Comparison Charts

The Big Religion Chart

This "Big Religion Chart" is our attempt to summarize the major religions, worldviews and belief systems of the world - Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and dozens more - into a quick-reference comparison chart. Oversimplication is unavoidable in charts like these, and it is not intended to be a substitute for advanced religious study and exploration, but simply a quick overview. It is our hope that this chart can be a useful tool to compare basic religious beliefs and practices of the world's religions and belief systems.

Over 40 religions and belief systems are currently listed. If a group does not appear, it doesn't mean it's not a religion or doesn't matter; the chart is not comprehensive and will continue to grow. See also our list of religions and definitions of religion. Links within the chart will take you to more detailed information on ReligionFacts on that religion or topic.

Adherents Worldwide (approx.)Origins & HistoryGod(s)Purpose & Meaning of LifeAfterlifeRituals & PracticesScriptures or Texts
Aladura 1 million moreVarious prophet-healing churches founded since c.1918, West Nigeria. moreGenerally monotheistic; a mix of Anglican, Pentecostal and traditional African beliefs. moreStrong emphasis on healing and salvation in this life. moreNot emphasized; views vary. moreSpiritual healing is central. Mix of Anglican and African rituals; a prophet plays a prominent role. morenone more

unknown moreRevival of Norse and Germanic paganism, 1970s Scandinavia and USA. morePolytheistic, Norse gods and goddesses, Norse creation myths. moreSalvation or redemption not emphasized. Fatalistic outlook. moreValhalla (heaven) for death in battle; Hel (peaceful place) for most; Hifhel (hell) for the very evil. moreSacrifice of food or drink, toast to the gods, shamanism (less frequently), celebration of solstice holidays. Nine Noble Virtues is moral code. moreEddas (Norse epics); the Havamal (proverbs attributed to Odin) more

7.4 million self-identified atheists; 1.1 billion are religiously "unaffiliated" moreAppears throughout history (including in ancient Greek philosophy), but became more prominent during the Enlightenment (18th cent). moreThere are no gods or divine beings. moreNot addressed. But many atheists believe that since there is no afterlife, this one life is of great importance. Only humans can help themselves and each other solve the world's problems. morenone morenone moreInfluential works include those by Marx, Freud, Feuerbach, Voltaire, and Mark Twain. Notable modern authors include Richard Dawkins and Carl Sagan. more

5-7 million moreFounded by Bahá'u'lláh, 1863, Tehran, Iran moreOne God, who has revealed himself progressively through major world religions. moreThe soul is eternal and essentially good. Purpose of life is to develop spiritually and draw closer to God. moreSoul separates from the body and begins a journey towards or away from God. Heaven and hell are states of being. moreDaily prayer, avoidance of intoxicants, scripture reading, hard work, education, work for social justice and equality. moreWritings of Bahá'u'lláh and other Bahá'í leaders. more
Bon 100,000 more11th-century Tibet morehousehold gods, White Old Man, sky god and his consort, Confucius moreGain enlightenment. moreReincarnation until gain enlightenment moreMeditation on mandalas and Tibetan deities, astrology, monastic life. moreBonpo canon more
Adherents Worldwide (approx.)Origins & HistoryGod(s)Purpose & Meaning of LifeAfterlifeRituals & PracticesScriptures or Texts

500 million moreBased on teachings of Siddharta Gautama (the Buddha) in c. 520 BC, NE India. moreBuddhist deities include buddhas, bodhisattvas, arhats, gods and goddesses; such as Tara, Kuan Yin, and Amida Buddha. moreEscape the cycle of rebirth and attain nirvana (Theravada Buddhism). Become a boddhisatva then help others attain enlightenment (Mahayana Buddhism). moreRebirth or nirvana. Nirvana is seen simply as the cessation of suffering by some and as a heavenly paradise by others. moreMeditation, mantras, devotion to deities (in some sects), mandalas (Tibetan) moreTripitaka (Pali Canon); Mahayana sutras like the Lotus Sutra; others. more
Cao Dai

