History of religion

The history of religion refers to the written record of human religious experiences and ideas. This period of religious history begins with the invention of writing about 5,200 years ago (3200 BCE).[1] The prehistory of religion involves the study of religious beliefs that existed prior to the advent of written records. One can also study comparative religious chronology through a timeline of religion. Writing played a major role in standardizing religious texts regardless of time or location, and making easier the memorization of prayers and divine rules. The case of the Bible involves the collation of multiple oral texts handed down over the centuries.[2]

The concept of "religion" was formed in the 16th and 17th centuries,[3][4] despite the fact that ancient sacred texts like the Bible, the Quran, and others did not have a word or even a concept of religion in the original languages and neither did the people or the cultures in which these sacred texts were written.[5][6]

The word "religion" as used in the 21st century does not have an obvious pre-colonial translation into non-European languages. The anthropologist Daniel Dubuisson writes that "what the West and the history of religions in its wake have objectified under the name 'religion' is ... something quite unique, which could be appropriate only to itself and its own history".[7] The history of other cultures' interaction with the "religious" category is therefore their interaction with an idea that first developed in Europe under the influence of Christianity.[8]

History of religions
founding figures

Anthropology
Comparative religion
Neurotheology / God gene
Origins
Psychology

Prehistoric
Ancient Near East
 · Ancient Egypt
 · Semitic
Indo-European
 · Vedic Hinduism
 · Greco-Roman
 · Celtic  · Germanic
Axial Age
 · Vedanta  · Śramaṇa
 · Dharma  · Tao
 · Hellenism
 · Monism  · Dualism
 · Monotheism
Christianization
Dharmaization (Hindu-Buddhist Indianization)
Islamization
Renaissance · Reformation
Age of Reason
New religious movements
 · Great Awakening
 · Fundamentalism
 · New Age
Postmodernism

Abrahamic
 · Judaism
 · Christianity
 · Islam
 · Bahá'í Faith
Indic
 · Hinduism
 · Buddhism
 · Jainism
 · Sikhism
Far Eastern
 · Taoism
 · Confucianism
 · Shinto
Neopagan
 · Wicca

History of study

The school of religious history called the Religionsgeschichtliche Schule, a late 19th-century German school of thought, originated the systematic study of religion as a socio-cultural phenomenon. It depicted religion as evolving with human culture, from primitive polytheism to ethical monotheism.

The Religionsgeschichtliche Schule emerged at a time when scholarly study of the Bible and of church history flourished in Germany and elsewhere (see higher criticism, also called the historical-critical method). The study of religion is important: religion and similar concepts have often shaped civilizations' law and moral codes, social structure, art and music.

Overview

The 19th century saw a dramatic increase in knowledge about a wide variety of cultures and religions, and also the establishment of economic and social histories of progress. The "history of religions" school sought to account for this religious diversity by connecting it with the social and economic situation of a particular group.

Typically, religions were divided into stages of progression from simple to complex societies, especially from polytheistic to monotheistic and from extempore to organized. One can also classify religions as circumcising and non-circumcising, proselytizing (attempting to convert people of other religion) and non-proselytizing. Many religions share common beliefs.

Origin

The earliest evidence of religious ideas dates back several hundred thousand years to the Middle and Lower Paleolithic periods. Archaeologists refer to apparent intentional burials of early Homo sapiens from as early as 300,000 years ago as evidence of religious ideas. Other evidence of religious ideas include symbolic artifacts from Middle Stone Age sites in Africa. However, the interpretation of early paleolithic artifacts, with regard to how they relate to religious ideas, remains controversial. Archeological evidence from more recent periods is less controversial. Scientists( generally interpret a number of artifacts from the Upper Paleolithic (50,000-13,000 BCE) as representing religious ideas. Examples of Upper Paleolithic remains associated with religious beliefs include the lion man, the Venus figurines, cave paintings from Chauvet Cave and the elaborate ritual burial from Sungir.

