Types of religion around the world and throughout history


Types of religion around the world and throughout history

To talk about types of religion; we should recognize their categories. There are a range of ways to categorize religious beliefs and practices and a range of ways people identify their own beliefs.

Thus; believers/adherents (and non-believers/non-adherents) may self-identify or be described by others in several ways including non-practicing; secular, modern, reformist, moderate, observant, conservative, orthodox, fundamentalist and/or extremist.


Types of Religious Organizations

    • Polytheism
    • Monotheism
    • Atheism
    • Animism
    • Totemism

Remark that some religions may be practiced in different categories. For example, the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity (God, Jesus, Holy Spirit) defies the definition of monotheism, which is a religion based on faith in a single deity; to some scholars.

Similarly, many Westerners view the multiple manifestations of Hinduism’s godhead as polytheistic; which is a religion based on a belief in multiple deities; while Hindus might describe those manifestations are a monotheistic parallel to the Christian Trinity. Some Japanese practice Shinto, which follows animism; which is a religion that believes in the divinity of nonhuman beings, like animals, plants, and objects of the natural world, while people who practice totemism believe in a divine connection between humans and other natural beings.

It is also important to note that every society also has nonbelievers, such as atheists; who do not believe in a divine being or entity, and agnostics, who hold that ultimate reality (such as God) is unknowable. While typically not an organized group; atheists and agnostics represent a meaningful portion of the population. It is important to recognize that being a nonbeliever in a divine entity does not mean the individual subscribes to no morality.

Types Of Religion:

The primary religions of the world (Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Confucianism, Christianity, Taoism, and Judaism) differ in many respects, including how each religion is organized and the belief system each supports. Other differences include the kind of belief in a higher power; the history of how the world and the religion started, and the practice of sacred texts and objects.

Demographic Data:

  1. Demographic data about people and their faith systems from across the world are not always analogous and often vary. Some of the factors adding to these variances include:
    •People may identify as an adherent of more than one belief system (ex: Buddhist and Atheist) or as a portion of more than one recognized religion (ex: Some Jains identify as Hindus).
    • Some governments do not collect data about the religious beliefs and affiliations of their citizens.
    • Surveys and studies usually group data on belief systems in different ways (ex: African people’s religions are not included in all studies across the globe).

The Study:

The demographic study – based on analysis of more than 2,500 censuses; surveys and population records – finds 2.2 billion Christians (32% of the world’s population), 1.6 billion Muslims (23%); 1 billion Hindus (15%), nearly 500 million Buddhists (7%) and 14 million Jews (0.2%) around the world as of 2010. Also; more than 400 million people (6%) practice various folk or traditional religions; including African traditional religions, Chinese folk religions, Native American religions; and Australian aboriginal religions.

An approximated 58 million people – slightly less than 1% of the global population – belong to other religions, including the Baha’i faith, Jainism, Sikhism, Shintoism, Taoism, Tenrikyo, Wicca, and Zoroastrianism, to mention just a few. At the same time; the new study by the Pew Forum also finds that roughly one-in-six people around the globe (1.1 billion, or 16%) have no religious affiliation. This makes the unaffiliated the third-largest religious group worldwide; following Christians and Muslims, and about equivalent in size to the world’s Catholic community. Studies indicate that many of the unaffiliated hold some religious or spiritual convictions (such as belief in God or a universal spirit) even though they do not identify with a particular faith.

World Religions

the reference: 1, 2, 3



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Mercy Cuthbert
Mom, Wife, Author, Bachelor of Arts Comparative Religion.

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