Alternate History

Religion (Think Before You Act)

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Religion is a complex system of cultural and belief systems as well as world views, which establish symbols that
Religious Symbols

Symbols of the some of the world's major religions: (Descending from left to right) Christianity, Judaism,Islam, Shinto, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Wiraqutra

connect to humanity spirituality and moral values in some cases. Most religions use narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories to define their religion as a way to explain the definition of life, but more oftenly, the origins of the universe and life on Earth. Followers often use morality, a certain lifestyle, ethics, and religious laws from their ideas of the universe, nature, and humanity.

Religion is also said as either faith or belief system, but religion differs from private belief since religion has a more public view. They usually have certain, organized behaviors. This sets the definition for how a person can gain membership or adherence, congregations of laity, organized meetings or services as part of worshipping the deity or for prayer, holy places (nature or man-made), and scriptures. The practive of religion has a variety of practives, including sermons, activities in the name of a god (or gods), sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, music, art, dance, public services, and so on. There are also holidays, days which are special for a certain religion, such as Christmas for Christians, Holi Day of Hindus, Sabbath for Jews, and Ramadan for Muslims.

The origins of religion have come from different kinds of different cultures throughout history. Religions usually place either emphasis on belief, or emphasis on practice. They usually focus on the expereince of the religious being, but sometimes, they also consider activities of whole religious groups to be very important. Many of them all claim to be universal, beliebing that its laws and cosmology will be the guide for everyone, but others inyended to practice religion with a closelt defined or localized group. In most parts of the world, religious influence can be seen within many public institutions, such as schools, education, hospitals, families, governments, and politics.

Academics who study relgion often divided it into three main categories: wolrd religions, the most common type of religion which refers to the transcultural, international faiths, indigeneous religions (such as Christianity, Islam, Judiasm, and Hinduism), which refer to smaller, culture or nation-specific relgions groups (such as African tribal religions and Native American tribal religions), and new religious movements, which refer to some of the recent, newest faiths.

Unlike OTL, religion plays a more larger importance in some parts of the world. In Europe, it is considered "usual" to practice their Christian faith as a part of its European culture. In China, Buddhism and Taoism are more widespread without Communism. In Africa, Christianity is the fastest growing religion, quickly moving north in Mali.

List of Largest Religions

Religion Members
1. Christianity 3.1 Billion
2. Buddhism 2.1 Billion
3. Islam 1.3 Billion
4. Hinduism 1.1 BIllion
5. Nonreligious/Atheism/Agnostic 890 Million
6. Chinese traditional religions 830 Million
7. Animist Religions 310 Million
8. African Traditional Religions 270 Million
9. Sikhism 24 Million
10. Judaism 21 Million
11. Spiritism 10 Million
12. Baha'i 8 Million
13. Jainism 6 Million
14. Shinto 5 Million
15. Cao Dai 4 Million
16. Zoroastrianism 3 Million
17. Neo-Paganism 750,000
18. Unitarian Universalism 460,000
19. Rastafari Movement 200,000

