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Major World Religions

Name the twelve major world religions, along with the major branches of the four largest.
Estimated adherent numbers mostly gathered from adherents.com.
For the sake of tradition, I've split "Chinese religion" into two
(apportioning its followers semi-arbitrarily among them; in reality, most followers follow both).
I've also egregiously combined the Japanese religions, treated Juche as a brand of communism, treated Spiritism as indigenous, and ignored Cao Dai.
Quiz by ThirdParty
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First submittedAugust 24, 2012
Last updatedNovember 13, 2018
Times taken38,113
Rating4.69
3:30
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Religion
Followers
Origin
Christianity
2.1 billion
Israel, ca. 35 CE: Jesus executed
Islam
1.5 billion
Arabia, 622 CE: Muhammad exiled
(non-religious)
1.1 billion
(various agnostics, atheists, and communists)
Hinduism
900 million
India, ca. 1200 BCE: the Vedas written
(indigenous)
420 million
(various animists, shamanists, and spiritists)
Buddhism
380 million
India, ca. 500 BCE: Siddhartha Gautama lived
Confucianism
350 million
China, ca. 500 BCE: Kong Qiu held office
Taoism
50 million
China, ca. 550 BCE: Laozi allegedly wrote
Sikhism
25 million
Pakistan, 1499 CE: Nanak Dev had vision
Judaism
15 million
Iraq, ca. 580 BCE: the Torah written
Shinto (etc.)
11 million
Japan, 712 CE: the Kojiki written
Baha'i Faith
7 million
Iraq, 1863 CE: Mirza Husayn Ali revealed message
Jainism
4 million
India, ca. 800 BCE: Parshva lived
Zoroastrianism
3 million
Iran, ca. 1000 BCE: Zarathustra lived
Branch
Followers
Description
 
 
 
Christianity
 
 
Catholicism
1 billion
obedient to the Pope in Rome
Protestantism
550 million
reject the authority of Rome
Orthodox Church
250 million
obedient to Patriarch of Constantinople
Islam
 
 
Sunnism
950 million
accept all four caliphs after Muhammad
Shi'ism
120 million
believe Ali should have inherited directly
Hinduism
 
 
Vaishnavism
580 million
view sustainer god as paramount
Shaivism
230 million
view creator/destroyer god as paramount
Buddhism
 