4-6 million moreFounded in 1926, Vietnam by Ngo Van Chieu and others based on a séance. moreGod represented by Divine Eye. Founders of Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity venerated, and saints including Victor Hugo. moreGoal is peace and harmony in each person and in the world. Salvation by "cultivating self and finding God in self." morereincarnation until Nirvana/Heaven moreHierarchy similar to Roman Catholicism. Daily prayer. Meditation. Communication with spirit world (now outlawed in Vietnam). moreCaodai canon more
Chinese religion

394 million moreIndigenous folk religion of China. moreDualistic yin and yang; mythological beings and folk deities. moreA favorable life and peaceful afterlife, attained through rituals and honoring of ancestors. morejudgment, then paradise or punishment and reincarnation moreAncestor worship, prayer, longevity practices, divination, prophecy and astrology, feng shui. morenone more
Christian Science

400,000 moreFounded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1879, Massachusetts. moreOne God. No Trinity (in traditional sense). Matter and evil do not exist. more"Life, Truth, and Love understood and demonstrated as supreme over all; sin, sickness and death destroyed." moreHeaven is "not a locality, but a divine state of Mind in which all the manifestations of Mind are harmonious and immortal." moreSpiritual healing through prayer and knowledge, Sunday services, daily Bible and Science & Health reading. moreChristian Bible, Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures more

2.2 billion moreLife and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth (born c. 4 BCE), a Jew from Palestine under Roman rule moreOne God, who is a Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit; angels; demons; saints moreAll have sinned and are thereby separated from God. Salvation is through faith in Christ and, for some, sacraments and good works. moreResurrection of body and soul; eternal heaven or hell (most denominations); temporary purgatory (Catholicism) morePrayer, Bible study, baptism, Eucharist (Communion), church on Sundays, numerous holidays. moreBible (Hebrew Bible + New Testament) more
Adherents Worldwide (approx.)Origins & HistoryGod(s)Purpose & Meaning of LifeAfterlifeRituals & PracticesScriptures or Texts

5-6 million moreBased on the teachings of Confucius (551–479 BCE, China) morenot addressed moreTo fulfill one's role in society with propriety, honor, and loyalty. morenot addressed morenone moreAnalects more
Deism unknown moreEspecially popularized in the 18th-cent. Enlightenment under Kant, Voltaire, Paine, Jefferson, and others moreOne Creator God who is uninterested in the world. Reason is basis for all knowledge. morenot addressed morenot addressed moreNone prescribed, although some deists practiced prayer. moreThomas Paine's The Age of Reason and similar texts more

500,000 moreFounded by Al-Darazi in 11th century, Cairo, Egypt. Roots in the Isma'iliyya sect of Shia Islam. moreUniversal Intelligence (al-Aql al-Kulli) or Divine Essence (akin to Neoplatonism), of which al-Hakim is believed to be an incarnation. moreLive a good life for a favorable reincarnation. Await the re-appearance of al-Hakim (a Fatimid caliph who disappeared in 1021), who will usher in a Golden Age for true believers. moreReincarnation. Heaven is a spiritual existence when one has escaped reincarnation. Hell is distance from God in lifetime after lifetime. moreModest lifestyles, fasting before Eid al-Adha. Beliefs and practices are hidden for protection from persecution. Special group of initiates called uqqal. moreAl-Naqd al-Khafi (Copy of the Secret); Al-Juz'al-Awwal (Essence of the First) more