List of Religious Movements

  • Abrahamic Religions: They are monotheistic religions that originate from Abraham and his belief in God.
    • Judaism: It is the oldest Abrahamic religion, originating in the belief in Abraham and eventually the people of ancient Israel and Judea. The religion is based on the Torah, a large scribe believed by many followers handed down to the Israelites from the prophet Moses in 1,400 BCE. This along with the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud are the main texts of the religion. Since the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD, the Jewish people have been scattered worldwide. Today, there are 34 million Jews, with 40% living in France and 40% in the United States.
    • Christianity: It is the world’s largest religion in terms of followers. It is based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth who lived during the 1st century AD. He is mentioned in the New Testament (although there was a prediction of his coming in the Old Testament). According to the faith, people have faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, and as Savior and Lord. Almost all Christians believe in the Trinity, which teaches that the Father (God), his Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit are as three persons in one Godhead. Most Christians also connect their faith with the Nicene Creed. As the religion of the Roman and Byzantine Empires in the 1st millennium and of Western Europe through Byzantine expansion and missionary spreading, it became the world’s largest religion existing in every continent through European colonization. There are three main divisions of Christianity, including:
      • Roman Catholicism: It is the largest Christian sect and the first sect of Christianity originating from ancient Rome, which is headed by the Pope in Rome. It is a communion of the Western church and 22 Eastern Catholic Churches. Until the 16th Century (and with the exception of the Orthodox Church), it was the main and only Christian sect of Europe.
      • Protestantism: It originated from the 16th Century during the period of Reformation. It began through the teachings of Martin Luther, who attacked the Catholic Church due to its corruption. Although he wanted to reform the religion, it eventually became an independent sect, struggling to survive the Catholic threat until the 18th Century. Only Roman Catholicism is larger than the sect. It is split into other denominations as well.
      • Eastern Orthodoxy: It is the second sect of Christianity, which was a Greek Rite of the religion (Catholicism was the Roman Rite). It was the official Christian sect of the Byzantine Empire, Russia, and numerous parts of Southern and Eastern Europe. It was formed after the Great Schism when the pope and the patriarch (the leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church) disagreed about certain Christian values. It is split into Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy and the Church of the East.
      • There are also smaller groups not afflicted with the sects mentioned above (except Protestantism maybe), including Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Latter Day Saint movement, whose inclusion in Christianity has been rejected.
    • Islam: It is the youngest of the Abrahamic Religions and it refers to the beliefs taught by the Islamic prophet Muhammad, who was a major political and religious figure of the 7th Century AD. Islam is a major religion of North and West Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and South Asia. Like Christianity, Islam is split into several sects, including Sunni and Shia (though there are other groups), which are further broken down into numerous Islamic sects with a multitude of traditions based on region. The split occurred due to a dispute my Muslims on who was to be the next ruler. One side (who would soon be the Shias) wanted Ali ibn Abi Talib, a relative of Muhammad, to become ruler. The other side (who would soon be the Sunnis) wanted Abu Bakr to be ruler. These differences led to the split of Islam. Wahhabi is the dominant Muslim schools of thought in Persia-Arabia, which also is run by a Sunni and a Shia Supreme Leader (one for each sect).
      • Sunni Islam: It is the largest branch of Islam, which is split into further sects. It is mostly dominant in every area of the Muslim world except Persia, southwestern Mesopotamia, Bahrain, parts of Yemen, Azerbaijan, parts of Arabia, parts of Central Asia, and parts of South Asia.
      • Shia Islam: It is the second largest branch of Islam, which like Sunni Islam, split into further sects. They are found mostly in Persia, southwestern Mesopotamia, Bahrain, parts of Yemen, Azerbaijan, parts of Arabia, parts of Central Asia, and parts of South Asia.
    • Bahá'í Faith: It was a religious movement founded in the 19th Century in Persia-Arabia and since then has spread worldwide (though not a major religious denomination). It teaches the unity of all religious philosophies and accepts all the prophets of the Abrahamic Religions as well as additional prophets including Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the religion.
    • There are also smaller regional Abrahamic religions, including Samaritanism (practiced in Palestine and Syria), the Rastafari movement (practiced in Ethiopia), and Druze (practiced in Palestine and Syria).
  • Indian Religions: They are religions that are either practiced or were founded in the Indian subcontinent. Most of them include similar beliefs including dharma, karma, reincarnation, mantras, yantras, and darśana.
    • Hinduism: It has the oldest and second largest religion of all the Indian religions in terms of membership (only Buddhism is larger). It us a synecdoche combining the philosophies of Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and other related groups from the Indian subcontinent. The beliefs and ideas members share include karma, caste, reincarnation, mantras, yantras, and darśana. Hinduism is not a single religion, but a religion that contains numerous different philosophies amalgamated as Sanātana Dharma.
    • Jainism: It is a religion taught by founders Parsva (9th century BC) and Mahavira (6th century BC). It is a stricter version of Hinduism. It is an ancient Indian religion that believes in non-violence for all life forms in the world. They are found mainly in Hindustan.
