Aviva Directory » Faith & Spirituality » World Religions

Religion is a human characteristic, although it can be difficult to define or quantify.

Gods need not be present to have a religion, as some religions deny the existence of gods. Belief in an afterlife is not required in religion as some deny an afterlife or don't define the present and future self in such a manner. Most societies and cultures include a shared moral code, but it isn't necessarily a product of religion.

It can be challenging to distinguish religious from nonreligious ideology. But we will do the best we can.

There are many definitions for religion. Some describe religion as a belief in spiritual beings, while other definitions are more comprehensive, describing religion in terms of beliefs or practices.

Anthropologists describe religious beliefs and practices as they find them in living communities, while sociologists stress the social dimension of religious ideas, and historians describe religion in terms of events resulting from beliefs. On the other hand, theologians are concerned with the beliefs themselves, whether they are true or false, and the appropriate response to them.

Coined in the 1800s, the term "world religions" originally included only Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. Later, it expanded to include Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, Judaism, and Shinto. Today, and for categorization here, the term will be more flexible.

Traditionally, the world's religions are often divided into Eastern and Western religions. Still, we will include some that don't fit neatly into either of these two categories.

We have tried to sort the world's religions in a way that makes sense, and in that endeavor, we have consulted several resources, not all of which agree. Some religions could appropriately be placed in more than one category as they don't neatly fit into any single category. In that event, we have chosen the one that seems best represented.

There are a lot of religious organizations in the world, and it is likely that we have missed some. If your faith group is missing, please let us know.

Four religions account for the vast majority of people who identify with a religion, over 75% of the world's population, and over 90% of the religious population; these are Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Approximately 15% of the world's population are secular humanists, or atheists, slightly larger than Hinduism and much more significant than Buddhism. This leaves about 10% belonging to all of the other religions combined.

Although Christianity accounts for only about one-third of the world's religious population, it is more prominently featured here because our guide directly lists sites in the English language. Christianity is more greatly represented among websites in English.

Along the same lines, esoteric religions make up a relatively small percentage of the world's religious population, but these religions are well represented in English-language sites. On the other hand, other religions are better represented in languages other than English, so they will appear underrepresented here.

As you can see, we have sorted the world's religions into five major categories: Abrahamic Religions, Eastern Religions, Esoteric Religions, Pagan Religions, and Secular Humanism. Within these headings are sub-headings that eventually drill down to more specific bodies, brotherhoods, communions, cults, denominations, movements, sects, sisterhoods, and non-denominational organizations that comprise the smaller divisions of the world's religions.


Abrahamic Religions

Eastern Religions

Esoteric Religions

Pagan Religions

Secular Humanism



Feature Article

Spirituality vs Religion


Being modern is usually defined as being accepting or being comfortable on some level with all the diverse options the world has to offer. Not being defined by any labels and having the freedom to move between any available trains of thoughts is a highly-valued option as well. Some trains of thought when it comes to a national identity, are often caught between two polar extremes, for example, the concept of being liberal or conservative.

These two options can be considered as broad-brushing, but in popular and repetitive culture around the globe, these two ideas are among the most popular. Persons deeply entrenched in both camps always would look to make the other side appear as the devil incarnate. The reality is usually quite shocking, no one person is 100% a liberal or 100% a conservative on all issues facing a nation.

The concept of freedom is an expression that is extended into the realm of the supernatural. As such, many persons will sign onto the idea of being spiritual but not religious. Spirituality is a belief in a higher power, it hinges on individuals having personal experiences. It takes issue with organized religion at least in its current form, as it is viewed as being given a set of rules and restrictions instead of daily improvement. A religious movement, on the other hand, has a declared moral barometer stemming from a faith system based on supernatural beings.

The Attraction of Being Spiritual

The issue the Church of today has with spirituality can be summed up in one passage:

Revelation 3 verse 16 "But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!"

God is giving a charge to each person to pick a side and remain with that side until their end of days. Just as how most persons would be a proud citizen of their country until their death, so too must Christians have a grounded faith. The issue many persons have with attending church and participating is usually surrounding a man driven doctrine vs a biblical principle. A key example can be women wearing pants in some denominations and in other denominations; worshipers are barred from attending social events such as the movies and even dating. Given the high standard set by Christ, few persons of the world can stand the scrutiny that comes with being a Christian. Therefore, the application of faith must be shown in a way that celebrates God's plan of wanting good superimposed upon Him wanting to bless and expand our holdings while on earth.

Conceptually speaking, it must be made clear that God loves all, but it is the sin of our actions that he despises. It is okay
to think, and to be a scientist, and it is okay to ask God why, so long as the line of blaspheming and denying the Lord is not crossed.

Christian art can only reflect the beauty of a part of his Kingdom; the rest must be reflected in you.

 Author bio: Rana Tarakji is an
 entrepreneur and a contributing writer at
 Stylerail, a lifestyle blog.

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