In the 19th century researchers proposed various theories regarding the origin of religion, challenging earlier claims of a Christianity-like urreligion. Early theorists Edward Burnett Tylor (1832-1917) and Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) proposed the concept of animism, while archaeologist John Lubbock (1834-1913) used the term "fetishism". Meanwhile, religious scholar Max Müller (1823-1900) theorized that religion began in hedonism and folklorist Wilhelm Mannhardt (1831-1880) suggested that religion began in "naturalism", by which he meant mythological explanation of natural events.[9] All of these theories have since been widely criticized; there is no broad consensus regarding the origin of religion.

Pre-pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) Göbekli Tepe, the oldest religious site yet discovered anywhere[10] includes circles of erected massive T-shaped stone pillars, the world's oldest known megaliths [11] decorated with abstract, enigmatic pictograms and carved animal reliefs. The site, near the home place of original wild wheat, was built before the so-called Neolithic Revolution, i.e., the beginning of agriculture and animal husbandry around 9000 BCE. But the construction of Göbekli Tepe implies organization of an advanced order not hitherto associated with Paleolithic, PPNA, or PPNB societies. The site, abandoned around the time the first agricultural societies started, is still being excavated and analyzed, and thus might shed light to the significance it had had for the region's older, foraging communities, as well as for the general history of religions.

The Pyramid Texts from ancient Egypt are the oldest known religious texts in the world, dating to between 2400-2300 BCE.[12][13]

Surviving early copies of complete religious texts include:

The Dead Sea Scrolls, representing complete texts of the Hebrew Tanakh; these scrolls were copied approximately 2000 years ago.

Complete Hebrew texts, also of the Tanakh, but translated into the Greek language (Septuagint 300-200 BC), were in wide use by the early 1st century CE.

Advantages of religion

Organized religion emerged as a means of providing social and economic stability to large populations through the following ways:

  • Organized religion served to justify a central authority, which in turn possessed the right to collect taxes in return for providing social and security services to the state. The empires of India and Mesopotamia were theocracies, with chiefs, kings and emperors playing dual roles of political and spiritual leaders.[14] Virtually all state societies and chiefdoms around the world have similar political structures where political authority is justified by divine sanction.
  • Organized religion emerged as means of maintaining peace between unrelated individuals. Bands and tribes consist of a small number of related individuals. However states and nations include thousands or millions of unrelated individuals. Jared Diamond argues that organized religion served to provide a bond between unrelated individuals who would otherwise be more prone to enmity. He argues that a leading cause of death among band and tribal societies is murder.[15]

Axial age

Historians have labelled the period from 900 to 200 BCE as the "axial age", a term coined by German-Swiss philosopher Karl Jaspers (1883-1969). According to Jaspers, in this era of history "the spiritual foundations of humanity were laid simultaneously and independently... And these are the foundations upon which humanity still subsists today." Intellectual historian Peter Watson has summarized this period as the foundation time of many of humanity's most influential philosophical traditions, including monotheism in Persia and Canaan, Platonism in Greece, Buddhism and Jainism in India, and Confucianism and Taoism in China. These ideas would become institutionalized in time - note for example Ashoka's role in the spread of Buddhism, or the role of platonic philosophy in Christianity at its foundation.

The historical roots of Jainism in India date back to the 9th-century BCE with the rise of Parshvanatha and his non-violent philosophy.[16][17]

Middle Ages

Medieval-World-Religions
Medieval world religions

World religions of the present day established themselves throughout Eurasia during the Middle Ages by:

During the Middle Ages, Muslims came into conflict with Zoroastrians during the Islamic conquest of Persia (633-654); Christians fought against Muslims during the Byzantine-Arab Wars (7th to 11th centuries), the Crusades (1095 onward), the Reconquista (718-1492), the Ottoman wars in Europe (13th century onwards) and the Inquisition; Shamanism was in conflict with Buddhists, Taoists, Muslims and Christians during the Mongol invasions (1206-1337); and Muslims clashed with Hindus and Sikhs during the Muslim conquest of the Indian subcontinent (8th to 16th centuries).

Many medieval religious movements emphasized mysticism, such as the Cathars and related movements in the West, the Jews in Spain (see Zohar), the Bhakti movement in India and Sufism in Islam. Monotheism reached definite forms in Christian Christology and in Islamic Tawhid. Hindu monotheist notions of Brahman likewise reached their classical form with the teaching of Adi Shankara (788-820).

