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Do Now: How would you define
religion?
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A relatively structured set of beliefs and
practices through which people achieve mental
and physical harmony with the powers of the
universe
Rituals provide milestones along the course of
our lives that are observed and celebrated
Religions often attempt to accommodate or
influence the forces of nature, life and death
Religions help people make sense of their
place in the world
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Movement away from control of life by a
religion
Indifference to or rejection of formal religious
belief or practice
Prevalent in contemporary Europe
The U.S. is among the most religious among
MDCs
UNIVERSALIZING
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A.K.A.
proselytic/proselytizing
religions
Actively seek new members
Aim to convert all
humankind (missionaries)
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May use persuasion or
violence to convert the
“heathen”
Widespread distribution
Relatively few in number
Relatively recent in origin
ETHNIC
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Identified with a
particular ethnic or
tribal group
Does not seek converts
Born into faith
Most religions
throughout history
Usually, spatially
concentrated
Based on the
previous
definition, can
you list some
universalizing
and ethnic
religions based
on your study of
global history?
Universalizing
Ethnic
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Monotheistic religions
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Believe in only one God
May expressly forbid the worship of other
gods
Relatively recent dominance
Polytheistic religions

Believe there are many gods or spirits
 Vodun – West African religious tradition
 Diffused to Americas via enslavement
 “Voodoo”
 One supreme God + hundreds of spirits (iwa)
SYNCRETIC RELIGION
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Combines elements of two or
more belief systems
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Shintoism – blends Buddhism
with local Japanese religion
Umbanda – practiced in parts
of Brazil
ORTHODOX RELIGION
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 Blends elements of Catholicism
with a reverence for the souls of
Indians, wise men, and
historical Brazilian figures, with
a dash of spiritism (19th century
European belief in contacting
spirits through mediums)
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Emphasizes purity of
faith
Generally not open to
blending with elements
of other belief systems
Many religions have
orthodox strains

Animist Traditions
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Hindu-Buddhist Traditions
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Various ethnic, tribal forms of nature
worship (Native American/Voodoo)
Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism
many levels of existence (reincarnation)
began in same geographic region (India)
Abrahamic Traditions
Judaism, Christianity, Islam
 similar origin stories, core beliefs/codes of
conduct, monotheistic, same geographic
area of origin
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Spaces that possess special religious meaning
Recognized as worthy of devotion, loyalty, fear,
or esteem
May be natural or man-made
May include the site of supposed supernatural
events
May be viewed as the abode of gods
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Journey to a sacred
site
Various types of
places may be
visited by pilgrims
Important aspect of
many faiths
19th century woodcut
print depicting a
pilgrimage to the Ise
shrine – located in the
culture hearth of
Shinto
Bulguksa Temple,
Gyeongju, South
Korea
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Buildings erected to house divinities or shelter
worshippers
Vary greatly in size, function, architectural
style, construction material, and degree of
ornateness
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Variations in how religions treat the dead
appear in the cultural landscape
Cemeteries, shrines, monuments
Utilize ancient cultural traits
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Zoroastrianism (a once widespread Middle Eastern
faith now confined to parts of India) left dead
exposed to be devoured by vultures  no impact on
landscape
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Hinduism blended
with animism
Temples to family
ancestors occupy
prominent places
outside the houses of
the Balinese
Does not exist in
India, the hearth of
Hinduism
Comparing Five Major World Religions