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Encyclopedia > Major world religions
Major religious groups as a percentage of the world population in 2005. Total exceeds 100% due to rounding. See a larger version.
Major religious groups as a percentage of the world population in 2005. Total exceeds 100% due to rounding. See a larger version.
Map showing the prevailing religion of each country.
Map showing the prevailing religion of each country.
Map showing the prevalence of "Abrahamic" (purple) and "Dharmic" (yellow) religions in each country.
Map showing the prevalence of "Abrahamic" (purple) and "Dharmic" (yellow) religions in each country.
Map showing the fraction of Christians (red) and Muslims (green) in each country.
Map showing the fraction of Christians (red) and Muslims (green) in each country.

Major world religions have been distinguished from minor religions using a variety of methods, though any such division naturally reflects a particular bias, since many adherents of a religion are likely to consider their own faith "major". Two methods are mentioned in this article, number of adherents and the definitions used by classical scholars of religions. Image File history File links Major_religions_2005_pie_small. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1357x628, 23 KB) Summary Copied from http://en. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1357x628, 23 KB) Summary Copied from http://en. ... Image File history File links Abraham_Dharma. ... Image File history File links Abraham_Dharma. ... map showing the prevalence of Abrahamic (purple) and Dharmic (yellow) religions in each country. ... A dharmic religion is a religion which recognizes the concept of dharma. ... Image File history File links Christ_Islam. ... Image File history File links Christ_Islam. ...


For a list of all religions, please see the article list of religions. The following is a list of religions. ...


For a discussion of the relationships between religions, see Religious pluralism The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ...

Contents


Defined by population

One way to define a major religion is by the number of current adherents. Population numbers by religion are computed by combination of census reports and population surveys (in countries where religion data is not collected in census, for example USA or France), but results can vary widely depending on the way questions are phrased, the definitions of religion used, and the bias of the agencies or organizations conducting the survey. Informal or unorganized religions are especially difficult to count.


All religions or belief systems by number of adherents

This listing distinguishes between organized religion, which has a single belief code and religious hierarchies, and informal religions, such as Chinese folk religions.

  1. Christianity 2.1 billion (Began: ca. 27 AD/CE)
  2. Islam 1.9 billion (Began: ca. 622 AD/CE)
  3. Secular/Irreligious/Agnostic/Atheist 1.1 billion
    • Category includes a wide range of beliefs, without specifically adhering to a religion. The category also includes humanism, deism, pantheism, and freethought. For more information, see the Adherents.com discussion of this category.
  4. Hinduism 900 million (Began: 15th century BC/BCE)
  5. Buddhism 708 million (Began: 6th century BC/BCE)
  6. Primal indigenous 300 million
    • Not a single organized religion, includes a wide range of primarily Asian traditional or tribal religions, including Shamanism and Paganism.
  7. African traditional and diasporic 100 million
    • Not a single organized religion, this includes traditional African beliefs such as Yoruba as well as diasporic beliefs such as Santeria (which itself draws from Catholicism) and Vodoun.
  8. Shintoism 69 million (Began: 300 BC/BCE)
    • This number states the number of practicing followers of Shintoism; for if partial or ethnic followers of Shintoism were included, the number would fall around 100–115 million.
  9. Sikhism 23 million (Began: 1500s)
  10. Juche 19 million
    • Not considered a religion by adherents, who view it as secular and anti-revisionist. Juche is the political ideology of the Workers Party of Korea, the ruling party of the DPRK; some have argued it constitutes a religion due to its Great Leader Worship characteristics. The number is approximately the entire population of the country.
  11. Spiritism 15 million (Began: mid-19th century)
    • Not a single organized religion, includes a variety of beliefs including some forms of Umbanda.
  12. Judaism 15 million (Began: 13th century BC/BCE)
  13. Falun Gong 10-100 million* (Began: 1992)
    • Not necessarily considered a religion by adherents or outside observers. No membership or rosters, thus the actual figure of practitioners is impossible to confirm.
  14. Bahá'í Faith 7 million (Began: 19th century)
  15. Jainism 4.2 million (Began: 6th century BC/BCE)
  16. Cao Dai 4 million (Began: 1926)
  17. Humanism** over 3 million
  18. Zoroastrianism 2.6 million (Began: ca. 6th century BC/BCE)
  19. Tenrikyo 2 million (Began: 1838)
  20. Neopaganism 1 million (Began: 20th century)
  21. Unitarian Universalism 800,000 (Began: 1961)
  22. Rasta 600,000 (Began: early 1930s)

