List of Religions and Spiritual Traditions
While religion is hard to define, one standard model of religion, used in religious studies courses, who defined it as a
[…] system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic.”
A critique of Indian model by Talal Asad categorized religion as “an anthropological category.” Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws, or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions, churches, denominations, religious bodies, faith groups, tribes, cultures, movements, ultimate concerns, etc.
The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with “faith” or “belief system“, but religion differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect. Most religions have organized behaviours, including clerical hierarchies, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, congregations of laity, regular meetings or services for the purposes of veneration of a deity or for prayer, holy places (either natural or architectural) or religious texts. Certain religions also have a sacred language often used in liturgical services. The practice of a religion may also include sermons, commemoration of the activities of God or gods – goddesses sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, rituals, rites, ceremonies, worship, initiations, funerals, marriages, meditation, invocation, mediumship, music, art, dance, public service or other aspects of human culture. Religious beliefs have also been used to explain parapsychological phenomena such as out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences and reincarnation, along with many other paranormal and supernatural experiences.
Some academics studying the subject have divided religions into three broad categories: world religions, a term which refers to transcultural, international faiths; indigenous religions, which refers to smaller, culture-specific or nation-specific religious groups; and new religious movements, which refers to recently developed faiths. One modern academic theory of religion, social constructionism, says that religion is a modern concept that suggests all spiritual practice and worship follows a model similar to the Abrahamic religions as an orientation system that helps to interpret reality and define human beings, and thus religion, as a concept, has been applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures that are not based upon such systems, or in which these systems are a substantially simpler construct. See Myth
Religious traditions fall into super-groups in comparative religion, arranged by historical origin and mutual influence.
East Asian Religions
The East Asian religions or Taoic religions form a subset of the Eastern religions. This group includes Chinese religion overall, which further includes ancestral worship, Chinese folk religion, Confucianism, Taoism and so-called popular salvationist organisations (such as Yiguandao and Weixinism), as well as elements drawn from Mahayana Buddhism that form the core of Chinese Buddhism and East Asian Buddhism at large. The group also includes Japanese Shintoism and Korean Sindoism (both meaning “Ways of Gods” and identifying the indigenous shamanic religion and ancestor worship of such peoples), which have received influences from Chinese religions throughout the centuries. Chinese salvationist religions have influenced the rise of Korean and Japanese new religions—for instance, respectively, Jeungsanism, and Tenriism; these movements draw upon indigenous traditions but are heavily influenced by Chinese philosophy and theology.
All these religious traditions, more or less, share core Chinese concepts of spirituality, divinity and world order, including Tao 道 (“Way”; pinyin dào, Japanese tō or dō, and Korean do) and Tian 天 (“Heaven”; Japanese ten, and Korean cheon).
Indian religions, sometimes also termed as Dharmic faiths or Dharmic religions (Dharma), are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent; namely Hinduism (2 schools Vedanta and Yoga, and 7 denominations Ayyavazhi, Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism, Smartism, and Śrauta), Jainism (Digambara, Śvētāmbara), Buddhism (Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana) and Sikhism. These religions are also all classified as Eastern religions. Although Indian religions are connected through the history of India, they constitute a wide range of religious communities, and are not confined to the Indian subcontinent.
New Buddhist movements
Global variants of Buddhism
Guru Nanak founded Sikhism.
Nāstik (Heterodox Indian)
Middle Eastern religions
See also: Western Religions
Middle Eastern religions originated in the Middle East; namely Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) and Iranian religions (Zoroastrianism, Yazdanism and historical traditions of Gnosticism, Mandaeism, Manichaeism).
Traditional Christian groups
Modern Christian groups
Star of David
Black Hebrew Israelites
Indigenous (ethnic, folk) religions
Indigenous Religions or Nature Religion that consist of the traditional customs and beliefs (Paganism, Animism, Totemism, Shamanism) of particular ethnic groups, refined and expanded upon for thousands of years, often lacking formal doctrine.
Indigenous religions, formerly found on every continent, but now marginalized by the major organized faiths. Despite this, they often persist as undercurrents of folk religion. This category includes African religions (African traditional and Diasporic African), Asian Shamanism, Native American religions, Mesoamerican Religion, Aztec Religion, Inuit Religion, Austronesian and Australian Aboriginal traditions, Ethnic religion, and arguably Chinese folk religion (overlaps with Far Eastern religions).
Traditional African religions
Tai and Miao
New religious movements
New ethnic religions
Post-theistic and naturalistic religions
New Hindu derived religions
Historical religions of the ancient world shared many of the same patterns with each other even though the cultures may never have had any contact with each other. Such as Prehistoric religion, Ancient Egyptian Religion, Ancient Mesopotamian Religion, Brahmanism, Religion in pre-Islamic Arabia, Inca mythology, ancient Greece and Rome and their Hellenistic descendants.
Religious history begins with the invention of writing about 5,200 years ago (3200 BCE). The prehistory of religion involves the study of religious beliefs that existed prior to the advent of written records. See History of Religion and Pantheon
Main article: Religions of The Ancient Near East
Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia