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Western religions refers to religions that originated within Western culture, and are thus historically, culturally, and theologically distinct from the Eastern religions. The term Abrahamic religions (Islam, Christianity and Judaism) is often used instead of using the East and West terminology.
Western culture itself was significantly influenced by the emergence of Christianity and its adoption as the state church of the Roman Empire in the late 4th century and the term "Christendom" largely indicates this intertwined history. Western Christianity was significantly influenced by Hellenistic religion (notably Platonism) as well as the Roman imperial cult. Western Christianity is based on Roman Catholicism (Latin Rite), as opposed to Eastern Orthodoxy, from which it was divided by the Great Schism of the 11th century, and further includes all Protestant traditions splitting off Roman Catholicism from the 16th century.
Since the 19th century, Western religion has diversified into numerous new religious movements, including Occultism, Spiritism and diverse forms of Neopaganism.
"The West" as a culture or civilization historically evolved out of Greco-Roman classical antiquity. These cultures had polytheistic religions, viz. Greek polytheism and Roman polytheism. "Eastern" influences on these religions are evident from the earliest times, the Orientalizing period at the very beginning of Greek antiquity.
During Hellenism and the Roman Empire period, "Eastern" (Oriental) religions exerted a considerable influence on "Western" religion, giving rise to Persian influenced traditions like Gnosticism and Mithraism, as well as Egyptian and "Chaldean" influence on mystery religions (Orphism), astrology and magic. Early Christianity itself is a further example of Orientalizing influence on the later Roman Empire.
During the same period, inherited traditions of native Roman religion were marginalized or overlaid by interpretatio graeca , and the Roman imperial cult evolved into a civil religion which involved state ritual rather than religious faith or experience. Celtic and Germanic religion was described by Roman ethnography as primitive, but at the same time as pure or unspoiled compared to the so-called urban decadence of Rome.
Western Christianity is based on Roman Catholicism (Latin Rite), as opposed to Eastern Orthodoxy, from which it was divided by the Great Schism of the 11th century. Western Christianity itself was divided by the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, and pronouncedly "Western" forms of Christianity include Puritanism and Evangelicalism, movements resulting from the various "Great Awakenings" in the 18th to 20th century English-speaking world and popularly practiced in the United States.
For at least a millennium and a half, Europe has been nearly equivalent to Christian culture.The Christian culture was the predominant force in Western civilization, guiding the course of philosophy, art, music, science, social structure and architecture.
Following the religious wars of the 16th to 17th centuries, the Age of Enlightenment of the 18th century paved the way for a detachment of society and politics from religious questions. Inspired by the American Revolution, the French Revolution brought the idea of secularization and a laicist state granting freedom of religion to Europe. After the turmoils of the Napoleonic Wars, this development caught hold in other parts of Europe, utilizing the German mediatization and the separation of church and state in various European constitutions drawn up after the revolutions of 1848.
The principle of religious freedom introduced in Western society in the early 19th century facilitated the emergence of various new religious movements. First examples were derived from western occultism and the tradition of secret societies such as the Freemasons, but from the later 19th century, the influence of Eastern religions, notably Buddhism and Hinduism played an increasing role. From the mid 20th century, Eastern and Western spiritual traditions were increasingly syncretized in the various movements associated with the New Age and Neopagan countercultures.
The Western world, taken as consisting of Europe, the Americas, Australia-New Zealand and (in part) South Africa and Philippines, remains predominantly Western Christian: 77.4% in North America (2012),90% in Latin America (2011), close to 76.2% in Europe (2010), (includes 35% of European Christians who are Eastern Orthodox especially in Eastern Europe, 76%, not properly part of "Western religion", 46% of European Christians are Roman Catholic, 18% of European Christians are Protestant), 61.1% in Australia-New Zealand (2011), 79% in South Africa and 90% in the Philippines.
The second largest religions in all these regions are smaller by at least an order of magnitude, Islam in Europe (6%)with about 4%, Islam in Canada with about 3%, Judaism in the United States with about 1.7%, and Islam in Australia with about 1.7%.