 
Mahayana
200 million
emphasize compassion
Theravada
120 million
emphasize meditation and monasticism
+8
level 19
Sep 26, 2012
This quiz was so good!!! Best quiz I've taken in a while!
+2
level 58
Sep 26, 2012
I believe Mormonism would fall under Protestantism
+1
level 77
Jan 21, 2013
I believe that the site used for the data (adherents.com) groups Mormons together with Christians to get the 2.1 billion figure, but does not group Mormons in with Protestants. If you add up Catholics, Protestants, and Eastern Orthodox you do not get 2.1 billion. You end up with a number that is still several hundred million short. I'm guessing this is where the LDS Church, Jehovah's Witnesses, Amish, Ethiopians, etc etc come in.
+1
level 49
Jan 21, 2013
It's been a while since I made the quiz, but if I recall the most important Christian subgroups I left out were "Charismatics" (e.g. the Pentecostals who think that people who speak in tongues are in fact performing prophecy and relaying God's word) and "African Indigenous Sects" (e.g. the Kimbanguists who think the Holy Ghost received fleshly incarnation but then died in a Belgian prison). Both of these categories had over a hundred million followers. I think I decided to classify Mormonism as a species of Charismatic Christianity, but I don't remember for sure; there are only about ten million Mormons, and I've rounded the number of Protestants to the nearest fifty million, so their classification doesn't really matter.
+1
level 45
Feb 28, 2015
Wikipedia actually stated that the Christian numbers are currently at 2.2 billion. I'm pretty sure that it doesn't include Mormons.
+1
level 76
Feb 28, 2015
How in the world can you leave out "charismatics" from Christianity? There is not a separate Charismatic Church. It is a movement that crosses denominational lines. There are charismatic Methodists, for example, and this is the first I've heard that Pentecosts shouldn't be counted in mainstream Christianity. They began when the Christian holiness movement emerged in the early 1900s and eventually developed into their own denominations but they are still very much mainstream Christian and make up about 25% of the world's Christians. I don't share all their beliefs, but I certainly view them as equal to any other Christian denomination.
+1
level 48
Apr 29, 2014
I'm late to the discussion, but I'd like to add my two cents anyway. Though Mormon tradition has roots in Protestantism, unlike Calvin and Luther, who wanted to "reform" the Catholic church into what they felt was true Christianity, Joseph Smith wanted to "restore" the church to what it originally was when Christ and Peter were on the earth. Also, the Protestant leaders didn't claim prophetic revelation, whereas Smith did — so, as noted earlier, the origins of Mormonism have more in common with the origins of Islam than with the origins of Protestantism. Mormons and Muslims alike didn't consider themselves to be creating an entirely new religion, only returning the faith back to what it was originally intended to be.
+1
level 76
Feb 28, 2015
The same thing could be said for several founders of Christian denominations. John Wesley, for example, never intended to break away from his Anglican Church and start Methodism. He just wanted to steer the church back on course, basically, and people who followed his teachings were called Methodists because of the method of their worship. Menno Simons never set out to start the Mennonite Church. He was a Catholic priest who rejected their teaching and became an Anabaptist and then became a pacifist reformer and picked up adherents of his beliefs who called themselves Mennonites.
+1
level 44
Mar 4, 2015
@ander217 Yes, but none of them claimed to be prophets. That seems to me to be a pretty big distinction.
+1
level 77
Dec 31, 2016
^right. and Jesus and Paul certainly considered themselves Jewish. The warring caliphs that ended up inspiring shia and sunni both considered themselves true Muslims. David Koresh didn't say he was starting a new religion just that he was the messiah. Muhammad was the final prophet of the Jewish/Christian tradition. Joseph Smith claimed to simply be translating from another deceased prophet. and so on. Funny how all of these people were so sure they were right and they all had the same exact amount of evidence that they actually were. Few of them claimed to be creating new religions; though that does happen, usually people just come along and say that their interpretation or the voices in their head are somehow superior to everyone else's.
+1
level 10
Sep 26, 2012
Yes 15!!!
+1
level 72
Sep 26, 2012
Couldn't spell Zoroastrianism for the life of me, great quiz!
+1
level 16
Jul 8, 2013
same here
+1
level 58
Feb 28, 2015
Since Jew worked for Judaism, I figured Zoroaster should be accepted. What say you? It's pretty hard to get Zoroastrianism.
+1
level 44
Mar 4, 2015
Zoroaster (or Zarathustra) was the prophet, a follower is called a Zoroastrian. And they already referenced him in the clue, so...
+1
level 45
Sep 26, 2012
Really well made quiz, good job! It makes my quiz (Which I recommend you all try, "Countries whose capital isn't the largest city) look pretty average.
+1
level 80
Sep 26, 2012
Too easy -- and I'm an atheist (thank god).
+4
level 77
Jan 21, 2013
Atheists know more about religion than religious people do. Which is why they are atheists.
+1
level 54
Mar 1, 2015
That is the ironic thing about us. Sometimes it appears we know the Bible better than those who believe in it.
+3
level 60
Mar 2, 2015
Because those that know believe in the Bible only "know" the parts that they like.
+1
level 46
Jul 29, 2015
I think you all are missing the joke and getting way too serious. He just said I'm an atheist---THANK GOD!!!!
+1
level 77
Apr 19, 2016
The best jokes usually contain some partially hidden, uncomfortable truth.
+1
level 77
Oct 26, 2016
slug, so, you believe that if you come into contact with a menstruating woman that both you and the woman should be exiled; that homosexuals, those who eat lobster, those who wear polyester, and those who collect sticks on a Saturday should all be put to death; that slavery is basically a-okay and it's permissible to beat your slave practically to death so long as he doesn't die within three days of the beating; that a man lived inside of a fish for weeks; that all humans on Earth, in spite of mountains of evidence proving this is false, descended from a single male/female pair c. 6000 years ago... and so on? Just clarifying.
Also it's quite easy to write prophecies with 250% accuracy if the part of the story where those prophecies come true is written after the part of the story where the prophecies are made.
+1
level 15
May 5, 2017
Kal - I actually, in all true honesty, didn't get what in the world you meant by the first 3/4 of you comment. It's probably something really simple, and I just totally missed the point (I'm really good at that), but I just didnt get what you were saying. I would legit love for you to explain it to me, thanks! Also, I guess I didn't really explain the prophecy thing good enough the first time, sorry. Basically, we had written copies of the Bible in the 1400s, and the Dead Sea Scrolls prove that it was written even long before that, and nothing major has changed since then, other than the language, of course. In other words, what it predicted to happen in 1798, was written long before the 1400s. But that's aside from the point, I am seriously interested in what you meant by your comment. I'm not trying to create a giant internet brawl between keyboard warriors, btw. I just genuinely am curious as to what you meant with your reply to me. Thanks!
+1
level 15
May 5, 2017
Oh, and, to avoid confusion, I should probably note that I am 'slugcharger'. I'm just using another account because of a glitch with my 'slugcharger' account.
+1
level 77
Oct 7, 2017
Mr. Slug, I read these words you wrote: "If it doesn't agree with the Bible, I don't agree with it, basically. Now, the Bible, I don't simply believe in it because there are parts I like, but first of all" ... and I interpreted this to mean that you believe that every part of the Bible is true, that you don't just pick and choose parts of it to believe in, you think all of it is accurate. Correct me if my assumption was incorrect.

