Thank you for visiting ReligionFacts! Below is some information about this website, presented in the form of Frequently Asked Questions.
What is ReligionFacts?
As its name suggests, the purpose of ReligionFacts is to provide "just the facts" on the world's religions and topics of religious interest. Every effort has been taken to present material from an impartial, academic perspective.
This site has no mission or agenda other than to provide useful and interesting information on religion in an accessible format. Our goal is to combine the benefits of a print encyclopedia of religion with the unique capabilities of the Web to create a single convenient online resource for information on religion.
What is the purpose of ReligionFacts?
The information on ReligionFacts is intended to be comprehensive and reliable enough for students, teachers, journalists and religious professionals, but also accessible and useful to those with only limited knowledge of religion. ReligionFacts therefore offers detailed articles and treatments of specialized topics as well as just-the-basics overviews, facts and figures, timelines, maps, glossaries, and comparative charts.
Similarly, ReligionFacts is intended to be a useful resource for people of any religious background or none at all. Its goal is to enable you to learn more about your own faith, compare it with another faith, investigate several belief systems, or just satisfy your curiosity about some aspect of a particular religion.
Who is behind ReligionFacts?
ReligionFacts is not associated with any religion, religious organization, or other group. So far, there is only one person behind this website, yours truly. I have a bachelor's degree in religion from an American university and two master's degrees in religion from the UK.
I have chosen to keep everything else anonymous for now. This is primarily because I believe it helps support the goal of this website as an objective source if I don't reveal my religious or ethnic background, specific area of academic study, or related information. I also don't want to present myself as an authority on the subjects here. Although I have academic training, I am no expert and write these articles only as an interested private researcher.
What's the history of ReligionFacts?
This website was founded in March 2004 — almost 20 years ago and only one month after TheFacebook! — for the same reason many websites come about. I was looking for a certain kind of online resource and didn't find one, so I decided to make it myself.
What I wanted was a single website where I could quickly find information on just about anything related to religion, rather than having to sift through search engine results, read past the biases of supportive or critical sources, or find my way around several different websites. And I wanted that one website to contain reliable, scholarly information by a knowledgeable author and with well-documented sources.
I think everyone deserves such a resource and it could even make a difference in a world often needlessly divided by misinformation and misunderstandings. So I've tried to make ReligionFacts as close as possible to this ideal resource I had imagined.
Another reason I created ReligionFacts is simply that I enjoy studying religion and this provides a focus for my studies. I think religion is a fascinating subject and writing articles, designing charts, and categorizing topics helps me to retain and understand what I've learned from my research.
How do I cite ReligionFacts as a source?
In order to cite ReligionFacts as a source for a school essay or project, please consult the writing style manual specified by your school (APA, MLA, etc.) regarding citation of Internet sources. For MLA, proper citation format would be something like this:
Anonymous. "Christian Holidays." ReligionFacts. 8 February 2007. [date from "Updated" on the left of the article] Accessed 8 December 2007 [date you accessed the article] <religionfacts.com/christianity/holidays>. I have received many e-mails from students asking for my name because they are not allowed to cite anonymous sources. But for now, I am sticking to my decision to remain anonymous.
Moreover, even if I did provide a name, ReligionFacts is still a non-official, non-peer-reviewed website. As such, it is not generally suitable for citation in a school essay. For all you know, I could be making up my name and qualifications! Your teachers are right to insist against anonymous Internet sources and hopefully they are also teaching you that you can't trust everything you read, especially online. The greatest thing and the worst thing about the internet is that anyone can publish anything on it.
So I don't claim ReligionFacts has inherent authority and you shouldn't treat it like it does. I do hope the quality of its articles and its agreement with authoritative sources show it to be trustworthy, but ReligionFacts is primarily intended to give you an introductory understanding of a religious topic. Most of the articles will point you to more official and authoritative sources that you can cite with more confidence, such as Encyclopedia Britannica, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, university websites, official websites of religions, and so on.
