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Introduction to Religion

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1 Introduction to Religion

2 Universalizing vs. Ethnic
Universalizing religion- attempts to be global, to appeal to all people, no matter where they may live in the world Ethnic religion- appeals primarily to one group living in one place

3 Universalizing Religions
Christianity Islam Buddhism Sikhism Bahai

4 Ethnic Religions Hinduism Confucianism Daoism (Taoism) Shintoism

5 Origin of Religions Universalizing religions have precise places of origin, based on events in the life of a man. Ethnic religions have unknown or unclear origins, not tied to single historical individuals. Each of the three universalizing religions can be traced to the actions and teachings of a man who lived since the start of recorded history. Specific events also led to the division of the universalizing religions into branches.

6 Religions 58% of the world’s population practices a universalizing religion 26% practice an ethnic religion 16% no religion Statistics on # of followers can sometimes be controversial because no official count is ever taken

7 Divisions Branch- large and fundamental division
Denomination- division of a branch that unites a number of local congregations in a single legal and administrative body Sect- relatively small group that has broken away from an established denomination

8 Christianity Is the largest religion with more than 2 billion followers Has the most widespread distribution Nearly 90% of the people living in the western hemisphere are Christian

9 3 main branches Roman Catholic 51% Protestant 24% Orthodox 11%
14% of Christians belong to churches that are not within one of these branches

10 Founded on the teaching of Jesus
Founded on the teaching of Jesus. His deeds are recorded in the Bible (1st 4 books of the New Testament) . After preaching for 3 years he was put to death on the cross by Romans. Christians believe that Jesus died to atone for human sin, that he was raised from the dead by God & his Resurrection from the dead provides people with hope for salvation.


12 Islam Practiced by 1.3 billion people
Predominant religion in the Middle East ½ of the world’s Muslims live in 4 countries: Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh & India The word Islam means “submission to the will of God” & has similar root to the Arabic word for peace

13 Origin of Islam Muslims believe at the age of 40, Muhammad, received revelations from God through the Angel Gabriel. They also believe God’s words to Muhammad was recorded in the Quran (in Arabic which is the lingua franca, or language of communication) in the Muslim world) & he became the Prophet of Islam. Muhammad died in 632, at about the age of 63, & by then Islam had diffused to most of present-day Saudi Arabia.

14 5 Pillars of Faith Faith: All believers must testify to the following statement of faith: “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah” Prayer: Five times a day, Muslims must face toward the holy city of Mecca to pray Charity: Have a responsibility to support the less fortunate by giving money for that purpose Fasting: During the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Muslims do not eat or drink anything between sunrise and sunset (Sign of self-control & humility) Pilgrimage: all able Muslims are expected to make a pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca at least once in their lifetime

15 2 main branches Sunni 83% Shiite 16%


17 Buddhism Nearly 400 million followers
Found mainly in China and Southeast Asia

18 Founded by Siddhartha Gautama, the son of a wealthy lord, left his privileged world, & lived in a forest for 6 years, thinking & experimenting with forms of meditation. Gautama emerged as the Buddha, the “awakened or enlightened one” & he spent 45 years preaching his views across India. In the process, he trained monks, established orders, & preached to the public.

19 The 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 from suffering and the endless cycle of reincarnation into Nirvana (a state of complete redemption), which is achieved by mental and moral purification 4. Nirvana is attained through an Eightfold Pattern, which is rightness of belief, resolve, speech, action, livelihood, effort, thought, and meditation

20 3 main branches Mahayana 56% Theravada 38% Tantrayana 6%

21 The 2 largest branches of Buddhism.
Theravada, the oldest, means “way of the elders,”. They believe Buddhism is a full time occupation & one must renounce worldly goods & become a monk. They emphasize Buddha’s wisdom. Mahayana split from Theravada about 2000 years ago. Mahayanists emphasize Buddha’s later years of teaching & helping others & his compassion.


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