50,000-500,000 moreFounded by Paul Twitchell in Las Vegas, 1965 moreThe Divine Spirit, called "ECK." more"Each of us is Soul, a spark of God sent to this world to gain spiritual experience." Salvation is liberation and God-realization. moreReincarnation. The Soul is eternal by nature and on a spiritual journey. Liberation possible in a single lifetime. moreSpiritual Exercises of ECK: mantras, meditation, and dreams. These enable Soul travel and spiritual growth. moreShariyat-Ki-Sugmad and books by Harold Klemp. more
Epicureanism n/a moreBased on the teachings of Epicurus, c. 300 BCE, Athens. morePolytheism, but the gods take no notice of humans. morePursue the highest pleasures (friendship and tranquility) and avoid pain. moreNo afterlife. The soul dissolves when the body dies. morenone moreLetters and Principal Doctrines of Epicurus more
Adherents Worldwide (approx.)Origins & HistoryGod(s)Purpose & Meaning of LifeAfterlifeRituals & PracticesScriptures or Texts
Falun Gong

7-20 million moreFounded by Li Hongzhi in 1992 in China moreCountless gods and spiritual beings. Demonic aliens. moreGood health and spritual transcendence, achieved by practicing Falun Gong. moreNot addressed moreFive exercises to strengthen the Falun. Cultivation of truthfulness, benevolence and forbearance. Meat eating discouraged. moreZhuan Falun and other writings by Master Li more
Gnosticism ancient form extinct; small modern revival groups moreVarious teachers including Valentinus, 1st-2nd cents. AD moreThe supreme God is unknowable; the creator god is evil and matter is evil. moreHumans can return to the spiritual world through secret knowledge of the universe. moreReturn to the spiritual world. moreAsceticism, celibacy moreGnostic scriptures including various Gospels and Acts attributed to apostles. more
Greek religion ancient form extinct; various modern revivals moreIndigenous religion of the ancient Greeks, c. 500 BCE to 400 CE. moreOlympic pantheon (Zeus, etc.) mixed with eastern deities like Isis and Cybele. moreHuman life is subject to the whim of the gods and to Fate; these can be partially controlled through sacrifice and divination. moreBeliefs varied from no afterlife to shadowy existence in the underworld to a paradise-like afterlife (mainly in mystery religions). moreAnimal sacrifice, harvest offerings, festivals, games, processions, dance, plays, in honor of the gods. Secret initiations and rituals in mystery religions. moreEpic poems of Homer and Hesiod. more
Hare Krishna

250,000-1 million moreBhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, 1966, USA (with roots in 15th-century Hindu movement) moreKrishna is the Supreme God. moreSalvation from this Age of Kali is by a return to Godhead, accomplished through Krishna-Consciousness. moreReincarnation until unite with the Godhead. moreChanting, dancing, evangelism, vegetarianism, temple worship, monastic-style living moreThe Bhagavad-Gita As It Is more

1 billion moreNo founding date; indigenous religion of India as developed to present day. Earliest forms (Vedic religion) date to 1500 BCE or earlier; major developments 1st-9th centuries CE. moreOne Supreme Reality (Brahman) manifested in many gods and goddesses, including Shiva, Vishnu, and Ganesha moreHumans are in bondage to ignorance and illusion, but are able to escape. Purpose is to gain release from rebirth, or at least a better rebirth. moreReincarnation until gain enlightenment. moreYoga, meditation, worship (puja), devotion to a god or goddess, pilgrimage to holy cities, live according to one's dharma (purpose/ role). moreVedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana, others more
Adherents Worldwide (approx.)Origins & HistoryGod(s)Purpose & Meaning of LifeAfterlifeRituals & PracticesScriptures or Texts

1.6 billion moreBased on teachings of the Prophet Muhammad; founded 622 CE in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. moreOne God (Allah in Arabic); the same God revealed (imperfectly) in the Jewish and Christian Bibles moreSubmit (islam) to the will of God to gain Paradise after death. moreeternal Paradise or eternal Hell moreFive Pillars: Faith, Prayer, Alms, Pilgrimage, Fasting. Mosque services on Fridays. Ablutions before prayer. No alcohol or pork. Holidays related to the pilgrimage and fast of Ramadan. moreQur'an (sacred text); Hadith (tradition) more

