List of religions and spiritual traditions

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While the word religion is difficult to define, one standard model of religion used in religious studies courses defines it as

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[a] system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic. [1]

Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws, or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions, churches, denominations, religious bodies, faith groups, tribes, cultures, movements, or ultimate concerns. [2]

The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with the words "faith" or "belief system", but religion differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect. Most religions have organized behaviours, including clerical hierarchies, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, congregations of laity, regular meetings or services for the purposes of veneration of a deity or for prayer, holy places (either natural or architectural) or religious texts. Certain religions also have a sacred language often used in liturgical services. The practice of a religion may also include sermons, commemoration of the activities of a God or gods, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, rituals, liturgies, ceremonies, worship, initiations, funerals, marriages, meditation, invocation, mediumship, music, art, dance, public service, or other aspects of human culture. Religious beliefs have also been used to explain parapsychological phenomena such as out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences, and reincarnation, along with many other paranormal and supernatural experiences. [3] [4]

Some academics studying the subject have divided religions into three broad categories: world religions, a term which refers to transcultural, international faiths; Indigenous religions, which refers to smaller, culture-specific or nation-specific religious groups; and new religious movements, which refers to recently developed faiths. [5] One modern academic theory of religion, social constructionism, says that religion is a modern concept that suggests all spiritual practice and worship follows a model similar to the Abrahamic religions as an orientation system that helps to interpret reality and define human beings, [6] and thus believes that religion, as a concept, has been applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures that are not based upon such systems, or in which these systems are a substantially simpler construct.

Eastern religions

Eastern religions are the religions which originated in East, South and Southeast Asia encompassing a diverse range of eastern and spiritual traditions. [7]

East Asian religions

World religions that originated in East Asia, also known as Taoic religions; namely Taoism and Confucianism and religions and traditions descended from them.

Chinese philosophy schools

Confucianism

Taoism

Syncretic Taoism

Indian religions

The four world religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent, also known as Dharmic religions; namely Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism and religions and traditions descended from them.

Buddhism

Dharmic philosophy schools

Hinduism

Syncretic Hinduism

Jainism

Sikhism

Sects such as the Nirankari, Ramraiya and Namdhari are not accepted within the Sikh Rehat Maryada (Sikh Code of Conduct) as they believe in a current human Satguru which goes against Guru Gobind Singh Ji's Dohra in Ardaas.

Yoga

Abrahamic religions

Christianity

Early ChristianityEastern ChristianityWestern Christianity

Syncretic

Other

Islam

Shia IslamSufismSunni Islam

Syncretic

Other

Judaism

Historical Judaism

KabbalahNon-Rabbinic JudaismRabbinic Judaism

Other Abrahamic

Iranian religions

Manichaeism

Yazdânism

Zoroastrianism

Indigenous (ethnic, folk) religions

Religions that consist of the traditional customs and beliefs of particular ethnic groups, refined and expanded upon for thousands of years, often lacking formal doctrine. Some adherents do not consider their ways to be "religion", preferring other cultural terms.

African

Traditional African

Diasporic African

Altaic

American

Austroasiatic

Austronesian

Caucasian

Dravidian

Indo-European

Koreanic and Japonic

Melanesian and Aboriginal

Negrito

Paleosiberian

Sino-Tibetan

Tai and Miao

Uralic

Other

New religious movements

Religions that cannot be classed as either world religions or traditional folk religions, and are usually recent in their inception. [13]

Cargo cults

New ethnic religions

Black

Black Hebrew IsraelitesRastafari

White

Native American

World religion-derived new religions

Abrahamic-derived

Chinese salvationist religions

Hindu reform movements

Muist-derived

Neo-Buddhism

Perennial and interfaith

Shinshukyo

Sikh-derived

Modern paganism

Ethnic neopaganism

Syncretic neopaganism

Entheogenic religions

New Age Movement

New Thought

Parody religions and fiction-based religions

Post-theistic and naturalistic religions

UFO religions

Western esotericism

Historical religions

Prehistoric religion

Bronze Age

Classical antiquity

Post-classical period

Other categorisations

By demographics

By area

See also

Related Research Articles

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The history of religion refers to the written record of human religious feelings, thoughts, and ideas. This period of religious history begins with the invention of writing about 5,200 years ago. The prehistory of religion involves the study of religious beliefs that existed prior to the advent of written records. One can also study comparative religious chronology through a timeline of religion. Writing played a major role in standardizing religious texts regardless of time or location, and making easier the memorization of prayers and divine rules.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Modern paganism</span> Religions shaped by historical paganism

