Religions of the World

A few weeks ago I talked about differences between Christan denominations, now, lets talk about differences between religions. When it comes to world religions the first that come to mind are the three Abrahamic religions,—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—along with Hinduism and Buddhism. There are also Baha'i, Candomblé, Jainism, Santeria, Sikhism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, and more. Also, there are Rastafari and Shintoism which many consider religions, while the practitioners do not consider it a religion. Furthermore, there are the concepts of atheism and agnosticism. While there are obvious differences between each religion (or belief), there are also many similarities. Remember, each religion has many sects (just as Christianity has denominations). Many religions have people who twist and turn the religion for their own purposes, but as you will see below, most religions are intended to inspire people to live a positive life, to provide hope, and to define the purpose or a way of life. Disclaimer: While I think it is important to be knowledgable about the world around us and considerate of those who believe differently than we do, I do not subscribe to the belief that there are many paths to God.
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.John 14:6 KJV

What is ______ism About?


Judaism, one of the oldest religions of the world, follows the Talmud (known as the Old Testament of the Bible to some). The laws and practices of Judaism were first recorded by Moses, though the relationship between God and the Jews as His chosen people begins with the covenant made by Abraham and God before Moses' time. It is one of the oldest monotheistic religions of the world.


Christianity is also an Abrahamic religion, in which Jesus is the fulfillment the Jewish Messiah. The Old Testament is used to teach the history of the faith, while the New Testament represents the new covenant in which Jesus has saved everyone (not just the Jews) by dying on the cross so long as an individual believes in Jesus' death and resurrection. Christians are meant to emulate their life after Jesus.


The third and final Abrahamic religion is Islam. Based on the prophecy of Muhammad. Muslims, follow the Qur'an and the 5 Pillars of Faith. These five pillars include the declaration of faith, praying five times a day, donating money to charity, the pilgrimage or hajj, and fasting (in the month of Ramadan).


Hinduism is most popular in India and Nepal. There is no "founder" of Hinduism nor a specific source as scripture. Due to the variety of practices, Hinduism may be considered a way of life as opposed to a defined religion by some. While Hinduism is a polytheistic religion, their deities are believed to be formed from the qualities of a supreme god. Hindus believe in reincarnation and karma.


Buddhist follow in the footsteps of Siddhartha Gautama in an attempt to reach nirvana (enlightenment). Buddhists believe in reincarnation and thus, that life is endless. There is no belief in a personal god in this religion.


The Bahá'í religion was founded in 1863, making it one of the newer religions of the world. They believe that Bahá'u'lláh is a prophet who follows Muhammad. Unity is a principal part of their faith along with the belief that there is something valid in all world religions.


Practiced mainly in Brazil, this religion is a combination of Yorba, Fon, and Bantu beliefs. For this reason it is considered a syncretic religion. In this religion there are many lesser deities that serve one god, and these lesser deities look after and control each individual's destiny. Fulfillment of ones destiny is the primary concern for this religion and there is no belief in good or bad.


Mahavira is considered the shaper of modern Jainism, and his teachings are recorded in the Agamas. Jainism is another religion that does not include a belief in god. It focuses on non-violence, not only between people but towards animals and plants as well. In Jainism, plants and animals have souls, just like humans and thus should be treated with respect and care. Like Buddhists and Hindus, they believe in reincarnation. They have 5 mahavratas (or vows) which are non-violence, non-attachment to possessions, not to lie, not to steal, and sexual restraint.


Developed from the ideas of Marcus Garvey, Rastafarian theology was formed in the 1930s. Rastas believe that blacks are descendants of one of the 12 Tribes of Israel and thus the chosen people of God and that Hailie Selassie I is God (or the second coming of Jesus). Rastas also follow a strict dietary law. Many Rastas do not consider it a religion and reject the idea of "isms."


Santeria is also a syncretic religion born out of slavery in the caribbean. It mixes Yorba and Catholic beliefs. Adherents of this religion believe in spirits called Orishas which are mortal manifestations of god meant to aid humans. 


Shinto is a Japanese belief concerned with honoring spirits known as kami. Kami are not considered to be gods; rather, they are spirits who may intervene in human life. Practitioners of Shintoism do not consider it a religion but a way of life.


Sikh is a monotheistic religion founded by Guru Nanak in the Punjab province of India. Their focus on is on living a good life, by helping the less fortunate, treating everyone equally, being honest, etc., as opposed to rituals. Their scriptural book is called Guru Granth Sahib, and is considered a living Guru.


Taoism (also known as Daoism) is a Chinese religion concerned with unity and opposites—Yin and Yang. There are many deities in this religion, however The Tao (which the religion is named for), is not considered a deity and is not worshipped. The Tao unifies and is connected to all things. Harmony, self development, and spiritual immortality are some of the religion's goals.


Also a very old religion, Zoroastrianism was founded in Iran and was once the official religion of Persia. Zoroastrians believe in one God who was revealed to the prophet Zoroaster. Their holy book is The Avesta. Fire is considered the light or wisdom of God. Like Muslims, they pray several times a day.

Atheism & Agnosticism

Atheists do not believe in God, while agnostics don't know if there is a god or gods. There are agnostic atheists (people who don't know if God exists but don't believe in God—i.e., the lean toward atheism), as well as agnostic theists (people who believe at least one god exists but don't know for sure and they don't know which one).

Quickview Comparison

ReligionDeityAfterlifeEternal LifeReincarnation
Atheism None Probably Not Probably Not Probably Not
Agnosticism Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown
Bahá'í One No Yes No
Buddhism None Nirvana No Yes
Candomblé Many Heaven Yes Yes
Christianity One Heaven/Hell Yes No
Hinduism Many Liberation Yes Yes
Islam One The Gardens/Hell Yes No
Jainism None Supreme Abode Yes Yes
Judaism One World to Come/Sheol Yes Conflicting Sources
Rastafari One Heaven on Earth (Ethiopia) Yes No
Santeria One Yes Yes Conflicting Sources
Shintoism None Yes Yes Into Kami
Sikhism One Union with God Yes Yes
Taoism Many Returned to the Tao Unclear Returned to the Tao
Zoroastrianism One Heaven/Hell Yes No
*Note, some religions are unclear on afterlife beliefs as they focus on present life, thus different sects may have differing beliefs. **Note, I do not profess to be an expert in all religions and thus the information provided is to the best of my knowledge with sources sited below.


  1. Austin Cline. "The Difference Between Atheists and Agnostics". ThoughCo; visited April 2015
  2. "Introduction to Bahá'í Beliefs and God". BBC. September 22, 2009
  3. "Buddhism at a Glance". BBC. November 17, 2009
  4. "Candomblé at a Glance". BBC. September 2009
  5. Brenda Guevara. "Unit of Study on Candomblé". Latin American Network Information Center, via University of Texas; visited April 2015
  6. "Christianity". BBC; visited April 29, 2015
  7. "Hinduism". BBC. September 29, 2009
  8. "Islam". BBC; visited April 2015
  9. "Jainism at a Glance". BBC. August 27, 2009
  10. "Judaism". BBC; visited April 2015
  11. "Rastafari at a Glance". BBC. October 2, 2009
  12. Santeria". BBC; visited April 2015
  13. Cynthia Duncan. "Santería Is A Religion". About Santería; visited April 2015
  14. "Shinto at a Glance". BBC. October 7, 2011
  15. "Sikhism". BBC; visited April 2015
  16. "Shinto Ritual Practices And Institutions". Encyclopædia Britannica. April 07, 2017
  17. "Taoism at a Glance". BBC. August 24, 2009
  18. "Zoroastrianism at a Glance". BBC. October 2, 2009

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