4 million moreFounded by Mahavira, c. 550 BCE, eastern India morePolytheism and pantheism. The universe is eternal; many gods exist. Gods, humans and all living things are classified in a complex hierarchy. moreGain liberation from cycle of rebirth, by avoiding all bad karma, especially by causing no harm to any sentient being. moreReincarnation until liberation. moreMonasticism under the Five Great Vows (Non-Violence, Truth, Celibacy, Non-Stealing, Non-Possessiveness); worship at temples and at home. Meditation and mantras. moreThe teachings of Mahavira in various collections. more
Jehovah's Witnesses

6.5 million moreFounded by Charles Taze Russell, 1879, Pittsburgh moreone God: Jehovah moreSalvation is through faith in Christ and obeying Jehovah's laws. The End of the World is soon. moreHeaven for 144,000 chosen Witnesses, eternity on new earth for other Witnesses. All others annihilated. No hell. moreNo blood transfusions, no celebration of holidays, no use of crosses or religious images. Baptism, Sunday service at Kingdom Hall, strong emphasis on evangelism. moreNew World Translation of the Scriptures more

14 million moreThe religion of Abraham (c. 1800 BCE) and the Hebrews, especially after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE. moreOne God: Yahweh (YHVH) moreObey God's commandments, live ethically. Focus is more on this life than the next. moreNot emphasized; views vary: no afterlife, shadowy existence, World to Come (similar to heaven), Gehenna (similar to hell), reincarnation moreCircumcision at birth, bar/bat mitzvah at adulthood, observing Sabbath, wearing tallit and tefilin, prayer services moreHebrew Bible (Tanakh); Talmud more
Mayan religion Several million Maya practice a Catholicism that retains many elements of traditional Mayan religion. moreMayan civilization began c. 2000 BCE; earliest ceremonial site dated to c. 1000 BCE. moreMany gods, including Itzamná, Kukulcán, Bolon Tzacab, and Chac moreAppease and nourish the gods; determine luckiest dates for various activities. moreThe soul journeys through dark and threatening underworld; but sacrificial victims and women who die in childbirth go to heaven. moreAstronomy, divination, human sacrifice, elaborate burial for royalty, worship in stone pyramid-temples moreDresden Codex; Madrid Codex; Paris Codex; Books of Chilam Balam; Popol Vuh; The Ritual of the Bacabs more
Adherents Worldwide (approx.)Origins & HistoryGod(s)Purpose & Meaning of LifeAfterlifeRituals & PracticesScriptures or Texts
Mormonism (LDS) 12.2 million moreRevelations to Joseph Smith, 1830, New York. moreGod the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate individual beings moreReturn to God by faith in Christ, good works, ordinances, and evangelism. moreAll return to spirit world instruction before resurrection. Then Mormons to heaven with God and families; others rewarded apart from God; hell for those who still reject God. moreAbstinence from alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea; baptism for the dead; eternal marriage; temple garments under daily clothes; active evangelism. moreChristian Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price more
Nation of Islam 10,000-100,000 moreFounded by Wallace Fard Muhammad, 1930, Detroit, USA. more"One God whose proper name is Allah." Wallace Fard Muhammad became the divine messiah and incarnation of Allah in 1930. more"The Blackman is the original man." Live righteously and worship Allah. moreMental resurrection of the righteous. Black people will be mentally resurrected first. morePrayer five times a day. Work for the equality of the African race. Respect laws of the land, don't carry arms, don't make war. Healthy living and abstinence from alcohol, smoking and substance abuse. Modest dress. moreQur'an and "Scriptures of all the Prophets of God" are holy texts. Influential writings include Elijah Muhammad's Message to the Blackman in America (1965) more
New Age 5 million moreHelena Petrovna Blavatsky and Annie Besant in the 19th C, Alice A. Bailey (1880-1949), flourished in 1970s and 80s moreThe Divine is an impersonal life force that pervades all things moreDawning of a New Age of heightened consciousness and international peace. Individuals can obtain a foretaste of the New Age through spiritual transformation ("Ascension"). More emphasis on the latter now. Evil comes from ignorance. moreReincarnation moreAstrology; mysticism; use of crystals; yoga; tarot readings; holistic medicine; psychic abilities; angelic communications; channeling; amulets; fortune-telling moreWorks of a variety of New Age writers more
New Thought 160,000 morePhineas Parkhurst Quimby (1802-66) and others, late 19th century, USA. moreGenerally monism (all is One), but members might be theists, pantheists or panentheists. God is immanent; the universe is essentially spiritual. moreMan is divine, essentially spirit, and has infinite possibility. Mind can control the body. Sin and sickness caused by incorrect thinking. Man can live in oneness with God in love, truth, peace, health, and prosperity. more"Life is eternal in the invisible kingdom of God." moreEmphasis on spiritual and mental healing, but without rejection of modern medicine. Worship services; prayer for the sick; discussion of New Thought authors and ideas. moreWritings of Quimby (such as the The Quimby Manuscripts) and other New Thought authors more
Rastafarianism 1 million moreFounded by Marcus Garvey in the slums of Jamaica in the 1920s and 30s moreGod is Jah, who became incarnate in Jesus (who was black); Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I was messiah. moreHumans are temples of Jah. Salvation is primarily in this world and consists of liberation from oppression and return to Africa. moreSome Rastas will experience "everliving" (physical immortality). Heaven is a return to Eden, which is in Africa. moreMany practices based on Jewish biblical Law. Abstinence from most or all meat, artificial foods, and alcohol. Use of marijuana in religious rituals and for medicine. Wearing of dreadlocks. moreHoly Piby (the "Blackman's Bible"). The Ethiopian epic Kebra Negast also revered. more
Adherents Worldwide (approx.)Origins & HistoryGod(s)Purpose & Meaning of LifeAfterlifeRituals & PracticesScriptures or Texts

