A compiled list of religions from around the world
Referenced from Wikipedia http://www.wikipedia.org
Aladura – “Owners of Prayer”, religious movement among the Yoruba peoples of western Nigeria, embracing some of the independent prophet-healing churches of West Africa. The movement, which in the early 1970s had several hundred thousand adherents, began about 1918 among the younger elite in the well-established Christian community. They were dissatisfied with Western religious forms and lack of spiritual power and were influenced by literature from the small U.S. divine-healing Faith Tabernacle Church of Philadelphia. The 1918 world influenza epidemic precipitated the formation of a prayer group of Anglican laymen at Ijebu-Ode, Nigeria; the group emphasized divine healing, prayer protection, and a puritanical moral code. By 1922 divergences from Anglican practice forced the separation of a group that became known as the Faith Tabernacle, with several small congregations.
Amish – are a group of traditionalist Christian church fellowships, closely related to but distinct from Mennonite churches, with which they share Swiss Anabaptist origins. The Amish are known for simple living, plain dress, and reluctance to adopt many conveniences of modern technology. The history of the Amish church began with a schism in Switzerland within a group of Swiss and Alsatian Anabaptists in 1693 led by Jakob Ammann. Those who followed Ammann became known as Amish
Anglicanism – is a tradition within Christianity comprising the Church of England and churches which are historically tied to it or have similar beliefs, worship practices and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a Medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English Church. Adherents of Anglicanism are called Anglicans. The great majority of Anglicans are members of churches which are part of the international Anglican Communion. There are, however, a number of churches outside of the Anglican Communion which also consider themselves to be Anglican, most notably those referred to as Continuing Anglican churches and those which are part of the Anglican realignment movement.
Asatru – is a form of Germanic Neopaganism which developed in the United States from the 1970s. It focuses on historical Norse paganism of the Viking Age as described in the Eddas, but proponents also take a more inclusive approach, defining it as “Northern European Heathenry” not limited to a specific historical period
Baha’i Faith – is a monotheistic religion emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. Three core principles establish a basis for Baha’i teachings and doctrine: the unity of God, that there is only one God who is the source of all creation; the unity of religion, that all major religions have the same spiritual source and come from the same God; and the unity of humanity, that all humans have been created equal, and that diversity of race and culture are seen as worthy of appreciation and acceptance. According to the Baha’i Faith’s teachings, the human purpose is to learn to know and love God through such methods as prayer, reflection and being of service to humanity.
Baptist – are individuals who comprise a group of denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers (believer’s baptism, as opposed to infant baptism), and that it must be done by complete immersion (as opposed to effusion or sprinkling). Other tenets of Baptist churches include soul competency (liberty), salvation through faith alone, Scripture alone as the rule of faith and practice, and the autonomy of the local congregation. Baptists recognize two ministerial offices, pastors and deacons. Baptist churches are widely considered to be Protestant churches, though some Baptists disavow this identity. Diverse from their beginning, those identifying as Baptists today differ widely from one another in what they believe, how they worship, their attitudes toward other Christians, and their understanding of what is important in Christian discipleship.
Bon – is the term for the Tibetan religious tradition or sect, being distinct from Buddhist ones in its particular teachings and myths, although its terminology and rituals are largely (or partly) borrowed from Tibetan Buddhism. It arose in the eleventh century upward and established its scriptures mainly from terms and visions by tertöns such as Loden Nyingpo. Though Bon terma contain myths of Bon existing before the introduction of Buddhism in Tibet, “in truth the ‘old religion’ was a new religion.
Buddhism – is a nontheistic religion that encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, who is commonly known as the Buddha, meaning “the awakened one”. According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha lived and taught in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE. He is recognized by Buddhists as an awakened or enlightened teacher who shared his insights to help sentient beings end their suffering through the elimination of ignorance and craving by way of understanding and the seeing of Dependent Origination and the Four Noble Truths, with the ultimate goal of attainment of the sublime state of Nirvana.
Candomble – is an African-Brazilian religion has around two million followers. It is a syncretic religion, meaning that it is a combination of various beliefs. At the core of the religion are the traditional African beliefs of Yoruba, Fon and Bantu. Candomble also has elements of Christianity, particularly of Catholicism. Candomble means “dance in honor of the gods.” Accordingly, dance and music play important roles in the religion. At the center of Candomble is God or Oludumare. Deities called orixas serve Oludumare. Candomble does not have any holy scriptures.
Cao Dai – is a syncretist Vietnamese religious movement with a strongly nationalist political character. Cao Dai draws upon ethical precepts from Confucianism, occult practices from Taoism, theories of karma and rebirth from Buddhism, and a hierarchical organization (including a pope) from Roman Catholicism. Its pantheon of saints includes such diverse figures as the Buddha, Confucius, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Pericles, Julius Caesar, Joan of Arc, Victor Hugo, and Sun Yat-sen.
