except the one God, the source of all creation, and Muhammad is the messenger of God
  2. Five times daily, a Muslim has to pray, facing the city of Makkah (Mecca), as a direct link of God
  3. A Muslim gives generously to charity as an act of purification and growth
  4. A Muslim fasts diring the month of Ramadan as an act of self-purification
  5. If physically and financially able, a Muslim makes a pilgrimage to Makkah
  • divided into 2 major branches- Sunni and Shiite
  • 83% of Muslims
  • largest branch in most Muslim countries in Middle East and Asia
  • "Sunni" comes from "people following the example of Muhammad"
  • 16% of Muslims
  • 30% live in Iran, 15% live in Pakistan, and 10% live in Iraq
  • compose 90% of population in Iran and more than half in Azerbaijan
  • "Shiite" comes from "sectarian"
Nation of Islam
  • the Muslims who live in the United States
  • founded in Detroit in 1930
  • led by Elijah Muhammad
  • tension between Muhammad and Malcolm X, divided the sect during the 1960's


  • 3rd largest of the worlds major religions
  • Nearly 400 adherents (mainly China and South East Asia)
  • 4 Noble Truths :
  1. All living beings must endure suffering
  2. Suffering, which is caused by a desire to live, leads to reincarnation
  3. The goal of all existence is to escape suffering and the endless cycle of reincarnation into Nirvana ( a state of complete redemption) which is achieved through mental and moral self purification
  4. Nirvana is attained through an Eightfold Path , which includes rightness of belief, resolve, speech, action, livelihood, effort, thought, and meditation.
  • 3 main branches:
  1. Mahayana- about 56% of all Buddhists. Mainly come from China, Japan and Korea
  2. Theravada- about 38% of all Buddhists. Mainly come from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand
  3. Tantrayana- about 6% of all Buddhists. Mainly from Tibet and Mongolia
  • All religious functions are performed by monks
  • Someone can be both Buddhist and believe in other eastern religions
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Other Universalizing Religions

  • Sikhism and Baha'i are the 2 other universalizing religions
  • Approximately 23 million Sikhs and 7 million Baha'i's
  • The majority of sikhs reside in the Punjab region of India and Baha'i's are mostly dispersed throughout Africa and Asia
  • Sikhism's 1st Guru was Nanak and God was revealed to him as "The One Supreme Being" or "Creator, Who Rules the Universe by Divine Will".
- They believe only God is perfect, but people have room for improvement and movement to perfection by taking individual responsibility for deeds and their actions on earth.
- Their most important ceremony was by Gobind Singh and that is Amrit, which basically means baptism, where they declare they'll uphold principles in faith.
- They wore turbans on their heads and never cut their beards/ hair. The uniform gave discipline and unity.
  • Baha'i grew out of Babi faith (Bab is Persian for 'gateway') and believe Husayn' Ali (One of Bab's disciples) was a messenger of God.
- Their main goal was to overcome disunity of religions and establish a universal faith.
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Sikhs ^
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Baha'i daily prayer ^

Ethnic Religions


  • Largest Ethnic Religion
  • 97% of Hindus are concentrated in Indina and Nepal
  • Doesn't have a set rule of how to practice or rigid approach to theology; An individual and thier relationship with his/her God is a personal relationship that no other can decide
  • Ways to worship God:
  1. Path of Knowledge
  2. Path of Renunciation
  3. Path of Devotion
  4. Path of Action
  • Vaishnavism: Worship Vishu-God incarnated as Krishna
  • Sivaism: Worships Siva-A protective and destructive God
  • Shaktism: Dedicated to the female form of Vishu and Siva
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Other Ethnic Religions


  • Teachings of Confucius (551-479 B.C.)
  • Emphasis on the importance of the ancient Chinese tradition of li, (correct behavior)
  • Special importance in China
  • Confucianism encompasses ethical principles for the orderly conduct of daily life in China; i.e. .fulfilling obligations, treating others with sympathy and respect

  • Teachings of Lao-Zi (604-531 B.C.)
  • Emphasized the mystical and magical aspects of life rather than the importance of public service
  • Daoists seek Dao, which is the virtuous and right path
  • Avoidance of daily activities and introspection can a person live in harmony with the principles that underlie and govern the universe
  • The religion splits into various sects, some are part of secret societies
  • Communists that took control of china in 1949 banned the religion

  • Ethnic religion of Japan
  • Consider the forces of nature to be divine, especially the sun, moon, rivers, trees, rocks, mountains and certain animals
  • Considered a political cult after the reign of Emperor Meiji (1861-1912) where he used the religion to call himself divine

  • 14 million Jews in the U.S., 1/3 in Israel and 1/3 in the rest of the world
  • considered an ethnic religion as it is based in the lands bordering the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, Canaan.
  • First recorded religion to espouse monotheism
  • Traces origines back to Abraham and his sons, including Judah

  • Animism: belief that inanimate objects such as plants and stones, and natural events such as thunderstorms are "animated" or have discrete spirits and conscious life
  • No holy books or other written documents
  • orally passed to next generation
  • Major concentration of animists in Botswana
  • The number of followers rapidly declines as Christian and Islamic religions grow in Africa

Many Christian Africans Convert To ISLAM in South Africa