Source of statistics for all religons but Falun Gong and Humanism: adherents.com, updated 2005. These statistics are based on analysis of a range of sources on religious populations, for more on the methodology, please see Adherent.com's explanation. Christianity is a monotheistic religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, known by Christians as Jesus Christ, as recounted in the New Testament. ... Events The Emperor Tiberius retires to Capri, leaving the praetorian prefect Sejanus in charge of both Rome and the Empire. ... The Roman Catholic Church, most often spoken of simply as the Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with over one billion members. ... Protestantism is a movement within Christianity, representing the splitting away from the Roman Catholic Church during the mid-to-late Renaissance in Europe—a period known as the Protestant Reformation. ... ... The term Anglican describes those people and churches following the religious traditions of the Church of England, especially following the Reformation. ... List of Christian denominations (or Denominations self-identified as Christian) ordered by historical and doctrinal relationships. ... A Latter Day Saint (LDS) is a person who identifies with the Latter Day Saint movement and is a follower of Mormonism. ... Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix commemorates the July Revolution 1830 was a common year starting on Friday (see link for calendar). ... Islam (Arabic: ; ) is a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the Quran. ... Events Hijra - Muhammad and his followers withdraw from Mecca to Medina - year one of the Islamic calendar. ... This article concerns secularity, that is, being secular, in various senses. ... Irreligion is the absence of religious following. ... The term agnosticism and the related agnostic were coined by Thomas Henry Huxley in 1869. ... For information about the band, see Atheist (band). ... Humanism is a broad category of active ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity and worth of all people, based on our ability to determine what is right using the qualities innate to humanity, particularly rationality. ... Historical and modern deism is defined by the view that reason, rather than revelation or tradition, should be the basis of belief in God. ... Pantheism (Greek: pan = all and Theos = God) literally means God is All and All is God. It is the view that everything is of an all-encompassing immanent God; or that the universe, or nature, and God are equivalent. ... It has been suggested that Freethinking be merged into this article or section. ... Hinduism (Sanskrit/Hindi —, also known as , and ) is a religion originating in the Indian subcontinent, based on the Vedas and the beliefs of other people of India. ... // Overview Events 1504 BC – 1492 BC -- Egypt conquers Nubia and the Levant. ... Vaishnavism is one of the principal divisions of Hinduism. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Shaktism is a denomination of Hinduism that worships Shakti, or Devi -- the Hindu name for the Great Mother -- in all of her forms whilst not rejecting the importance of masculine and neuter divinity. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Arya Samaj (Aryan Society or Society of Nobles) is a Hindu reform movement in India that was founded by Swami Dayananda in 1875. ... Buddhism is a religion and philosophy focusing on the teachings of the Buddha Śākyamuni (Siddhārtha Gautama), who probably lived in the 6th century BCE. Buddhism spread throughout the ancient Indian sub-continent in the five centuries following the Buddhas death, and propagated into Central, Southeast, and East Asia... (2nd millennium BC - 1st millennium BC - 1st millennium) // Overview The 5th and 6th centuries BC were a time of empires, but more importantly, a time of learning and philosophy. ... Relief image of the bodhisattva Kuan Yin from Mt. ... Theravada (Pali; Sanskrit: Sthaviravada) is one of the eighteen (or twenty) Nikāya schools that formed early in the history of Buddhism. ... Viewed historically or developmentally, a tribe consists of a social formation existing before the development of, or outside of, states. ... A shaman doctor of Kyzyl. ... Paganism (from Latin paganus) and heathenry are blanket terms used primarily by Christians which have come to connote a broad set of spiritual or religious beliefs and practices of natural or polytheistic religions, as opposed to the Abrahamic monotheistic religions. ... This article is about dispersion of peoples. ... The Yoruba (native name Yorùbá) is a large ethno-linguistic group or ethnic nation in West Africa. ... Lukumí or Regla de Ocha, most widely known as Santeria, is a set of related religious systems that fuse Catholic beliefs with traditional