Religions of The World: An Overview

The+Holy+Bible+is+the+sacred+text+for+Christians

The Holy Bible is the sacred text for Christians

Tony Acevedo and Jason Coronado

Religion helps adherents define themselves, gives people meaning and purpose, helps humans rise above the worst aspects of human nature, and provides a moral framework. In this day and age, there are well over 4000 different kinds of religions all around the world, but there are mainly 5 well known religions: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism.

Buddhism is an Asian philosophy created in India around the 5th Century BC by Siddhartha Gautama, or “The Buddha.” About 7.1% of the human population is Buddhist, according to the Pew Research Center. They don’t have a god, but rather follow the teachings from the Buddha. Their sacred book is called Tripitaka. Most Buddhist Monks take a Vow of Silence to help them use the right words for the right moment and to refrain from using hurtful words. They also create Mandalas made out of sand that take 5 days to finish, only to be later destroyed. The destruction of the Mandala is a reminder to the monks about the impermanence of life. Their view on life after death is mainly reincarnation, but believe the spirit goes into one of the six Gati, or realms, instead of coming back as a human. They wish to achieve Nirvana.

The third largest religion (15%), Hinduism, is a way of life that frees those attached to the materialized world by purification of desires. Their sacred texts, The Vedas, are written in Sanskrit and help people by guiding them how to live their everyday life. Their place of worship is called Mandir, and are dedicated to different gods. They have 3 main and powerful gods called the Hindu Triumvirate, which consists of Brahma (The Creator), Vishnu (The Preserver), and Shiva (The Destroyer). Hindus also believe in Karma, a force of revenge that if you do something bad to a living thing, it will happen to you also. Karma isn’t just for doing something bad, but can also be obtained by doing something good or kind. A person’s Karma determines where their spirit goes. Their main goal is to break the cycle of Samsara, reincarnation, which is called Moksha. 

Some people are scared of Islam due to the association with terrorism, but in reality, 23.2% of the world population is Muslim. They go and pray in a building called a Mosque. Muslims have 6 major beliefs: There is one God (Allah), there are Angels, the Qur’an was revealed to Muhammad by God, Muhammad is a Prophet sent by God, there will be a Day of Judgement and life after death, and God is all-powerful and has given humans the freedom to live good or bad since everyone will be questioned on how they lived their life. Similar to the Ten Commandments, Muslims have the Five Pillars of Islam: There are no other gods and God is the only one there is and Muhammad is his Prophet (Shahadah); they must pray at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and at night each day and must face to the direction of Mecca (Salat); The rich must give at least 2.5% of their wealth to the poor (Zakah); No food or drink, more likely alcohol and tobacco, during daylight hours in the ninth month in the Islamic Calendar.

Judaism is a religion that follows the Torah, a set of laws given to the Israelites at Mt. Sinai, and must follow these laws throughout their daily lives. These laws are called the Ten Commandments, and are still being followed to this day. Today there are about fourteen million Jews all across the world, with half being in the United States of America, one quarter in Israel, and the other quarter in Europe. Their place of worship is called a Synagogue. It all started back when God showed himself to Abraham, who is considered to be the father of Judaism according to the United Religion Initiative, and later promoted that there was only one God rather than many gods, which was a common thing in Egypt. He later had a son named Isaac, then Isaac had Jacob who was then named Israel. Soon, God said to the Israelites to obey his laws and he’ll take care of them. Their sacred texts are called the Tenakh, and contain the 5 books of Moses (Torah), the Prophets (Nevi’im), and writings that include history and poetry (Ketuvim).

Christianity, the largest religion with 31.5% of the world identifying as Christian, is defined as a religion whose followers learn the teachings of Jesus Christ. However, within Christianity there are several branches that have broken off into different religious practices, including Catholicism, Protestant religions, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 

A senior student who wishes to remain anonymous gave us his explanation about Catholicism: “The way we see it, there’s Heaven, Purgatory, and then Hell.” Catholics believe in the Trinity: God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit as one being. They also value the Virgin Mary and believe she’s the mother of all Catholics. “Mother Mary, she was a woman of pure holiness. She hasn’t sinned or anything bad, which is why God chose her to be the mother of Jesus. He saw her to be a good person, and I see that as Beautiful,” he said. 

Protestant isn’t a religion, but instead a set of religions that follows the principles of Reformation: Baptists, Presbyterians, and Lutherans are classified as Protestant. Some Protestants identify as Non-Denominational Christians, which is “Basically your relationship with god,” says Quincy Mares (12). “It is your relationship and no one has to be in your business about it, I work most Sunday’s and so I don’t get to go to church, but I’m still welcomed no matter what. We kind of just do our own thing. We just became an independent church, and I go to the bridge um there the church that do the giveaway things, so I’m not like put down for not going to church or anything, we have a worshipped leader so we do like a band and they like sing in the beginning and then we kinda break off and do our own thing.” 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Mormons or LDS for those who aren’t familiar with the official name, is another protestant Christian religion that is well known in our area. The seminary teachers explained, “We believe in Jesus Christ, our Heavenly Father, and the Holy Ghost.” While Catholics believe these three make-up the Trinity, Latter-day saints believe they are three separate beings.  The seminary teachers continued, “We believe that when Jesus Christ came to the Earth, he organized a church and then we believe that there was a falling away, or an apostasy, and we believe that it was restored in 1830 to Joseph Smith and we believe that it’s the same church that Jesus Christ had organized with Apostles and all that stuff.” They also have views about a premortal existence and Satan and prophets and saving ordinances.

Atheists are people who don’t believe that there is a God or higher being. “I don’t believe in Christianity. I guess I can be considered as an Atheist because I don’t believe in a God. I just don’t believe that there’s this higher being that’s omnipotent and all powerful. And I think that all Humans have to live with their own actions and there’s no reward for being a good person and there’s no punishment for being a bad person,” Trinity Arthur (11) said. 

With technology advancements and scientific breakthroughs, the modern world doesn’t always seem like a place for old practices such as religion. People argue about whether it’s an outdated system or an important source of hope and faith. The issues that make religion look outdated are Sexual Orientation, Drug and Alcohol Use, and Divorce. On the other hand, it’s a way to bring hope to those who need or even a reasoning to live and keep going. Religion as a whole may be outdated to the eyes of some people, but it has helped humans define who they are and why they’re here throughout the ages.