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11 Facts About World Religions

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  1. While Wicca might seem like an ancient religion -- and has roots in European fertility cults -- it actually wasn't introduced until the 1950’s.^[Zimmermann, Denise and Katherine A. Gleason. “The Complete Idiot's guide to Wicca and Witchcraft.” Third Edition. New York: Penguin Group, 2006.]
  2. In Buddhism, Nirvana isn't a place reached through death but is instead a state achieved through enlightenment, which can sometimes take multiple reincarnations.^[Matthews, Warren. "World Religions." 7th Edition. Belmont: Cengage Learning, 2012. Print.]
  3. In Catholicism there are patron saints for nearly everything including beekeepers (Saint Ambrose), headaches (Saint Bibiana), and coffee (Saint Drogo).^[Quintana, Pablo R. "The Comprehensive Dictionary of Patron Saints." Bloomington: iUniverse, 2014. Print.]
  4. For Hanukkah, menorahs burn through 44 candles -- adding one candle each of the 8 nights, plus the "shamash," a candle used to light the others each night.^[Lehman-Wilzig, Tami. "Hanukkah Around the World." Minneapolis: Kar-Ben, 2009. Print.]
  5. The three "main" gods (aka the "trimurti" or "three forms") worshiped by Hindus are Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer. There are also many more gods and goddesses ("devas" and "devis") that are also acknowledged.^[Penney, Sue. "World beliefs and cultures - Hinduism." Chicago: Heinemann-Raintree Library, 2008.]
  6. Converting to Islam requires three main things: a formal statement of faith (shahadah) in front of one to three witnesses; proclaiming there is only one God, that Muhammad is God's prophet; and converting freely, not by force.^[Laderman, Gary and Luis D. Leon. "Religion and American Cultures: An Encyclopedia of Traditions, Diversity, and Popular Expressions." Volume 1. ABC-CLIO, 2003.]
  7. Mormons aren't allowed to drink tea, coffee, or alcohol (but soda’s okay!).^[McDannell, Colleen. "Religions of the United States in Practice." Volume 2. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001. Print.]
  8. Some faiths require believers to refuse medical treatment. For example, Jehovah’s Witnesses aren't allowed to receive blood transfusions, and Christian Scientists often refuse all traditional medical treatment.^[Hollins, Susan. "Religions, Culture and Healthcare: A Practical Handbook for Use in Healthcare Environments." Radcliffe Publishing, 2009.]
  9. Some religious denominations refuse modern technology; members of the Amish religion do without electricity or telephones.^[Kraybill, Donald B. and Marc Alan Olshan. "The Amish Struggle with Modernity." UPNE, 1994.]
  10. While the US has a separation of church and state, some countries are controlled by one religion, though a true modern theocracy is rare (Vatican City is an example).^[Fox, Jonathan. "Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion, and Politics." Cambridge Univeristy Press, 2008.]
  11. Christianity is currently the world's largest religion. Islam the second and Hinduism the third.^[Infoplease. "Top Ten Organized Religions of the World." The Top Ten. Accessed February 25, 2015. .]
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