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Religion. Objectives for the Chapter. Identify the similarities and differences between universalizing and ethnic religions. Identify the hearths, diffusion patterns, and significance of holy places for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism.

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Objectives for the chapter
Objectives for the Chapter

  • Identify the similarities and differences between universalizing and ethnic religions.

  • Identify the hearths, diffusion patterns, and significance of holy places for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism.

  • Analyze the basis of territorial conflicts between religions, religions and political systems, and religions and social change.

Universalizing religions
Universalizing Religions

Three Main Universalizing Religions and Two Smaller:

  • Bahá’í

  • Buddhism (7.1%)

  • Christianity (31.5%)

  • Islam (23.2%)

  • Sikhism

  • Diffusion of Religion Map

  • Universalizing religions1
    Universalizing Religions

    • Buddhism – Mostly in China and SE Asia.

    • Siddharta Gautama became Buddha through


    • Four Noble Truths

      • Life brings suffering.

      • Desire causes suffering.

      • This suffering can be overcome and nirvana achieved.

      • Nirvana is attained through an Eightfold Path, which includes rightness of belief, resolve, speech, action, livelihood, effort, thought, and meditation.

      • Largest branches:

        • Mahayana – China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam

        • Theravada – Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand

        • Worship at home or in temple

    Universalizing religions2
    Universalizing Religions

    • Christianity (33.3%) – 2.3 billion adherents

      • Roman Catholic largest branch, dominant Southwest and east in Europe, dominant in Latin America

      • Protestant – dominated by Baptists in Southeast US

      • Orthodox – 15 churches in East Europe and the Middle East.

      • Smaller branches - Coptic Church, Ethiopian Church, Armenian Church, Maronites, and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

    • Forgiveness of sins – belief in Jesus (Messiah) and his resurrection

    • One God; three elements

      • Holy Trinity – Father, Son, & Holy Spirit

    • Holy Book – Bible

    • Church

    Universalizing religions3
    Universalizing Religions


    • Half live in four countries outside Middle East: Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, & India.

    • Fastest growing religion

      Five Pillars of Practice include profession of faith, prayer, charity, fasting during Ramadan, and completion of the hajj—pilgrimage to Mecca

  • Two denominations split after Muhammad’s death:

    • Sunni (80%) –

      • Geographically widespread

      • Recognized someone outside Muhammad’s family as successor

    • Shia (15%) –

      • Clustered in Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Bahrain and Pakistan

      • Successor should be from Muhammad’s family or chosen by Muhammad


    Great Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia

    Holy Book – Qur’an

    Muhammad – final prophet of God


    Universalizing religions4
    Universalizing Religions

    The Golden Temple, Amritsar, Punjab

    • Sikhism – Clustered in Punjab region of India. 23 million adherents

      • Only God is perfect, but we can strive for growth through taking responsibility and by devoting self to one God.

      • Founded by the Guru Nanak in 15th century CE.

      • Place of worship is known as a Gurdwara, and the scripture is the Guru Granth Sahib.

      • To live good life, keep God in heart and mind always, live and work honestly and hard, treat others equally, be generous to those in need, and serve others.

        Additional info from:

    Guru Nanak

    Ethnic religions
    Ethnic Religions

    • Hinduism

    • Confucianism

    • Daoism (Taoism)

    • Shintoism

    • Judaism (a unique case)

    • Ethnic African Religions

    Ethnic religions1
    Ethnic Religions

    • Hinduism (900 million) –

      • 97% concentrated in India, and rest in Nepal.

      • Individuals choose best way to worship God.

        • Path of knowledge, renunciation, devotion, and action.

        • Existence is a cycle – reincarnation—strive for release from the cycle.

        • People start from different backgrounds, so what works for one may not for another.

        • No central book or authority.

        • Different gods may be worshipped – Vishnu and Siva for example—Brahman is the supreme spiritual source.

    Hardwar (Haridwar)


    Ethnic religions2
    Ethnic Religions

    • Judaism

      • 44% in US & 41% in Israel

        • Diaspora - any group that has been dispersed outside its traditional homeland, especially involuntarily (

        • Roots of Christianity and Islam found in Judaism

        • Based in Israel, known as Canaan and Palestine, with the arrival of Abraham.

        • First recorded religion to support monotheism.

          • Judah, for which Judaism is named is one of twelve original tribes descended from Jacob.

    The Western Wall

    • Holy book – Torah

    • Represents covenant between God and Abraham

    • Jewish populations are the chosen people

    • Synagogue

    Jewish diaspora
    Jewish Diaspora

    Cengage Learning

    Origins diffusion and holy places
    Origins, Diffusion, and Holy Places

    We need five groups to study one religion each:Universalizing: Buddhism, Christianity, and IslamEthnic: Judaism and Hinduism

    In your group, identify:

    • The origin of the religion

    • The historical pattern of diffusion (where did it spread)

    • The explanation for this pattern of diffusion

    • The sacred places in the religion, if applicable

      Each group will need a spokesperson to present their findings to the class.

