World Religion Comparison Charts

Exploring the world’s religions using the comparison charts below offers fascinating insights into cultures and beliefs. It opens doors to understanding human history, values, and connections.

Whether you’re curious about the world or an academic explorer, studying world religions offers a wealth of knowledge.

Understanding different faiths reveals the core values that guide entire societies, explains long-standing traditions, and provides insights into human nature and the universal quest for meaning.

Explore 25 world religions using the comparison charts below in areas like origins, beliefs, practices, size, location, sacred texts, and more.

The aim of the comparison charts is to offer readers a helpful starting point toward understanding the religions of the world.

Also, see What’s the Difference Between Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox? to learn more.

Christian cross
Why is it important to know how religions started? See below

How the World Religions Started: Time and Place

Discovering how world religions started is a captivating journey through time and culture. Uncover the roots of beliefs that have shaped societies, inspired art, and guided morals.

Learning the origins of these faiths offers unique insights into human history and a deeper connection to our shared global heritage.

Tribal Religions
Originated prehistorically with each tribe’s unique spiritual development.
AsatruRevived in the 20th century, based on ancient Norse practices.
BahaiFounded in mid-19th century Persia by Bahá’u’lláh.
Buddhism, MahayanaEmerged 1st century BC, a development from earlier Buddhism.
Buddhism, TheravadaBegan 5th century BC, a continuation of Early Buddhism.
Chinese ReligionEvolved over centuries; Shang Dynasty (1600–1046 BC) earliest records.
ConfucianismEstablished in the late Zhou Dynasty, China, around 500 BC.
Christianity, CatholicOriginated in the 1st century AD from early Christianity.
Christianity, ProtestantStarted with the Reformation in Europe in the 16th century AD.
Christianity, OrthodoxSolidified post-Great Schism from Catholicism, 1054 AD.

Also, see Christian Denominations Comparison Chart to learn more.

HinduismRoots are traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization, 2000 BC.
Islam, ShiaBegan after Prophet Muhammad’s death, 632 AD.
Islam, SunniOriginated after Prophet Muhammad’s death, 632 AD, majority sect.
Jehovah’s WitnessBegan in the USA, late 19th century (1870s).
JudaismDates back to Abraham, approximately 2100 BC, in Middle East.
MormonismFounded by Joseph Smith in the USA, 1830.
New AgeEmerged in the late 20th century, integrating various beliefs.
RastafariStarted in Jamaica in the 1930s, post-coronation of Haile Selassie.
ScientologyEstablished by L. Ron Hubbard in the USA, 1953.
SikhismFounded by Guru Nanak in the Punjab region, 15th century.
ShintoIndigenous faith of Japan, originating in prehistoric times.
TaoismDeveloped in China, late Zhou Dynasty, around 4th century BC.
Emerged in the USA, 1961, combining two Christian denominations.
Founded in the UK, mid-20th century, by Gerald Gardner.
ZoroastrianismOriginated in ancient Persia, approx. 5th century BC or earlier.

Also, see Christianity vs. Islam: What’s the Difference? to learn more.

Christian church
Why is it important to understand what religions believe? See below

Religious Beliefs: Similarities and Differences

Understanding what people hold sacred, including their moral codes and spiritual aspirations, fosters cultural awareness.

Exploring religious beliefs enriches personal perspectives and invites a shared appreciation for the complexities of human values and convictions.

Tribal Religions
Ancestor reverence, spirit belief, tribal community emphasis, oral traditions.
AsatruHonors old Norse gods, nature, and ancestry with modern perspectives.
BahaiUnity of religions, equality, peace, and human purpose to know God.
Buddhism, MahayanaThe path to becoming a Buddha involves following the bodhisattva ideal.
Buddhism, TheravadaEnlightenment through self-discipline, wisdom, and meditation; follows Buddha’s original teachings.
Chinese ReligionMix of Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism; ancestral veneration, harmony balance.
ConfucianismMoral integrity, family loyalty, respect for hierarchy, and ancestor veneration.
Christianity, CatholicJesus as Savior, sacraments, Pope’s authority, Virgin Mary’s significance.
Christianity, ProtestantSalvation through faith in Jesus, Bible as the ultimate authority.
Christianity, OrthodoxHoly Trinity, sacraments, Apostolic tradition, divinization through God’s grace.

Also, see Christianity vs. Judaism: What’s the Difference? to learn more.