Catholicism – is used as a broad term for describing specific traditions in the Christian churches in theology, doctrine, liturgy, ethics, and spirituality. In this sense, it is to be distinguished from the sense in which it denotes Christians and churches, western and eastern, that are in full communion with the Holy See, and that are commonly called the Catholic Church or Roman Catholic Church. In the sense of indicating historical continuity of faith and practice from the first millennium, the term “Catholicism” is at times employed to mark a contrast to Protestantism, which tends to look solely to the Bible as interpreted on the principles of the 16th-century Protestant Reformation as its ultimate standard. It was thus used by the Oxford movement.
Chinese Religion – China has long been a cradle and host to a variety of the most enduring religion-philosophical traditions of the world. Confucianism and Taoism, plus Buddhism, constitute the “three teachings”, philosophical frameworks which historically have had a significant role in shaping Chinese culture. Elements of these three belief systems are often incorporated into the traditional folk religions. Chinese religions are family-oriented and do not demand exclusive adherence, allowing the practice or belief of several at the same time. Some scholars prefer not to use the term “religion” in reference to belief systems in China, and suggest “cultural practices”, “thought systems” or “philosophies” as more appropriate terms. There is a stimulating debate over what to call religion and who should be called religious in China. The emperors of China claimed the Mandate of Heaven and participated in Chinese religious practices. Since 1949, China has been governed by the Communist Party of China, an atheist organization, which regulates the practice of religion in mainland China. It presently formally and institutionally recognizes five religions in China: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Protestantism, and Catholicism (though despite historic links, the Party enforces a separation of the Chinese Catholic Church from the Roman Catholic Church).
Chopra Center – founded in 1996 by Deepak Chopra, M.D. and David Simon, M.D., is the premier provider of experiences, education, teacher trainings and products that improve the health and wellbeing of body, mind and spirit. We provide an integrative approach to total wellbeing through self-awareness, and the practice of yoga, meditation and Ayurveda. The consciousness based teachings of Vedic science, as translated by our founders, coupled with cutting edge research and modern western medicine, serve as the foundation for Chopra Center teachings. We collaborate with visionaries, scientists, pioneers, physicians and industry experts to educate and inspire seekers from around the globe to better their lives and the lives of those around them.
Christianity – is an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and oral teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the New Testament. Christianity is the world’s largest religion, with approximately 2.2 billion adherents, known as Christians. Most Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God, fully divine and fully human, and the savior of humanity whose coming was prophesied in the Old Testament. Consequently, Christians refer to Jesus as Christ or the Messiah.
Christian Science – is a set of beliefs and practices belonging to the metaphysical family of new religious movements. It was developed in 19th-century New England by Mary Baker Eddy (1821–1910), who argued in her book Science and Health (1875) that sickness is an illusion that can be corrected by prayer alone. The book became Christian Science’s central text, along with the Bible, and by 2001 had sold ten million copies in 16 languages
Confucianism – the ethical teachings formulated by Confucius and introduced into Chinese religion, emphasizing devotion to parents, family, and friends, cultivation of the mind, self-control, and just social activity
Conservative Judaism – (also known as Masorti Judaism outside of the United States and Canada) is a modern stream of Ashkenazi Judaism that arose out of intellectual currents in Germany in the mid-19th century and took institutional form in the United States in the early 1900s.
Conservative Judaism has its roots in the school of thought known as Positive-Historical Judaism, developed in 1850s Germany as a reaction to the more liberal religious positions taken by Reform Judaism and put into practice from the 1840s in the Frankfurt and Berlin reform congregations. The term conservative was meant to signify that Jews should attempt to conserve Jewish tradition, rather than reform or abandon it, and does not imply the movement’s adherents are politically conservative. In many countries outside the United States and Canada, including Israel and the UK, it is today known as Masorti Judaism (Hebrew for “Traditional”).
Divine Science – is a religious movement within the wider New Thought movement. The group was formalized in San Francisco in the 1880s under Malinda Cramer. “In March 1888 Cramer and her husband Frank chartered the ‘Home College of Spiritual Science.’ Two months later Cramer changed the name of her school to the ‘Home College of Divine Science, during the dramatic growth of the New Thought Movement in the United States.
Eckankar – is a religious movement founded by Paul Twitchell in 1965. The personal experience of the “Light and Sound of God” is one of the aims of the many spiritual exercises that are delineated in the numerous books available to the general public as well as in the discourses accessible to members only. Eckankar followers believe it provides an individual spiritual path to an understanding of self as eternal Soul and the development of higher states of consciousness. Followers of Eckankar commonly refer to themselves as “Eckists”.
Epicureanism – is a system of philosophy based upon the teachings of the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus, founded around 307 BC. Epicurus was an atomic materialist, following in the steps of Democritus. His materialism led him to a general attack on superstition and divine intervention. Following Aristippus—about whom very little is known—Epicurus believed that what he called “pleasure” is the greatest good, but the way to attain such pleasure is to live modestly and to gain knowledge of the workings of the world and the limits of one’s desires. This led one to attain a state of tranquility (ataraxia) and freedom from fear, as well as absence of bodily pain (aponia). The combination of these two states is supposed to constitute happiness in its highest form. Although Epicureanism is a form of hedonism, insofar as it declares pleasure to be the sole intrinsic good, its conception of absence of pain as the greatest pleasure and its advocacy of a simple life make it different from “hedonism” as it is commonly understood.
