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6 religions you may not know about

By BY JENNIFER PREYSS - JLPREYSS@VICAD.COM
Jan. 18, 2013 at midnight
Updated Jan. 17, 2013 at 7:18 p.m.


Top Three Belief Categories

• Christianity worldwide: 33 percent, 2.1 billion

• Islam worldwide: 21 percent, 1.5 billion

• Secular/non religious: 16 percent, 1.1 billion

Zoroastrianism

150-200,000 followers

TRADITION: Indigenous

TIME PERIOD: 6th century B.C. ancient Persia (Iran)

DESCRIPTION:

• One of the oldest living religions

• Concept of God incorporates both monotheism and dualism.

• Religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster.

• Emphasis on good thoughts, good words and good deeds.

• Man's moral struggle between good and evil and freedom of choice, involves eternal wise lord, Ahura Mazda, with evil adversary, Ahriman.

Jainism

4.2 million followers

TRADITION: Eastern Spirituality

TIME PERIOD: 550 B.C. in India

DESCRIPTION:

• All life is sacred and must not be harmed.

• Emphasis on non-violence, gentility, compassion, vegetarianism.

• Vows to abstain from killing, sexual activity, lying, stealing and becoming attached to worldly possessions.

• Monks and nuns carry small brooms to brush away insects in their path and wear face masks to prevent inhalation of flies.

• Founded by Mahavira, or the "Great Hero," a contemporary of Buddha, who prioritized strict self-restraint, such as fasting to burn off karma.

Ahmadiyya

170 million followers

TRADITION: Abrahamic

TIME PERIOD: 1889 in India

DESCRIPTION:

• A sect of Islam founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who claimed to be the manifestation of the Prophet Muhammad, incarnation of Jesus and the Hindu god Krishna.

• Teachings include that Jesus wasn't crucified or resurrected and lived to be 120 years old in India.

• Ahmad reinterpreted jihad as a nonviolent battle against nonbelievers, using the pen as its weapon instead of sword.

• Sect split into two groups in early 1900s: Qadiani, who recognize Ahmad as a prophet; and Lahore, who regard Ahmad as a reformer of Islam.

Society of Friends, Quakers

400,000 followers

TRADITION: European Christianities

TIME PERIOD: 1640's

DESCRIPTION:

• Founded by George Fox in England, a critic of the Church of England

• Quakers often wait silently and patiently during worship for the Holy Spirit to move and speak to them.

• Also known as "Children of the Light" "Friends of Truth"

• Belive that all people can experience God without intervention of clergy, and God is present to all people without religious sacraments.

• Services are known as meetings, often with no designated leader or predetermined structure.

Coptic Christianity

12-18 million followers

TRADITION: World Christianities

TIME PERIOD: 42 A.D.

DESCRIPTION:

• A sect of Orthodox Christianity developed in Egypt.

• The first Christians in Egypt spoke Egyptian Coptic, spoken in Egypt until the 17th century.

• The church was established by St. Mark, an apostle of Jesus.

• About 10 percent of Egyptians belong to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.

Candomble

2 million followers

TRADITION: Fusion Religion

TIME PERIOD: 1800s

DESCRIPTION:

• Blends African deities known as orixas, with Roman Catholicism.

• Believe in one God, Oludumare, who is served by lesser deities.

• Afro-Brazilian religion, practiced mainly in Brazil

• Teachings include that gods give life, protection, advice and followers should give gods food, animal, celebration and initiation offerings.

Health and harmony are based on a person's ability to balance forces from all gods.

In 1994, six miles from Urfa, Turkey, the world's oldest religious temple was excavated by German and Turkish archeologists. Predating Stonehenge by more than 6,000 years, the Gobekli Tepe, or humanity's first "cathedral on a hill," is estimated to have been erected about 9,000 B.C.

Man and religion have an ancient relationship, evidenced by historical religious rituals and figurines that predate even the Gobekli Tepe.

And the practice of religion continues to be prevalent in nearly every country worldwide. It's estimated that 51 percent of people around the globe believe in some divine entity, according to a 2011 study from the Ipsos Social Research Institute. The study also estimates that 51 percent of people worldwide believe in an afterlife.

There are hundreds of documented religions worldwide, but not all religions are widespread, or well known.

Below are brief descriptions of six lesser known religions that have been documented throughout history.

SOURCE: "30-Second Religion," by Russell Re Manning; Ipsos Social Research Institute; ReligionFacts.com

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