The first 3/4 of my above comment lists things that are contained in the Bible that most Christians don't believe. But they are there in black and white.
+2
level 15
Oct 13, 2017
Mr. Kal - I think I understand what you are saying now. I get it, but I think that you are misunderstanding me just a bit. I do believe the whole Bible is accurate, but that doesn't mean I follow everything that is 'said' in it. I follow what it 'teaches'. Yes, there are crazy, stupid, insane sounding laws in Exodus-Deuteronomy and such. And then there are the 10 Commandments, ones that make sense. Lots of people like to point out that Christians only pick the parts they like, because they follow the 10 Commandments, but not all the other laws. Here's the thing though that so many people make a mistake of when reading the Bible. They only do just that. They only read it. They don't study it, they don't look at the ancient meanings of the texts, and they forget that a lot of the times, verses halfway on the other end of the Bible give more insight to those other verses. They take one verse, and one verse only, and assume it means exactly what is being said without looking at any context
+2
level 15
Oct 13, 2017
I believe that the laws in Exodus-Deut besides the "10" were once supposed to be followed, but not anymore, not because I don't want to follow those, but because I believe it is what is taught. Those laws were for the children of Israel only at the time. In that time period, they had many different types of laws: civil laws, ceremonial, health, and the 10. All those crazy laws are the ceremonial laws and such, not the 10. When Jesus died on the cross, all of those laws were abolished. They were only a shadow of the things to come, and were nailed to the cross with Christ. Colossians 2:14 "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was "against us" (the ceremonial laws, not the 10, were against us as stated in Deutereonomy 31:26), which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross". It helps to read verses 15-17 too, but you can do that on your own. When Jesus died, all those crazy ceremonial laws died with him, but why weren't the 10 commandments?
+1
level 15
Oct 13, 2017
The 10 commandments are still in action today, because they were different laws, and they weren't just for the Jews either. Those laws were in effect since the beginning of time, before the children of Israel were a thing. The Sabbath, for instance, was created on the 7th day of creation, when God rested from his work, and it wasn't wrong to kill just because the children of Israel existed. It had been and always will be wrong to kill, atleast in my eyes. But the crazy laws about picking up sticks on the Sabbath, slavery, and all that, those were nailed to the cross with Christ, as stated in Colossians 2:14. The 10 commandments were not. Therefore, yes, I believe those laws were once a thing, but I don't believe they should be followed today. I believe in what is "taught" in the Bible, not what is just said. Sorry for the lengthy response. I guess you did say to correct you if your assumption was wrong, so thats just what I was trying to do: clarify myself. Hope I was clear. Good day!
+1
level 77
Nov 5, 2017
The 10 Commandments don't really help your case, and what you said about them isn't all true. I'm not in the mood to type out why. I encourage you to look up some atheist perspectives on the subject on YouTube or elsewhere if you're curious.
+1
level 15
Nov 16, 2017
Oh, I wasn't trying to use the 10 Commandments to prove anything, or "help my case", but rather to merely explain something. All I was trying to do was clarify my original point: That I believe in what the Bible teaches, not what it appears to say. That's all. Also, I couldn't find any decent Atheist perspectives on this stuff, but if you were to give me some sources I'd be more than happy to look at them. Have a great day!
+1
level 77
Nov 20, 2017
Not really scholarly, but just feeling playful today so here's a bit of fun from YouTuber nonstampcollector:

The 10 Commandments, basis for Western morality

Bible Quiz Show

context
+1
level 15
Nov 20, 2017
Thanks!
+2
level 35
May 7, 2018
Kal- just to clarify, the vast majority of Christians do not follow the points you have pointed up, since these are all points from the Old Testament. The New Testament tells us that now followers of the true God must be forgiving and non-violent (within reason), so most if not all these points do not need to be followed anymore. Also, some of these have been modified by the NT.