Episcopalianism – An episcopal church has bishops in its organizational structure which is called Episcopal polity.
Falun Gong – is a Chinese spiritual discipline that combines meditation and qigong exercises with a moral philosophy centered on the tenets of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance. The practice emphasizes morality and the cultivation of virtue, and identifies as a qigong practice of the Buddhist school, though its teachings also incorporate elements drawn from Taoist traditions. Through moral rectitude and the practice of meditation, practitioners of Falun Gong aspire to better health and, ultimately, spiritual enlightenment.
Germanic Heathenism – also known as Heathenry, Ásatrú, Odinism, Forn Siðr, Wotanism, Theodism, and other names, is the contemporary revival of historical polytheistic Germanic paganism. Dedicated to the ancient gods and goddesses of the North, the focus of Germanic Neopaganism varies considerably, from strictly historical polytheistic reconstructionism to syncretist (eclectic), Jungian, occult or mysticist approaches. Germanic neopagan organizations cover a wide spectrum of belief and ideals. Much of Germanic Neopaganism’s origins are in 19th century romanticism, as the aboriginal cultures of Northern Europe came to be glorified. In the early 20th century, organized groups emerged in Germany and Austria. In the 1970s, new Germanic Neopagan organizations grew up in Europe and North America, although a broad division in the movement emerged between the folkish movement, who saw it as the indigenous religion of the Nordic peoples, and the universalist movement, who opposed strictly racialist interpretations. As present, established Germanic Pagan communities exist in Europe, North America, South America, and Australasia. A few adherents can even be found in South Africa.
Germanic paganism – refers to the theology and religious practices of the Germanic peoples from the Iron Age until their Christianization during the Medieval period. It has been described as being “a system of interlocking and closely interrelated religious worldviews and practices rather than as one indivisible religion” and as such consisted of “individual worshippers, family traditions and regional cults within a broadly consistent framework”. Germanic paganism took various forms in different areas of the Germanic world. The best documented version was that of 10th and 11th century Norse religion, although other information can be found from Anglo-Saxon and Continental Germanic sources. Scattered references are also found in the earliest writings of other Germanic peoples and Roman descriptions. The information can be supplemented with archaeological finds and remnants of pre-Christian beliefs in later folklore.
Greco-Roman Religion – is an umbrella term used to refer to many religious traditions practiced within the Roman Empire and eventually syncretized and assimilated into something resembling a complex whole. It originated largely in the pre-existing mythology of ancient Greece, which was appropriated by the Romans into their own religious practices. In its latter years, when it competed with Christianity, it was referred to by followers of that religion as paganism.
Hare Krishna (ISKCON) – known colloquially as the Hare Krishna movement or Hare Krishna’s, is a Gaudiya Vaishnava religious organization. It was founded in 1966 in New York City by A. C. Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada. Its core beliefs are based on select traditional Hindu scriptures, particularly the Bhagavad-gītā and the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. ISKCON is an authorized branch that claims to be a direct descendant of Brahma-Madhva-Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya. The appearance of the movement and its culture come from the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition, which has had adherents in India since the late 15th century and Western converts since the early 1900s in America, and in England in the 1930s.
ISKCON was formed to spread the practice of bhakti yoga, in which those involved (bhaktas) dedicate their thoughts and actions towards pleasing the Supreme Lord, Krishna. ISKCON today is a worldwide confederation of more than 550 centers, including 60 farm communities, some aiming for self-sufficiency, 50 schools and 90 restaurants. In recent decades the movement’s most rapid expansions in terms of numbers of membership have been within Eastern Europe (especially since the collapse of the Soviet Union) and India.
Hasidic Judaism – is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality through the popularization and internalization of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspect of the faith. It was founded in 18th-century Eastern Europe by Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov as a reaction against overly legalistic Judaism. His example began the characteristic veneration of leadership in Hasidism as embodiments and intercessors of Divinity for the followers. Contrary to this, Hasidic teachings cherished the sincerity and concealed holiness of the unlettered common folk, and their equality with the scholarly elite. The emphasis on the Immanent Divine presence in everything gave new value to prayer and deeds of kindness, alongside rabbinical supremacy of study, and replaced historical mystical (Kabbalistic) and ethical (musar) asceticism and admonishment with Simcha, encouragement, and daily fervor. This populist emotional revival accompanied the elite ideal of nullification to paradoxical Divine Panentheism, through intellectual articulation of inner dimensions of mystical thought
Hellenic Reconstructionism – The Hellenic religion is a traditional religion and way of life, revolving around the Greek Gods, primarily focused on the Twelve Olympians, and embracing ancient Hellenic values and virtues.
