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Religions of the World
1. Religion is a belief in a
Belief system centered around the creation and purpose of the
2. Types
of Religions
Monotheistic – belief in one god
Polytheistic – belief in more that one god/goddess
Animistic or Traditional – belief in divine sources/nature
3. The three religions that began in Southwest Asia are:
 Judaism - Some of the major beliefs of Judaism are:
a. Monotheism - belief in one God
b. God made a special covenant or agreement with
Abraham, who is the 'father' of the Jewish people.
c. God revealed his laws to his people through Moses and the
Ten Commandments
d. The Holy text is the Torah/Talmud (first five books
of the Old Testament Bible.
 Christianity was heavily influenced by Judaism. Some of the major
beliefs of Christianity are:
Jesus is the Son of God and was sent as the Messiah
Salvation comes through belief in Jesus Christ
Christians believe the Old and New Testament of the Bible are
holy books. The first four books of the New Testament were
written by followers of Jesus and they are based on his life and
Some branches of Christianity are:
Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, and Eastern Orthodox
 Islam is a monotheistic religion that developed in Saudi Arabia in
the early 600s. Islam is directly related to Judaism and
Islam was founded by the prophet Muhammad who lived from 570 632 in Saudi Arabia.
The five pillars or central teachings of Islam are:
a. Faith in Allah
b. Prayer 5 times daily
c. Alms for the poor (charity)
d. Hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca
e. Fasting during the month of Ramadan (holy month)
The teachings of Muhammad were collected into a book called the
Koran or Qur’an.
Muslims worship in buildings called mosque.
 Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world. It is a
polytheistic religion that originated in South Asia, present day India,
around 2500 B.C.E.
Atman is the spirit or soul of a person, which most Hindus
is eternal.
Brahman refers to a supreme spirit but it can also mean an infinite
and unchanging reality.
Hindus believe that the goal of life is to achieve their dharma or
predestined moral obligation.
Hindus believe in reincarnation and karma. A person dies then is
reborn, until they achieve their dharma.
Hindus have several holy books called the, Vedas, and the
Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita.
The caste system is a system of social organization in India. When
a person is born they are born into one of four castes or as a
Dalit. This system has led to discrimination and has been outlawed
in India. Hindus still debate whether the caste system is part of
Hinduism or an outdated social custom.
The castes are:
a. Brahmins (Teachers and Priests)
b. Warriors, nobles, kings
c. Merchants, farmers, businessmen
d. Servants and laborers
*Dalits are the lowest order of the caste system. They were
once referred to as untouchables.
 Buddhism is related to Hinduism and shares many of the same basic
beliefs. The relationship between Buddhism and Hinduism is similar to
the relationship between Christianity and Judaism.
Buddhism was founded by a man named Prince Siddhartha Gautama who
was born around 500 - 400 B.C. in India. Siddhartha changed his name
to“Buddha” which means the “enlightened one”.
Buddhists believe in reincarnation or rebirth.
Buddha taught that human suffering was caused by human desire for
worldly possessions (like material wealth).
Buddhists work to break from their dependence on worldly things and
achieve nirvana or a state of enlightenment.
 Taoism is a religion or philosophy that began in China around 500 - 400
Tradition says that Taoism is based on the teachings of Lao-Tze.
Tao Te Ching is a collection of his teachings.
 Confucianism is a philosophy that began in China around 500 - 400 B.C.
It is based on the teachings of Confucius.
Confucianism is concerned mainly with social organization. It
emphasized respect for elders and education.
One ancient belief that has been incorporated into many religions in
Asia is the idea of ancestor worship.
 Shintoism is practiced mainly in Japan. It is a polytheistic religion.