70,000 or several million, depending on the source moreFounded by L. Ron Hubbard, 1954, California moreGod(s) not specified; reality explained in the Eight Dynamics moreHuman consists of body, mind and thetan; capable of great things. Gain spiritual freedom by ridding mind of engrams. moreReincarnation moreAuditing, progressing up various levels until "clear". Focus on education and drug recovery programs. moreWritings of Hubbard, such as Dianetics and Scientology more
Seventh-Day Adventism

25 million moreRooted in Millerite movement; founded 1863 in New England; early leaders: Ellen White, Hiram Edson and Joseph Bates moreTrinitarian monotheism moreLive in accordance with the Bible, including the Old Testament. The Second Coming will happen soon. moreA "peaceful pause" after death until the coming of Christ, then resurrection to judgment, followed by eternity in heaven or nonexistence. No hell. more24-hour Sabbath observance starting Friday at sunset; adult baptism by immersion; church services emphasizing sermon moreChristian Bible; writings of Ellen G. White as helpful supplement more

3-4 million moreIndigenous religion of Japan morekami: ancient gods or spirits moreHumans are pure by nature and can keep away evil through purification rituals and attain good things by calling on the kami. moreDeath is bad and impure. Some humans become kami after death. moreWorship and offerings to kami at shrines and at home. Purification rituals. moreKojiki (Records of Ancient Matters); Nihon-gi (Chronicles of Japan) more

