An Analysis Of The Differences Between Religions In Various Countries: Christianity And Judaism, Taoism And Confucianism
Worldwide, more than eight-in-ten people identify with a religious group (pewforum.org). It was estimated that there were 5.8 billion religiously affiliated adults and children around the globe, representing 84% of the 2010 world population of 6.9 billion (pewforum.org). Out of the 4,300 religions of the world, nearly 75 percent of the population practices Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism (theregister.co.uk). In fact, Christianity and Islam cover more than half of the world’s population. And if non-religious people were all grouped into a religion, they would be the world’s third-largest. So what is a religion anyway? The definition of religion is debated and according to the Oxford English Dictionary, religion is a particular system of faith and worship. That being said, religions occurring from the same origins or regions can have similar traditions. There are many similar religions around the world, but there are underlying variations in practices, belief systems, and teachings.
Christianity and Judaism may both come from similar origins but have different beliefs, practices, and teachings. Christianity is the most popular religion in the world being practiced by over a third of the world population and Judaism by less than 0.2% (thebestschools.org). Aside from popularity differences, both religions focus on the Bible and its religious figures, places, and histories. People who are Christian or Jewish believe in one God who created the world, but it is what they believe of him that makes them contrast against each other. Both Judaism and Christianity believe that the rules that people live by were created by God, known as Jesus. However, Jewish people believe that Jesus was a good person but not the messiah (a savior sent by God to forgive people’s mistakes and right the wrongs). Christians think that Jesus was the messiah, arousing a disagreement between how sins (people’s mistakes) are forgiven (study.com). There are also some major differences in their practices towards the Bible. According to an article by John Barton from Time Magazine, Christians and Jews both follow the Old Testament, but “Christians also acknowledge the New Testament and Jews do not.” He also states that “the texts are so different that it is almost as though they recognized two different Bibles” (time.com). In simpler terms, Jews follow the Old Testament (first section of the Christian Bible) and Christians follow the entire Bible. The teachings originating from these books create a religious gap between Judaism and Christianity, affecting how people of each religion practice different traditions and holidays such as Passover for Jews and Easter for Christians (theatlantic.com).
Though there are many similarities in their traditions and practices today, Buddhism and the indigenous (native) religions of China (Taoism and Confucianism) have many distinguishable differences that make them distinct from each other. Taoism (also known as Daoism) and Confucianism were both developed around the 500s BCE, and have a tremendous influence on Chinese culture, literature, medicine, martial arts, and government (britannica.com). Buddhism is the fourth largest religion worldwide, tracing its roots back to India with Hinduism origins. Although China has no official religion, leaving 52.2% of the population being non-religious or having no religious affiliation (as of the last official census in 2010), Buddhism along with the ancient Chinese religions of Taoism and Confucianism are commonly practiced (internations.org). Buddhism has different religious beliefs centered around the truths in life, compared to Chinese philosophical beliefs such as the balance between yin and yang. As stated by LaowaiCareer on their company career site, Buddhism “was a more conventional religion with its followers attending services, supported the temple on a regular basis and practiced rituals” (laowaicareer.com). Buddhism is a very traditional and standard religion as compared to the philosophical and spiritual beliefs of Confucianism and Taoism, respectively. It shows how similar but also different the three religions are when being compared in belief systems. Buddhism focuses more on traditional practices, while the two Chinese religions center more around worshiping their ancestors and giving guidance on Chinese life. Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism are the three main philosophies and religions of China, back in ancient times and still continue to be today, as they have influenced Chinese, as well as Asian culture and society through centuries of ancestral practice.
While similar in their ancient Indian origins, Jainism and Hinduism have many notable differences as well. Accounted for as the oldest religion in the world, Hinduism dates back to the 1500s BCE and makes up the world’s third-largest religion at over 1.1 billion Hindus worldwide and makes up 79.8% of India’s population (worldpopulationreview.com). Alternatively, less than 5 million Jains are living in India, and their religion is also famous for its teachings and beliefs influenced upon by Mohandas Gandhi. Jainism still traces many aspects back to India’s other religious traditions. Despite these origins, Jainism still has many unique beliefs that are similar to Hinduism but different from a religious scale. For instance, the literature involved with each religion has developed separately over time. Hindu texts and scriptures include the Vedas, Upanishads, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and Vedanta (learnreligions.com). On the other hand, Jainism literature consists of texts containing the teachings of Mahavira that are called the Agamas (bbc.co.uk). Differences in literature are notable in many aspects, but differences in beliefs are prominent as well. Based on an article by Encyclopædia Britannica, both religions “share a notion of karma as the actions of individuals that determine their future births, yet each has attached unique connotations to the concept” (britannica.com). To clarify, this means that both Hinduism and Jainism have a belief of eliminating all karma (a person’s actions or intentions that may influence their fate or luck in future existences; the religious principle of cause and effect) from the soul (khanacademy.com). Yet, the way that each religion interprets and teaches the idea of karma and also the idea of reincarnation (the rebirth of a soul in a new body) is unique in different ways (lexico.com). As reported by BBC News UK, “Jains believe that karma is a physical substance that is everywhere in the universe” (bbc.co.uk). To come to a point, Jainism and Hinduism both have different implications on similar beliefs but have both led to a long history of influence and concept in South Asia.
In conclusion, there are many religions around the world, each with unique differences and bonds between them. For instance, Christianity and Judaism both share connections to the Bible but due to religious traditions, Jews only read the Old Testament while Christians read the entire Bible. This leads to cultural and religious differences between their beliefs and teachings. Buddhism and the indigenous religions of China, Taoism and Confucianism, have common traditions today but are characterized by contrasting cultural origins and ancestral connotations. These effects divide the religions into being either traditional and long-established (Buddhism) or into being spiritual and philosophical (Taoism and Confucianism). Hinduism and Jainism possess shared Indian origins, but due to cultural influences, the two have various distinctive beliefs and implications on ideas such as karma and reincarnation. While these are not the only religions in the world, they are just some of the common ones. Learning about religious differences or just religions, in general, helps everyone respect their peers or people of different religious descent. Everyone may not practice the same religion, but they must learn to respect it. In the absence of consideration, discrimination and prejudice may occur. By learning not only about religion and its differences, people can learn to be polite towards others and praise their diversity.