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World Religions. Religion is at the core of the belief system of a region’s culture. Shape how people interact with another, dress and eat. Diffusion of religion is caused by a variety of factors. Some major religions spread their religion through missionary activities.

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World religions
World Religions

  • Religion is at the core of the belief system of a region’s culture.

    • Shape how people interact with another, dress and eat.

  • Diffusion of religion is caused by a variety of factors.

  • Some major religions spread their religion through missionary activities.

  • In most religions, most followers are born into their beliefs.


  • The followers of Buddhism adhere to the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama.

    • Also known as Buddha, or “the Awakened,” after his enlightenment.

    • He was born in what it is now Nepal over 2,500 years ago.

  • His teachings are known as dharma, meaning “divine law”, are aimed to end suffering in the world.

    • This goal of Nirvana can only be achieved by following the Four Noble Truths and by following the 4th truth.

    • Says that freedom from suffering is possible by practicing the Eightfold Path.

    • Through the Buddha’s teachings, his followers can reach the end of ignorance and unhappiness.

  • As Buddhism has spread throughout Asia, several branches have emerged.

    • Theravada Buddhism- is monk- centered and dominant in Sir Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.

    • Mahayana Buddhism- is a more complex, liberal variety that has been traditionally dominate in Tibet, Central Asai, Korea, China and Japan.

Sacred symbols
Sacred Symbols

Statue of Buddha

This is the Great Buddha Statue in Bodhgaya, India. It was unveiled in November 1989 and is 80 feet tall.

The Dharmachakra

“wheel of the law”

It signifies the overcoming of obstacles, and the 8 spokes represent the Eightfold Path which is essential for all Buddhists.

Sacred text and sites
Sacred Text and Sites

The Bodhi Tree

Is located in Bodh Gaya and is believed to the spot were Siddhartha achieved enlightenment. Many people visit this spot in search of their own awakening.

The early teachings of Buddhism were transmitted orally.

For Theravada Buddhists, a collection of Buddhist texts is the Tripitaka (“three baskets”).

Were first written on palm leaves in a language called Pali.


  • Christianity has more members than any other religion in the world.

  • The beginning of Christianity dates back to the death of Jesus in A.D. 33.

    • Took place in what is now Israel.

  • Based on the belief in one God, and on the life and teachings of Jesus.

    • Believe that Jesus is the Son of God and is fully divine and human.

    • Jesus is regarded as the Messiah, or savior, who died for humanity’s sins.

  • Feel that people are saved and achieve eternal life by having faith in Jesus.

Sacred symbol and site
Sacred Symbol and Site

Thestatue Christ the Redeemer, located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, symbolizes the belief that Jesus died for human sin.

Bethlehem, the birth place of Jesus, is very important to Christians.

Sacred text and worship and celebration
Sacred Text and Worship and Celebration

The Bible is the spiritual text for all Christians and is considered to be inspired by God.

Christians celebrate many events commemorating the life and death of Jesus.

Christmas- the day of Jesus was born.

Good Friday- the day Jesus was crucified.

Easter- the day Jesus was resurrected.


  • Began more than 2,500 years ago in China

  • It is actually a philosophy, although it is considered to be a religion.

  • Based on the teachings of Confucius which are grounded in ethical behavior and good environment.

    • Focus on three areas:

      • Social philosophy, political philosophy and education.

    • Taught that relationships are based on rank.

      • Those of higher rank are responsible for caring for people of lower rank

      • People of lower rank should respect and obey those of higher rank.

  • Eventually spread from China to other East Asian societies.

Sacred symbol and site1
Sacred Symbol and Site

Yin- Yang

It symbolizes the harmony offered by the Confucius philosophies. Yang, the light half, represents the creative, firm, strong elements in all things. Yin, the dark half, represents the receptive, yielding, weak elements. When acting together the two balance each other.

The temple at Qufu

It is group of buildings that are dedicated to Confucius, and are located on his ancestral land. Followers gather here to celebrate Confucius’s birthday every year.

Worship and celebration and sacred text
Worship and Celebration and Sacred Text

Confucius was famous for his sayings and proverbs. Theses teachings of Confucius were gathered into a book called the Analects. Were gathered after his death.

There are temples dedicated to the spiritual leader, Confucius, even there is no god or clergy.

Followers see Confucianism as a way of life and a guide to ethical behavior and a good environment


  • Of the world’s major living religions, Hinduism is the oldest.

  • It has no single founder or founding date, but has many different sects and many different divinities are honored.

    • Some of the most famous are Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

    • They represent creative, sustaining and destructive forces in the universe.

    • Reincarnation, karma and dharma are the major beliefs of Hinduism.

  • They believe that the universe contains several heavens and hells.

    • And souls are continually reborn, but in what form is determined by the good and evil performed in the past lives. – acts of karma

    • A soul will continue in this cycle until release is achieved.

Sacred symbols1
Sacred symbols

Statue of Vishnu

Is the Supreme God in the tradition of Hinduism.

Sacred symbol of “Om”

Is an important symbol for a sound. Om is a sound that Hindus often chant during prayer, mantras and rituals.

Sites celebration and text
Sites, celebration and text

  • The Vedas are the sacred texts of Hinduism.

    • Consists of four books: Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda

    • Contain hymns, prayers and speculation composed in ancient Sanskrit.

  • Many Hindus bathe in the Ganges rivers to purify their soul and to be released for rebirth.

    • This is their belief in reincarnation

  • Holi is an important Hindu festival

    • Celebrates the triumph of good over evil, and also the beginning of spring.


