Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization, thought to be authoritative and not to be disputed or doubted.
Christianity is the most popular religion in the world with over 2 billion adherents.
~Christians believe that Jesus was the Messiah promised in the Old Testament.
~Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
~Christians believe that God sent his Son to earth to save humanity from the consequences of its sins.
~One of the most important concepts in Christianity is that of Jesus giving his life on the Cross (the Crucifixion) and rising from the dead on the third day (the Resurrection).
~Christians believe that there is only one God, but that there are three elements to this one God:
~God the Father
~God the Son
~The Holy Spirit
~Christians worship in churches.
~Their spiritual leaders are called priests or ministers.
~The Christian holy book is the Bible, and consists of the Old and New Testaments.
~Christian holy days such as Easter and Christmas are important milestones in the Western secular calendar
The word Islam means ‘submission to the will of God’.
Islam is the second largest religion in the world with over 1 billion followers. The 2001 census recorded 1,591,000 Muslims in the UK, around 2.7% of the population.
~Muslims believe that Islam was revealed over 1400 years ago in Mecca, Arabia.
~Followers of Islam are called Muslims.
~Muslims believe that there is only One God.
~The Arabic word for God is Allah.
~According to Muslims, God sent a number of prophets to mankind to teach them how to live according to His law.
~Jesus, Moses and Abraham are respected as prophets of God.
~They believe that the final Prophet was Muhammad.
~Muslims believe that Islam has always existed, but for practical purposes, date their religion from the time of the migration of Muhammad.
~Muslims base their laws on their holy book the Qur’an, and the Sunnah.
~Muslims believe the Sunnah is the practical example of Prophet Muhammad and that there are five basic Pillars of Islam.
~These pillars are the declaration of faith, praying five times a day, giving money to charity, fasting and a pilgrimage to Mecca (atleast once).
Atheism is the absence of belief in any Gods or spiritual beings. The word Atheism comes from a, meaning without, and theism meaning belief in god or gods.
Atheists don’t use God to explain the existence of the universe.
Atheists say that human beings can devise suitable moral codes to live by without the aid of Gods or scriptures.
Reasons for non-belief
People are atheist for many reasons, among them:
~They find insufficient evidence to support any religion.
~They think that religion is nonsensical.
~They once had a religion and have lost faith in it.
~They live in a non-religious culture.
~Religion doesn’t interest them.
~Religion doesn’t seem relevant to their lives.
~Religions seem to have done a lot of harm in the world.
~The world is such a bad place that there can’t be a God.
~Many atheists are also secularist, and are hostile to any special treatment given to organised religion.
It is possible to be both atheist and religious. Virtually all Buddhists manage it, as do some adherents of other religions, such as Judaism and Christianity.
Atheists and morality
Atheists are as moral (or immoral) as religious people.
In practical terms atheists often follow the same moral code as religious people, but they arrive at the decision of what is good or bad without any help from the idea of God.
Judaism is the original of the three Abrahamic faiths, which also includes Christianity and Islam. According to information published by The Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, there were around 13.1 million Jewish people in the world in 2007, most residing in the USA and Israel. According to the 2001 census 267,000 people in the UK said that their religious identity was Jewish, about 0.5% of the population.
~Judaism originated in the Middle East over 3500 years ago
~Judaism was founded by Moses, although Jews trace their history back to Abraham.
~Jews believe that there is only one God with whom they have a covenant.
~In exchange for all the good that God has done for the Jewish people, Jewish people keep God’s laws and try to bring holiness into every aspect of their lives.
~Judaism has a rich history of religious text, but the central and most important religious document is the Torah.
~Jewish traditional or oral law, the interpretation of the laws of the Torah, is called halakhah.
~Spiritual leaders are called Rabbis.
~Jews worship in Synagogues.
~6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust in an attempt to wipe out Judaism.
~There are many people who identify themselves as Jewish without necessarily believing in, or observing, any Jewish law.
Paganism describes a group of contemporary religions based on a reverence for nature. These faiths draw on the traditional religions of indigenous peoples throughout the world.
~Paganism encompasses a diverse community.
~Wiccans, Druids, Shamans, Sacred Ecologists, Odinists and Heathens all make up parts of the Pagan community.
~Some groups concentrate on specific traditions or practices such as ecology, witchcraft, Celtic traditions or certain gods.
~Most Pagans share an ecological vision that comes from the Pagan belief in the organic vitality and spirituality of the natural world.
~Due to persecution and misrepresentation it is necessary to define what Pagans are not as well as what they are. Pagans are not sexual deviants, do not worship the devil, are not evil, do not practice ‘black magic’ and their practices do not involve harming people or animals.
~The Pagan Federation of Great Britain have no precise figures but estimate that the number of Pagans in the British Isles is between 50,000 and 200,000 (2002).
