Topic: Universalizing Religions
• Aim: In what ways are
universalizing religions
distributed throughout the
• Do Now: How would you
define a ‘religion’?
3 Religious Traditions:
• Animist Traditions: Various ethnic, tribal
forms of nature worship (Native
• Hindu-Buddhist Traditions: many levels
of existence (reincarnation) - began in
same geographic region (India)
• Abrahamic Traditions: Judaism,
Christianity, Islam - similar origin stories,
core beliefs/codes of conduct,
monotheistic, same geographic area of
How do Universalizing and Ethnic
Religions Differ?
•Appeal to people everywhere
•Has meaning in particular place only.
•Individual founder (prophet)
•Unknown source.
•Message diffused widely
•Content focused on place and
landscape of origin.
•Followers distributed widely.
•Followers highly clustered.
•Holidays based on events in
founder’s life.
•Holidays based on local climate and
agricultural practice.
• Based on the
definition, can
you list some
and ethnic
religions based
on your study
of global
• Branches of Universalizing Religions
– Three principal universalizing religions divided
into branches, denominations, and sects.
• A branch is a large and fundamental division
within a religion.
• A denomination is a division of a branch that
unites a number of local congregations in a
single legal and administrative body.
• A sect is a relatively small group that has
broken away from an established
Amish Renegades
Are Accused in
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October 17, 2011
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billion adherents make it most
practiced in the world.
•Originated in Bethlehem (8-4 BC)
and Jerusalem (AD 30) with Jesus
• Spread by missionaries and the
Roman Empire (Constantine A.D.
• It is the most practiced religion
in Africa today.
• Hierarchical Diffusion
– Emperor Constantine helped diffuse the religion
throughout the Roman Empire by embracing
• Relocation Diffusion
– Missionaries, individuals who help transmit a religion
through relocation diffusion, initially diffused the
religion along protected sea routes and the excellent
Roman roads.
– Migration and missionary activity by Europeans since
1500 have extended Christianity all over the world.
» Permanent resettlement in the Americas, Australia,
and New Zealand
DIFFUSION OF CHRISTIANITY: Christianity began to diffuse from Palestine
through Europe during the time of the Roman Empire and continued after the empire’s
collapse. Paul of Tarsus, a disciple of Jesus, traveled especially extensively through the
Roman Empire as a missionary.
• Branches of Universalizing Religions
– Branches of Christianity in Europe
• Three major branches include…
1. Roman Catholic (51 percent of the world’s Christians)
2. Protestant (24 percent of the world’s Christians)
3. Orthodox (11 percent of the world’s Christians)
• Distributions in Europe:
– Roman Catholicism dominant branch in
southwestern and eastern Europe.
– Protestantism dominant branch in northwestern
– Orthodoxy dominant branch in eastern and
southeastern Europe.
*Notice that the Roman Catholic and Protestant areas have
sharp, distinct boundaries
– Branches of Christianity in the Western
• 93 percent of Christians in Latin America
are Roman Catholic.
–40 percent in North America
• Protestant churches have approximately 82
million members in the United States.
–Baptist church has largest number of
adherents (37 million).
The shaded areas are U.S. counties in which more than 50 percent of church
membership is concentrated in either Roman Catholicism or one Protestant
denomination. Baptists are concentrated in the Southeast, Lutherans in the Upper
Midwest, Mormons in Utah and contiguous states, and Roman Catholics in the
Northeast and Southwest. The distinctive distribution of religious groups within the
United States results from patterns of migration, especially from Europe in the
nineteenth century and from Latin America in recent years.
•Originated in Saudi Arabia
(Mecca and Medina) around
AD 600 and remains the
dominant religion of the
Middle East from Northern
Africa to Central Asia
•¾ of Muslims live outside the
Middle East (Indonesia,
Pakistan, Bangladesh, and
• Spread originally by Muslim
armies to N. Africa, and the
Near East.
Islam: 1.3 billion
Prophet: Muhammad
Holy Text: Koran
Five Pillars of Islam
Reading the Koran,
1. There is one God and Muhammad is his
2. Prayer five times daily, facing Mecca.
3. The giving of alms(charity) to the poor.
4. Fasting during Ramadan for purification
and submission.
5. If body and income allow, a Muslim must
make a pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca in his
Islamic Calendar:
• Begins in AD 622 when
Muhammad was
commanded to Mecca from
Medina (Hijra).
•Lunar calendar makes
Ramadan move through the
seasons (30 year cycle - 19
years with 354 days and 11
with 355).