And I feel extremely sorry for anyone who is thankful they are atheist. You poor, poor people. You have no idea what you are missing out on. And if you don't believe in miracles, life must be terrifying and horribly inexplicable for you.
+4
level 77
May 17, 2018
No idea what we're missing out on? My mind is reeling. You know that a lot of atheists are former believers, right? They know exactly what they're "missing out" on, and what they have gained, and have good reason to be thankful.

As to life being inexplicable... no... actually... life is quite explicable if you believe in reality. Everything makes sense when you accept the truth. If you believe in a lie that renders life inexplicable, THEN you need to insert miracles and mystery into your understanding in order to make sense of things. I've been on both sides of this.
I've been the guy desperately trying to figure out why bad things happen to good people, why the supposedly divinely inspired book I'm supposed to believe in is so rife with contradictions and barbarity, why prayers go unanswered, why evil exists, etc etc, finding some small solace in flimsy old memes like "god has a plan" and "his ways are higher than ours" but still never feeling quite satisfied.
+2
level 77
May 17, 2018
Because I was honest and perceptive enough to know that these explanations and others like them were hollow.

I've also been the guy who, after decades of believing something sincerely and passionately, was able to examine his own beliefs, consider the criticism of others, weigh all the evidence and admit that he was wrong. The guy who was able to take a step back, look at the things he believed before, consider an alternate explanation, and, even though it was painful, admit that the alternative made much much more sense. And, after doing all this, the guy who is able to say with authority that the world is *much* more explicable now than it was before, everything makes sense, because I'm not trying to make up excuses to account for my belief in nonsense.

Have you been that guy? Or are you the guy who has believed the same thing his whole life and then condescends to others about belief and what they're missing out on?
+2
level 57
Aug 10, 2018
Yes, not believing in miracles definitely does not make life inexplicable. "It's a miracle" is not an explanation at all. It is a way of seeming to explain something without actually knowing why it happened. Things don't just happen for no reason or because God decided to make them happen, which is what miracles are usually defined to be. They always have an explanation, even if you don't know what it is.
+1
level 73
Sep 12, 2018
Absolutely agree - falling back to citing the god of the gaps is a very unambitious and blinkered way to live your life. Why are you willing to just accept that 'god did it' and insist that there is no mundane explanation for something you can't currently explain?

Why not take an interest in these things and actually try to figure out or research why they happen instead of blindly accepting what an ancient book tells you? (an ancient book which religious people seem to keep forgetting was written by humans with an agenda a long time ago when we did not know as much about how the universe works, and which has since been translated many times by other humans who all had their own biases, opinions and interpretations)
+1
level 25
Sep 28, 2012
good quiz! but could you add "zoroatrianism"? I forgot the S and couldnt get it :\
+1
level 49
Sep 28, 2012
I doubt that very many people who know the word will forget the "S". It's not silent. It appears where it ought to in the name "Zarathustra". Other English words derived from Greek "aster"--"star", "astronomy", "asterisk", etc.--don't systematically drop their "S"s.
+1
level 10
Oct 1, 2012
good quiz, i couldnt spell catholicism righ and didnt except catholic for some reason but it did except protestant
+1
level 40
Dec 26, 2012
Spent most of the time trying to spell zora... zore... err...
+1
level 77
Jan 7, 2013
Can't believe I forgot Jainism.. and I missed the branches of Buddhism because I didn't know how to spell them. Also, if you accept the name of an adherent for all other religions (i.e. you take Christian for Christianity, Sunni for "Sunnism", Hindu for Hinduism etc), then you ought to accept Shiia I think. I got it but had to fiddle for a second.
+2
level 49
Jan 7, 2013
"Shia" is accepted if you spell it correctly. As for the branches of Buddhism, yeah, those are hard; it accepts lots of possible misspellings, but there's no way to anticipate them all. I also accept "Big Boat" as a legitimate translation of the word "Mahayana", but I don't really expect many people to think to try that.
+1
level 77
Jan 21, 2013
The correct spelling of shi'a, shi'ah, shiia etc is الشيعة. But there are plenty of common ways to spell it with the Roman alphabet.
+1
level 67
Jul 11, 2013
"Big boat"? Not "big wheel" and "small wheel"?

