What are the major world religions in existence today?
Many religions exist in today's world, including those who hold to no faith at all. However, approximately 95% of the world's population is categorized under seven world religious traditions.
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Christianity is listed as the world's largest religion when including Roman Catholicism under the broad heading of Christianity. This includes approximately 900 million non-Catholics (Protestants and Orthodox Christians) and 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, totaling more than 2 billion adherents. Within these movements are numerous denominational groups. Among Protestants, some of the larger denominations in the United States include Southern Baptists, the Assemblies of God, United Methodists, Presbyterians, and Lutherans.
Islam is the world's second-largest religion with statistics citing between 1.3 billion and 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. Originating in the Middle East in the seventh century, it continues as the dominant religion in this region. Most Muslims are either Sunni or Shia, with a small percentage of Sufi Muslims as well. Many smaller sub-groups exist within each of these larger traditions. A 2010 study by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies estimated 2.6 million American Muslims, up from 1 million in 2000.
Hinduism is considered the world's third-largest religion, with more than 900 million adherents. The vast majority of Hindus live in India. Yet the migration of Indian citizens to many parts of the world has led to the development of Hindu temples and the growth of the religion in many new places, including America. In 2004, an estimated 1.5 million Hindus resided in the United States.
Buddhism is the world's fourth-largest religion and includes approximately 360 million adherents. Originating in India, Buddhism is the dominant religion in many Asian countries, such as Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. Many forms of Buddhism exist, with Zen Buddhism enjoying considerable popularity in the United States. According to one 2012 estimate, approximately 1.2 million Buddhists live in America, with 40% of these adherents living in Southern California.
Sikhism is considered the world's fifth-largest religion with approximately 30 million followers. It was founded in India in the fifteenth century. About three quarters of Sikhs live in India's Punjab province. Migration of Sikhs for work-related purposes has resulted in new Sikh communities in places like the Middle East, East Africa,Southeast Asia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States.
Judaism includes approximately 15 million religious Jews around the world, though not all Jews follow its religious traditions. Originating in Israel with historical roots to the biblical Abraham, many Jews still reside in this nation. The United States also includes a large Jewish population, especially in certain urban areas (such as New York City and San Francisco). The Jewish Virtual Library estimated 6.5 million American Jews in 2011.
Baha'i ranks seventh in the list of most common religions and refers to followers of Baha, the founder of the religion. Originating in Iran, this religion claims more than five million adherents in 200 nations. 169,000 American Baha'i adherents were noted by the Baha'i official website in 2011.
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