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World’s Most Popular Religion
Countdown to the World’s Most Popular Religion
4. Hinduism: 900 million Hinduism is the largest religion of South Asia, the fourth entry in the countdown to the world’s most popular religion, and has many denominations including folk, Vedic, Vaishnavism and Bhakti. It also includes many yogic traditions and has no single founder. Hindus follow a range of texts (both ‘Sruti’ or ‘revealed’ and ‘Smriti’ which means ‘remembers’). The large range of forms of Hinduism means that their beliefs span many ideas from monotheism to polytheism to a form of atheism (again blurring the line between secularity, agnosticism and religion making harder to pin point the world’s most popular religion). Most Hindu’s however believe strongly in a spirit and in ‘Devas’ or ‘Avatars’ which are Gods or heavenly beings in a mortal form. The well known Vishnu is one of the most popular examples of a Hindu avatar. They also believe strongly in Karma (the concept of good and bad deeds coming back to the individual) and use this to make many moral decisions. Though it is not the world’s most popular religion it is thought to potentially be the oldest major religion still in existence. It is also the world’s most popular religion that believes in more than one God (or at least some denominations).
3. Secular/Spirituality/Agnostic/Atheist: 1.1 billion Whether Atheism is considered an actual religion is debatable. At the same time some people who classify themselves as Christian could in some ways be considered secular or agnostic meaning that this grouping could in fact be the world’s most popular religion or at least close. However it is still a lifestyle choice and set of beliefs that may or may not guide certain moral decisions. In essence atheism is the belief that there is no God, higher consciousness or purpose and no soul. This can also be considered existentialism. Agnostic meanwhile is the state of uncertainty – the belief that there may or may not be a God. Spirituality is the belief in an uncertain soul and/or higher being but with no structured religion. Finally secular individuals engage in typically religious behaviour but without subscribing to a particular religion or belief. Western culture has lead to the popularity of a Christian-esque form of secularity/agnosticism with many people exposed to Christian beliefs and traditions without necessarily classifying themselves as such.
2. Islam: 1.5 billion Islam is the predominant religion in many Eastern countries and the world’s most popular religion after Christianity. The term means literally meaning ‘submission to God’. Muslim’s follow the Qu’ran which is their main religious text thought to be the verbatim word of their God ‘Allah’). They also follow the teachings of their prophet ‘Muhammad’. They consider their version the most complete version of monotheistic faith (monotheistic meaning one God) and believe in Jesus as a prophet but not the son of God. They believe their message was distorted over time giving rise to Judaism and Christianity, the latter of which over time became the world’s most popular religion.
Their main practices are the Five Pillars of Islam which are their five duties – profession of faith, prayer, fasting, giving of alms and pilgrimage to Mecca which is their religious centre.
1. Christianity: 2.1 billion Christianity’s size means that most people in the Western world have at least heard of it or know the concept. This makes it the world’s most popular religion in terms of followers and recognition. Spawned from Islam and Judaism, Christianity believes in a single God just like those two religions, but also believes that the saviour has already visited Earth in the form of Jesus Christ. This takes place in the ‘New Testament’ of the Christian Bible which features stories of Jesus’ actions on Earth along with predictions for the future of mankind.
Traditions for Christians include going to church weekly (often on a Sunday), engaging in prayer and fasting for Lent. Their biggest holidays include Christmas (the birth of Jesus) and Easter (the death and resurrection of Jesus) which are now recognised public holidays in the US and UK. Strict Christians don’t believe in sex before marriage and their priests are not allowed to engage in any relationships.
There are many different denominations of Christianity including Catholicism, Protestantism, Anglicism and many more. The centre of Christianity is the Vatican in Rome making Roman Catholicism the world’s most popular religion. Of course this hasn’t always been the case and in previous centuries other religions have been the world’s most popular religion and in the future this may again be open to change.