    Similarities differences ethnic and universalizing religions
    Similarities & Differences – Ethnic and Universalizing Religions

    • Origins –

      • Universalizing: precise origins, based on life events of a man, hearths in South/Southwest Asia

      • Ethnic: unknown origins, not tied to single individuals

    • Diffusion –

      • Universalizing: followers spread word (relocation – missionaries; influence by leader – hierarchical; contact btn believers/nonbelievers—contagious)

      • Ethnic: Limited diffusion, lack of missionaries, impacted by expansion of other religions – most likely contagious and relocation

    • Holy places –

      • Universalizing: associated with the founder’s life

      • Ethnic: often associated with the environment

      • For Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists pilgrimage is significant

    Holy places pilgrimage
    Holy Places - Pilgrimage Religions

    • Pilgrim’s Progress – Link to National Geographic interactive site on holy places for different religions.

    Religious conflict
    Religious Conflict Religions

    Pressure to change

    • Modernism

      • Supports scientific thought and knowledge

      • Roots in Enlightenment

    • Secularization

      • Push away from influence of religion

    • Fundamentalism – literal interpretation and strict adherence to principles of a religion

      • A way of maintaining a clear cultural identity

      • Not necessarily violent

    • Religious law and social space

    Religious conflicts
    Religious Conflicts Religions

    • Religion vs. Social Change

      • Taliban and Western Values – 1996 - Afghanistan imposed strict laws based on their interpretation of the Koran

        • Islamic Traditionalism – movement that favors premodern Islam and resists Westernization

      • Hinduism and Social Equality - caste system (distinct hereditary social order) social rights limited for lower castes

    Religious conflicts1
    Religious Conflicts Religions

    • Religion vs. Political System

      • Soviet government made the first state effort to eliminate religion (brief respite during WWII and Stalin’s rule).

      • China is an atheist state but has grown more accepting of religions. But, they only recognize five religions, and citizens must register the religion they practice.

    Religious conflicts2
    Religious Conflicts Religions

    Religion vs. Religion: tend to see conflicts over:

    • Boundaries and territory –

      Ex. Northern Ireland (Protestants vs. Roman Catholics)

      Ex. West Bank Boundary in Israel

    • Important religious sites – Sacred space – space that has special religious significance

      Ex. Middle East (Jews, Christians, and Muslims) – Jerusalem, Western Wall

    Controlling the holy land what to focus on
    Controlling the Holy Land Religions– What to Focus On

    • Important years:

      • Under the Ottoman Empire until its dismantlement at the end of WWI.

      • Given to Britain to control from 1922 -1948 by the League of Nations.

      • 1948 – Israel becomes a state, British troops leave,

      • 1948-1949 - war with neighbors—West Bank and Gaza Strip become geographic units – armistice line Jordan controls West Bank and East Jerusalem

    Controlling the holy land important dates
    Controlling the Holy Land – Important Dates Religions

    4. 1967 (Six Day War) – Israel attacks Egypt, Syria, and Jordan join in – gains Sinai peninsula, Gaza Strip from Egypt, Golan Heights from Syria, and West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan

    • 1979- Peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, Egypt gets Sinai peninsula back in exchange for recognizing Israel.

      6. 2012 – Palestine gains non-member observer state status with the UN. Gains access to membership in different international organizations.

    British mandate
    British Mandate Religions

    Transjordan had limited autonomy in 1923

    Controlling the holy land what to focus on1
    Controlling the Holy Land Religions– What to Focus On

    • Jews, Muslims and Christians have fought for 2,000 years to control the same strip of land. It is a place of religious significance for all three religions.

    • Key Issues Explained

    • Contested areas:

      • West Bank – barrier between Israel and West Bank goes into West Bank

        • Mapping an Occupation

      • Gaza Strip– Troops and settlers withdrew in 2005, but after Hamas gained control of the area Israel tightened blockades.

      • Golan Heights – Israel maintains control of this strategic piece of land

      • Jerusalem – sacred in all three religions; Western Wall is under the Al Aqsa Mosque.

    West bank
    West Bank Religions

    West bank1
    West Bank Religions

    Review Religions

    • Understand the basic description of the various religions we discussed in class. Which ones are ethnic religions? Universalizing? What’s the difference?

    • What patterns do you notice in the origin, diffusion, and holy places for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism, if any?

    • What three types of conflicts can potentially occur based on religion? What are examples of each kind? (Just focus on the Israel / Palestine case since we didn’t get to discuss the others fully)

    • Spend time understanding the complexities of conflict in the Holy Land. Why is there a conflict? What are the claims different groups make? What are key dates? How can we apply geography to understanding the conflict?

    • Other terms: caste system, diaspora, Islamic traditonalism, fundamentalism, pilgrimage, sacred space, secularization, syncretic religion, civil religion