Hinduism – is the dominant religion of the Indian subcontinent, and consists of many diverse traditions. It includes Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism among numerous other traditions, and a wide spectrum of laws and prescriptions of “daily morality” based on karma, dharma, and societal norms. Hinduism is a categorization of distinct intellectual or philosophical points of view, rather than a rigid, common set of beliefs. Hinduism has been called the “oldest religion” in the world, and some practitioners refer to it as Sanatana Dharma, “the eternal law” or the “eternal way” beyond human origins. It prescribes the “eternal” duties all Hindus have to follow, regardless of class, caste, or sect, such as honesty, purity, and self-restraint.
Islam – is a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion articulated by the Qur’an, a book considered by its adherents to be the verbatim word of God and by the teachings and normative example (called the Sunnah and composed of hadith) of Muhammad, considered by them to be the last prophet of God. An adherent of Islam is called a Muslim.
Jainism – traditionally known as Jaina Shasana or Jaina dharma is a nontheistic Indian religion that prescribes a path of ahimsa – nonviolence – towards all living beings, and emphasizes spiritual independence and equality between all forms of life. Practitioners believe that nonviolence and self-control are the means by which they can obtain liberation. Currently Jainism is divided into two major sects, Śvētāmbara and Digambara.
Jehovah’s Witnesses – is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. According to August 2013 organizational statistics published in the 2014 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, worldwide membership exceeded 7.9 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance exceeded 14 million, and annual Memorial attendance exceeded 19.2 million. Jehovah’s Witnesses are directed by the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a group of elders in Brooklyn, New York, which establishes all doctrines based on its interpretations of the Bible; they prefer to use their own translation, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. They believe that the destruction of the present world system at Armageddon is imminent, and that the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth is the only solution for all problems faced by humanity
Judaism – is the religion, philosophy, and way of life of the Jewish people. Judaism is a monotheistic religion, with the Torah as its foundational text and supplemental oral tradition represented by later texts such as the Midrash and the Talmud. Judaism is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenantal relationship that God established with the Children of Israel.
Kemetic Reconstructionism – is the contemporary revival of Ancient Egyptian religion emerging from the 1970s onwards. Followers call themselves Kemetic. Also known as Egyptian Neopaganism, the religion has an organized presence in the United States, France and the Czech Republic. There are several main groups, each of which takes a different approach to their beliefs, ranging from eclectic to reconstructionistic. However, all of these can be identified as belonging to three strains: traditional “Orthodox” Kemetism (adopting a philological approach, also Kemetic Orthodoxy), Black Kemetism (emerged amongst black people in the United States and France, and related to afrocentric ideologies), and Neo-Atenism.
Lutheranism – is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German monk and theologian. Luther’s efforts to reform the theology and practice of the Roman Catholic Church launched the Protestant Reformation in German-speaking territories of the Holy Roman Empire. Beginning with the 95 Theses, first published in 1517, Luther’s writings were disseminated internationally, spreading the early ideas of the Reformation beyond the influence and control of the Roman Catholic Curia and the Holy Roman Emperor. The split between the Lutherans and the Roman Catholics was made clear and open with the 1521 Edict of Worms: the edicts of the Diet condemned Luther and officially outlawed citizens of the Holy Roman Empire from defending or propagating his ideas, subjecting advocates of Lutheranism to forfeiture of all property, specifying half of any seized property forfeit to the Imperial government and the remaining half forfeit to the party who brought the accusation. The divide primarily centered over the doctrine of Justification.
Mahayana Buddhism – is one of the three main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice. According to the teachings of Mahāyāna traditions, “Mahāyāna” also refers to the path of the Bodhisattva seeking complete enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings, also called “Bodhisattva Yana”, or the “Bodhisattva Vehicle.” A bodhisattva who has accomplished this goal is called a samyaksaṃbuddha, or “fully enlightened Buddha.” A samyaksaṃbuddha can establish the Dharma and lead disciples to enlightenment.
Mayan Religion – The traditional Maya religion of Guatemala, Belize, western Honduras, and the Tabasco, Chiapas, and Yucatán regions of Mexico is a southeastern variant of Mesoamerican religion. As is the case with many other contemporary Mesoamerican religions, it results from centuries of symbiosis with Roman Catholicism. When its pre-Spanish antecedents are taken into account, however, traditional Maya religion already exists for more than two millennia as a recognizably distinct phenomenon. Before the advent of Christianity, it was spread over many indigenous kingdoms, all with their own local traditions. Today, it coexists and interacts with pan-Mayan syncretism, the’re-invention of tradition’ by the Pan-Maya movement, and Christianity in its various denominations.
Mithraism – were a mystery religion practiced in the Roman Empire from about the 1st to 4th centuries AD. The name of the Persian god Mithra (proto-Indo-Iranian Mitra), adapted into Greek as Mithras, was linked to a new and distinctive imagery. Writers of the Roman Empire period referred to this mystery religion by phrases which can be anglicized as Mysteries of Mithras or Mysteries of the Persians; modern historians refer to it as Mithraism, or sometimes Roman Mithraism. The mysteries were popular in the Roman military.
