Rushmore Teacher Guide to World Religions

Each culture in the world has a form of religion or worship which makes up a large part of the social order. Beliefs, methods and manner in which people worship varies from country to country.

The top eight major religions (with the number of people who follow that particular set of beliefs) are:

1. Christianity (1,900,000,000 - 2,100,000,000)

2. Islam (1,300,000,000 - 1,571,000,000)

3. Hinduism 828,000,000 - 1,000,000,000)

4. Disaporic/Deism (500,000,000)

5. Buddhism (400,000,000-500,000,000)

6. Shinto (20,000,000 - 120,000,000)

7. Sikhism (20,000,000 - 24,000,000)

8. Judaism (20,000,000 - 24,000,000)

Christianity- Christianity follows the belief in Jesus as the messiah as outlined in the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament). Christianity is divided into several denominations (or divisions). Each denomination practices Christianity in distinct ways. Each denomination has its own interpretation of the Bible. Some of the Christian denominations include:

  1. Baptist
  2. Lutheran
  3. Protestant
  4. Greek Orthodox
  5. Episcopalian

Christianity is practiced throughout the world.

Islam- Islam is one of the fastest growing bodies of religion in the world. Followers of Islam (Muslims) adhere to the practices outlined in the Qur'an. The Qur'an contains the teaching of Allah as told by the prophet Mohammed. The Qur'an also mentions two of the more prominent world religions as "The People of the Book." These are Judaism and Christianity. As with Christianity, Islam has different denominations. These include:

  1. Sunni
  2. Shi'a
  3. Sufism

Like Christianity, Islam is practiced in all areas of the world.

Hinduism - Hinduism is the predominant religion of South Asia. Adherents to Hinduism follow the Vedic traditions. Hinduism is divided into six divisions called darshanas. The main Hindi divisions include:

  1. Vaishnavism
  2. Shaivism
  3. Smartism
  4. Shaktism

Hindus believe in the traditions of karma and social norms.

Disaporic/Deism - Diasporic or Deism is a folk religion that believes in the power of objects such as amulets, texts, or any object that is blessed or infused with power. This form of religion is most often practiced in African or Asia. There are some adherents to Disaporic or Deism in the American countries as well.

Buddhism - Buddhism is the practice of the teachings of Buddha. The teachings of Buddhism are designed to help adherents on the path to liberation. There are two main branches of Buddhism: Theravada and Mahayana. Buddhism is most common in Southeast Asia.

Shinto - Shinto is the predominant religious practice among the Japanese. Shinto teaches that everything on earth contains a spirit (kami) and that all these spirits are connected. There are five major types of Shinto:

  1. Shrine Shinto
  2. Imperial Shinto
  3. Folk Shinto
  4. Sect Shinto
  5. Koshinto

Sikhism - Sikhism is based on the principles called the Gurmat (the counsel of the gurus). Sikhism teaches that salvation can be obtained through disciplined, personal meditation. Sikhism is one of the religions practices of the Indian continent.

Judaism - Judaism is the religions of the Jewish people. The teachings of Judaism are found in the Torah and teachings of Judaism can also be found in the Old Testament of the Christian faiths. Judaism is the primary religion of Israel; however, Jewish people are found in many sections of the world. The different ethnic groups of Judaism include:

  1. Ashkenazi Jews
  2. Hasidic Jews
  3. Beta Israel
  4. Yemenite Jews

Other world religions include:

1. Baha'I Faith 2. Jainism 3. Cheondoism 4. Wiccan 5. Taoism 6. Confucianism

All cultures have their own religious beliefs and practices. Most religions are based on centuries-old traditions. The beliefs of some major world religions overlap. As individuals move from traditional areas, they take their religious beliefs with them creating a diverse world religious climate.

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