Yorùbá beliefs. ... The term Voodoo (Vodun in Benin; also Vodou or other phonetically equivalent spellings in Haiti; Vudu in the Dominican Republic) is applied to the branches of a West African ancestor-based religious tradition with primary roots among the Fon-Ewe peoples of West Africa, in the country now known as... Shintō (Japanese: 神道) is the native religion of Japan. ... Centuries: 4th century BC - 3rd century BC - 2nd century BC Decades: 350s BC 340s BC 330s BC 320s BC 310s BC - 300s BC - 290s BC 280s BC 270s BC 260s BC 250s BC Years: 305 BC 304 BC 303 BC 302 BC 301 BC - 300 BC - 299 BC 298 BC... The Golden Temple is a sacred shrine for Sikhs Sikhism (Punjabi: , , [], in English pronounced or ), is a monotheistic religion based on the teachings of ten Gurus who lived in northern India during the 16th and 17th centuries. ... The Juche Idea (pronounced // in Korean, approximately joo-cheh) is the basic governing idea of North Korea, and colloquially the political system based on that principle. ... In the Marxist-Leninist movement, an anti-revisionist is a communist who favors a stricter interpretation of the ideology in accordance with the teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao. ... The Workers Party of Korea (WPK) is the ruling party of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK), commonly known as North Korea. ... North Korea, officially the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK; Korean: Chosŏn Minjujuŭi Inmin Konghwaguk; Hangul: 조선민주주의인민공화국; Hanja: 朝鮮民主主義人民共和國), is a country in eastern Asia, covering the northern half of the peninsula of Korea. ... A cult of personality is a political institution in which a countrys leader encourages praise of himself and his deeds to such a degree that this praise affects nearly every facet of the countrys culture. ... Spiritism is a philosophical doctrine established in France in the mid 19th Century by the French educator Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail, under the pseudonym Allan Kardec. ... Originating in Brazil in the early 20th century, Umbanda is a religion that blends Catholicism, Kardecist Spiritualism and Afro-Brazilian traditions. ... Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people with around 15 million followers as of 2006 [1]. It is one of the first recorded monotheistic faiths and one of the oldest religious traditions still practiced today. ... This bronze ritual wine vessel, dating from the Shang Dynasty in the 13th century BC, is housed at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution. ... The Falun emblem is the symbol of the Falun Gong. ... Seat of the Universal House of Justice, governing body of the Baháís in Haifa Israel The Baháí Faith is a global religion founded by Baháulláh, a 19th century Persian exile. ... Jaina redirects here. ... (2nd millennium BC - 1st millennium BC - 1st millennium) // Overview The 5th and 6th centuries BC were a time of empires, but more importantly, a time of learning and philosophy. ... Tay Ninh Holy See Cao Dai (Cao Đài) is a relatively new, syncretist, monotheistic religion, officially established in Tay Ninh, southern Vietnam, in 1926. ... Humanism is a broad category of active ethical philosophies that affirm the dignity and worth of all people, based on our ability to determine what is right using the qualities innate to humanity, particularly rationality. ... Zoroastrianism (Persian: آيين زرتشت) also known as Mazdaism by some followers and Zarathustrianism by others, is a monotheistic religion. ... (2nd millennium BC - 1st millennium BC - 1st millennium) // Overview The 5th and 6th centuries BC were a time of empires, but more importantly, a time of learning and philosophy. ... Tenrikyo Headquarters, Tenri Tenrikyo (天理教; Tenrikyō, lit. ... The word pagan is derived from the Latin Paganus, meaning of or from the country. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... satr , also known as Odinism, describes a number of attempts to reconstruct the indigenous religions of Northern Europe. ... In the Celtic religion, the modern words Druidry or Druidism denote the practices of the ancient druids, the priestly class in ancient Celtic societies through much of Western Europe north of the Alps and in the British Isles. ... Polytheistic Reconstructionism, often simply called Reconstructionism, is the practice of re-establishing and practicing ancient religions in the modern world. ... The flaming chalice is the universally recognized symbol for Unitarian Universalism. ... H.M. Haile Selassie I Rasta, or the Rastafari movement, is a religious movement that accepts Haile Selassie I, the former emperor of Ethiopia, as Jah (the Rastafari name for God incarnate, from a shortened form of Jehovah found in Psalms 68:4 in the King James Version of the...