Mormonism (LDS) – is the predominant religious tradition of the Latter Day Saint movement of Restorationist Christianity. This movement was founded by Joseph Smith, Jr., in the 1820s. During the 1830s and 1840s, Mormonism gradually distinguished itself from traditional Protestantism. Mormonism today represents the new, non-Protestant faith taught by Smith in the 1840s. After Smith’s death, most Mormons followed Brigham Young west, calling themselves The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Other variations of Mormonism include Mormon fundamentalism, which seeks to maintain practices and doctrines such as polygamy that were abandoned by the LDS Church, and various other small independent denominations.
Neopaganism – also known as contemporary paganism, and Neopaganism, is a group of contemporary religious movements influenced by or claiming to be derived from the various historical pagan beliefs of pre-modern Europe. Although they do share commonalities, contemporary Pagan religious movements are diverse and no single set of beliefs, practices, or texts are shared by them all. “Contemporary Paganism” as practiced in the United States in the 1990s has been described as “a synthesis of historical inspiration and present-day creativity”, Adherents rely on pre-Christian, folkloric and ethnographic sources to a variety of degrees; many follow a spirituality which they accept is entirely modern, whilst others attempt to reconstruct or revive indigenous, ethnic religions as found in historical and folkloric sources as accurately as possible. Polytheism, animism, and pantheism are common features in Pagan theology.
New Thought – is a spiritual movement, sometimes classed as a Christian denomination, which developed in the United States in the 19th century, following the teachings of Phineas Quimby. The three major organizations within New Thought movement today are Religious Science, Unity Church and the Church of Divine Science, with an estimated number of some 1,500,000 adherents in the United States between them. There are numerous smaller groups, most of which are incorporated in the International New Thought Alliance
Nichiren Buddhism – is a branch of Buddhism based on the teachings of the 13th century Japanese monk Nichiren (1222–1282). Nichiren Buddhism is generally noted for its focus on the Lotus Sutra and an attendant belief that all people have an innate Buddha nature and are therefore inherently capable of attaining enlightenment in their current form and present lifetime. It is also notable for its hard-liner opposition to any other form of Buddhism, which Nichiren saw as deviating from the Buddhist truth he had discovered. Nichiren Buddhism is a comprehensive term covering several major schools and many sub-schools, as well as several of Japan’s new religions. Its many denominations have in common a strong focus on the chanting and recital of the Lotus Sutra, which is thought to hold “extraordinary power”.
Occult – is “knowledge of the hidden”. In common English usage, occult refers to “knowledge of the paranormal”, as opposed to “knowledge of the measurable”, usually referred to as science. The term is sometimes taken to mean knowledge that “is meant only for certain people” or that “must be kept hidden”, but for most practicing occultists it is simply the study of a deeper spiritual reality that extends beyond pure reason and the physical sciences. The terms esoteric and arcane have very similar meanings, and in most contexts the three terms are interchangeable. It also describes a number of magical organizations or orders, the teachings and practices taught by them, and to a large body of current and historical literature and spiritual philosophy related to this subject.
Orthodox Christianity – is a collective term for the Eastern Orthodox Church and Oriental Orthodoxy. Each of these two branches of Christianity uses the term “orthodoxy” (from Greek: orthos + doxa, meaning correct belief) to express its belief that it has an unbroken connection to the faith, doctrine and practices of the ancient Christian church. The adjectives “Eastern” and “Oriental” are used by outsiders to differentiate the two groups; the adherents of each group call their own group simply “Orthodox Christians”. The two groups have been divided by their disagreements over the nature of Christ since the 5th century, and they are currently not in communion with each other, but they maintain many identical doctrines, similar Church structures, and similar worship practices. There have been a number of recent talks aimed at reunification, and a great deal of agreement has been reached, but no concrete steps have been taken towards formal unity as yet.
Orthodox Judaism – is the approach to religious Judaism which adheres to the interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Tanaim and Amoraim and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and Acharonim. Orthodox Judaism generally includes Modern Orthodox Judaism and ultra-orthodox or Haredi Judaism, but complete within is a wide range of philosophies. Orthodox Judaism is a modern self-conscious identification that, for some, distinguishes it from traditional premodern Judaism, although it was the mainstream expression of Judaism prior to the 19th century.
Presbyterianism – is a branch of Reformed Protestantism which traces its origins to the British Isles. Presbyterian churches derive their name from the Presbyterian form of church government, which is government by representative assemblies of elders. Many Reformed churches are organized this way, but the word “Presbyterian,” when capitalized, is often applied uniquely to the churches that trace their roots to the Scottish and English churches that bore that name and English political groups that formed during the English Civil War. Presbyterian theology typically emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures, and the necessity of grace through faith in Christ. Presbyterian church government was ensured in Scotland by the Acts of Union in 1707 which created the kingdom of Great Britain. In fact, most Presbyterians found in England can trace a Scottish connection, and the Presbyterian denomination was also taken to North America mostly by Scots and Scots-Irish (Scotch-Irish American) immigrants. The Presbyterian denominations in Scotland hold to the theology of John Calvin and his immediate successors, although there is a range of theological views within contemporary Presbyterianism.
Protestantism – is the form of Christian faith and practice that originated with the Protestant Reformation. The Reformation was a movement against what Protestants considered to be the errors of the Roman Catholic Church. It is one of the largest divisions of Christianity; along with Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. The term refers to the letter of protestation by Lutheran princes in 1529 against an edict condemning the teachings of Martin Luther as heresy.
