Major Religions

JUDAlSM -- Among the oldest of the world's surviving religions, Judaism provides its followers with a religion and a way of life. Judaism was the parent both of Christianity and lslam (the founders of Israel and Islam were brothers) and was among the first religions to recognize a single god. Its sacred literature, which grew out of an ancient oral tradition, includes both the Torah and the Hebrew Bible (also known as the Old Testament Bible). There are several forms of Judaism: Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist. Script by Dr. Geoffrey Wigoder.

ORTHODOX AND ROMAN CATHOLlC CHRlSTlANlTY -- With roots in first century Christianity, Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christianity are today followed by close to a billion people throughout the world. The Churches' basic doctrines were summarized in the early Ecumenical Councils begun in the fourth century. Their ethical doctrines are based upon the New Testament and Church guidelines. Orthodox and Catholic life and religious practices have diverged through the centuries as each embraced different ideas about worship, ethics, and relations to politics and culture. Script by Dr. Jean Porter.

PROTESTANT CHRlSTlANlTY -- Since the sixteenth century, Christianity has flourished in a third form called Protestantism that developed in Western Europe. In the Protestant Reformation four major denominations emerged: Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican, and some radical extensions of these initial movements. Succeeding Protestant sects developed based on Protestant foundations. Script by Dr. Dale Johnson.

lSLAM -- Perhaps the least understood religion, at least in Western culture, lslam today is the second largest religion in the world with more than 1 billion followers, one-fifth of the world's population. Indonesia, the most populous lslamic land, has well over 100 million Muslims. lslam was first proclaimed in the seventh century, and has evolved into various forms: Sunni (90%), Shi'ah, Sufi mysticism, etc. The sources of lslamic tradition are found in the Koran and Prophetic traditions. Related groups are the Druse, Baha'i, the Nation of Islam, and others. Script by Dr. Charles Adams.

HlNDUlSM -- Hinduism began in lndia about 1600 B.C.E.. Several other religions and philosophies developed from Hinduism, including Buddhism and the Jain tradition (both 6th century B.C.E.) and the Sikh tradition (15th century C.E.). These three traditions flourish today primarily in India; Buddhism has flourished in southeast Asia. Vedanta, another offshoot, is practiced worldwide, as are Yoga, transcendental meditation, and other spiritual and meditative exercises related to Hinduism. Script by Dr. Gregory Kozlowski.

BUDDHlSM -- Buddhism began with Gotama the Buddha in the 6th century B.C.E. and has developed as two chief forms of practice: Theravada (or Hinayana) is found especially in Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand; Mahayana is found in Japan, China, Korea, & Indochina. Zen, a more recent form of Buddhism, is found throughout the world. Some believe Buddhism is not a religion, though this presentation describes its religious qualities: a belief in transcendent reality, sacred scriptures, monastic life, and views on a future life and the goal of human existence. Script by Dr. Winston King.

SHlNTO AND JAPANESE NEW RELlGlONS -- The traditional religion known as Shinto has been present in Japan from prehistoric times, long before Buddhism and other traditions arrived from the Asian continent. One of its forms, Shrine Shinto, is centered around local shrines and seasonal festivals; it has greatly influenced Japanese culture. Sect Shinto is characterized by more highly organized institutions, which attract many members; folk Shinto consists of beliefs and practices apart from these institutions, especially in the home. Script by Dr. Byron Earhart.

CONFUClANlSM AND TAOlSM -- Confucius (6th century B.C.E.) stressed the family, family ethics, and humanistic virtues and values on an individual basis. Taoism is organized as a religion; yin and yang are seen as fundamental principles of the universe in many religious and philosophical discussions. The I Ching, a collection of maxims, precepts, and religious formulas, also continues to receive much attention. Script by Dr. Julia Ching.

THE RELlGlON OF SMALL SOClETlES -- "Primitive" religious practices and understandings - those without a surviving sacred literate - are recognized as equally as other religious beliefs. In this episode, the non-literate religions are compared to each other and to literate religions; they also are analyzed based on geographical concentration, historical development, and the type of religious concepts they embrace. Script by Dr. Ninian Smart

CLASSlCAL RELlGlONS & MYTHS OF THE MEDlTERRANEAN BASlN -- Mesopotamia, Egypt, Asia Minor, Canaan, Greece, and Rome have greatly and continuously influenced all of Western culture and civilization. Today, theological interest is resurging in goddess worship, in mythologies and technical sciences from Egypt and Mesopotamia. The literature and culture of these religions have influenced Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Script by Dr. Jon David Solomon

AFRlCAN AND AFRICAN-AMERICAN RELlGlON -- Many of the religious ideas and practices of African peoples have much in common with each other, and with related religions in the Caribbean and the Americas. African lslam and African Christianity have developed separately since their earliest times in Ethiopia, Egypt, and the Sudan. Script by Dr. Victor Anderson.

NATlVE RELlGlONS OF THE AMERlCAS -- North, Central, and South American lndians have a rich religious heritage, though much has been lost as these peoples were conquered by Europeans. Here we describe the distinctive religious cultures of the native American peoples. Script by Dr. Ake Hultkrantz.

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If the world is bad in spite of religion, can you imagine the jungle it would be without it?
President Woodrow Wilson
The religion descriptions above are from Odyssey Family Channel (now Hallmark)

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(Chinese and Hebrew calendars are considerably different, among others)