Modern period

European colonisation during the 15th to 19th centuries resulted in the spread of Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa, and to the Americas, Australia and the Philippines. The invention of the printing press in the 15th century played a major role in the rapid spread of the Protestant Reformation under leaders such as Martin Luther (1483-1546) and John Calvin (1509-1564). Wars of religion broke out, culminating in the Thirty Years War which ravaged central Europe between 1618 and 1648. The 18th century saw the beginning of secularisation in Europe, gaining momentum after the French Revolution of 1789 and following. By the late 20th century religion had declined in most of Europe.[18]

In the 20th century, the regimes of Communist Eastern Europe and of Communist China were anti-religious. A great variety of new religious movements originated in the 20th century, many proposing syncretism of elements of established religions. Adherence to such new movements is limited, however, remaining below 2% worldwide in the period 2000-2009. Adherents of the classical world religions account for more than 75% of the world's population, while adherence to indigenous tribal religions has fallen to 4%. As of 2005, an estimated 14% of the world's population identifies as nonreligious.

By 2001 people began to use the internet to discover or adhere to their religious beliefs. In January 2000 the website beliefnet was established, and the following year, every month it had over 1.7 million visitors.[19]

See also

Shamanism and ancestor worship

Panentheism

Polytheism

Monotheism

See also Monotheism, Abrahamic religions.

Monism

Dualism

New religious movements

Citations

  1. ^ "The Origins of Writing | Essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art". Metmuseum.org. Retrieved 2018-03-11.
  2. ^ Humayun Ansari (2004). The Infidel Within: Muslims in Britain Since 1800. C. Hurst & Co. pp. 399–400. ISBN 978-1-85065-685-2.
  3. ^ Nongbri, Brent (2013). Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept. Yale University Press. p. 152. ISBN 978-0300154160. Although the Greeks, Romans, Mesopotamians, and many other peoples have long histories, the stories of their respective religions are of recent pedigree. The formation of ancient religions as objects of study coincided with the formation of religion itself as a concept of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
  4. ^ Harrison, Peter (1990). 'Religion' and the Religions in the English Enlightenment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-0521892933. That there exist in the world such entities as 'the religions' is an uncontroversial claim...However, it was not always so. The concepts 'religion' and 'the religions', as we presently understand them, emerged quite late in Western thought, during the Enlightenment. Between them, these two notions provided a new framework for classifying particular aspects of human life.
  5. ^ Nongbri, Brent (2013). "2. Lost in Translation: Inserting "Religion" into Ancient Texts". Before Religion: A History of a Modern Concept. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0300154160.
  6. ^ Morreall, John; Sonn, Tamara (2013). 50 Great Myths about Religions. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 13. ISBN 9780470673508. Many languages do not even have a word equivalent to our word 'religion'; nor is such a word found in either the Bible or the Qur'an.
  7. ^ Daniel Dubuisson. The Western Construction of Religion. 1998. William Sayers (trans.) Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003. p. 90.
  8. ^ Timothy Fitzgerald. Discourse on Civility and Barbarity. ISBN 9780190293642. Oxford University Press, 2007. pp.45-46.
  9. ^ "Religion". Encyclopedia Universal Ilustrada Europeo-Americana, 70 vols. Madrid. 1907-1930.
  10. ^ "The World's First Temple". Archaeology magazine. Nov–Dec 2008. p. 23.
  11. ^ Sagona, Claudia. The Archaeology of Malta. Cambridge University Press. p. 47. ISBN 9781107006690. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  12. ^ Budge, Wallis. An Introduction to Ancient Egyptian Literature. p. 9. ISBN 0-486-29502-8.
  13. ^ Allen, James. The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts. ISBN 1-58983-182-9.
  14. ^ Shermer, Michael. The Science of Good and Evil. ISBN 0-8050-7520-8.
  15. ^ Compare: Diamond, Jared. "chapter 14, From Egalitarianism to Kleptocracy". Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. ISBN 9780393609295. [...] extensive long-term information about band and tribal societies reveals that murder is a leading cause of death.
  16. ^ Dundas 2002, p. 30.
  17. ^ Zimmer 1953, p. 182-183.
  18. ^ Norris, Pippa (2011). Sacred and Secular: Religion and Politics Worldwide. Cambridge University Press.
  19. ^ Zabriskie, Phil (2001-06-04). "I Once Was Lost, but Now I'm Wired". Time Asia. Vol. 157 no. 22.

