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Animistic religion

the belief that inanimate objects, such as hills, trees, rocks, rivers, and other elements of natural landscape, possess souls and can help or hinder human efforts on Earth

Monotheistic religion

Religions that believe and worship one God

Polytheistic religion

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

Ethnic religion

A religion with a relatively concentrated spatial distribution whose principles are likely to be based on the physical characteristics of the particular location in which its adherents are concentrated.

Universal religion

Religion that attempts to appeal to all people, not just those who live in a particular location

Syncretic religion

Separate religions that combine into a new religion; often borrow from the past and the present.

Traditional religion

A religion that has originality and is not modernized


The view that the present well-being of mankind should predominate over religious considerations in civil or public affairs.

Caste system

System in India that gives every Indian a particular place in the social hierarchy from birth. Individuals may improve the position they inherit in the caste system in their next life through their actions, or karma. After many lives of good karma, they may be relieved from cycle of life and win their place in heaven.


Lowest class of people in the caste system of Hinduism, do all the dirty work of society


In Hindu belief, all the actions that affect a person's fate in the next life


The Hindu or Buddhist doctrine that person may be reborn successively into one of five classes of living beings (god or human or animal or hungry ghost or denizen of hell) depending on the person's own actions


In Hinduism he was the universal soul, and in the trinity of gods in Hinduism he was the Creator


A worldwide movement, originating in the 19th century that sought to establish and develop a Jewish nation in Palestine. Since 1948, its function has been to support the state of Israel.


the dispersion of the Jews outside Israel


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


Cultural tradition made up of descendants of Jews who moved to Spain and Potugal in Western Europe


A member of the branch of Islam that regards Ali as the legitimate successor to Mohammed and rejects the first three caliphs


A member of the branch of Islam that accepts the first four caliphs as rightful successors to Muhammad

Religious fundamentalism

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

Interfaith boundary

The boundaries between the world's major faiths.

Intrafaith boundary

The boundaries within a major religion.


A holy struggle or striving by a Muslim for a moral or spiritual or political goal

Sharia religious law

Islamic Law: based on varying degrees of interpretation on the Qu'ran

Ethnic cleansing

Process in which more powerful ethnic group forcibly removes a less powerful one in order to create an ethnically homogeneous region


The classification of being male or female


A statutory right or privilege granted to a person or group by a government (especially the rights of citizenship and the right to vote)

Longevity gap

The gap between the life expectancy of men and women

Maternal mortality rate

Number of deaths per thousand of women giving birth.

Female infanticide

The intentional killing of baby girls due to the preference for male babies and from the low value associated with the birth of females

Dowry deaths

In the context of arranged marriages in India, disputes over the price to be paid by the family of the bride to the father of the groom have, in some extreme cases, led to the death of a bride.

Female genitalia mutilation

Complete or partial removal of the clitora on girls under the age of eleven.

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