Thinking about the world’s major religions

I’ve been thinking about the world’s major religions recently. It started when someone I follow on Facebook said the Rapture was coming on September 21st. Of course, it didn’t happen, but it made me think about why he was so sure it would happen.

Basically:

  • People born into a Christian culture become Christians
  • People born into Muslim cultures become Muslims
  • People born into Hindu cultures become Hindus
  • People born into Jewish cultures become Jewish
  • People born into Buddhist cultures become Buddhists
  • Etc.

The world’s major religions

Our culture defines our religion and we can become so entranced by our religion we think it’s the only real religion. That can’t be true. According to one source, there are at least 4300 religions in the world. The most popular are:

  • Christianity (2.1 billion)
  • Islam (1.3 billion)
  • Non-religious (agnostic, atheist, secular) (1.1 billion)
  • Hindu (900 million)
  • Chinese traditional (394 million)
  • Buddhism (376 million)
  • Indigenous (300 million)

I’m not sure those figures are accurate. India has a population of 1.354 billion and I’m pretty sure most of them are Hindus. Buddhist countries exist throughout Asia and that also represents a huge number of people. The list goes on to list 20, including Zoroastrianism (2.6 million), Neo-paganism (1 million) and Unitarianism-Universalism (800,000). How they got those figures is anyone’s guess.

Compassion defines you: not your religion

The point of this blog is to point out one simple fact. Adherents of any of the world’s major religions can go in two directions. They can become fanatics or they can listen to the higher voice of their religion. Most religions teach compassion, kindness and tolerance, not hatred and violence. I read an article recently that pointed out more examples of violence in the Old Testament than the Koran. In India, Hindus can be tolerant or violent. Buddhism is generally tolerant, but there are exceptions to that rule.

Even Christianity, the world's largest major religion, has many sides to it
Christians come in all shapes and sizes

It’s not the religion we follow that defines us. It is the level of compassion and kindness we show to others that defines us. The mass media has managed to make too many people hate Muslims of all persuasions. ISIS and other groups make up only a small percentage of Muslims. Most prefer living in peace with everyone. I discovered that when I traveled through the Middle East in 1971. Muslims were very friendly and helpful. It wasn’t until I reached India that I got all my belongings stolen, but that was sort of understandable. India was by far the poorest country I visited. I had seen poor people in other countries, but was shocked by the poverty in India.

I asked the man who said the Rapture was coming why it didn’t come. He said it was coming soon and said I would not be saved because I was not a Christian. He also believes Donald Trump is a Christian and will be saved. Didn’t he read the part where Jesus said, “Sooner will a camel pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man enter the kingdom of heaven”? Jesus even said we should be like the birds of the air, which sow not, neither do they reap or store in barns. In other words, we should live day to day without worrying about storing up treasures on earth, “where moth and rust do corrupt.”

That’s hard to do in today’s society, which sort of forces us to work for a living. A society like that is not a Christian society by any means. I wonder if we’ll turn the corner and become kind and compassionate before it’s too late. Maybe the apocalypse is coming instead of the Rapture. One thing I’m sure of: it’s not the world’s major religions that define us. It’s how we live our lives.