    • Buddhism: It is the largest Indian religion which was founded by Siddhattha Gotama in the 6th century BCE. He became the prophet of the religion after witnessing suffering in India, who ran away to search for “enlightenment”. This is a major goal for all believers of this religion. They aim that Gotama wanted to help people end all their suffering (dukkha) by understanding the true nature of phenomena, thereby releasing themselves from a cycle of suffering and rebirth (saṃsāra). This is achieved through a process of Nirvana. Buddhism is not very common in India, yet it has spread to other countries including China and Japan, who have the most members of this religion. Like Christianity and Islam, it is further split into different sects.
      • Theravada Buddhism: It is a sect of Buddhism practiced mostly in Ceylon and parts of Hindustan alongside folk religion. It has both elements of Buddhism and the Indian religions. It is based on a large collection of texts called the Pali Canon.
      • Mahayana Buddhism: It is the largest sect of Buddhism where certain Buddhist doctrines fall into. They are first developed in China and still exist in the Chinese and Japanese Empires, and to a lesser extent, they also exist in Europe and America. Mahayana Buddhism includes teachings such as Zen, Pure Land, and Soka Gakkai.
      • Vajrayana Buddhism: It is considered a form of Mahayana that was developed in Tibet and is still dominant there and the surrounding regions.
      • Two recent notable Buddhist sects are Hòa Hảo and the Dalit Buddhist Movement, which were developed separately in the 20th Century.
    • Sikhism: It is a monotheistic religion founded on the teachings of the religions’ founder Guru Nanak and ten successive Sikh Gurus in 15th century Punjab. They are commonly found in Hindustan, mostly around Punjab. It combines the beliefs of Hinduism and Sufi Islam.
    • There are also dozen of new religions movements within the Indian religions. There are also Hindu reform movements, such as Ayyavazhi and Swaminarayan Faith.
  • Iranian religions: They are religions originated during the times of ancient Iran and were practiced commonly prior to the arrival of Islam in the religion. To this day, these religions are practiced only by minorities.
    • Zoroastrianism: It is the largest ancient Iranian religion at its time before the arrival of Islam, which is based on the teachings of its prophet Zoroaster in the 6th Century BC. Zoroastrians worship the Creator Ahura Mazda. In the religion, good and evil have different sources, with evil attempting to destroy Mazda’s creation with good trying to sustain it.
    • Mandaeism: It is a monotheistic religion with a strongly dualistic view of the world. Mandaeans are sometimes nicknamed the “Last Gnostics”.
    • Kurdish Religions: They are religions originating from the region of Kurdistan. They include the traditional beliefs of the Yazidi, Alevi, and the Ahl-e-Haqq. Sometimes, there are labeled Yazdânism.
  • Folk Religions: It is a term applied to other religions that are often local and less organized. The beliefs of paganism, shamanism, animism, ancestor worship, matriarchal religion, or totemism are included in this category, yet not all of these elements are completely present in local belief systems. The category can generally include any religion not part of an organization. There is a modern neopagan movement which draws on folk religion for inspiration to certain degrees.
    • African Traditional Religions: They are the religions in this category mostly practiced in Africa before the arrival of Islam and Christianity. They include religions like the Yoruba and San religions. There are numerous varieties of religions developed by Africans in the Americas derived from African beliefs, including Santeria, Candomblé, Umbanda, Vodou, and Oyotunji.
    • American Folk Religions: They include the religions of the Amerindians, including the Aztec, Incan, and Mayan religions, and the modern Catholic beliefs such as the Virgin of Guadalupe. Native American religion is still practiced across the American continent, though not as strong as it used to be.
    • Australian Aboriginal Religion: It is a religion from the Australian Aboriginals that contain mythology and sacred practices similar to those practices of folk religion.
    • Chinese Folk Religions: They are a collection of folk religions practiced by the Chinese people around the world, which includes popular beliefs such as Confucianism and Taoism, with some bots of Mahayana Buddhism. Most Chinese do not identify themselves to this religion due to the growing influence of Buddhism, yet they do support religious ceremonies which are still common.
    • Traditional Korean Religion: It is a synthesis of Mahayana Buddhism and Korean shamanism. In contrast with Japanese Shinto, shamanism was never codified while Buddhism was never a social necessity until the Japanese took control of it. While these traditions still survive, Korean-influenced Buddhism is also influential in Japanese-Korean society.
    • Traditional Japanese Religion: Like Traditional Korean Religion, it is a synthesis of Mahayana Buddhism and ancient indigenous Japanese practices which are known as Shinto in the 19th Century. Although Buddhism has gradually taken over Japan, the people still retain attachment to both Shinto and Buddhism through social ceremonies.
  • There are also new religious movements still being practiced today that have been founded in numerous countries, including:
    • Cao Dai: It is a Vietnamese syncretistic, monotheistic religion that originated in 1926. It is, however, illegal in China, which has led to the crackdown on the movement.
    • Unitarian Universalism: It is a religion that supports a “free and responsible search for truth and meaning”.
    • Scientology: It teaches that people are immortal beings who forgot their original, true nature. The method of spiritual rehabilitation is a type of counseling called auditing, in which people of this group aim to re-experience in their minds painful or traumatic events in their past in order to free themselves of certain limiting effects.
    • Eckankar: It is a religion that teaches people that making God is an everyday reality in people’s lives.
    • Sociological classifications of religious movements suggest that in any religious group, there are communities that resemble various types of structures such as “churches”, “denominations”, “sects”, “cults”, and “institutions”.

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