HinduismDharma (duty), Karma (cause-effect), Moksha (liberation), diverse deities, and reincarnation.
Islam, ShiaAllah’s unity, Prophethood, Ali’s rightful succession, Day of Judgement.
Islam, SunniOne God (Allah), Muhammad’s Prophethood, Five Pillars, community consensus.
Jehovah’s WitnessStrict Bible interpretation, Jesus as God’s son, not Trinity.
JudaismMonotheism, covenant relationship with God, Torah adherence, ethical living.
MormonismJesus Christ’s gospel, latter-day revelation, additional scriptures, eternal progression.
New AgePersonal spirituality, reincarnation, holistic health, psychic phenomena, universal truth.
RastafariAfrican redemption, Emperor Selassie divinity, rejection of Western oppression.
ScientologyHumans as spiritual beings (thetans), self-knowledge, spiritual rehabilitation.
SikhismOne God, equality, truthful living, community service, meditating on God.
ShintoKami (spiritual beings) reverence, purification rituals, love of nature.
TaoismBalance of Yin-Yang, harmony with Tao (universal principle), simplicity.
Open-minded search for spiritual growth, all are welcomed.
Dual deity worship, nature reverence, magic use, seasonal celebrations.
ZoroastrianismMonotheism with Ahura Mazda, good thoughts/words/deeds, cosmic dualism.

Also, see Christianity vs. Buddhism: What’s the Difference? to learn more.

Why is it important to study the size of religions? See below

The Size of World Religions Compared

Learning about the size of world religions offers a glimpse into their influence and reach. Understanding the number of followers helps to recognize the impact these faiths have on politics, culture, and society.

Tribal Religions
Millions practice, mostly in Africa, highly localized and varied.
AsatruThousands globally, primarily in Northern Europe and North America.
BahaiOver 5 million worldwide, with no centralized geographical concentration.
Buddhism, MahayanaApproximately half of global Buddhists, primarily in East Asia.
Buddhism, TheravadaMajority in Southeast Asia, about 40% of global Buddhists.
Chinese ReligionHundreds of millions in China, mixture of several philosophies.
ConfucianismMillions, mainly in China, influences more through cultural assimilation.
Christianity, CatholicOver a billion followers, widespread globally.
Christianity, ProtestantEstimated 800 million to 1 billion worldwide, many denominations.
Christianity, OrthodoxOver 200 million, mainly Eastern Europe and Russia.

Also, see Christianity vs. Hinduism: What’s the Difference? to learn more.

HinduismOver a billion, largely in India and Nepal.
Islam, ShiaApproximately 10-15% of Muslims, especially in Iran and Iraq.
Islam, SunniConstitutes 85-90% of about 1.8 billion Muslims globally.
Jehovah’s WitnessOver 8 million worldwide, most active in evangelism.
JudaismAround 14 million globally, largest populations in Israel and USA.
MormonismOver 16 million, mostly in USA, rapidly growing globally.
New AgeHard to quantify, millions globally following various individual practices.
RastafariEstimated at a million, mainly in Jamaica and diaspora.
ScientologyHundreds of thousands globally, concentrated in the USA.
SikhismAbout 25 million globally, majority in Punjab, India.
ShintoMajority in Japan, roughly 100 million practitioners.
TaoismTens of millions in China, globally influenced by Taoist philosophy.
Several hundred thousand, mostly in USA and Canada.
Hundreds of thousands to a few million, mainly in English-speaking countries.
ZoroastrianismApproximately 100,000-200,000, mostly in India and Iran.

Also, see Conservative vs. Liberal Christianity: Comparison to learn more.

Why is it important to know about the practices of religions? See below

Contrasting the Practices of Religions

Learning about the practices of religions illuminates the rituals and traditions of people groups around the world. From daily prayers to seasonal festivals, these practices are rich in symbolism and purpose.

Tribal Religions
Ancestor worship, divination, initiation rites, and spirit propitiation.
AsatruBlot (sacrifice), Sumbel (ritual toasting), honoring gods, ancestors, and nature.
BahaiPrayer, fasting, pilgrimage, communal worship, working towards social justice.
Buddhism, MahayanaMeditation, sutra study, devotion to bodhisattvas, mindfulness of Buddha nature.
Buddhism, TheravadaBuddhism, Theravada
Chinese ReligionAncestral worship, divination, Taoist and Buddhist practices, festivals.
ConfucianismFilial piety, ancestor veneration, ritual propriety, cultivation of personal character.
Christianity, CatholicMass, sacraments like Baptism and Eucharist, prayer, confession.
Christianity, ProtestantBible study, prayer, communion, baptism, congregational worship.
Christianity, OrthodoxSacraments, Divine Liturgy, prayer, fasting, icon veneration.