Pure Land Buddhism – in English, is a broad branch of Mahāyāna Buddhism and one of the most widely practiced traditions of Buddhism in East Asia. Pure Land is a tradition of Buddhist teachings that are focused on Amitabh Buddha.
Quakers – are members of a family of religious movements collectively known as the Religious Society of Friends. The central unifying doctrine of these movements is the priesthood of all believers, a doctrine derived from a verse in the New Testament, 1 Peter 2:9. Most Friends view themselves as members of a Christian denomination. They include those with evangelical, holiness, liberal, and traditional conservative Quaker understandings of Christianity. Unlike many other groups that emerged within Christianity, the Religious Society of Friends has actively tried to avoid creeds and hierarchical structures. In 2007 there were approximately 359,000 adult members of Quaker meetings in the world.
Rastafari – is an Ethiopian-Hebrew spirituality that arose in the 1930s in the Americas and became popular in Jamaica. It is sometimes described as a religion but is considered by many adherents to be a “Way of Life”. Its adherents worship Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia (ruled 1930–1974), some as Jesus in his Second Advent, or as God the Father. Members of the Rastafari way of life are known as Rastas, or the Rastafari. The way of life is sometimes referred to as “Rastafarianism”, but this term is considered derogatory and offensive by most Rastafari, who, being highly critical of “isms” (which they see as a typical part of “Babylon culture”); dislike being labelled as an “ism” themselves.
Religious Science – was established in 1927 by Ernest Holmes (1887–1960) and is a spiritual, philosophical and metaphysical religious movement within the New Thought movement. In general, the term “Science of Mind” applies to the teachings, while the term “Religious Science” applies to the organizations. However, adherents often use the terms interchangeably.
Satanism – is a broad group of social movements comprising diverse ideological and philosophical beliefs. Their shared features include symbolic association with or admiration for Satan, who Satanists see as a liberating figure. It was estimated that there were 50,000 Satanists in 1990. There may be as many as one hundred thousand Satanists in the world. Particularly after the European Enlightenment, some works, such as Paradise Lost, were taken up by Romantics and described as presenting the biblical Satan as an allegory representing a crisis of faith, individualism, free will, wisdom and enlightenment. Those works actually featuring Satan as a heroic character are fewer in number, but do exist; George Bernard Shaw, and Mark Twain included such characterizations in their works long before religious Satanists took up the pen. From then on, Satan and Satanism started to gain a new meaning outside of Christianity. Although the public practice of Satanism began with the founding of The Church of Satan in 1966, historical precedents exist: a group called the Ophite Cultus Satanas was founded in Ohio by Herbert Arthur Sloane in 1948. Satanist groups that appeared after the 1960s are widely diverse, but two major trends are theistic Satanism and atheistic Satanism. Theistic Satanists venerate Satan as a supernatural deity, viewing him not as omnipotent but rather as a patriarch. In contrast, atheistic Satanists regard Satan as merely a symbol of certain human traits.
Scientology – is a body of beliefs and related practices created by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard (1911–1986), beginning in 1952 as a successor to his earlier self-help system, Dianetics. Hubbard characterized Scientology as a religion, and in 1953 he incorporated the Church of Scientology in Camden, New Jersey. Scientology teaches that people are immortal beings who have forgotten their true nature. Its method of spiritual rehabilitation is a type of counselling known as auditing, in which practitioners aim to consciously re-experience painful or traumatic events in their past in order to free themselves of their limiting effects. Study materials and auditing sessions are made available to members on a fee-for-service basis, which the church describes as a “fixed donation”. Scientology is legally recognized as a tax-exempt religion in the United States, Italy, South Africa, Australia, Sweden, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, and Spain the Church of Scientology emphasizes this as proof that it is a bona fide religion. In contrast, the organization is considered a commercial enterprise in Switzerland, a cult (secte) in France and Chile, and a non-profit in Norway and its legal classification is often a point of contention.
Seventh-day Adventist – is a Protestant Christian denomination distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week, as the Sabbath, and by its emphasis on the imminent second coming (advent) of Jesus Christ. The denomination grew out of the Millerite movement in the United States during the middle part of the 19th century and was formally established in 1863. Among its founders was Ellen G. White, whose extensive writings are still held in high regard by the church today.
Shaivism – is one of the four most widely followed sects of Hinduism, which reveres the god Shiva as the Supreme Being. It is also known as śaiva paṁtha, they believe that Shiva is All and in all, the creator, preserver, destroyer, revealer and concealer of all that is. Shaivism is widespread throughout India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Areas notable for the practice of Shaivism include parts of Southeast Asia, especially Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.
Shamanism – is a practice that involves a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to encounter and interact with the spirit world and channel these transcendental energies into this world. A shaman is a person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of benevolent and malevolent spirits, who typically enters into a trance state during a ritual, and practices divination and healing.
