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List of religions and spiritual traditions

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Title: List of religions and spiritual traditions  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Tomb of Lazarus (al-Eizariya), History of religions, Spirituality, Anthropology of religion, Theories about religions
Collection: Dynamic Lists, Religion-Related Lists, Religious Faiths, Traditions, and Movements, Spirituality
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

List of religions and spiritual traditions

Religion is a collection of cultural systems, beliefs, and world views that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. While religion is hard to define, one standard model of religion, used in religious studies courses, was proposed by Clifford Geertz, who simply called it a "cultural system".[1] A critique of Geertz's model by Talal Asad categorized religion as "an anthropological category".[2] 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 in the world.[3]

The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with "behaviors, 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), and/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 a god or gods, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, initiations, funerals, marriages, meditation, 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 experiences. [4][5]

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.[6] 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,[7] 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.


  • Abrahamic religions 1
    • Bábism 1.1
    • Bahá'í Faith 1.2
    • Christianity 1.3
      • Other groups related to Christianity 1.3.1
    • Mormonism 1.4
    • Gnosticism 1.5
    • Islam 1.6
      • Religions related to Islam 1.6.1
        • Sufi and Shia Sects
    • Druze 1.7
    • Judaism and related religions 1.8
    • Black Hebrew Israelites 1.9
    • Rastafari movement 1.10
    • Mandaeans and Sabians 1.11
    • Shabakism 1.12
  • Indian religions 2
    • Ayyavazhi 2.1
    • Bhakti movement 2.2
    • Buddhism 2.3
    • Din-e Ilahi 2.4
    • Hinduism 2.5
    • Jainism 2.6
    • Meivazhi 2.7
    • Sikhism 2.8
  • Iranian religions 3
    • Zoroastrianism 3.1
    • Gnostic religions 3.2
    • Bábí movement 3.3
    • Yazdânism 3.4
  • East Asian religions 4
    • Confucianism 4.1
    • Shinto 4.2
      • Shinto-inspired religions 4.2.1
    • Taoism 4.3
      • Contemporary Taoism-inspired religions 4.3.1
    • Other 4.4
      • Chinese 4.4.1
      • Korean 4.4.2
      • Vietnamese 4.4.3
  • African diasporic religions 5
  • Indigenous traditional religions 6
    • African 6.1
    • American 6.2
    • Eurasian 6.3
    • Oceania/Pacific 6.4
      • Cargo cults 6.4.1
  • Historical polytheism 7
    • Ancient Near Eastern 7.1
    • Indo-European 7.2
      • Hellenistic 7.2.1
    • Uralic 7.3
  • Mysticism and occult 8
    • Esotericism and mysticism 8.1
      • Western mystery tradition 8.1.1
        • Thelema
      • Christian mysticism and esotericism 8.1.2
    • Occult and magic 8.2
  • Modern Paganism 9
    • Syncretic 9.1
    • Ethnic 9.2
  • New religious movements 10
    • New Thought 10.1
    • Shinshukyo 10.2
  • Left-hand path religions 11
  • Post-theistic and naturalistic religions 12
  • Fictional religions 13
  • Parody or mock religions 14
  • Others 15
  • Other categorisations 16
    • By demographics 16.1
    • By area 16.2
  • See also 17
  • References 18
  • External links 19

Abrahamic religions

A group of monotheistic traditions sometimes grouped with one another for comparative purposes, because all refer to a patriarch named Abraham.


Bahá'í Faith


Western Christianity
Eastern Christianity

Other groups related to Christianity

Some of these groups consider themselves to be Christian, or to be derived from Christianity, but they are considered heterodox or heretical by mainstream Christianity. Some of them are no longer extant.



Many Gnostic groups were closely related to early Christianity, for example, Valentinism. Irenaeus wrote polemics against them from the standpoint of the then-unified Catholic Church.[8]

The Yazidis are a syncretic Kurdish religion with a Gnostic influence:

Persian Gnosticism
Syrian-Egyptic Gnosticism

None of these religions are still extant.

