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World Religions 101

Do you want to learn more about major world religions? Maybe you have a question about a detainee’s religious tradition that was not answered elsewhere in this Guide. Whatever the case, the resources in this section will be helpful to you. 

The introductions in this section are faith-specific and each contains background on the religion’s membership, history, and theology. The sections on Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, and Orisha have glossaries. Eastern Rite Catholicism features a list of the different Eastern churches organized by rite, Judaism includes a more detailed explanation of the significant holidays, Protestant Christianity has a summary of the Church Year, and Roman Catholicism incorporates a breakdown of the Liturgical Calendar.

All information in the World Religions 101 section has been compiled from the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Technical Reference for Inmate Religious Beliefs and Practices


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Intro to Baha'i
Monday, November 17, 2008
The Baha’i faith was founded in Iran in 1844. Baha’is view all the world’s religions as a part of a single, progressive process through which God reveals the Divine will to humanity. Baha’u’llah (1817-1892), the faith’s founder, is recognized as the most recent messenger in a line of Divine Messengers stretching back beyond recorded time. The central theme of Bah’u’llah’s message is unity.
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Intro to Buddhism
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Buddhism was founded in 6th century BCE by Siddhartha Gautama who became known as Shakyamuni Buddha. The basic tenets of Buddhism are encapsulated in the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path.
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Intro to Eastern Rite Catholicism
Monday, January 12, 2009
Eastern Rite Catholicism developed from the Byzantine, Alexandrian, Antiochene, Armenian, and Chaldean Christian Rites. Today, some Eastern Rite traditions recognize the authority of the pope.
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Intro to Hinduism
Monday, January 12, 2009
Hinduism, unlike most religious traditions, has no founder, no uniform dogma, no hierarchical priesthood, no direct revelation, and no rigidly described moral code. Within Hinduism, there is a wide range of beliefs and traditions that followers use as a means to the One Truth - Brahman.
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Intro to Islam
Monday, January 12, 2009
Islam was founded during the sixth century by the Prophet Muhammad. Islam teaches that one must submit to Allah to and live according to Allah's will revealed in the Qur'an. Muslims live their lives according to the Five Pillars.
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Intro to Jehovah's Witnesses
Monday, November 17, 2008
Jehovah’s Witnesses are members of an international religion that believes it is the restoration of first-century Christianity. Witnesses’ teachings predominantly focus on the Kingdom of God and what they call the presence of Christ, analogous to the Second Coming.
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Intro to Judaism
Monday, January 12, 2009
Judaism traces its history back 3800 years to Abraham's covenant with God. Followers strive to live their lives according to the teachings in the Torah and Talmud.
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Intro to Orisha
Monday, November 17, 2008
The roots of Orisha worship rest in the indigenous rituals of the Yoruba-speaking tribes of Nigeria and Benin. The rituals were brought to the Americas by enslaved people in the late 18th and early 19th century. There, West African beliefs and practices were syncretized with the Spanish Roman Catholic practices of the majority.
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Intro to Orthodox Christianity
Monday, November 17, 2008
Orthodox Christianity emerged out of the division of the Roman Empire when its capital moved to Byzantium, renamed Constantinople. The new capital and the Cathedral of Hagia Sophia became the center of Eastern Christianity. In 1054 Eastern Christianity split from Roman Catholicism over the doctrinal issues. Eastern Christianity became known as Orthodox Christianity.
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Intro to Protestant Christianity
Monday, January 12, 2009
Protestant Christianity, composed of many denominations with differing beliefs, follows the teachings of Jesus Christ and traces its history back to him. It emerged through the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, when Martin Luther and others broke away from the Roman Catholic Church.
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Intro to Rastafari
Monday, January 12, 2009
Rastafari, founded in Jamaica during the 1930s, teaches that Emperor Haile Selaisse I of Ethiopia is an incarnation of God.
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Intro to Roman Catholicism
Thursday, January 01, 2009
Roman Catholicism, inspired by the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, teaches a way of life based on the teachings of Jesus, his death on the cross, and his resurrection.
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Intro to Sikhism
Monday, January 12, 2009
The Sikh religion was founded in Indian's Punjab region by Guru Nanak who taught the message "We are all one." The three basic beliefs of Sikhs are the Nam Japa (meditate on the holy name), Dharam di Kirat Karni (work diligently and honestly), and Vand Ke Chakna (share the fruits of one's labors).
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