Shinto – is the indigenous religion of Japan and the people of Japan. It is defined as an action-centered religion, focused on ritual practices to be carried out diligently, to establish a connection between present-day Japan and its ancient past. Founded in 660 BC according to Japanese mythology, Shinto practices were first recorded and codified in the written historical records of the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki in the 8th century. Still, these earliest Japanese writings do not refer to a unified “Shinto religion”, but rather to a collection of native beliefs and mythology. Shinto today is a term that applies to the religion of public shrines devoted to the worship of a multitude of gods (kami), suited to various purposes such as war memorials and harvest festivals, and applies as well to various sectarian organizations. Practitioners express their diverse beliefs through a standard language and practice, adopting a similar style in dress and ritual, dating from around the time of the Nara and Heian periods.
Sikhism – is a monotheistic religion founded during the 15th century in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent by Guru Nanak and developed through the teachings of ten successive Sikh Gurus (the eleventh and last Guru being the holy scripture Guru Granth Sahib: a collection of the Sikh Gurus’ writings that was first compiled by the fifth Sikh Guru). It is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world, with approximately 30 million adherents. Punjab, India, is the only state in the world with a majority Sikh population.
Stoicism – is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early 3rd century BC. The Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and that a sage, or person of “moral and intellectual perfection”, would not suffer such emotions. Stoics were concerned with the active relationship between cosmic determinism and human freedom, and the belief that it is virtuous to maintain a will (called prohairesis) that is in accord with nature. Because of this, the Stoics presented their philosophy as a way of life, and they thought that the best indication of an individual’s philosophy was not what a person said but how that person behaved.
Tendai Buddhism – is a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism, a descendant of the Chinese Tiantai or Lotus Sutra school. Although Tendai has the reputation of being a major denomination in Japanese history, and the most comprehensive and diversified school of Chinese Buddhism, it is almost unknown in the West. This meagre presence is in marked contrast to the vision of the founder of the movement in China, T’ien-t’ai Chih-i (538-597), who provided a religious framework which seemed suited to adapt to other cultures, to evolve new practices, and to universalize Buddhism.
Theravada Buddhism – is the oldest surviving branch of Buddhism. The name Theravada literally means “the Teaching of the Elders.” It is relatively conservative, and according to Rupert Gethin, it is closer to early Buddhism than other existing Buddhist traditions.
Taoism – is a philosophical, ethical, and religious tradition of Chinese origin that emphasizes living in harmony with the Tao (also Romanized as Dao). The term Tao means “way”, “path” or “principle”, and can also be found in Chinese philosophies and religions other than Taoism. In Taoism, however, Tao denotes something that is both the source and the driving force behind everything that exists.
Tibetan Buddhism – is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet, Mongolia, Tuva, Bhutan, Kalmykia and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, and India (particularly in Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Dharamsala, Lahaul and Spiti in Himachal Pradesh, and Sikkim). It is the state religion of Bhutan. It is also practiced in Mongolia and parts of Russia (Kalmykia, Buryatia, and Tuva) and Northeast China. Texts recognized as scripture and commentaries are contained in the Tibetan Buddhist canon, such that Tibetan is a spiritual language of these areas.
Umbanda – is a Brazilian religion that blends African religions with Catholicism, Spiritism, and considerable indigenous lore. Umbanda is related to, and has many similarities with, other Afro-Brazilian religions like Candomblé and Quimbanda, but has its own identity. Although some of its beliefs and most of its practices existed in the late 19th century in almost all Brazil, it is assumed that Umbanda originated in Rio de Janeiro and surrounding areas in the early 20th century, mainly due to the work of a psychic (medium), Zélio Fernandino de Moraes, who practiced Umbanda among the poor Afro-Brazilian population. Since then, Umbanda has spread across mainly southern Brazil and neighboring countries like Uruguay and Argentina.
Unification Church – founded as the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, and commonly called the Unification Church or Unificationism, is a new religious movement founded in South Korea in 1954 by Sun Myung Moon. Since its founding, the church has expanded throughout the world with most members living in East Asia
Unitarian Universalism – is a liberal religion characterized by a “free and responsible search for truth and meaning”. Unitarian Universalists do not share a creed but are unified by their shared search for spiritual growth. The roots of Unitarian Universalism are in liberal Christianity, specifically Unitarianism and Universalism. From these traditions comes a deep regard for intellectual freedom and inclusive love, so that congregations and members seek inspiration and derive spiritual practices from all major world religions
Unity Church – is a spiritual philosophical movement within the wider New Thought movement and is best known to many through its Daily Word devotional publication. It describes itself as a “positive, practical Christianity” which “teach the effective daily application of the principles of Truth taught and exemplified by Jesus Christ” and promotes “a way of life that leads to health, prosperity, happiness, and peace of mind
Vampirism – is an alternative lifestyle, based on the modern perception of vampires in popular fiction. The vampire subculture has stemmed largely from the Goth subculture, but also incorporates some elements of the sadomasochism subculture. The Internet provides a prevalent forum for the subculture along with other media such as glossy magazines devoted to the topic. Many self-professed vampires actively resent the term “lifestyles,” as this tends to carry the connotation that vampirism is not real. Some vampires actually use the term as a pejorative for role-players. Active vampirism within the vampire subculture includes both sanguinarian vampirism, which involves blood consumption, and psychic vampirism, whose practitioners believe they are drawing spiritual nourishment from auric or pranic energy.