*Falun Gong estimate that of the People's Republic of China, other estimates are much higher.


**[1] [2] Estimates from American Humanist Association, and Indian Humanist Union The American Humanist Association (AHA) is an American humanist group serving secular humanism, but tending to favor Humanism as defined by the world body for Humanism, the IHEU. Founded in 1941, the AHA has served its members by initiating social reforms and other programs. ... The Indian Humanist Union (IHU) is an Indian Humanist organisation established in 1960 by Narsingh Narain. ...


Organized religions by population ranking

The Christian Science Monitor used a separate standard, examining only organized religions. The newspaper listed the following in 1998 as the "Top 10 Organized Religions in the World" based on descending level of population:

  1. Christianity
  2. Islam
  3. Hinduism
  4. Buddhism
  5. Sikhism
  6. Judaism
  7. Bahá'í Faith
  8. Confucianism
  9. Jainism
  10. Shintoism

This list has taken Hinduism as a single religion even though technically it is an amalgam of various schools of thought and cultures that are found in the Indian subcontinent and elsewhere. Christianity is a monotheistic religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, known by Christians as Jesus Christ, as recounted in the New Testament. ... Islam (Arabic: ; ) is a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the Quran. ... Hinduism (Sanskrit/Hindi —, also known as , and ) is a religion originating in the Indian subcontinent, based on the Vedas and the beliefs of other people of India. ... Buddhism is a religion and philosophy focusing on the teachings of the Buddha Śākyamuni (Siddhārtha Gautama), who probably lived in the 6th century BCE. Buddhism spread throughout the ancient Indian sub-continent in the five centuries following the Buddhas death, and propagated into Central, Southeast, and East Asia... The Golden Temple is a sacred shrine for Sikhs Sikhism (Punjabi: , , [], in English pronounced or ), is a monotheistic religion based on the teachings of ten Gurus who lived in northern India during the 16th and 17th centuries. ... Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people with around 15 million followers as of 2006 [1]. It is one of the first recorded monotheistic faiths and one of the oldest religious traditions still practiced today. ... Seat of the Universal House of Justice, governing body of the Baháís in Haifa Israel The Baháí Faith is a global religion founded by Baháulláh, a 19th century Persian exile. ... Confucianist temple Thian Hock Keng in Singapore Confucianism (Chinese: å„’å­¦, Pinyin: Rúxué‚ [ ] , literally The School of the Scholars; or, less accurately, 孔教 Kŏng jiào, The Religion of Confucius) is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system originally developed from the teachings of the early Chinese sage Confucius. ... Jaina redirects here. ... Shintō (Japanese: 神道) is the native religion of Japan. ...


Historic "classic" view

Major religions have also been identified based on their perceived importance, whether theological or temporal. This sorting has been generally been the preserve of Western, Christian scholars, so lists of classic major religions betray this bias. Early Christian scholars, the earliest known classifiers of major religions, recognized only three religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Paganism (which they considered to encompass every other religion). Views evolved during the Enlightenment, however, and, by the 19th century, Western scholars considered the five major religions to be Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. As the exposure of Westerners to other religions increased, six other religions were added to the original five: Confucianism, Taoism, Jainism, Shinto, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism. Later, the Bahá'í Faith was added to this list, resulting in twelve classic religions: The term Western world or the West can have multiple meanings depending on its context. ... Christianity is a monotheistic religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, known by Christians as Jesus Christ, as recounted in the New Testament. ... Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people with around 15 million followers as of 2006 [1]. It is one of the first recorded monotheistic faiths and one of the oldest religious traditions still practiced today. ... Paganism (from Latin paganus) and heathenry are blanket terms used primarily by Christians which have come to connote a broad set of spiritual or religious beliefs and practices of natural or polytheistic religions, as opposed to the Abrahamic monotheistic religions. ... Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people with around 15 million followers as of 2006 [1]. It is one of the first recorded monotheistic faiths and one of the oldest religious traditions still practiced today. ... Christianity is a monotheistic religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, known by Christians as Jesus Christ, as recounted in the New Testament. ... Islam (Arabic: ; ) is a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the Quran. ... Hinduism (Sanskrit/Hindi —, also known as , and ) is a religion originating in the Indian subcontinent, based on the Vedas and the beliefs of other people of India. ... Buddhism is a religion and philosophy focusing on the teachings of the Buddha Śākyamuni (Siddhārtha Gautama), who probably lived in the 6th century BCE. Buddhism spread throughout the ancient Indian sub-continent in the five centuries following the Buddhas death, and propagated into Central, Southeast, and East Asia... Confucianist temple Thian Hock Keng in Singapore Confucianism (Chinese: å„’å­¦, Pinyin: Rúxué‚ [ ] , literally The School of the Scholars; or, less accurately, 孔教 Kŏng jiào, The Religion of Confucius) is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system originally developed from the teachings of the early Chinese sage Confucius. ... Taoism (sometimes written as Daoism) is the English name for: (a) a philosophical school based on the texts the Dao De Jing (ascribed to Laozi) and the Zhuangzi. ... Jaina redirects here. ... Shinto (Kanji: 神道 Shintō) (sometimes called Shintoism) is a native religion of Japan and was once its state religion. ... The Golden Temple is a sacred shrine for Sikhs Sikhism (Punjabi: , , [], in English pronounced or ), is a monotheistic religion based on the teachings of ten Gurus who lived in northern India during the 16th and 17th centuries. ... Zoroastrianism (Persian: آيين زرتشت) also known as Mazdaism by some followers and Zarathustrianism by others, is a monotheistic religion. ... Seat of the Universal House of Justice, governing body of the Baháís in Haifa Israel The Baháí Faith is a global religion founded by Baháulláh, a 19th century Persian exile. ...

