Firstly, it is important to note that religions spread out from a source just like
infections.Therefore, the older ones have had time to spread further. Unsurprisingly,many religions started where civilisation began - the Middle East. Your parents signed
you up to the local religion at birth and there were lots of pressures to keep you
loyal, such as forbidding you to marry outside the faith (Jewish daughters who do
this are ‘mourned’ as ‘dead’) and a death sentence if you quit. So which religion
you belonged to was a geographical accident of birth. The local commonality of religions
was very significant when mankind had a restricted range - no transport except their
own legs (or for the rich, animal legs) but since the Jumbo jet has brought long
journeys into the economic reach of millions, we have become more mixed up.
Christianity is the second oldest (2 millennia) of
the major religions and the largest. Starting in the
Middle East, it spread along the Northern coast of the
Mediterranean and thence to Northern Europe and
the Americas. It has split into many factions - at least
At first, the Roman Emperors put to death the early Christians, preferring their
pagan gods, then Constantine adopted it as the state religion thereby starting Roman
Catholicism. Looking after ‘spiritual’ needs made the Empire a sort of early welfare
state and helped to keep the population subjugated.
Anglicanism was originated by King Henry VIII;
he wanted to change his wife and the Pope wouldn’t
agree so he simply took over the church in England,
declaring himself its head. He persuaded many
clergy to accept his lead by giving them permission
to marry, unlike RC priests, but he had to execute
those who wouldn’t comply. Later, ‘Bloody’ Queen
Mary tried to re-impose Roman Catholicism and 280 disagreeable Anglican clergy had
to be burned! Wikipedia
Moral: Before you die for a cause, check the evidence for it!
Islam is the junior brother of the Abrahamic religions being formed only in the early
7th century. Again originating in the Middle East, it has spread in a more easterly
and southerly direction than Christianity. The regime is more strict than Christianity,
requiring several acts of devotion every day.
Hinduism arose in India between the 1st and 3rd centuries. It is a polytheist religion
with gods and mother goddesses representing moral concepts and natural things - weather,
fire, dawn, waters, etc. Expansion was towards Burma and Indonesia. There are many
Judaism, at around 4000 years, is the oldest of the major religions. It exists in
pockets all over the world because, from early days, its people have been stateless.
Resourceful Jews have set themselves up in businesses everywhere. Wikipedia
“There are four major religions on this planet; that means three of them must be
wrong. Imagine arriving at the Pearly Gates and being told you’d backed the wrong
one; you’d be gutted wouldn’t you!”
Comedian Andy Parsons
The one pictured is a velvet bag so no sound is heard when mere coins are dropped
- the soul of discretion!
Religions need funding just like any other organisation - there are staff to pay
and buildings to maintain. They don’t manufacture any products to sell and often
make no charges for their ‘services’.
Some religions ‘tithe’* members. Sometimes the government helps out - the Roman Emperors
made grants to their state adopted religion (to keep them under), but donations from
the congregation are a major source of income. ‘Offertory plate’ is a euphemism for
Could you live off donations from followers who are mostly poorer than you?