Most non-Christians in the Western world are irreligious, 22% in Australia, 40% in New Zealand, 18.2% in Europe,16.4% in the USA and 16% in Canada, (Latin America, South Africa and Philippines are more religious). This is a reflection of the tradition of secular humanism which culminated in the 18th century Age of Enlightenment.
Throughout the Western world paganism is becoming increasingly popular.
There remains a minority of the order of 5% of the population in the Western world which adheres to non-Western religions, mostly due to recent immigration, but to some extent also due to proselytization, notably conversion to various sects of Buddhism and Hinduism in the context of the New Age movement in the later part of the 20th century.
Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, whose coming as the messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with about 2.4 billion followers.
Christendom has several meanings. In one contemporary sense, as used in a secular or Protestant context, it may refer to the "Christian world": Christian-majority countries and the countries in which Christianity dominates or prevails, or, in the historic, Catholic sense of the word, the nations in which Catholic Christianity is the established religion, having a Catholic Christian polity.
Modern Paganism, also known as Contemporary Paganism and Neopaganism, is a collective term for new religious movements influenced by or derived from the various historical pagan beliefs of pre-modern peoples. Although they share similarities, contemporary Pagan religious movements are diverse, and do not share a single set of beliefs, practices, or texts. Most academics who study the phenomenon treat it as a movement that is divided into different religions; others characterize it as a single religion of which different Pagan faiths are denominations.
Paganism is a term first used in the fourth century by early Christians for people in the Roman Empire who practiced polytheism. This was either because they were increasingly rural and provincial relative to the Christian population, or because they were not milites Christi. Alternate terms in Christian texts for the same group were hellene, gentile, and heathen. Ritual sacrifice was an integral part of ancient Graeco-Roman religion and was regarded as an indication of whether a person was pagan or Christian.
Western Christianity is one of two sub-divisions of Christianity, composed of the Latin Church and Protestantism, together with their offshoots such as Independent Catholicism and Restorationism. The large majority of the world's 2.3 billion Christians are Western Christians. The original and still major component, the Latin Church, developed under the bishop of Rome in the former Western Roman Empire in Antiquity. Out of the Latin Church emerged a wide variety of independent Protestant denominations, including Lutheranism and Anglicanism, starting from the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, as did Independent Catholicism in the 19th century. Thus, the term "Western Christianity" does not describe a single communion or religious denomination, but is applied to distinguish all these denominations collectively from Eastern Christianity.
Christian art is sacred art which uses themes and imagery from Christianity. Most Christian groups use or have used art to some extent, although some have had strong objections to some forms of religious image, and there have been major periods of iconoclasm within Christianity.
Comparative religion is the branch of the study of religions concerned with the systematic comparison of the doctrines and practices of the world's religions. In general the comparative study of religion yields a deeper understanding of the fundamental philosophical concerns of religion such as ethics, metaphysics, and the nature and forms of salvation. Studying such material facilitates a broadened and more sophisticated understanding of human beliefs and practices regarding the sacred, numinous, spiritual, and divine.
A Christian denomination is a distinct religious body within Christianity, identified by traits such as a name, organization, leadership and doctrine. The Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, and Oriental Orthodoxy, meaning the large majority, all self-describe as churches, whereas many Protestant denominations self-describe as congregations or fellowships. Divisions between one group and another are defined by authority and doctrine; issues such as the nature of Jesus, the authority of apostolic succession, ecclesiology, eschatology, and papal primacy may separate one denomination from another. Groups of denominations—often sharing broadly similar beliefs, practices, and historical ties—are sometimes known as "branches of Christianity". These branches differ in many ways, especially through differences in practices and belief.
The world's principal religions and spiritual traditions may be classified into a small number of major groups, although this is by no means a uniform practice. This theory began in the 18th century with the goal of recognizing the relative levels of civility in societies.