Neo-Gnostic Groups


Kalam Schools
Shia Islam
Sunni Islam
Black Muslims
Other Islamic groups

Religions related to Islam

These religions are either descended from Sufi Islam, or consider themselves Islamic, but are regarded as heretical or heterodox by other Muslims.

Sufi and Shia Sects


Judaism and related religions

Rabbinic Judaism
Karaite Judaism

Samaritans use a slightly different version of the Pentateuch as their Torah, worshiping at Mount Gerizim instead of Jerusalem, and are possibly the descendants of the lost Northern Kingdom. They are definitely of ancient Israelite origin, but their status as Jews is disputed.[9]

Falasha or Beta Israel
Modern Non-Rabbinic Judaism
Historical groups

Second Temple Judaism

Black Hebrew Israelites

Rastafari movement

Mandaeans and Sabians


Indian religions

Indian religions are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent; namely Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism and religions and traditions related to, and descended from, them.


Bhakti movement


Din-e Ilahi


Major schools and movements of Hindu philosophy




Iranian religions


Gnostic religions

Bábí movement


  • Alevi (this is contested; most Alevi consider themselves to be Shia or Sufi Muslims, but a minority adhere to the Yazdani interpretation)
  • Yarsani
  • Yazidi

East Asian religions



Shinto-inspired religions


Contemporary Taoism-inspired religions





African diasporic religions

African diasporic religions are a number of related religions that developed in the Americas among African slaves and their descendants in various countries of the Caribbean Islands and Latin America, as well as parts of the southern United States. They derive from African traditional religions, especially of West and Central Africa, showing similarities to the Yoruba religion in particular.

Indigenous traditional religions

Traditionally, these faiths have all been classified "Pagan", but scholars prefer the terms "indigenous/primal/folk/ethnic religions".


West Africa
Central Africa
East Africa
Southern Africa





Cargo cults

Historical polytheism

Ancient Near Eastern




Mysticism and occult

Esotericism and mysticism

Western mystery tradition


Christian mysticism and esotericism

Occult and magic

Modern Paganism



New religious movements

New Thought


Left-hand path religions

Post-theistic and naturalistic religions

Fictional religions

Parody or mock religions


Other categorisations

By demographics

By area

See also


  1. ^ (Clifford Geertz, Religion as a Cultural System, 1973)
  2. ^ (Talal Asad, The Construction of Religion as an Anthropological Category, 1982.)
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Harvey, Graham (2000). Indigenous Religions: A Companion. (Ed: Graham Harvey). London and New York: Cassell. Page 06.
  7. ^ Vergote, Antoine, Religion, belief and unbelief: a psychological study, Leuven University Press, 1997, p. 89
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Melton, J. Gordon (2003). Encyclopedia of American Religions (Seventh edition). Farmington Hills, Michigan: The Gale Group, Inc., p. 1112. ISBN 0-7876-6384-0
  11. ^ Melton, J. Gordon (2003). Encyclopedia of American Religions (Seventh edition). Farmington Hills, Michigan: The Gale Group, Inc., p. 1001. ISBN 0-7876-6384-0
  12. ^ Melton, J. Gordon (2003). Encyclopedia of American Religions (Seventh edition). Farmington Hills, Michigan: The Gale Group, Inc., p. 997. ISBN 0-7876-6384-0
  13. ^ Melton, J. Gordon (2003). Encyclopedia of American Religions (Seventh edition). Farmington Hills, Michigan: The Gale Group, Inc., p. 1004. ISBN 0-7876-6384-0
  14. ^ a b "Welcome to Jainworld - Jain Sects - tirthankaras, jina, sadhus, sadhvis, 24 tirthankaras, digambara sect, svetambar sect, Shraman Dharma, Nirgranth Dharma". Retrieved 2012-04-24. 
  15. ^ Smith, Christian; Joshua Prokopy (1999). Latin American Religion in Motion. New York: Routledge, pp. 279-280. ISBN 978-0-415-92106-0
  16. ^ Melton, J. Gordon (2003). Encyclopedia of American Religions (Seventh edition). Farmington Hills, Michigan: The Gale Group, Inc., p. 841. ISBN 0-7876-6384-0

External links

  • Patheos World Religions library
  • Statistics on religious belief or adherence
  • section on major world religions
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