Religion Vocabulary

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Religion vocabulary from Rubenstein, DeBlij, and Barrons

animism

Belief that objects, such as plants and stones, or natural events, like thunderstorms and earthquakes, have a discrete spirit and conscious life

Ashkenazism

One of the two main ethnic groups within Jewish culture. This barnch eventually settled in Central Europe after having been driven out of Jerusalem early in the first millenium A.D.

autonomous religion

A religion that does not have a central authority but shares ideas and cooperates informally.

ayatollah

A supreme religious leader in the Islam religion, whose rules and practices become law.

Brahman

A Hindu of the highest caste, most often a priest; a person believed to possess sacred knowledge and to be of the greatest purity.

branch

A large and fundamental division within a religion.

Buddhism

System of belief that seeks to explain ultimate realities for all people, such as the nature of suffering and the path toward self-realization

caste

The class or distinct hereditary order into which a Hindu is assigned according to religious law.

caste system

The strict social segregation of people - specifically in India's Hindu society - on the basic of ancestry and occupation

Christianity

The world's most widespread religion. A monotheistic, universal religion that uses missionaries to expand its members worldwide.

Confucianism

An ethnic religion practiced predominantly in China which emphasizes the importance of the ancient Chinese tradition of li or propriety/correct behavior.

cosmogony

A set of religious beliefs concerning the origin of the universe.

denomination

A division of a branch that unites a number of local congregations in a single legal and administrative body.

diaspora

A term describing forceful or voluntary dispersal of a people from their homeland to a new place.

diocese

The basic unit of geographic organization in the Roman Catholic Church.

evangelical religions

Religion in which an effort is made to spread a particular belief system.

Feng Shui

The Chinese art and science of placement and orientation of tombs, dwellings, buildings, and cities. Structures and objects are positioned in an effor tto channel flows of 'sheng-chi' (""life-breath"") in favorable ways

fundamentalism

Literal interpretation and strict adherence to basic principles of a religion (or a religious branch, denomination, or sect.)

global religion

Religion in which members are numerous and widespread and their doctrines might appeal to different people from any region of the globe.

hierarchical religion

A religion in which a central authority exercises a high degree of control.

Hinduism

A cohesive and unique socity, most prevalent in India, that integrates spiritual beliefs with daily practices and official institutions such as the caste system.

imam

The political head of the Muslim community or the person who leads prayer services and who is immune from sin or error.

interfaith boundary

The boundary between the world's major faiths

intrafaith boundary

Boundary within a single major faith.

Islam

A monotheistic religion based on the belief that there is one God, Allah, and that Muhammad was Allah's prophet.

Jainism

A dualistic religion founded in the 6th century B.C. as a revolt against current Hinduism and emphasizing the perfectibility of human nature and liberation of the soul, especially through asceticism and nonviolence toward all living creatures

jihad

A doctrine within Islam. Commonly translated as "Holy War". Represents either a personal or collective struggle on the part of Muslims to live up to the religious standards set by the Qu'ran

Judaism

The first major monotheistic religion, based upon a sense of ethnic identity, and its adherents tend to form tight-knit communities wherever they live

local religion

Religions that are spiritually bound to particular regions.

missionary

An individual who helps to diffuse a universalizing religion

monotheism

The doctrine or belief of the existence of only one god.

monotheistic religion

Belief system in which one supreme being is revered as creator and arbiter of all that exists in the universe.

Nation of Islam

A branch of Islam started in the United States for black Muslims. Now a more radical form of Islam.

pagan

A follower of a polytheistic religion in ancient times.

pilgrimage

A journey to a place considered sacred for religious purposes

polytheism

Belief in worship of more than one god

polytheistic religion

Belief system in which multiple deities are revered as creators and arbiters of all that exists in the universe.

reincarnation

Belief that the soul, upon death of the body, comes back to earth in another body or form

religious fundamentalism

Religious movement whose objectives are to return to the foundations of the faith and to influence state policy

sect

A relatively small group that has broken away from an established denomination

secularism

The idea that ethical and moral standards should be formulated and adhered to for life on Earth, not to accommodate the prescriptions of a deity and promises of a comfortable afterlife.

Sephardim

One of the two main ethnic groups within Jewish culture. This branch settled in Northern Africa and later in the Iberian Peninsula after having been driven away from Jerusalem early in the first millenium A.D.

Shaman

The single person who takes on the roles of priest, counselor, and physician and who is deemed to possess religious and mystical powers, acquired directly from supernatural sources.

Sharia religious law

The system of Islamic law, sometimes called Qu'ranic law. Unlike most Western systems of law that are based on legal precedence, Sharia is based in varying degressof interpretation of the Qu'ran

Shiite

One who adheres to one of the two main divisions of Islam. Represents the Persian (Iranian) variation of Islam and believes in the infallibility and divine right to authority of the Imams, descendants of Ali

Shintoism

The native religion of Japan, primarily a system of nature and ancestor worship

Sikhism

A monotheistic religion founded in northern India in the 16th century by the guru Nanak. Rejects caste distinctions, idolatry, and asceticism and is characterized by belief in a cycle of reincarnation from which humans can free themselves by living righteous lives as active members of society

solstice

Time when the Sun is farthest from the equator.

Sunni

One who adheres to the largest branch of Muslims, called the orthodox or traditionalist. Believes in the effectiveness of family and community in the solution of life's problems. Accepts the traditions (sunna) of Muhammed as authority.

syncretic religion

A religion with traditions that borrow from both the past and present

Taoism

Also Daoism. An ethnic religion that emphasizes the mystical and magical aspects of life

traditional religion

Indicates originality within a culture or long-term part of an indigenous society. It also denotes continuity and historic association.

universalizing religion

A religion that attempts to appeal to all people, not just those living in a particular location.

untouchables

People within the Hindu religion that are deemed low in the caste-system; those who shouldn't event touch those in the upper castes of the religion

Zionism

The movement to unite the Jewish people of the diaspora and to establish a national homeland for them in Palestine

Zoroastrianism

Iranian religion, founded c. 600 B.C. where the principal beliefs are in the existence of a supreme deity, Ahura Mazda, and in a cosmic struggle between a spirit of good, Spenta Mainyu, and a spirit of evil, Angra Mainyu

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