Religious symbols in clock-wise order from top:
Heathenism (Germanic paganism)
Kemetism (Egyptian paganism)
Hellenism (Greek paganism)
While the word
religion is hard to define, one standard model of religion used in religious studies courses defines it as a
[...] system of symbols which acts to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic.
Many religions have
narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws, or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions, churches, denominations, religious bodies, faith groups, tribes, cultures, movements, ultimate concerns, which at some point in the future will be countless.
religion is sometimes used interchangeably with the words " faith" or "belief system", but religion differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect. Most religions have organized behaviours, including clerical hierarchies, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, congregations of laity, regular meetings or services for the purposes of veneration of a deity or for prayer, holy places (either natural or architectural) or religious texts. Certain religions also have a sacred language often used in liturgical services. The practice of a religion may also include sermons, commemoration of the activities of a God or gods, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, rituals, rites, ceremonies, worship, initiations, funerals, marriages, meditation, invocation, mediumship, music, art, dance, public service or other aspects of human culture. Religious beliefs have also been used to explain parapsychological phenomena such as out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences and reincarnation, along with many other paranormal and supernatural experiences. 
studying the subject have divided religions into three broad categories: world religions, a term which refers to transcultural, international faiths; indigenous religions, which refers to smaller, culture-specific or nation-specific religious groups; and new religious movements, which refers to recently developed faiths. One modern academic theory of religion,  social constructionism, says that religion is a modern concept that suggests all spiritual practice and worship follows a model similar to the Abrahamic religions as an orientation system that helps to interpret reality and define human beings, and thus believes that religion, as a concept, has been  applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures that are not based upon such systems, or in which these systems are a substantially simpler construct.
East Asian religions
Religions that originated in
East Asia, also known as Taoic religions; namely Taoism, Confucianism, Shenism and Shintoism, and religions and traditions related to, and descended from them.
Confucian philosophy schools
The three main religions that originated in the
Indian subcontinent; namely Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism and religions and traditions related to, and descended from them.
Hindu philosophy schools
Neo Vedanta Movements
Middle Eastern religions
Religions that originated in the
Middle East; namely Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and religions and traditions related to, and descended from them.
Certain Christian groups are difficult to classify as "Eastern" or "Western." Many Gnostic groups were closely related to early Christianity, for example,
Valentinism. Irenaeus wrote polemics against them from the standpoint of the then-unified Catholic Church.
Indigenous (ethnic, folk) religions
Religions that consist of the traditional customs and beliefs of particular ethnic groups, refined and expanded upon for thousands of years, often lacking formal doctrine.
Note: Some adherents do not consider their ways to be "religion," preferring other cultural terms.
Tai and Miao
New religious movements
Religions that cannot be classed as either
world religions or traditional folk religions, and are usually recent in their inception.
New ethnic religions
Black Hebrew Israelites
New Hindu derived religions
Japanese new religions
New Age Movement
Parody religions and fiction-based religions
Post-theistic and naturalistic religions
^ (Clifford Geertz,
Religion as a Cultural System, 1973)
"World Religions Religion Statistics Geography Church Statistics" . Retrieved 2015.
"Key Facts about Near-Death Experiences" . Retrieved 2015.
^ Harvey, Graham (2000).
Indigenous Religions: A Companion. (Ed: Graham Harvey). London and New York: Cassell. Page 06.
^ Vergote, Antoine,
Religion, belief and unbelief: a psychological study, Leuven University Press, 1997, p. 89
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