Vaishnavism – is one of the major branches of Hinduism along with Shaivism, Smartism, and Shaktism. It is focused on the veneration of Vishnu. Vaishnavites, or the followers of the Vishnu, lead a way of life promoting differentiated monotheism (henotheism), which gives importance to Vishnu and his ten incarnations. Followers worship Vishnu, the preserver god of the Hindu Trimurti (‘three images’, the Trinity), and his ten incarnations, including Rama and Krishna. The adherents of this sect are generally non-ascetic, monastic and devoted to meditative practice and ecstatic chanting. Vaishnavites are mainly dualistic. They are deeply devotional. Their religion is rich in saints, temples and scriptures.
Voodoo – is related to the religion of the West Indies associated with charms, fetishes and sorcery, or a religion based on beliefs and practices of African and Roman Catholic origin.
Westboro Baptist Church – is an American unaffiliated Baptist church known for its extreme ideologies, especially those against gay people. The church is widely described as a hate group and is monitored as such by the Anti-Defamation League and Southern Poverty Law Center. It was headed by Fred Phelps (although shortly before his death in March 2014, church representatives said that the church had not had a defined leader in “a very long time”), and consists primarily of members of his extended family; in 2011, the church stated that it had about 40 members. The church is headquartered in a residential neighborhood on the west side of Topeka about three miles (5 km) west of the Kansas State Capitol. Its first public service was held on the afternoon of November 27, 1955.
Wicca – is a modern pagan, witchcraft religion. It was developed in England during the first half of the 20th century and it was introduced to the public in 1954 by Gerald Gardner, a retired British civil servant. It draws upon a diverse set of ancient pagan and 20th century hermetic motifs for its theological structure and ritual practice. Wicca is a diverse religion with no central authority or figure defining it. It is divided into various lineages and denominations, referred to as traditions, each with its own organizational structure and level of centralization. Due to its decentralized nature, there is some disagreement over what actually constitutes Wicca. Some traditions, collectively referred to as British Traditional Wicca, strictly follow the initiatory lineage of Gardner and consider the term Wicca to apply only to such lineage traditions, while other eclectic traditions do not. Wicca is typically duo theistic, worshipping a god and goddess traditionally viewed as a mother goddess and horned god. These two deities are sometimes viewed as facets of a greater pantheistic godhead. However, beliefs range from hard polytheism to even monotheism. Wiccan celebration follows approximately eight seasonally based festivals known as Sabbaths. An unattributed statement known as the Wiccan Rede is the traditional basis of Wiccan morality. Wicca often involves the ritual practice of magic, though it is not always necessary.
Witchcraft – broadly means the practice of, and belief in, magical skills and abilities that are able to be exercised individually, by designated social groups, or by persons with the necessary esoteric secret knowledge. Witchcraft is a complex concept that varies culturally and societally, therefore it is difficult to define with precision and cross-cultural assumptions about the meaning or significance of the term should be applied with caution. Witchcraft often occupies a religious, divinatory, or medicinal role, and is often present within societies and groups whose cultural framework includes a magical world view. Although witchcraft can often share common ground with related concepts such as sorcery, the paranormal, magic, superstition, necromancy, possession, shamanism, healing, spiritualism, nature worship, and the occult, it is usually seen as distinct from these when examined by sociologists and anthropologists. The concept of witchcraft and the belief in its existence has existed since the dawn of human history. It has been present or central at various times, and in many diverse forms, among cultures and religions worldwide, including both “primitive” and “highly advanced” cultures, and continues to have an important role in many cultures today. Scientifically, the existence of magical powers and witchcraft are generally believed to lack credence and to be unsupported by high quality experimental testing, although individual witchcraft practices and effects may be open to scientific explanation or explained via mentalism and psychology.
Worldwide Church of God – is an evangelical Christian denomination based in Glendora, California, United States. Founded in 1934 by Herbert W. Armstrong as a religious broadcasting radio ministry named Radio Church of God, the Worldwide Church of God had a significant, and often controversial, influence on 20th-century religious broadcasting and publishing in the United States and Europe, especially in the field of interpreting biblical end-time prophecies. Within a few years after Armstrong’s death in 1986, the succeeding church administration modified the denomination’s doctrines and teachings to be compatible with mainstream evangelical Christianity, while many members and ministers left and formed other churches that conformed too many, but not all, of Armstrong’s teachings. In 2009, the church adopted its current name.
Zen – is a school of Mahayana Buddhism that developed in China during the 6th century as Chan. From China, Zen spread south to Vietnam, northeast to Korea and east to Japan.
Zoroastrianism – is an ancient Iranian religion and a religious philosophy. It was once the state religion of the Achaemenid, Parthian, and Sasanian empires. Estimates of the current number of Zoroastrians worldwide vary between 145,000 and 2.6 million.