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A Brief Overview of World Religions

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 15 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
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Many religions exist and are practised in the world today. Continue reading for a brief introduction to some of the largest of the world religions.


The Baha'i religion was founded in Persia in 1863. Its goal is to combine all religions into a single religion based on shared humanity. Today there are close to 6,000 Bahais in the UK.


The Baptist Church is the fifth largest Christian church in the world and the second fastest growing Christian denomination in the world. The Baptist Church was so named because of the Church's practice of immersing members fully in water during baptism.


Buddhism originated 3,000 years ago with Siddhartha Gautama's search for Enlightenment. Gautama became known as the Buddha, and his followers are now known as Buddhists.


Christianity is the largest religion in the world with over two billion followers. There over 1,500 different branches of Christianity in the world today.


The term "Episcopalian" relates to Protestant churches in the Anglican Communion. "The Episcopal Church" is a term that often denotes the Anglican Church in America.


Hinduism is one of the world's oldest religions. It is a mix of legend, myth, customs and rituals. There are close to 100 million Hindus worldwide.


Islam is the second biggest religion in the world. There are over 1 billion Muslims worldwide. Today a split in Islam has resulted in Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims, though each group agrees on certain core beliefs of Islam.


Jainism was founded before Christianity and teaches that the way to spiritual bliss is through harmlessness and renunciation.


Judaism was founded over 3,000 years ago. Jews believe that they are the chosen people of God and as such they live the Jewish laws that respect and worship God. Today there are over 12 million Jews in the world, and over 300,000 Jews living in the UK.


The Methodist Church was founded in England by John Wesley. After his death his followers founded the Methodist church. Today Methodism is the fourth largest Christian church in the United Kingdom.


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was founded in upstate New York (USA) in 1830. Today there are over 12 million Mormons worldwide, and close to 200,000 in the UK.


Presbyterianism is a form of Protestant Christianity that primarily traces its roots back to the Scottish Reformation of 1560.

Roman Catholicism

Roman Catholicism is the oldest branch of Christianity, dating back over 2,000 years, as well as the largest branch with over 1 billion members. Roman Catholicism is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ was founded by His Disciples after His Resurrection.


Shintoism is based upon a belief that there are kami, or spiritual beings, present in the world. Today Shintoism remains a kind of unofficial religion in Japan.


Sikhism was founded almost seven centuries ago by Guru Nanak who stressed doing good works above carrying out religious rituals.


Taoism is an ancient Chinese philosophy. One of the major pursuits of Taoism is to achieve a balance of complementary elements.

The Church in Wales

The Church in Wales is a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The Church of England

The Church of England is the state church of England. The Church of England is the largest Christian denomination in England and a type of Anglicanism.

The Church of Ireland

The Church of Ireland is the largest form of Protestant Christianity in the Republic of Ireland and the second largest form in Northern Ireland. It is a type of Anglicanism.

The Church of Scotland

The Church of Scotland is the national church of Scotland. It is informally known as "The Kirk". According to the 2001 National Census, over 40% of the Scottish population identify themselves as members of the Church of Scotland.

The Scottish Episcopal Church

The Scottish Episcopal Church is a member of the Anglican Communion.


Unitarianism, sometimes also referred to as Unitarian Universalism, is a liberal religion known for its lack of dogma. There are approximately 6,000 Unitarians in the United Kingdom, and 800,000 Unitarians worldwide.

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