Religion is a word that can create many emotions and has been at the center of many events throughout history. Religion can be associated with peace and love yet at the same time has been the cause of much death and destruction throughout history. If ever there was a complicated and diverse subject that can arouse all sorts of emotions from love to hatred, it is religion. For thousands of years, religion has continued to have a profound effect upon the world and upon many lives.
There are many different religions, and sub divisions within many religions, making the whole subject quite complicated at times. Religion is basically a set of beliefs as well as the belief in a supreme being(s). Some religions worship several Gods, whereas others worship only one. Religion has always been at the center of controversy, and is likely to remain at the center of controversy for many centuries to come. Those that practice their religions have a set of certain beliefs, a set of traditions that are followed, and a variety of holy days that are celebrated. Devout religious people and families live their lives in a certain way, as is required by their religion.
Christianity is the biggest religion in the world, and is split into a number of variations. There are also many other religions, some of which are briefly outlined below:
Christianity: Christianity has over one thousand million followers, making it the most popular religion in the world. This faith is based on the teaching of Jesus Christ, who was believed to be the Son of God. Over 2000 years old, this religion began in the Middle East, and was founded by Jesus Christ’s followers. The holy book studied by Christians is the old and new testament of the Bible.
Eastern Orthodox Church: A sub section of Christianity, the Eastern Orthodox Church is a communion of independent churches, all sharing the same faith, principles, and beliefs. This branch of Christianity is dominant in countries such as Bulgaria, Belarus, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, Romania, Russia, Serbia, and Ukraine. Established by seven ecumenical councils in the Byzantine period, the Eastern Orthodox Church is represented by the patriarch in Constantinople.
Roman Catholic Church: Also part of Christianity, this branch of the religion makes up the largest sector of this faith. The word catholic means ‘belonging to all’ or ‘universal’. The head of the Roman Catholic Church is the Pope, and there is a distinct hierarchy in the Roman Catholic Church. There are many Cardinals under the Pope, and then come the Archbishops and then the Bishops. Roman Catholics believe that their faith has been passed down, through the Church, since the time of the Apostles, and that the Bible is the word of God himself.
Protestant Church: There are many different Protestant religions all over the world. The largest of these are Lutheran, Episcopalian, Baptist, Presbyterian and Seventh Day Adventist. Protestant Churches are Christian, but many of them have different beliefs and methods of worship. They all believe in God and accept the Bible as the authority on which they base their beliefs. They worship in a church and the religious leaders are called clergy, pastors or father, depending on the particular religion. The clergy is allowed to marry and have family obligations. Most celebrate the Lord’s Day on Sunday with Church worship, but the Seventh Day Adventist followers celebrate the Lord’s Day on Saturday.
Hinduism: Hinduism is the major religion of the people of Southeast Asia, but there are followers of Hinduism in every country of the world. Beginning in India about 30,000 years ago, it is based on ancient writings known as the “Vedas”. This religion embraces an entire way of life. It includes a set of rules that has traditionally organized the people into the caste system. Hindis (people who follow Hinduism) maintain there are many ways to believe in God and there is very little set doctrine that they must believe.
Judaism: Judaism is one of three Abramic religions, along with Islam and Christianity. The Jewish influence on the world throughout history has been prominent. The religion, which is about 3500 years old, began in the Middle East. Known as the parent faith of Christianity, it is based on a founding by Moses and Abraham. There are currently around twelve million followers of Judaism, and they are mainly situated in Israel and the United States.
Islamic: Islam is one of the world religions that is practiced by over one billion people, with about 20% of these in the Middle East. The term “Islam” means surrender and the followers of Islam are called Muslims who surrender to the will of Allah, the Arabic word for God. Islam has acquired a characteristic of uniting the spiritual and temporal and aspects of life. It seeks to regulate an individual’s relationship with God, as well as the relationship with people in social setting. There is an Islamic private institution and an Islamic code governing society as a whole. To the followers, Islam is a religious community committed to bringing its own value systems to the world through the jihad – holy war.