23 million moreFounded by Guru Nanak, c. 1500, Punjab, India. moreone God: Ik Onkar moreOvercome the self, align life with will of God, and become a "saint soldier," fighting for good. moreReincarnation until resolve karma and merge with God. morePrayer and meditation on God's name, services at temple (gurdwara), turban and five Ks. Balance work, worship, and charity. No monasticism or asceticism. moreAdi Granth (Sri Guru Granth Sahib) more
spiritualism 11 million morec.1850, USA, UK, France moreGenerally accepts the Christian God moreBody and spirit are separate entities. Morality and contact with spirits affect afterlife. moreA spiritual existence with access to the living. Condition depends on morality of life and advancement is possible. moreSunday services. Seances and other communication with departed spirits. Spirit healing. moreNo authoritative texts. Doctrine learned from spirit guides (advanced departed spirits). more
Adherents Worldwide (approx.)Origins & HistoryGod(s)Purpose & Meaning of LifeAfterlifeRituals & PracticesScriptures or Texts
Stoicism Zeno in c.313 BC, Athens. morePantheism: the logos pervades the universe. moreHappiness, which is achieved by living reasonably. morePossible continued existence of the Soul, but not a personal existence. moreEthical and philosophical training, self-reflection, careful judgment and inner calm. morewritings of Zeno, Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius more

20 million specifically of Taoism (Chinese religion contains Taoist elements) moreBased on teachings of Lao-Tzu, c. 550 BCE, China. morePantheism - the Tao pervades all. moreAchieve inner harmony, peace, and longevity by living in accordance with the Tao. moreRevert back to state of non-being, which is simply the other side of being. moreGeneral attitude of detachment and non-struggle, "go with the flow" of the Tao. Tai-chi, acupuncture, and alchemy to help longevity. moreTao-te Ching; Chuang-tzu more
Unification Church over 1 million (3 million acc. to official sources) moreFounded by Sun Myung Moon, 1954, South Korea. moreMonotheism, with the duality of God (esp. masculine and feminine) emphasized. No Trinity. moreTrue love and world peace instead of selfish love. True love and the kingdom of God on earth will be restored by the creation of "true families." moreEternal life in a spirit world. moreBlessing Ceremony moreThe Divine Principle (1954) by Rev. Moon. more
Unitarian Universalism 800,000 moreFormal merger of Unitarians and Universalists in 1961, USA. moreHas no set beliefs, which is its defining characteristic. moreSalvation is "spiritual health or wholeness." Members seek "inner and outer peace," insight, health, compassion and strength. moreNot specified. Some believe in an afterlife, some do not. Very few believe in hell - "Universalism" indicates the belief that all will be saved. moreCeremonies for marriages, funerals, etc. Church services have elements from various religions. Emphasis on civil rights, social justice, equality and environment. Most UUs are anti-death penalty and pro-gay rights. moreMany sacred texts are revered by various members; some none at all. The Bible is the most commonly used text. more

1-3 million moreBased on ancient pagan beliefs, but modern form founded early 1900s. Founder generally said to be Gerald Gardner. morePolytheism, centered on the Goddess and God, each in various forms; also a belief in a Supreme Being over all more"If it harms none, do what you will." morereincarnation until reach the Summerland morePrayer, casting a circle, Drawing Down the Moon, reciting spells, dancing, singing, sharing cakes and wine or beer moreNo sacred text; foundational texts include The Witch Cult in Western Europe and The God of the Witches more
Adherents Worldwide (approx.)Origins & HistoryGod(s)Purpose & Meaning of LifeAfterlifeRituals & PracticesScriptures or Texts

200,000 moreBased on teachings of Zoroaster in 6th cent. BCE Persia. Official religion of ancient Persia. May have influenced Judaism and Vedic religion. moreOne God, Ahura Mazda, but a dualistic worldview in which an evil spirit, Angra Mainyu, is almost as powerful. moreHumans are free to do good or evil, must choose the side of good. moreJudgment followed by heaven or hell. Hell is temporary until final purgation and return to Ahura Mazda. moreprayers; tending the sacred fire; coming of age rituals; burial by exposure in the Tower of Silence moreZend Avesta more

Article Info

Title The Big Religion Chart
Last UpdatedFebruary 13, 2021
MLA Citation “The Big Religion Chart.” 13 Feb. 2021. Web. Accessed 7 Dec. 2021. <>