Modern Western definitions of major religion come from the classical definition, often expanding on "Christianity," and omitting Jainism and Zoroastrianism. An example is this list found in the New York Public Library Student Reference: Buddhism is a religion and philosophy focusing on the teachings of the Buddha Śākyamuni (Siddhārtha Gautama), who probably lived in the 6th century BCE. Buddhism spread throughout the ancient Indian sub-continent in the five centuries following the Buddhas death, and propagated into Central, Southeast, and East Asia... Christianity is a monotheistic religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, known by Christians as Jesus Christ, as recounted in the New Testament. ... Confucianist temple Thian Hock Keng in Singapore Confucianism (Chinese: 儒学, Pinyin: Rúxué‚ [ ] , literally The School of the Scholars; or, less accurately, 孔教 Kŏng jiào, The Religion of Confucius) is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system originally developed from the teachings of the early Chinese sage Confucius. ... Hinduism (Sanskrit/Hindi —, also known as , and ) is a religion originating in the Indian subcontinent, based on the Vedas and the beliefs of other people of India. ... Islam (Arabic: ; ) is a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the Quran. ... Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people with around 15 million followers as of 2006 [1]. It is one of the first recorded monotheistic faiths and one of the oldest religious traditions still practiced today. ... Seat of the Universal House of Justice, governing body of the Baháís in Haifa Israel The Baháí Faith is a global religion founded by Baháulláh, a 19th century Persian exile. ... Taoism (sometimes written as Daoism) is the English name for: (a) a philosophical school based on the texts the Dao De Jing (ascribed to Laozi) and the Zhuangzi. ... Jaina redirects here. ... Shinto (Kanji: 神道 Shintō) (sometimes called Shintoism) is a native religion of Japan and was once its state religion. ... Zoroastrianism (Persian: آيين زرتشت) also known as Mazdaism by some followers and Zarathustrianism by others, is a monotheistic religion. ... The Golden Temple is a sacred shrine for Sikhs Sikhism (Punjabi: , , [], in English pronounced or ), is a monotheistic religion based on the teachings of ten Gurus who lived in northern India during the 16th and 17th centuries. ... Christianity is a monotheistic religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, known by Christians as Jesus Christ, as recounted in the New Testament. ... Jaina redirects here. ... Zoroastrianism (Persian: آيين زرتشت) also known as Mazdaism by some followers and Zarathustrianism by others, is a monotheistic religion. ...

Buddhism is a religion and philosophy focusing on the teachings of the Buddha Śākyamuni (Siddhārtha Gautama), who probably lived in the 6th century BCE. Buddhism spread throughout the ancient Indian sub-continent in the five centuries following the Buddhas death, and propagated into Central, Southeast, and East Asia... Christianity is a monotheistic religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, known by Christians as Jesus Christ, as recounted in the New Testament. ... Confucianist temple Thian Hock Keng in Singapore Confucianism (Chinese: 儒学, Pinyin: Rúxué‚ [ ] , literally The School of the Scholars; or, less accurately, 孔教 Kŏng jiào, The Religion of Confucius) is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system originally developed from the teachings of the early Chinese sage Confucius. ... Hinduism (Sanskrit/Hindi —, also known as , and ) is a religion originating in the Indian subcontinent, based on the Vedas and the beliefs of other people of India. ... Islam (Arabic: ; ) is a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the Quran. ... Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people with around 15 million followers as of 2006 [1]. It is one of the first recorded monotheistic faiths and one of the oldest religious traditions still practiced today. ...

See also

The following is a list of religions. ... The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ...

References

  • A discussion on definitions of major religions
  • BBC Listing of Major Religions

  Results from FactBites:
 
CATEGORIZATION OF MAJOR WORLD RELIGIONS (220 words)
Semitic religions are religions that originated among the Semites.
Therefore, Semitic religions are the religions that originated among the Jews, Arabs, Assyrians, Phoenicians, etc. Major Semitic religions are Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Aryan religions are the religions that originated among the Aryans, a powerful group of Indo-European speaking people that spread through Iran and Northern India in the first half of the second Millenium BC (2000 to 1500 BC).
Major world religions - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (764 words)
Major religious groups as a percentage of the world population in 2005.
Major world religions have been distinguished from minor religions using a variety of methods, though any such division naturally reflects a particular bias, since many adherents of a religion are likely to consider their own faith "major".
Views evolved during the Enlightenment, however, and, by the 19th century, Western scholars considered the five major religions to be Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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