Sources

Further reading

  • Armstrong, Karen. A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam (1994) excerpt and text search
  • Armstrong, Karen. Islam: A Short History (2002) excerpt and text search
  • Bowker, John Westerdale, ed. The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions (2007) excerpt and text search 1126pp
  • Carus, Paul. The history of the devil and the idea of evil: from the earliest times to the present day (1899) full text
  • Eliade, Mircea, and Joan P. Culianu. The HarperCollins Concise Guide to World Religion: The A-to-Z Encyclopedia of All the Major Religious Traditions (1999) covers 33 principal religions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Jainism, Judaism, Islam, Shinto, Shamanism, Taoism, South American religions, Baltic and Slavic religions, Confucianism, and the religions of Africa and Oceania.
    • Eliade, Mircea ed. Encyclopedia of Religion (16 vol. 1986; 2nd ed 15 vol. 2005; online at Gale Virtual Reference Library). 3300 articles in 15,000 pages by 2000 experts.
  • Ellwood, Robert S. and Gregory D. Alles. The Encyclopedia of World Religions (2007) 528pp; for middle schools
  • Gilley, Sheridan; Shiels, W. J. History of Religion in Britain: Practice and Belief from Pre-Roman Times to the Present (1994) 590pp
  • James, Paul; Mandaville, Peter (2010). Globalization and Culture, Vol. 2: Globalizing Religions. London: Sage Publications.
  • Marshall, Peter. "(Re)defining the English Reformation," Journal of British Studies, July 2009, Vol. 48#3 pp 564–586
  • Schultz, Kevin M.; Harvey, Paul. "Everywhere and Nowhere: Recent Trends in American Religious History and Historiography," Journal of the American Academy of Religion, March 2010, Vol. 78#1 pp 129–162
  • Wilson, John F. Religion and the American Nation: Historiography and History (2003) 119pp

External links

Buddhism in Pakistan

Buddhism in Pakistan took root some 2,300 years ago under the Mauryan king Ashoka, whom Nehru once called “greater than any king or emperor.” Buddhism has a long history in present-day history of Pakistan — over time being part of areas within Bactria, the Indo-Greek Kingdom, the Kushan Empire; Ancient India with the Maurya Empire of Ashoka, the Pala Empire; the Punjab region, and Indus River Valley cultures — areas now within the present day nation of Pakistan. Buddhist scholar Kumāralabdha of the Taxila was comparable to Aryadeva, Aśvaghoṣa and Nagarjuna.

In 2012, the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) indicated that the contemporary Buddhist population of Pakistan was minuscule with 1,492 adult holders of national identity cards (CNICs). The total population of Buddhists is therefore unlikely to be more than a few thousand. In 2017, number of Buddhist voters was stated to be 1,884 and they are mostly concentrated in Sindh and Punjab.The only functional Buddhist temple in Pakistan is in the Diplomatic Enclave at Islamabad, used by Buddhist diplomats from countries like Sri Lanka.

Catholic emancipation

Catholic emancipation or Catholic relief was a process in the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland, and later the combined United Kingdom in the late 18th century and early 19th century, that involved reducing and removing many of the restrictions on Roman Catholics introduced by the Act of Uniformity, the Test Acts and the penal laws. Requirements to abjure (renounce) the temporal and spiritual authority of the pope and transubstantiation placed major burdens on Roman Catholics.

The penal laws started to be dismantled from 1766. The most significant measure was the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829, which removed the most substantial restrictions on Roman Catholicism in the United Kingdom.

Hierophany

A hierophany is a manifestation of the sacred. The word is a formation of the Greek adjective hieros (Greek: ἱερός; sacred/holy) and the verb phainein (φαίνειν; to reveal / to bring to light).