  • The followers of Islam, known as Muslims, believe in one God.

    • Called Allah, Arabic for “the god.”

  • Muhammad is the spiritual founder of Islam.

    • He began his teachings in Makkah(Mecca) in A.D. 610.

    • Has spread throughout much of Asia and Africa.

  • Muslims believe that their holy book, the Quran, contains the direct word of God.

    • It was revealed by Muhammad sometime between 610 and 632 A.D.

  • Believe that God serves four functions: creation, sustenance, guidance and judgment, and without him there would be nothingness.

  • There are two main branches within Islam: Sunni and Shia

    • Shia believe that the Islamic rulers should descend from Muhammad

    • Sunni believe that the ruler only needs to be a follower of Muhammad.

      • Most Muslims are Sunni.

Sacred symbol
Sacred Symbol

Crescent Moon

Islam is often symbolized by the crescent moon. It is an important part of Muslim rituals, which are based on the lunar calendar.

  • The Five Pillars are central to Islamic belief.

    • Affirmation of the belief in Allah and his prophet Muhammad

    • Group prayer

    • Tithing or the giving of money to charity

    • Fasting during Ramadan

    • a pilgrimage to Makkah once in a lifetime if physically and financially able.

Sacred text and site
Sacred Text and Site

The Quran

The Quran is the sacred text of Islam.


Makkah is a sacred site for all Muslims. One of the Five Pillars of Islam is to make a pilgrimage to Mekkah. Practicing Muslims are required to pray facing Makkah five times a day.


  • Is a monotheistic religion, and was the first major religion to believe in one God.

  • Trace their national and religious origins back to God’s call to Abraham.

    • They believe they are expected to pursue justice and live ethical lives.

    • Believe God will one day usher in an era of universal peace.

  • Judaism has separated into different branches including:

    • Orthodox, Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionists.

    • Orthodox Jews are the most traditional.

Sacred text and site1
Sacred Text and Site

The Torah

The Torah is the five books of Moses, which tell the story of the origins of the Jews and explain Jewish.

Western Wall

Is all that remains of the structure surrounding the Second Jerusalem Temple. It is considered a sacred spot in Jewish religious tradition.

Sacred symbol and celebration
Sacred Symbol and Celebration


It is used in the celebration of Hanukkah. It is a nine-branched candelabrum lit during the eight-day holiday of Hanukkah

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. The purpose is to reflect on the past and gain forgiveness from God for one’s sins.

It is ten days after Rosh Hashanah. Service ends with the blowing of the ram’s horn.


  • Rose from the experience and teachings of Guru Nanak in the mid-1500’s.

    • Emerged in the Punjab in north west India

    • It exhibits influences from both Islam and Hinduism, but is still distinct.

  • Teaches that Nanak encountered God directly and he had been commissioned by God to His servant.

    • They believe in one almighty god, who is formless and without qualities, but can be known through meditation and heard directly.

  • Sikhism forbids discrimination.

  • 80 percent of the 20 million Sikhs in the world live in Punjab, but Sikhism has managed to spread widely.

Sacred sites and text
Sacred Sites and Text

Adi Granth

It is the great authoritative text for Sikhs. It includes contributions from Sikh gurus and those claimed to be saints.

The Golden Temple

Located in Amritsar, the spiritual capital of Sikhism, the Golden Temple is the most sacred of Sikh shrines.

Sacred symbols and worship
Sacred Symbols and Worship


The Khanad is the sacred symbol of Sikhism. It is composed of four traditional Sikh weapons.

-the Khanad, or a double edged sword

-the cakkar (disk)

-two curved daggers


Is a significant festival in April celebrating the new year and the beginning of the harvest season. In Sikhism, celebrations typically take place on the banks of rivers, and participants usually wear brightly colored clothes.

Indigenous religions
Indigenous Religions

  • Many religious beliefs are limited to a particular ethnic group.

    • These local religions are found in Africa as well as parts of Japan, Australia and the Americas.

    • Most reflect a close relationship with the environment, and teach that people are part of nature.

    • Animism is a characteristic of many of these indigenous religions.

    • Usually natural features are sacred, and stories about how nature came to exist are important.

    • These stories were originally passed on orally, now they have been written down.

Indigenous religions1
Indigenous Religions

  • Africa

    • This continent is home to a variety of Indigenous religions

    • Despite their differences, they usually always recognize the existence of one creator.

      • However, also recognize the spirits that inhabit the all aspects of life.

    • Their religious ceremonies are celebrated with singing and dancing.

  • Japan

    • Shinto, the world’s largest indigenous religions, was founded in Japan.

    • It has no formal doctrine even though it dates back to prehistoric times.

    • The Shinto Gods are known as kami.

      • Ancestors are also revered and worshiped.

    • Has 4 million followers

Indigenous religions2
Indigenous Religions

  • Australia

    • The Australian Aboriginal religion has no deities, but is based upon a belief known as the Dreaming.

    • Followers believe that their ancestors sprang up from the Earth and created all people, plant and animal life.

      • Also believe that their ancestors continue to control the natural world.

  • Native Americans

    • Most Native American beliefs center around the spiritual world.

    • Most believe in a Great Spirit who influence all aspects of life.

      • The spirits make their presence known through acts of nature.

    • Health, good harvest and good hunting are the center of Native American rituals, prayers and ceremonies.

    • Rituals are also used to mark the passage through stages of life.

    • Religious ceremonies and prayers concentrate on agriculture and hunting themes.