Modern paganism, also known as contemporary paganism and neopaganism, is a type of religion or family of religions influenced by the various historical pre-Christian beliefs of pre-modern peoples in Europe and adjacent areas of North Africa and the Near East. Although they share similarities, contemporary pagan movements are diverse and as a result, they do not share a single set of beliefs, practices, or texts. Scholars of religion often characterise these traditions as new religious movements. Some academics who study the phenomenon treat it as a movement that is divided into different religions while others characterize it as a single religion of which different pagan faiths are denominations.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ethnic religion</span> Religion associated with a particular ethnic group

In religious studies, an ethnic religion is a religion or belief associated with a particular ethnic group. Ethnic religions are often distinguished from universal religions, such as Christianity or Islam, in which gaining converts is a primary objective and, therefore, are not limited in ethnic, national or racial scope.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to spirituality:

Nature worship also called naturism or physiolatry is any of a variety of religious, spiritual and devotional practices that focus on the worship of the nature spirits considered to be behind the natural phenomena visible throughout nature. A nature deity can be in charge of nature, a place, a biotope, the biosphere, the cosmos, or the universe. Nature worship is often considered the primitive source of modern religious beliefs and can be found in pantheism, panentheism, deism, polytheism, animism, Taoism, totemism, Hinduism, shamanism, some theism and paganism including Wicca. Common to most forms of nature worship is a spiritual focus on the individual's connection and influence on some aspects of the natural world and reverence towards it. Due to their admiration of nature, the works of Edmund Spenser, Anthony Ashley-Cooper and Carl Linnaeus were viewed as nature worship.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Religion in Russia</span> History Of Religion in Russia

Religion in Russia is diverse, with Orthodox Christianity being the most widely professed faith, but with significant minorities of non-religious people and adherents of other faiths. A 1997 law on religion recognises the right to freedom of conscience and creed to all the citizenry, the spiritual contribution of Orthodox Christianity to the history of Russia, and respect to "Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and other religions and creeds which constitute an inseparable part of the historical heritage of Russia's peoples", including ethnic religions or paganism, either preserved, or revived. According to the law, any religious organisation may be recognised as "traditional", if it was already in existence before 1982, and each newly founded religious group has to provide its credentials and re-register yearly for fifteen years, and, in the meantime until eventual recognition, stay without rights.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Celtic neopaganism</span> Modern paganism based on ancient Celtic traditions

Celtic neopaganism refers to any type of modern paganism or contemporary pagan movements based on the ancient Celtic religion. One approach is Celtic Reconstructionism (CR), which emphasizes historical accuracy in reviving Celtic traditions. CR practitioners rely on historical sources and archaeology for their rituals and beliefs, including offerings to spirits and deities. Language study and preservation are essential, and daily life often incorporates ritual elements. While distinct from eclectic pagan and neopagan witchcraft traditions, there is some overlap with Neo-druidism.

Modern paganism in the United States is represented by widely different movements and organizations. The largest modern pagan religious movement is Wicca, followed by Neodruidism. Both of these religions or spiritual paths were introduced during the 1950s and 1960s from Great Britain. Germanic Neopaganism and Kemetism appeared in the US in the early 1970s. Hellenic Neopaganism appeared in the 1990s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nature religion</span> Religious movement

A nature religion is a religious movement that believes nature and the natural world is an embodiment of divinity, sacredness or spiritual power. Nature religions include indigenous religions practiced in various parts of the world by cultures who consider the environment to be imbued with spirits and other sacred entities. It also includes modern Pagan faiths, which are primarily concentrated in Europe and North America.

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Semitic neopaganism is a group of religions based on or attempting to reconstruct the ancient Semitic religions, mostly practiced among Jews in the United States.

Postmodern religion is any type of religion that is influenced by postmodernism and postmodern philosophies. Examples of religions that may be interpreted using postmodern philosophy include Postmodern Christianity, Postmodern Neopaganism, and Postmodern Buddhism. Postmodern religion is not an attempt to banish religion from the public sphere; rather, it is a philosophical approach to religion that critically considers orthodox assumptions. Postmodern religious systems of thought view realities as plural, subjective, and dependent on the individual's worldview. Postmodern interpretations of religion acknowledge and value a multiplicity of diverse interpretations of truth, being, and ways of seeing. There is a rejection of sharp distinctions and global or dominant metanarratives in postmodern religion, and this reflects one of the core principles of postmodern philosophy. A postmodern interpretation of religion emphasises the key point that religious truth is highly individualistic, subjective, and resides within the individual.

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<i>Pagan Theology</i> 2003 book by Michael York

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Religious syncretism is the blending of religious belief systems into a new system, or the incorporation of other beliefs into an existing religious tradition.

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