Good luck with your project and I'm very glad ReligionFacts was helpful in your research!
How reliable are the "facts" on ReligionFacts?
The Internet provides an unprecedented opportunity for anyone with a computer to make their voice heard throughout the world on any subject. It facilitates free speech and the instantaneous exchange of information and viewpoints across time zones, classes, and cultures, which is awesome. It has also resulted in the worldwide dissemination of unreliable information, which is not awesome.
So how do you know you can trust the information presented in articles on this website? Only because it is based on respected sources that you can check for yourself. For each article, a variety of reliable, authoritative sources have been consulted, and these are documented at the bottom of most articles. In addition, wherever possible, articles will be reviewed for accuracy by a relevant academic expert or religious adherent. Where this has occurred, it is clearly indicated.
That said, ReligionFacts (like most any other online resource) is no substitute for a book by a reliable author and a reputable publisher. Resources on the web do not go through the peer review process that published books must, and therefore online resources should always be treated with greater caution and verified using other sources. This website is simply meant to be an easily-accessible summary based on these sources.
And of course, when it comes to religion, "academic" and "objective" sources like ReligionFacts and encyclopedias are limited in that they can only tell you about history, statistics, texts, stated doctrine, etc. When it comes to what it's like to practice a religion or the personal meaning and significance of its beliefs, there's no substitute for discussions with religious persons or reading sacred texts themselves.
Finally, despite my best efforts, this is a very large website, I am a human, and I sometimes complete articles quickly, so errors may slip through. Should you spot a factual error, please contact me. Be sure to include specifics about where the problem occurs and provide sources demonstrating the error. Notifications about broken links, typographical errors or any other problems are encouraged as well.
Are all the articles on this site original?
Any page on ReligionFacts may be printed, copied and distributed for non-commercial purposes only (e.g. for personal or classroom use). You may not reproduce any pages, articles, charts or tables on another website. You may, however, include excerpts with proper attribution and a link to ReligionFacts, and you are more than welcome to link to any page.
How is this site financed?
The information on ReligionFacts is provided as a free resource to anyone who finds it useful, but of course it is not free to operate. Its expenses include web hosting charges, web design software, numerous books and other research resources (including subscriptions), and, most of all, the huge amount of time that goes into researching, writing and editing articles, and learning how to code and design websites (I taught myself, slowly, beginning back in 2004 with the simplest of HTML).
These expenses have been financed by advertising revenue and may be again. I try to keep ads as relevant, useful, and unobtrusive as possible. I block all flashing ads, flourescent banners, and popups. Those pay more, but I hate them and I know you do, too.
My preferred method of financing is affiliate revenue, which is when you buy a product from a link on ReligionFacts. These products (mostly books) are hand-picked as potentially useful resources.
What can I do to support this site?
If you have found this site useful, there are several ways in which you can support its ongoing maintenance, improvement and expansion into an even better resource, both monetary and non-monetary.
- Provide feedback and suggestions on what you like, what you'd like to see, and on how we can make this site a better resource by contacting the webmaster.
- Recommend ReligionFacts to friends who might find it helpful or interesting.
- If you have a website, link to ReligionFacts.
- Click on advertisements for products or services on ReligionFacts that interest you.
- Donate a quality, unbiased, well-documented article. The webmaster reserves the right to reject or edit any submission, but if approved, your article would be clearly credited to you along with a link to your own site if you wish. Perhaps one day we'll have enough revenue to be able to offer some small payment for such contributions, but unfortunately we're not there yet.
- Shop with our merchant partners through a link on ReligionFacts, such as Amazon.com. This costs you no more than shopping directly, so if you're going to buy that thing anyway, please do it through us! You can usually find relevant books and/or products next to articles. Once you've gone to Amazon, eBay, or wherever from ReligionFacts, anything you buy in that session will provide a small commission to us.
- Make a one-time or ongoing donation of any amount through PayPal (coming soon)
All of these little things go a long way towards making this site a better resource and are greatly appreciated.