History of Christianity in Britain

The history of Christianity in Britain covers the religious organisations, policies, theology, and popular religiosity since ancient times.

Numen

Numen, pl. numina, is a Latin term for "divinity", or a "divine presence", "divine will." The Latin authors defined it as follows. Cicero writes of a "divine mind" (divina mens), a god "whose numen everything obeys," and a "divine power" (vim divinam) "which pervades the lives of men." It causes the motions and cries of birds during augury. In Virgil's recounting of the blinding of the one-eyed giant, Polyphemus, from the Odyssey, in his Aeneid, he has Odysseus and his men first "ask for the assistance of the great numina" (magna precati numina). Reviewing public opinion of Augustus on the day of his funeral, the historian Tacitus reports that some thought "no honor was left to the gods" when he "established the cult of himself" (se ... coli vellet) "with temples and the effigies of numina" (effigie numinum). Pliny the younger in a letter to Paternus raves about the "power," the "dignity," and "the majesty;" in short, the "numen of history." Lucretius uses the expression numen mentis, or "bidding of the mind," where "bidding" is numen, not, however, the divine numen, unless the mind is to be considered divine, but as simply human will.Since the early 20th century, numen has sometimes been treated in the history of religion as a pre-animistic phase; that is, a belief system inherited from an earlier time. Numen is also used by sociologists to refer to the idea of magical power residing in an object, particularly when writing about ideas in the western tradition. When used in this sense, numen is nearly synonymous with mana. However, some authors reserve use of mana for ideas about magic from Polynesia and southeast Asia.

Origin myth

An origin myth is a myth that purports to describe the origin of some feature of the natural or social world. One type of origin myth is the cosmogonic myth, which describes the creation of the world. However, many cultures have stories set after the cosmogonic myth, which describe the origin of natural phenomena and human institutions within a preexisting universe.

In Graeco-Roman scholarship, the terms etiological myth and aition (from the Ancient Greek αἴτιον, "cause") are sometimes used for a myth that explains an origin, particularly how an object or custom came into existence.

Paganism

Paganism (from classical Latin pāgānus "rural, rustic", later "civilian") is a term first used in the fourth century by early Christians for people in the Roman Empire who practiced polytheism. This was either because they were increasingly rural and provincial relative to the Christian population, or because they were not milites Christi (soldiers of Christ). Alternate terms in Christian texts for the same group were hellene, gentile, and heathen. Ritual sacrifice was an integral part of ancient Graeco-Roman religion and was regarded as an indication of whether a person was pagan or Christian.Paganism was originally a pejorative and derogatory term for polytheism, implying its inferiority. Paganism has broadly connoted the "religion of the peasantry". During and after the Middle Ages, the term paganism was applied to any unfamiliar religion, and the term presumed a belief in false god(s). Most modern pagan religions existing today—Modern Paganism, or Neopaganism—express a world view that is pantheistic, polytheistic or animistic; but some are monotheistic.The origin of the application of the term pagan to polytheism is debated. In the 19th century, paganism was adopted as a self-descriptor by members of various artistic groups inspired by the ancient world. In the 20th century, it came to be applied as a self-descriptor by practitioners of Modern Paganism, Neopagan movements and Polytheistic reconstructionists. Modern pagan traditions often incorporate beliefs or practices, such as nature worship, that are different from those in the largest world religions.Contemporary knowledge of old pagan religions comes from several sources, including anthropological field research records, the evidence of archaeological artifacts, and the historical accounts of ancient writers regarding cultures known to Classical antiquity.

Puritans

The Puritans were English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries who sought to purify the Church of England of Roman Catholic practices, maintaining that the Church of England had not been fully reformed and needed to become more Protestant. Puritanism played a significant role in English history, especially during the Protectorate.

Puritans were dissatisfied with the limited extent of the English Reformation and with the Church of England's toleration of certain practices associated with the Roman Catholic Church. They formed and identified with various religious groups advocating greater purity of worship and doctrine, as well as personal and corporate piety. Puritans adopted a Reformed theology and, in that sense, were Calvinists (as were many of their earlier opponents). In church polity, some advocated separation from all other established Christian denominations in favour of autonomous gathered churches. These separatist and independent strands of Puritanism became prominent in the 1640s, when the supporters of a Presbyterian polity in the Westminster Assembly were unable to forge a new English national church.