Also, see Christianity vs. Confucianism: Comparison to learn more.

HinduismPuja (worship), yoga, meditation, festival observance, pilgrimage, life-cycle rites.
Islam, ShiaPrayer, fasting, Hajj, Khums (tax), belief in Imam’s leadership.
Islam, SunniFive Pillars – Faith, Prayer, Fasting, Alms-giving, Pilgrimage (Hajj).
Jehovah’s WitnessEvangelism, Kingdom Hall meetings, Bible study, rejecting blood transfusions.
JudaismShabbat observance, Torah study, prayer, dietary laws, holiday rituals.
MormonismBaptism, temple rituals, tithing, proselytizing mission, Word of Wisdom adherence.
New AgeMeditation, channeling, crystal healing, reincarnation exploration, self-help practices.
RastafariItal diet, dreadlocks, ganja for religious rituals, Bible reading.
ScientologyAuditing (counseling), training routines, ethical codes, Sunday services.
SikhismPrayer, community kitchen (Langar), wearing five articles of faith.
ShintoShrine rituals, nature veneration, purification rites, festival participation.
TaoismMeditation, feng shui, reading Tao Te Ching, ritual ceremonies.
Open discussion, group worship, social justice work, covenant affirmation.
Ritual magic, celebrating Sabbats and Esbats, nature veneration, divination.
ZoroastrianismFire temple worship, ethical living, Navjote initiation, Farvardin rites.

Also, see Christianity vs. Taoism: Comparison to learn more.

Why is it important to understand the divisions in religions? See below

Divisions within World Religions

Examining the divisions within world religions reveals the complex nuances that shape beliefs and traditions.

Tribal Religions
Varies by tribe and region, many unique belief systems.
AsatruSome divergence between universalist and folkish views, different national groups.
BahaiLargely unified, though some division over leadership succession.
Buddhism, MahayanaDiverse schools including Zen, Pure Land, and Nichiren.
Buddhism, TheravadaGenerally unified, with minor regional and monastic variations.
Chinese ReligionBlends of Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and folk religion.
ConfucianismDivided into classical texts and Neo-Confucian philosophy interpretations.
Christianity, CatholicDifferences in practice and emphasis, but unified by papal authority.
Christianity, ProtestantMany denominations such as Lutheran, Baptist, and Methodist.
Christianity, OrthodoxDivisions by national churches like Russian and Greek Orthodox.

Also, see Christianity vs. Rastafari: Comparison to learn more.

HinduismDiversity of sects like Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and Shaktism.
Islam, ShiaMain divisions are Twelvers, Ismailis, and Zaidis.
Islam, SunniFour main schools of jurisprudence: Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanbali.
Jehovah’s WitnessGenerally unified, though minor splinter groups have been formed.
JudaismDivided into Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist movements.
MormonismMain split between LDS Church and Community of Christ, plus polygamous sects.
New AgeBroad and diverse with no central authority, individual paths vary.
RastafariMansions include Bobo Shanti, Twelve Tribes of Israel, and Nyabinghi.
ScientologyMain church and Independent Scientologists (“Freezoners”) following L. Ron Hubbard.
SikhismDivided into sects like Khalsa, Sahajdhari, and various deras.
ShintoDivisions include Shrine Shinto, Sect Shinto, and Folk Shinto.
TaoismPrimarily divided into philosophical Taoism (Daojia) and religious Taoism (Daojiao).
Largely unified, differences more in individual belief than doctrine.
Various traditions, including Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Dianic, and solitary practitioners.
ZoroastrianismPrimarily divided into Iranian Zoroastrians and Indian Parsis.

Also, see Christianity vs. Scientology: Comparison to learn more.

World Map
Why is it important to understand the location of religions? See below

The Central Locations of Major Religions

Studying the locations of world religions unlocks a geographical understanding of faith. See how beliefs have spread, mingled, or remained rooted in specific regions.

