Religious traditions accompany man and peoples from the most remote times, it is no coincidence that there are many religious cults in the world. But which are the most widespread religions? To answer this question we have analyzed some parallel studies conducted from 2002 to today. Through our research we have ascertained that it is impossible to know the exact number of adherents to each religion, since in many countries of the world there is no religious classification in the official censuses. Therefore the following ranking is the result of one combination of censuses and unofficial polls, the results of which provide a rough idea of the spread of the various cults.
- Top 10 of the most practiced religions
- Number of non-believers in the world
- User questions and comments
Top 10 of the most practiced religions
10 - Judaism, 14 million faithful
Judaism is the ancient doctrine of Abraham, Jacob and Isaac, it was born in 1300 BC and is one of the oldest religions in the world. The term Judaism does not indicate only a religion but also a lifestyle and a cultural tradition to which the Jewish people refers, present in various communities around the world. The reference text of Judaism is the Torah, together with the Tanakh and with a series of teachings handed down in oral form, namely the texts of the Mishnah and the Talmud.
Continents or nations in which it is widespread: Judaism is widespread in more than one hundred countries, Israel is the only nation with a Jewish majority. Important communities are also widespread in Europe, the United States, Russia, Asia, Latin America and Australia
9 - Spiritualism, 15 million faithful
It is a religious movement that originated in the United States and later spread to Europe as well. The followers of this religion claim to be able to contact the souls of the deceased through the so-called "séances", or meetings where a medium (a person with particular extrasensory gifts) can communicate with some souls. They, possessing a special knowledge of otherworldly truths, are asked for directions on how to discover the answers to some fundamental riddles of mankind. Spiritualists believe that fear of death and the pain of losing a loved one can be overcome in this way. Important personalities of modern spiritualism were AJ Davis and Allan Kardec, who later founded the Kardecist movement.
Continents or nations in which it is widespread: Canada, Great Britain, France, Germany, Jamaica, Japan, Portugal, Spain, United States and especially Latin America including Argentina, Uruguay, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Brazil
8 - Sikhism, 30 million faithful
Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak between 1469 and 1539 AD in the Punjab region of India. It is the most widespread Dharmic religion, its followers are called by the name of Sikhs. The holy book of this religion is the Guru Granth Sahib which was originally written in the Gurmukhi alphabet. Sikhs can be recognized by the typical turban, especially the one that men wear.
Continents or nations in which it is widespread: Punjab Indian region, some communities are located in North America (United States and Canada) and Great Britain
7 - African religions, 100 million faithful
There are as many African religions as there are various populations. If the northern part of the continent has an Islamic majority, the populations of sub-Saharan Africa have in fact developed a specific religion, which is part of their cultural heritage. Since the concept of proselytism is absent from these doctrines, it is difficult to find a common historical origin, as well as a single geographical spread. The term "traditional" therefore indicates those religions that originate in the African continent and have not been imported, such as Islam or Christianity. Traditional African religions do not refer to a written text but the custody of the doctrine is entrusted to the memory of the elderly and to oral transmission, sometimes through proverbs and stories.
Continents or nations in which it is widespread: Sub-Saharan Africa
6 - Minor ethnic religions, 300 million faithful
Ethnic religions are closely related to an ethnic group and are distinguished from religions such as Christianity or Islam. The Japanese Shinto are ethnic religions but also some numerically important cults, such as Hinduism, Judaism and the Chinese folk religion. These three have been included separately in the ranking. If we had combined all ethnic religions together, we would have over one billion and 700 million faithful.
Continents or nations in which it is widespread: India, Middle East, China, Japan
5 - Buddhism, 376 million faithful
Buddhism was founded in 600 BC by Siddhartha Gautama, who is also known as "the Buddha". It is also part of the dharmic religions and, just like Hinduism, its teachings are based on the concepts of life after death, karma and reincarnation. The holy book of this religion is Tripitaka, written in the Pali language. There are some schools of Buddhism, such as Mahayana, Vajrayana and Hinayana. Many Asian regions also follow Tibetan Buddhism which is part of the Vajrayana school.
Continents or nations in which it is widespread: China and South East Asia, Tibet, Mongolia and part of Russia
4 - Traditional Chinese religion, 394 million faithful
By popular Chinese religion we mean a set of beliefs, superstitious gestures, and good luck rituals followed by the majority of Chinese. From these beliefs various Taoist schools were born, which enriched the doctrine of concepts, rituals and divinities. Also referred to as Shenism, it refers precisely to the cult of "shen", or "gods" or "spirits" who can match elements of nature or a particular place, ancestors of a certain clan, a village, a city or even of the same nation.
Continents or nations in which it is widespread: China
3 - Hinduism, 1 billion faithful
It is the oldest religion in the world and almost the entire Hindu population lives in South Asia or India. The interesting aspect of this religion is that there is no founder, although the birth of the same can be dated to 1500 BC. The sacred books of Hinduism are the Upanishands and the Vedas.
Continents or nations in which it is widespread: India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bali
2 - Islam, 1.6 billion faithful
Islam was founded in 610 AD by the Prophet Muhammad. The faithful of this religion firmly believe in the teachings of the prophet, in Allah, in the tradition of the Sunnah (a series of behaviors and traditions often transmitted orally) and in what is written in the Koran, the holy book. Muslims are divided into two groups: Shiites (10%) and Sunnis (90%). Islam is a monotheistic religion which, in countries where it is particularly widespread, does not differentiate between worship and civil life. Political life is also regulated by doctrine. The term Islam means "submissive to god" and the word with which the followers are called, Muslim, means "one who does the will of God".
Continents or nations in which it is widespread: especially in Asia and Africa; among the states with the highest number of Muslims are Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Nigeria
1 - Christianity, 2.2 billion faithful
Christianity is part of the Abrahamic religions and it is the most widespread religion in the world. Christians believe that Jesus is the son of God and await the day of his return.
The holy book is the Bible, divided into Old and New Testament. There are three types of Christian communities: Orthodox, Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. Each section has different beliefs, as well as prayers and traditions.
Continents or nations in which it is widespread: Europe, part of Asia, some African states, United States, Latin America
Number of non-believers in the world
Non-believers are about 1,1 billion people, or 15,35% of the world population. However, it must be specified that there are different types, including:
- Lay people: people who declare their independence and deviate from any religious confession;
- Atheists: people who do not believe in the existence of any deity;
- Irreligious: those who show indifference or even hostility towards any religion;
- Agnostics: adhering to the philosophy that maintains that the human mind is incapable of knowing the absolute, therefore the individual suspends his judgment with respect to the problem of the existence of God, as he does not have or cannot have sufficient knowledge of it.