By the late 1630s, Puritans were in alliance with the growing commercial world, with the parliamentary opposition to the royal prerogative, and with the Scottish Presbyterians with whom they had much in common. Consequently, they became a major political force in England and came to power as a result of the First English Civil War (1642–1646). Almost all Puritan clergy left the Church of England after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 and the 1662 Uniformity Act. Many continued to practice their faith in nonconformist denominations, especially in Congregationalist and Presbyterian churches. The nature of the movement in England changed radically, although it retained its character for a much longer period in New England.

Puritanism was never a formally defined religious division within Protestantism, and the term Puritan itself was rarely used after the turn of the 18th century. Some Puritan ideals, including the formal rejection of Roman Catholicism, were incorporated into the doctrines of the Church of England; others were absorbed into the many Protestant denominations that emerged in the late 17th and early 18th centuries in America and Britain. The Congregational churches, widely considered to be a part of the Reformed tradition, are descended from the Puritans. Moreover, Puritan beliefs are enshrined in the Savoy Declaration, the confession of faith held by the Congregationalist churches.

Religion in Afghanistan

Afghanistan is an Islamic republic where Islam is practiced by 99% of its citizens. As high as 80% of the population follow Sunni Islam. The remaining are Shias. Apart from Muslims, there are also small minorities of Sikhs and Hindus.

Religion in Austria

Christianity is the predominant religion in Austria. At the 2001 census, 73.6% of the country's population was Catholic. As of 2018, the number of Catholics has dropped to 56.9% of the population, according to data provided by the Austrian Catholic Church itself. There is a much smaller group of Evangelicals, totalling about 4.7% of the population in 2001, shrunk to 3.3% in 2018. Since 2001, these two historically dominant religious groups in Austria recorded losses in the number of adherents. The Catholic Church reported an absolute drop of 15.7%, the Evangelical Lutheran and Evangelical Reformed churches of 1.3%. In relative numbers the losses of the smaller Evangelical churches account for 33.7%, compared to Catholic losses which account for 21.9%, since their maximum in 1971.

In contrast, due to immigration, the number of Muslims in Austria has increased in recent years, with 4.2% of the population calling themselves Muslim in 2001, up to around 5% to 6.2% in 2010, and to 7.9% in 2016 - represented especially by immigrants from Turkey and the Balkans. Eastern Orthodox churches have also grown rapidly (up to 8.8% of the population) in recent years, mainly due to immigration of Serbs from the former Yugoslavia and Romanians. There are also minor communities of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jews, and other religions in Austria.

Religion in Belarus

Christianity is the main religion in Belarus, with Eastern Orthodoxy being the largest denomination. The legacy of the state atheism of the Soviet era is evident in the fact that a large part of the Belarusians are not religious. Moreover, other non-traditional and new religions have sprung up in the country after the end of the Soviet Union. According to the most recent data published in 2011 by the Ministry of the Interior, 48.3% of the Belarusians are Orthodox Christians, 41.1% are irreligious (atheists and agnostics), 7.1% are Catholics (either Roman Catholic and Belarusian Greek Catholic), and 3.5% are members of other religions.

Religion in Belgium

Religion in Belgium is diversified, with Christianity, in particular the Catholic Church, representing the largest community, though it has experienced a significant decline since the 1980s (when it was the religion of over 70% of the population). However, according to Eurobarometer poll 2015 number of Christians increased by 8% from 52.5% in 2009 to 60.7% in 6 years, with Roman Catholicism being the largest denomination at 52.9%. Protestants comprised 2.1% and Orthodox Christians comprised 1.6%. Non religious people comprised 32.0% of the population and were divided between those who primarily identified as atheists (14.9%) or as agnostics (17.1%). A further 5.2% of the population was Muslim and 2.1% were believers in other religions. Belgium's policy separates the state from the churches, and freedom of religion of the citizens is guaranteed by the country's constitution.