Tribal Religions
Mainly practiced in sub-Saharan Africa, differing by region/tribe.
AsatruPredominantly in Scandinavia, USA, UK, and other Northern European countries.
BahaiDistributed worldwide, significant communities in India, Iran, and USA.
Buddhism, MahayanaPredominant in East Asia – China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.
Buddhism, TheravadaProminent in Southeast Asia – Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia.
Chinese ReligionPracticed largely in China, Taiwan, and Chinese diaspora globally.
ConfucianismCentral in East Asian societies, especially China, Korea, Japan.
Christianity, CatholicStrong presence globally, especially in Europe, Latin America, and Africa.
Christianity, ProtestantPredominant in North America, Northern Europe, and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Christianity, OrthodoxPrimarily in Eastern Europe, Russia, and the Middle East.

Also, see Christianity vs. Bahai: Comparison to learn more.

HinduismMostly in India and Nepal, large diaspora worldwide.
Islam, ShiaConcentrated in Iran, Iraq, Yemen, and parts of South Asia.
Islam, SunniMost prevalent globally, particularly in Middle East, Africa, and Indonesia.
Jehovah’s WitnessGlobal presence, most significant in USA, Mexico, and Brazil.
JudaismPrimarily in Israel and USA, sizable populations in France and Canada.
MormonismPredominantly in the USA, especially Utah, with international growth.
New AgeDiffuse globally, often individual practices, prevalent in Western countries.
RastafariPredominantly in Jamaica, with smaller populations worldwide.
ScientologyNotably in USA, but claims members in many countries.
SikhismPrimarily in Punjab, India, with significant diaspora worldwide.
ShintoPracticed mainly in Japan, with small groups internationally.
TaoismPredominantly in China, Taiwan, and among Chinese communities globally.
Largely in North America and Western Europe, particularly USA.
Primarily in English-speaking countries, especially USA, UK, and Australia.
ZoroastrianismMainly in India (Parsis) and Iran, with global diaspora.

Also, see Christianity vs. Satanism: Comparison to learn more.

religious texts
Why is it important to understand the sacred texts of religions? See below

Comparing the Sacred Texts of World Religions

Exploring the sacred texts of world religions unveils the profound wisdom, stories, and teachings that have guided generations.

These writings are the heart of many faiths, offering insights into ethics, philosophy, and the human condition.

ReligionSacred Texts
Tribal Religions
Oral traditions and symbols vary widely among different tribes.
Asatru“Eddas” and “Sagas” are key texts, preserving Norse myths and poems.
BahaiWritings of Bahá’u’lláh, notably the “Kitáb-i-Aqdas.”
Buddhism, MahayanaVarious Sutras, like the “Lotus Sutra.”
Buddhism, Theravada“Pali Canon,” foundational Theravadin text.
Chinese ReligionIncludes “I Ching,” “Tao Te Ching,” and Confucian texts.
Confucianism“Five Classics” and “Four Books” central to thought.
Christianity, CatholicThe Bible, including Old and New Testaments and Deuterocanonical books.
Christianity, ProtestantThe Bible, Old and New Testaments.
Christianity, OrthodoxThe Bible, including additional Old Testament texts.

Also, see Christianity vs. Mormonism: Comparison to learn more.

Hinduism“Vedas,” “Upanishads,” “Bhagavad Gita,” and other scriptures.
Islam, ShiaThe Quran and Hadith, with emphasis on the Imams’ teachings.
Islam, SunniThe Quran and Hadith, focusing on the Prophet’s practices.
Jehovah’s WitnessTheir own translation of the Bible called the “New World Translation.”
JudaismThe “Tanakh,” “Talmud,” and various rabbinical commentaries.
Mormonism“The Book of Mormon,” “Doctrine and Covenants,” and “Pearl of Great Price.”
New AgeNo specific text; draws from various spiritual and philosophical sources.
RastafariThe Bible, especially the King James Version, with unique interpretations.
Scientology“Dianetics” by L. Ron Hubbard, along with his other writings.
SikhismThe “Guru Granth Sahib,” central scripture of Sikhism.
Shinto“Kojiki” and “Nihon Shoki,” ancient texts recording Japanese myths.
Taoism“Tao Te Ching” and other texts focusing on Taoist philosophy.
Draws inspiration from various religious and secular texts.
“Book of Shadows,” containing rituals and lore, often personalized.
Zoroastrianism“Avesta,” including “Gathas,” ancient hymns attributed to Zoroaster.

Also, see Christianity vs. Jehovah’s Witnesses: Comparison to learn more.

[1] Wikipedia – Religion
[2] Britannica – Religion
[3] Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy – Religion
Also see: Religion Statistics by Country

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see his About page for details.

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