Zoroastrianism is one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions. It was founded by the Prophet Zoroaster (or Zarathustra) in ancient Iran approximately 3500 years ago.
For 1000 years Zoroastrianism was one of the most powerful religions in the world. It was the official religion of Persia (Iran) from 600 BCE to 650 CE.
It is now one of the world’s smallest religions. In 2006 the New York Times reported that there were probably less than 190,000 followers worldwide at that time.
~Zoroastrians believe there is one God called Ahura Mazda (Wise Lord) and He created the world.
~Zoroastrians are not fire-worshippers, as some Westerners wrongly believe. ~Zoroastrians believe that the elements are pure and that fire represents God’s light or wisdom.
~Ahura Mazda revealed the truth through the Prophet, Zoroaster.
~Zoroastrians traditionally pray several times a day.
~Zoroastrians worship communally in a Fire Temple or Agiary.
~The Zoroastrian book of Holy Scriptures is called The Avesta.
~The Avesta can be roughly split into two main sections:
~The Avesta is the oldest and core part of the scriptures, which contains the Gathas. The Gathas are seventeen hymns thought to be composed by Zoroaster himself.
~The Younger Avesta – commentaries to the older Avestan written in later years. It also contains myths, stories and details of ritual observances.
~Zoroastrians are roughly split into two groups:
There are 20 million Sikhs in the world, most of whom live in the Punjab province of India. The 2001 census recorded 336,000 Sikhs in the UK.
Sikhism was founded in the 16th century in the Punjab district of what is now India and Pakistan. It was founded by Guru Nanak and is based on his teachings, and those of the 9 Sikh gurus who followed him.
The most important thing in Sikhism is the internal religious state of the individual.
~Sikhism is a monotheistic religion
~Sikhism stresses the importance of doing good actions rather than merely carrying out rituals
~Sikhs believe that the way to lead a good life is to:
~keep God in heart and mind at all times
~live honestly and work hard
~treat everyone equally
~be generous to the less fortunate
~The Sikh place of worship is called a Gurdwara
~The Sikh scripture is the Guru Granth Sahib, a book that Sikhs consider a living Guru
~The tenth Sikh Guru decreed that after his death the spiritual guide of the Sikhs would be the teachings contained in that book, so the Guru Granth Sahib now has the status of a Guru, and Sikhs show it the respect they would give to a human Guru.
Santeria combines influences of Caribbean tradition, West Africa’s Yoruba spirituality, and elements of Catholicism.
To become a Santero, or high priest, one must pass a series of tests and requirements prior to initiation.
The Origins of Santeria
Santeria is, in fact, not one set of beliefs, but a “syncretic” religion, which means it blends aspects of a variety of different faiths and cultures, despite the fact that some of these beliefs might be contradictory to one another. Santeria combines influences of Caribbean tradition, West Africa’s Yoruba spirituality, and elements of Catholicism. Santeria evolved when African slaves were stolen from their homelands during the Colonial period and forced to work in Caribbean sugar plantations.
Santeria is a fairly complex system, because it blends the Yoruba orishas, or divine beings, with the Catholic saints. In some areas, African slaves learned that honoring their ancestral orishas was far safer if their Catholic owners believed they were worshiping saints instead – hence the tradition of overlap between the two.
The orishas serve as messengers between the human world and the divine. They are called upon by priests by a variety of methods, including trances and possession, divination, ritual, and even sacrifice. To some extent, Santeria includes magical practice, although this magical system is based upon interaction with and understanding of the orishas.
Candomblé is a religion based on African beliefs which is particularly popular in Brazil. It is also practised in other countries, and has as many as two million followers.
~The religion is a mixture of traditional Yoruba, Fon and Bantu beliefs which originated from different regions in Africa. It has also incorporated some aspects of the Catholic faith over time.
~A religion which combines elements of many religions is called a syncretic religion.
~Enslaved Africans brought their beliefs with them when they were shipped to Brazil during the slave trade.
~The name Candomblé means ‘dance in honour of the gods’.
~Practitioners of Candomblé believe in one all powerful God called Oludumaré who is served by lesser deities. These deities are called orixas. (They can also be called voduns and inkices.)
~Candomblé practitioners believe that every person has their own individual orixa which controls his or her destiny and acts as a protector.
~Music and dance are important parts of Candomblé ceremonies. Specially choreographed dances are performed by worshippers to enable them to become possessed by the orixas.
~There is no concept of good or bad in Candomblé. Each person is only required to fulfil his or her destiny to the fullest, regardless of what that is.
~Candomblé is an oral tradition and therefore has no holy scriptures.
~The first official temple was founded at the beginning of the 19th century in Salvador, Bahia in Brazil.