Also, "Shintoism (etc.)"? Etc?
+1
level 49
Oct 24, 2013
Belated reply: the "etc." are a bunch of little twentieth-century Japanese religions such as Seicho-no-le and Tenrikyo, that sprung up after World War II. They don't consider themselves part of Shinto, but I grouped them in there anyway
+1
level 77
Feb 28, 2015
Every subsequent time taking this quiz I've always remembered "big boat" but still have a hard time remembering the other one. That's the only one I missed on this go 'round.
+1
level 77
Feb 28, 2015
The Hindu braches are easy to get if you remember you can also type in the paramount gods of each.
+1
level 15
Mar 20, 2013
fun to play
+1
level 69
Oct 23, 2013
Only missed the branches of Buddhism. For some reason I can't muster any interest in Buddhism. I think it's that creepy old hypocrite grinning his way around the world convincing celebrities and world leaders alike that Tibet was a happy utopia before he was given the shaft.
+1
level 30
Nov 1, 2013
what about shrek is love shrek is life
+1
level 42
Aug 21, 2014
NO. NOT AT ALL. THAT SCARRED ME FOR A LONG TIME.
+1
level 46
Mar 16, 2014
Got Zoroastrianism, somehow missed out Judaism, I am so special
+1
level 38
Apr 25, 2014
21/21 - great quiz! We need more quizzes on religion here!
+1
level 82
May 25, 2014
A bit peeved I missed Baha'i Faith. I knew it, but I couldn't remember the name of it. Pretty interesting quiz :)
+1
level 54
Jul 20, 2014
Good quiz.
+1
level 61
Feb 28, 2015
What about the Pastafarians?
+1
level 73
Sep 18, 2018
This quiz is only about false religions
+1
level 67
Mar 2, 2015
A little more liberty with the spelling wouldn't hurt (Zoroastrism, Confucianism...)
+1
level 37
Mar 14, 2015
i am an atheist and i know so much about religion...wow!!!
+1
level 46
Jul 29, 2015
When reading the comments section, sadly I often forget this isn't Youtube.
+1
level 43
Dec 4, 2015
Uh.. what the hell does "communists" do in the quizz.. ?
+1
level 69
Jul 5, 2016
Clichés of communism as "antireligioN", I guess.
+1
level 52
Oct 5, 2016
Communist societies typically have no god, so they would fall under the "non-religious" category.
+1
level 77
Apr 19, 2016
btw, why is the Laozi creation myth the only one of these that gets an "allegedly" attached to it?
+1
level 69
Sep 28, 2016
The other ones are obviously true.
+1
level 77
Oct 26, 2016
they are not
+1
level 67
Aug 11, 2016
Can you accept Zoroastrian for Zoroastrianism?
+1
level 52
Oct 5, 2016
Forgot Hindu and Sunni Islam. Just... wow. Also, I'm really surprised that so many people still follow Zoroastrianism
+2
level 64
Dec 23, 2016
I don't suppose you could accept "Tao" for "Taoism"? You accept short forms for most of the others, and I missed it because of that. I did enjoy this quiz, though.
+1
level 30
Dec 31, 2016
awesome
+1
level 44
Dec 31, 2016
SHIA ISLAM IS THE TRUE RELIGION JK awesome quiz BTW
+1
level 39
Jun 13, 2017
In Benin Voodoo is the official religion
+1
level 21
May 5, 2018
What about Methodistism
+1
level 56
May 6, 2018
Where is Scientology? Most important religion of all :)
+1
level 77
May 17, 2018
Hard to obtain good data on this but I've seen estimates ranging from 70,000 worldwide up to 16 million. Most likely the lower estimates are closer to being true.
+2
level 36
May 15, 2018
Confucianism isn't a religion, it is a philosophy.
+1
level 47
Nov 23, 2018
Yeah, got them all! I suppose it helps to be a member of the lesser known religions in quizzes.
+1
level 47
Nov 27, 2018
Got 'orthodox' with 1 second to spare. Missed both branches of buddhism and Viashvanism
+1
level 70
Jan 6, 2019
Could you accept Theravadic as an adjectival form?
+1
level 24
Jun 2, 2019
If you liked this quiz, you'll love "Most Religious U.S. States" https://www.jetpunk.com/user-quizzes/332685/most-religious-us-states