Most Popular World Religions

A List of the World's Most Popular Religions by Size

Close up of hands holding beads.
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While there are and have been hundreds of religions and spiritual beliefs across the globe the major faiths practiced by the majority of people on Earth can be broken down into a few major groups. Even within these groups different sects and types of religious practices exist. Southern Baptists and Roman Catholics are both considered Christian even though their religious practices differ greatly. 

Abrahamic Religions

Three of the world's most dominant religions are considered to be the Abrahamic religions. They are named such because of each claiming descent from the ancient Israelites and follow the God of Abraham. In order of founding the Abrahamic religions are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. 

Most Popular Religious 

Christianity -  with 2,116,909,552  members (which includes 1,117,759,185 Roman Catholics, 372,586,395 Protestants, 221,746,920 Orthodox, and 81,865,869 Anglicans). Christians make up almost thirty percent of the global population. The religion arose from Judaism in the first century. Its followers believe Jesus Christ was the son of God and the Messhia for told of in the Old Testament. There are three major sects of Christianity: Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism.  

Islam -  with 1,282,780,149 members worldwide believers of Islam are referred to as Muslims.

While Islam is very popular in the Middle East one does not need to be Arabic to be Muslim. The largest Muslim nation is actually Indonesia. Followers of Islam believe that there is only one God (Allah) and Mohamed is his last messenger. Contrary to media portrayals Islam is not a violent religion.

There are two primary sects of Islam, Sunni, and Shia.    

Hinduism - There are 856,690,863 Hindus in the world. It is one of the oldest religions and is practiced mostly in India and South East Asia. Some consider Hinduism to be a religion while others view it as a spiritual practice or way of life. A prominent belief in Hinduism is the belief in Purusartha or the "object of human pursuit". The four Purusartha's are dharma (righteousness), Artha (prosperity), kama (love) and moksa (liberation).  

Buddism - Has 381,610,979 followers worldwide. Like Hinduism, Buddhism is another religion that can also be a spiritual practice. It also originates from India. Buddism shares the Hindu believe in dharma. There are three branches of Buddism: Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. Many Buddist seeks enlightenment or liberation from suffering.  

Sikh - this Indian religion has 25,139,912 which is impressive because it doesn't generally seek converts. A seek is defined as one who "any human being who faithfully believes in One Immortal Being; ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak to Guru Gobind Singh; Guru Granth Sahib; the teachings of the ten Gurus and the baptism bequeathed by the tenth Guru." Because this religion has strong ethnic ties some see it as more of an ethnicity than simply a religion.

 

Judaism -  is the smallest of the Abrahamic religions with 14,826,102 members. Like Sikhs, they are also an ethnoreligious group. Followers of Judaism are known as Jews. There are many different branches of Judaism but the most popular ones are currently: Orthodox, Reform, and Conservative. 

Other Beliefs -   While most of the world follows one of the several religions there are 814,146,396 people who believe in smaller religions. 801,898,746 consider themselves to be non-religious and 152,128,701 are an atheist who does not believe in any form of Higher being.