Religion in Cuba

Cuba's prevailing religion is Christianity, primarily Roman Catholicism, although in some instances it is profoundly modified and influenced through syncretism. A common syncretic religion is Santería, which combined the Yoruba religion of the African slaves with Catholicism and some Native American strands; it shows similarities to Brazilian Umbanda and has been receiving a degree of official support.

The Roman Catholic Church estimates that 60 percent of the population is Catholic, but only 5% of that 60% attends mass regularly, while independent sources estimate that as few 1.5% of the population does so.Membership in Protestant churches is estimated to be 5 percent and includes Baptists, Pentecostals, Seventh-day Adventists, Presbyterians, Anglicans, Methodists, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and Lutherans. In recent decades, Cuba has seen a rapid growth of Evangelical Protestants: "Cuba’s Christians have thrived despite the island’s politics and poverty. Their improbable, decades-long revival is often described as being rivaled only by China’s. “It’s incredible. People just come on their own, looking for God,” says a Western Baptist leader." Other Christian denominations include the Greek Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church, Jehovah's Witnesses and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).

Non-Christian minority religions in Cuba include Hinduism and Chinese folk religion, which each account for 0.2% of the population, as well as the Bahá'í Faith, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam and Neoreligions, which all have non-negligible numbers of followers accounting for less than 0.1% of Cuba's population. In addition to the above, 18.0% of Cubans declared themselves to be agnostic and 5.1% claimed to be atheists.

Cuba is home to a variety of syncretic religions of largely African cultural origin. According to a US State Department report, some sources estimate that as much as 80 percent of the population consults with practitioners of religions with West African roots, such as Santeria or Yoruba. Santería developed out of the traditions of the Yoruba, one of the African peoples who were imported to Cuba during the 16th through 19th centuries to work on the sugar plantations. Santería blends elements of Christianity and West African beliefs and as such made it possible for the slaves to retain their traditional beliefs while appearing to practice Catholicism. La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre (Our Lady Of Charity) is the Catholic patroness of Cuba, and is greatly revered by the Cuban people and seen as a symbol of Cuba. In Santería, she has been syncretized with the goddess Ochún. The important religious festival "La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre" is celebrated by Cubans annually on 8 September. Other religions practised are Palo Monte and Abakuá, which have large parts of their liturgy in African languages.

Although restrictions on religion in Cuba were minimal compared to other communist nations like the Soviet Union or China, the large atheist population was most likely caused by the communist atmosphere of Marxist-Leninist atheism.

Religion in Kosovo

Religion in Kosovo is separated from the state. The Constitution establishes Kosovo as a secular state that is neutral in matters of religious beliefs and where everyone is equal before the law and freedom to belief, conscience and religion is guaranteed.

Religion in Nepal

Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal is a predominantly Hindu by religion nearly about 82% although it is multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious nation. Shiva has been regarded as guardian deity of Nepal. Nepal is the home to

world famous lord Shiva pashupatinath temple where all Hindus globally visit the holy place for pilgrimage and it is also birth place of Goddess Sita and lord Buddha according to Hindu mythology. Nepal is a secular state and also it become Democratic country by 2008 according to it's constitution but "however Hinduism has been considered as State religion of Nepal due to labelling of Secularism in the constitution which clearly state's "Secularism in Nepal means protection of Sanatan Dharma I.e Hinduism culture while ensuring cultural and religious freedom". Cow has been declared National animal of Nepal which is holy animal in Sanatan Dharma I.e Hinduism and government has ban cow slaughter and it is illegal by law. Freedom of religion is also guaranteed by Nepali constitution. Conversion to other religion is not allowed and it is illegal according to constitution because conversion of another religion is prohibited by law. Prior to the movement for democracy in early 2006 and the sacking of King Gyanendra in 2008, the country was officially a Hindu kingdom but still constitution uphold to protect and foster Hinduism culture observed majorly by Nepali Hindus. Hinduism is the majority religion in the state and profoundly influences its social structure and politics, while Buddhism (Tibetan Buddhism) is practiced by some ethnic groups (for example Newar) in forms which are strongly influenced by Hinduism; Kiratism otherwise is the grassroots native religion of populations belonging to the Kirati ethnicity. Islam, Christianity, Sikhism and Jainism have made inroads and are the religious identity of small populations especially in eastern Nepal.

