75 Important Religion Facts

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75 Important Religion Facts

1. Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism are each trying to address the issue of reincarnation.

2. Sikhism is a monotheistic religion established in the northwest of India in the 1400s. It assumes reincarnation, and teaches that a person can unite with God within this life.
3. Zoroastrianism, Orthodox Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all look toward a resurrection of the dead and final judgment of all individuals.
4. The central teaching of the Buddha is the Four Noble Truths: life is permeated by suffering, suffering is caused by attachment to people, things and ideas, but attachment - and suffering - can be overcome.
5. Christians all believe that humans are reconciled to God and one another through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
6. “Revelation,” the process by which the divine communicates to human beings, is central to Judaism/Christianity/Islam but marginal or even absent in Hinduism/Buddhism/Taoism.
7. There are about 2.2 billion Christians today.
8. “Apostolic Christianity” includes all Christian groups that affirm the definition of “God” as Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God in three persons). That includes Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and all Protestant groups (Lutheran, Calvinist, Baptist, non-denominational, etc.)
9. The largest Christian group is the Roman Catholic Church, with about two-thirds of the world’s Christians.
10. There are several distinct Buddhist movements, including Theravada (in Southeast Asia), Tibetan, and Mahayana (which in turn includes the Japanese varieties of Zen, Pure Land, and Soka Gakkai).
11. The term “Jew” originally referred to a person from Judea (much as “Spaniard” refers to a person from Spain).
12. For 90% of the world’s Muslims (over 1 billion), there is no central religious authority.
13. Judaism, Christianity and Islam use the term “prophet” to indicate a person who speaks as a messenger of “God.”
14. The Hebrew Bible is the same collection of books as the Old Testament.
15. “Torah” refers to just the first five books of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy).
16. The Talmud is a 1500-year-long Jewish conversation about the oral teaching that God gave to Moses when he gave him the written Torah.
17. The Qur’an is a collection of hundreds of occasions of direct address from God to Muhammad through the angel Jibril (Gabriel).
18. The Quran addresses many of the stories of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament.
19. Muslims interpret the Qur’an through the lens of the sunna (also called hadith) – traditions of Muhammad’s own life and words.
20. Hinduism’s scriptures include the Vedas, Upanishads and two great Epics.
21. The Bhagavad-Gita is one section of the larger Hindu epic, Mahabharata.
22. “Sutra” is a verse format genre of writing that is used for much of the Buddhist scriptures.
23. The Pali Canon is the most famous collection of Buddhist writings.
24. The New Testament is the Christian collection of narratives, letters, and an apocalypse written over a period of about a century.
25. The House of Wisdom was established in Baghdad in the 800s by the Muslim caliph Haroun ar-Rashid and his son al-Ma’mun as an empire-wide intellectual center that welcomed people of all faiths in the quest for greater understanding in science, mathematics, medicine and philosophy.
26. The European Renaissance was made possible by the presence in Spain of hundreds of thousands of books from around the world, first gathered by the Muslim rulers in Cordoba.
27. Rabbinic Judaism and Buddhism emerged about the same time (the mid-400s BCE), and are both reforms of earlier, sacrifice-centered traditions (Temple Judaism and Hinduism).
28. The Council of Nicea was held in 325 C.E. at the invitation of the Roman Emperor Constantine, and established Apostolic Christianity as the “true Christianity” over Gnosticism and Arianism.
29. Siddhartha Gautama was the Hindu prince who abandoned his kingdom in the quest for an end to suffering. His discovery is the core of Buddhist teaching.
30. The Mass/Liturgy is the ritual of Roman Catholics, Orthodox and other Christians that makes the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ present to believers now.
31. The annual cycle of major Christian celebrations includes: the Nativity (preceded by the preparation period called Advent), Epiphany, Good Friday (preceded by the preparation period called Lent), the Resurrection (or Easter), Ascension Sunday, Pentecost and Christ the King Sunday.
32. Shabbat (a.k.a. Sabbath) is Judaism’s weekly day of rest, from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown, celebrating the completion of creation.
33. The annual cycle of major Jewish celebrations includes: Pesach (=Passover), Shavuot (=Feast of Weeks or Pentecost), Tisha B’Av, Rosh Hashanah (=New Year), Yom Kippur (=Day of Atonement), Sukkot (=Feast of Booths), and Simchat Torah.
34. Diwali, Hinduism’s biggest celebration, is the festival of lights, and can fall anywhere from mid-October to mid-December.
35. The Jewish tradition counts 613 commandments in the Torah (of which the “Ten” have a special place).
