Since the beginning of time, people have wondered about the meaning of life and death. They have looked for ways to explain nature and the Earth.
People all over the world have developed their own religions to answer these questions. Each religion has its own set of beliefs and practices. For faithful followers, religious worship is very important.
The world religions can be divided into two groups – Eastern and Western faiths. The Eastern traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism began in India. Christianity, Judaism and Islam began in the Middle East. Other faiths spun off these main religions.
Christianity began in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago after the birth of Jesus Christ. Christians believe that Christ is the literal Son of God and that he rose from the tomb three days after being crucified. Followers strive to love others and keep God’s commandments. Christians believe that all can have eternal life. Christians follow the teachings of the Bible, and in particular, the New Testament. Latter Day Saints follow a third book of scripture, the Book of Mormon.
The practice of Judaism is an ancient one, dating back to 2,000 BC. Like Christians, Jews believe in one God. The prophet, Abraham, was the first leader, but many other prophets followed. Jews follow the teachings of the Jewish Bible, and most especially, the Torah, which includes the first five books. After years of persecution, the Jews created a homeland in Israel.
Islam also began in the Middle East and Muslims believe in only one God, Allah. Muslims follow many of the same prophets revered by Christians and Jews, including Abraham, but especially Mohammed, the last and greatest prophet. Mohammed wrote down the words of God in the Koran, The Muslim scriptures. After Mohammed’s death, the religion split into two separate sects – traditional Sunnis who live in most Islamic countries in the world, and the more radical Shi’ites, who are the majority in Iraq and Iran. Mecca, Mohammed’s birthplace in 570 AD, has become a sacred place to Muslims throughout the world.
Buddhism originated in India in the 6th century BC. Based on the teachings of Buddha, a prince known as “the Enlightened One,” Buddhism teaches that we suffer because of our desires. Once humans reach a point where they no longer desire things, they are free from suffering and enter a state of peace.
Hinduism is one of the world’s oldest religions, as well as the third largest religion. Originating in India in 1750 BC, Hinduism follows no specific set of scriptures. Hindus believe in many gods, and also believe that when people die, their souls are reborn in a new body.
A century ago, it was common for families in the United States to lose children or parents to early death. Today, this situation is rare in America, although it still happens regularly in other countries. Good healthcare is one reason people can expect to live longer. Most industrialized countries have adequate medical care, but there are still many challenges.
Fun Facts About the Religions of the World for Kids
- Rich countries usually have one doctor for every 390 people. In poor parts of Africa, though, there is one doctor for every 50,000 people. Many people never see a doctor.
- Vaccines help prevent life-threatening illnesses, such as mumps, polio, tetanus or whooping cough. In poor countries, though, children don’t always get the vaccines they need. Thousands of babies die every year from tetanus.
- Researchers keep statistics on the ages of death for people all over the world. People living in countries with good medical care and a high standard of living usually live longer than people in poor countries. They are said to have a higher life expectancy.
- Access to healthy food, including whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruit, is important for maintaining a healthy life.
- Unclean water carries disease. Water treatment facilities can help keep people healthy.
- Nurses and doctors teach people about how to stay healthy. Governments encourage people to quit smoking and exercise more.
All About Religions of the World Vocabulary
- Vaccine: medicine that prevents the development of a particular illness
- Tetanus: a serious disease caused by bacteria that live in manure, soil or dust
- Life expectancy: the average number of years people live in a specific place
About Religions of the World Video for Kids
Here’s a great video for kids on the religions of the world:
Religions Around the World Q&A
Question: Why are children in some countries healthier than others?
Answer: Unfortunately, it often comes down to money and resources. Stable, wealthy countries have access to fresh food, clean water and medical care that poor countries don’t have. Children in war-torn countries may not have homes or any clean water and food. Emergency agencies, such as the Red Cross do what they can to help.
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