Classification of religions

From Wikinfo
Jump to: navigation, search

Search for "Classification_of_religions" on Wikipedia  • Wikimedia Commons • Wiktionary • Wikiquote • Wikibooks • MediaWiki  • Wikia • Wikitravel • Google • Amazon • Recent NY Times

For criticism see Criticism of Classification of religions

Religions have been classified in a variety of ways.


Normative classifications are those developed within particular religious traditions, which tend to classify other religions by how far they agree or disagree with the classifying tradition.


These classifications classify religions by where they are found, or where they originated, or a mixture of the two.


These systems classify religions by the racial and/or linguistic groups in which they evolved. For example, Duren Ward's 1909 classification:

  1. Oceanian
  2. African
  3. American (Indian)
  4. Mongolian
  5. Mediterranean
    • Semitic
    • Aryan


Pfeiderer classified religions by the balance between dependence and freedom (listing from the most dependence-emphasizing):

  • ancient Semites, Egyptians, Chinese
  • Brahminism and Buddhism
  • Islam
  • Christianity
  • Judaism
  • Zoroastrianism
  • Indians, Germans, Greeks, Romans

He regarded Christianity as the most balanced.


A major classification of this type is that into ethnic religions and universal religions. Sometimes a third group is added, called segmental religions.

  1. ethnic religions: Hinduism, Judaism, Shinto, tribal religions, etc.
  2. universal religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Islam
  3. segmental religions: Sikhism, Jainism, Cao Dai

A classification that works out about the same as some versions of this is into religions founded by particular individuals at particular points of time and those that simply evolved.

Also in this category is Tielen's classification:

  • nature religions
  • ethical religions


A major example of this is van der Leeuw's classification:

  1. religions of remoteness and flight: Confucianism and Deism
  2. religions of style: Zoroastrianism
  3. religions of strain and form: Greek
  4. religions of infinity and asceticism
  5. religions of nothingness and compassion: Buddhism
  6. will and obedience: Judaism
  7. religions of majesty and humility: Islam
  8. religions of love: Christianity


Wikipedia ([1]) has the following classification:

  1. Abrahamic religions
    1. Bábism
    2. Bahá'í Faith
    3. Christianity
      1. Catholicism
      2. Protestantism
      3. Restorationism
    4. Gnosticism
    5. Islam
    6. Judaism
    7. Rastafari movement
    8. Mandaeans and Sabians
    9. Samaritanism
    10. Unitarian Universalism
  2. Indian religions
    1. Hinduism
    2. Buddhism
    3. Jainism
    4. Sikhism
    5. Ayyavazhi
    6. Din-i-Ilahi
  3. Persian religions
  4. East Asian religions
    1. Confucianism
    2. Shinto
    3. Taoism
    4. Other
  5. African diasporic religions
  6. Indigenous traditional religions
    1. African
    2. American
    3. Eurasian
    4. Oceania/Pacific
      1. Cargo cults
  7. Historical polytheism
    1. Ancient Near Eastern
    2. Indo-European
    3. Hellenistic
  8. Neopaganism
  9. New Age, Esotericism, Mysticism
    1. Left-Hand Path
    2. Magic
    3. Magick (Aleister Crowley)
  10. European religions
    1. New Age
  11. New religious movements
    1. Jediism
    2. Shinshukyo
  12. Fictional religions
  13. Parody or mock religions
  14. Others