36. C.E. (for “Common Era”) is the non-religious way to reference the years of the calendar, using the same numbers as “A.D.” (=Anno Domini). B.C.E. (Before the Common Era) is equivalent to B.C. (Before Christ).
37. Just 20% of the world’s Muslim’s live in Arab countries. There are more Muslims in India than in all of the Arab countries combined.
38. The symbol of Islam is the crescent moon (), reflecting Islam’s focus on the moon’s cycle in determining its holy days.
39. The Hindu symbol known as the om () represents the sound believed to capture all reality in a single breath.
40. The Chinese symbol known as the Yin-Yang () represents the interrelatedness of all opposites.
41. The Star of David (✡), the symbol of Judaism, actually has no connection with the biblical King David.
42. The Chi Rho () is a combination of the first two Greek letters of the word “Christos”, and used as a Christian abbreviation.
43. Most of the scriptures of Hinduism, including the Bhagavad-gita, were written in the ancient language of Sanskrit.
44. A Jewish gathering of believers is held in a “synagogue,” – also called “shul” or (by Reform and Conservative Jews) “Temple.”
45. A Muslim gathering of believers is held in a “mosque” – often referred to as “an Islamic center” because the site is used for a variety of functions beyond worship.
46. A Hindu gathering of believers takes place in “a temple.”
47. The Christian gathering of believers is called “the Church” – a word then extended in common conversation to the place where they gather.
48. The leader of a Christian congregation is referred to as “priest” (Catholic, Orthodox, Episcopal), “pastor” (most Protestants) or “minister.”
49. A “rabbi” is the necessarily the leader of a Jewish congregation, but its scholar-in-residence and representative.
50. An “imam” is a Muslim congregation’s preacher and public voice, but is neither an ordained clergy nor the head of the congregation.
51. “Kosher” is the system of Jewish dietary law, forbidding certain animals (like pigs, vultures and lobster), mandating certain slaughtering practices, and forbidding the consumption of meat and dairy at a single meal.
52. “Halal” is the system of Islamic dietary law, forbidding certain animals (such as pigs and vultures, but allowing shellfish), mandating certain slaughtering practices, and forbidding alcohol.
53. Buddhists, Jains and a majority of Hindus are vegetarians, in an effort to practice non-injury (ahimsa).
54. The month-long fast of Islam is known as Ramadan.
55. The Pentecostal Christian movement is the fastest growing religious tradition in the last century.
56. “Communion” is the Christian ritual of eating bread and drinking wine in a re-presentation of Jesus’ last meal. It is also known as “The Lord’s Supper” and the “Eucharist.”
57. All Muslims practice “the Five Pillars,” including the proclamation of belief, daily prayers, the fast of Ramadan, the annual almsgiving, and the Hajj.
58. The “X” in “Xmas” or “Xianity” is actualy the Greek letter chi, and is the first letter of the word “Christ” ().
59. All of the documents that make up the New Testament were originally written in Greek.
60. The Qur’an is written in Arabic. Most Muslims do not consider translations into other languages equal to the original.
61. Polygamy is an acceptable practice in the Hebrew Bible, New Testament and Qur’an.
62. The man known as “the Buddha” is Siddhartha, born in Nepal in the 600s B.C.E.
63. Our common understanding of hell as a place of terrible torment was first described by in the Arda Viraf, a Zoroastrian text.
64.The single most widely-shared principle in the world’s religions is the Golden Rule, stated by Confucius, the Buddha, Hillel, Jesus, Muhammad and others.
65. Hasidic Judaism is developed around 300 years ago, based on the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov.
66. Sufism is the mystical tradition of Islam, embraced by such notable figures as Rumi, al-Ghazali, and Ibn Arabi.
67. The Hare Krishna movement was brought to the U.S. from India in the 1960s by the Prabhupada, and is the largest Hindu movement in North America.
68. “Sharia” is the term for the Islamic legal tradition, covering everything from dietary practices and worship to marriage and civil law. It is similar to “Halakkah” in Judaism and “Canon Law” in Roman Catholicism.
69. The holiest site in Islam is the Kaaba in Mecca.
70. Hinduism balances the idea of 330 million gods with the insistence that there is only one ultimate reality (Brahman).
71. The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 2000 year old Jewish writings, including copies of most of the books of the Hebrew Bible, found in caves near the Dead Sea in the year 1947.
72. The Apocrypha is a collection of Jewish books that were not included in the Hebrew Bible but are recognized by Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians as scripture.
73. The Bodhisattva Vow is the promise of a Mahayana Buddhist to postpone one’s own Nirvana in order to help others attain theirs.
74. The United States has over 1200 religions, but in terms of distribution, India, Indonesia and Canada are all more religiously diverse.
75. There are about 4200 religions practiced worldwide.
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