• Diffusion of Islam:
• Muhammad’s successors organized followers
into armies and led a conquest to spread the
religion over an extensive area of…
–Africa (mostly northern)
–Asia (mostly central)
–Europe (mixed areas)
• Relocation diffusion of missionaries to portions
of sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia
transmitted the religion well beyond its hearth.
DIFFUSION OF ISLAM: Islam diffused rapidly from its point of
origin in present-day Saudi Arabia. Within 200 years, Muslims
controlled much of Southwest Asia & North Africa and southwestern
Europe. Subsequently, Islam became the predominant religion as far
east as Indonesia.
The black, cube like structure in the center of the mosque, called al-Ka’ba,
once had been a shrine to tribal idols until Muhammad rededicated it to
Allah. Muslims believe that Abraham and Ishmael originally built the
Sunni and Shiite (Shia) Muslims:
The Al-Azhar University in Cairo,
Egypt, is the chief centre of Sunni
Islamic learning in the world.
After Muhammad, Ali is
credited as the first young male
to accept Islam
• Sunni (83%) – Arabic for ‘orthodox’, majority throughout the
Muslim world – concentrated in Southwest Asia and
Northern Africa
• Shiite – 16% of all Muslims - Greatly concentrated in the
Middle Eastern countries of Iran, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Oman,
and Bahrain
DISTRIBUTION OF MUSLIMS At least 80 percent of the
population adheres to Islam in Southwest Asia & North Africa and
selected countries in Southeast Asia
Islam in North American & Europe:
• 5% of European
population are Muslim.
France has the largest
population with approx. 4
million, a legacy of
immigration from
predominantly Muslim
former North African
• North America home to
approx. 5 million
Muslims, a rapid increase
from the 1990’s
Muslim women
protesting the legal
banning of the burqua
in France.
With the exception of their veils, these girls of Barfurush, near Meshed-i-Sar, look, dress,
and act like American girls in an Italian district—an interesting sidelight on the New
The Nation of Islam, or “Black Muslims”:
• Founded in Detroit in 1930 and
led by Elijah Muhammad who
called himself the ‘messenger of
• Promoter of segregation and
black power during the civil
rights era
• Divisions between Muhammad
and Malcolm X split the sect in
the 1960’s
• Group split into American
Muslim Mission and the Nation
of Islam after Muhammad’s
• 300 million + adherents primarily
in China and S.E. Asia
• Originated near modern Nepal
around 530 BC by prince
Siddhartha Guatama.
• Spread originally in India and Sri
Lanka by Magadhan Empire (250
• Indian traders brought it to China
in 1st century AD.
• By 6th century it had lost its hold
on India, but was now in Korea
and Japan.
• Diffusion of Buddhism:
• Diffused relatively slowly from its origin in
northeastern India.
• Emperor Asoka accredited with much of its
diffusion throughout the Magadhan Empire
(273 to 232 B.C.).
–Missionaries sent to territories neighboring
the empire.
• Buddhism introduced to China along trade
routes in the first century A.D.
DIFFUSION OF BUDDHISM Buddhism diffused slowly from its core
in northeastern India. Buddhism was not well established in China until 800
years after Buddha’s death.
– Branches of Buddhism
• Three major branches include…
1. Mahayana
» 56 percent of Buddhists
» Located primarily in China,
Japan, and Korea
2. Theravada
» 38 percent of Buddhists
» Located primarily in Cambodia,
Laos, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and
3. Vajrayana
» 6 percent of Buddhists
» Located primarily in Tibet and
population adheres to Buddhism in East Asia and Southeast Asia. At least 40 percent of
the population adheres to Sikhism in northwestern India
Four Noble Truths:
1. All living beings must endure suffering.
2. Suffering, which is caused by desires (for life),
leads to reincarnation.
3. The goal of existence is an escape from
suffering and the endless cycle of reincarnation
by means of Nirvana.
4. Nirvana is achieved by the Eightfold Path,
which includes rightness of understanding,
mindfulness, speech, action, livelihood, effort,
thought, and concentration.
Karma - your past bad or good
actions determine your progress
toward Nirvana through
reincarnation. You are your own
Buddhism is in large part a
rejection of the Indian caste
system. It stresses tolerance,
humility, and compassion for
•In some regions of Japan, more than two-thirds of the people are
Buddhists and more than two-thirds are Shintoists (right). This is possible
because many people adhere simultaneously to both religions. In most
places people are either more likely than average to be both Shinto and
Buddhist or less likely than average to be both.
present-day Nepal and northern India, Christianity’s in present-day Israel, and Islam’s in
present-day Saudi Arabia. Buddhism diffused primarily east toward East Asia and
Southeast Asia, Christianity west toward Europe, and Islam west toward northern Africa
and east toward southwestern Asia.