Religion in Europe has been a major influence on today's society, art, culture, philosophy and law. The largest religion in Europe is Christianity, but irreligion and practical secularization are strong. Three countries in Southeastern Europe have Muslim majorities. Ancient European religions included veneration for deities such as Zeus. Modern revival movements of these religions include Heathenism, Rodnovery, Romuva, Druidry, Wicca, and others. Smaller religions include the Dharmic religions, Judaism, and some East Asian religions, which are found in their largest groups in Britain, France, and Kalmykia.
As of 2011, most Armenians are Christians (94.8%) and are members of Armenia's own church, the Armenian Apostolic Church, which is one of the oldest Christian churches. It was founded in the 1st century AD, and in 301 AD became the first branch of Christianity to become a state religion.
Growth of religion is the spread of religions and the increase of religious adherents around the world. Statistics commonly measures the absolute number of adherents, the percentage of the absolute growth per year, and the growth of the number of converts in the world. Projections of future religious adherence depend on assumptions that trends, total fertility-rates, life expectancy, political climates, conversion rates, secularization, etc will continue. Such forecasts cannot be validated empirically and remain contentious, but are useful for comparisons.
Christianity is the largest religion in Europe. Christianity has been practiced in Europe since the first century, and a number of the Pauline Epistles were addressed to Christians living in Greece, as well as other parts of the Roman Empire.
Christianity in Asia has its roots in the very inception of Christianity, which originated from the life and teachings of Jesus in 1st-century Roman Judea. Christianity then spread through the missionary work of his apostles, first in the Levant and taking roots in the major cities such as Jerusalem and Antioch. According to tradition, further eastward expansion occurred via the preaching of Thomas the Apostle, who established Christianity in the Parthian Empire (Iran) and India. The very First Ecumenical Council was held in the city of Nicaea in Asia Minor (325). The first nations to adopt Christianity as a state religion were Armenia in 301 and Georgia in 327. By the 4th century, Christianity became the dominant religion in all Asian provinces of the Eastern Roman Empire.
Religion in Eritrea mainly consists of Abrahamic faiths. Since May 2002, the Eritrean government has officially recognized the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Eritrean Catholic Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Eritrea, and Sunni Islam. All other faiths and denominations are in principle required to undergo a registration process; in practice they are not allowed to register. Among other things, the government's registration system requires religious groups to submit personal information on their membership to be allowed to worship.
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization, Occidental culture, the Western world, Western society, and European civilization, is the heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, belief systems, political systems, artifacts and technologies that originated in or are associated with Europe. The term also applies beyond Europe to countries and cultures whose histories are strongly connected to Europe by immigration, colonization, or influence. For example, Western culture includes countries in the Americas and Australasia, whose language and demographic ethnicity majorities are of European descent. Western culture has its roots in Greco-Roman culture from classical antiquity.
Religion in Hungary has been dominated by forms of Christianity for centuries. According to the 2011 census, 54.2% of the Hungarians declared to believe in Christianity, of whom 38.9% were Catholics, 13.8% were Protestants, 0.1% were Orthodox Christians, and 1.3% were members of other Christian groups. At the same time, 27.2% of the Hungarians did not declare a religious affiliation, 16.7% declared explicitly to be not religious and 1.5% atheists. Minority religions practised in Hungary include Buddhism, Islam and Judaism.
Christianity is the predominant religion in Slovakia. The majority (62%) of Slovaks belong to the Latin Church of Catholicism; with the addition of a further 4% of Greek (Byzantine) Catholics, all Catholics account for 66%. Members of a Protestant denomination, mainly Lutheran or Reformed, account for 9%. Members of other churches, including those non-registered, account for 1.1% of the population. The Eastern Orthodox Christians are mostly found in Ruthenian (Rusyns) areas. The Roman Catholic Church divides the country into 8 dioceses including 3 archdioceses in two different provinces. The Slovak Greek Catholic Church is a Metropolitan sui iuris Church with three Eparchies in Slovakia and one in Canada. Generally about one third of church members regularly attend church services.
Religious syncretism exhibits blending of two or more religious belief systems into a new system, or the incorporation into a religious tradition of beliefs from unrelated traditions. It is contrasted by the idea of multiple religious belonging and polytheism, respectively.