Religion in Poland

While a number of religious communities operate in Poland, the majority of the country's population adheres to Christianity. Within this, the largest grouping is the Roman Catholic Church, with 87.5% of Poles in 2011 identifying as Roman Catholic (census conducted by the Central Statistical Office (GUS)). According to the Institute for Catholic Church Statistics, 36.7% of Polish Catholic believers attended Sunday church services in 2016. Catholicism continues to play an important role in the lives of many Poles and the Roman Catholic Church in Poland enjoys social prestige and political influence, despite repression experienced under Communist rule. Its members regard it as a repository of Polish heritage and culture. Poland lays claim to having the highest proportion of Catholic citizens of any country in Europe except for Malta (including more than in Italy, Spain, and Ireland).This numerical dominance results from the Nazi-era German Holocaust of Jews living in Poland and the World War II casualties among Polish religious minorities, as well as the flight and expulsion of Germans, many of whom were not Catholics, at the end of World War II.

The rest of the population consists mainly of Eastern Orthodox (Polish Orthodox Church) (504,400 believers, Polish and Belarusian), various Protestant churches (the largest being the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland with 61,270 members) and Jehovah's Witnesses (118,774). There are about 55,000 Greek Catholics in Poland. Other religions practiced in Poland, by less than 1% of the population, include Islam and Judaism and to a lesser extent Hinduism and Buddhism.

Religion in South Africa

South Africa is a secular state with a diverse religious population. Its constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Many religions are represented in the ethnic and regional diversity of the population. Christianity, especially in its Protestant forms, predominates.

Religious studies

Religious studies, also known as the study of religion or religiology, is an academic field devoted to research into religious beliefs, behaviors, and institutions. It describes, compares, interprets, and explains religion, emphasizing systematic, historically based, and cross-cultural perspectives.

While theology attempts to understand the nature of transcendent or supernatural forces (such as deities), religious studies tries to study religious behavior and belief from outside any particular religious viewpoint. Religious studies draws upon multiple disciplines and their methodologies including anthropology, sociology, psychology, philosophy, and history of religion.

Religious studies originated in the 19th century, when scholarly and historical analysis of the Bible had flourished, and Hindu and Buddhist texts were first being translated into European languages. Early influential scholars included Friedrich Max Müller, in England, and Cornelius P. Tiele, in the Netherlands. Today religious studies is practiced by scholars worldwide. In its early years, it was known as "comparative religion" or the science of religion and, in the USA, there are those who today also know the field as the History of religion (associated with methodological traditions traced to the University of Chicago in general, and in particular Mircea Eliade, from the late 1950s through to the late 1980s).

The religious studies scholar Walter Capps described the purpose of the discipline as to provide "training and practice... in directing and conducting inquiry regarding the subject of religion". At the same time, Capps stated that its other purpose was to use "prescribed modes and techniques of inquiry to make the subject of religion intelligible."

Religious studies scholar Robert A. Segal characterised the discipline as "a subject matter" that is "open to many approaches", and thus it "does not require either a distinctive method or a distinctive explanation to be worthy of disciplinary status."Different scholars operating in the field have different interests and intentions; some for instance seek to defend religion, while others seek to explain it away, and others wish to use religion as an example with which to prove a theory of their own. Some scholars of religious studies are interested in primarily studying the religion to which they belong.Scholars of religion have argued that a study of the subject is useful for individuals because it will provide them with knowledge that is pertinent in inter-personal and professional contexts within an increasingly globalised world. It has also been argued that studying religion is useful in appreciating and understanding sectarian tensions and religious violence.

The Ritual of Embalming Papyrus

The Ritual of Embalming Papyrus or Papyrus of the Embalming Ritual is one of only two extant papyri which detail anything at all about the practices of mummification used within the burial practices of Ancient Egyptian culture.

One version of the papyri is contained within the Egyptian museum Cairo (Pap. Boulaq No.3) and the other is within the Louvre (No. 5158).

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