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                          Key Issues
1.   Where are religions distributed?
2.   Why do religions have different distributions?
3.   Why do religions organize space in distinctive patterns?
4.   Why do territorial conflicts arise among religious groups?
• “There has been more evil done in the
  name of god then ever good”- Coach Mike
  Blackman; Baptist Preacher
   The Roots of Religion
Animism (Shamanism) - the belief that all
objects, animals, and beings are “animated” or
possess a spirit and a conscious life. Also
                                                 Nigerian Shaman
called shamanism because of the prominence
of a Shaman.
• Such beliefs are common among hunter-
gatherers. These were the first people
• 10% of Africans follow such traditional
ethnic religions.
• These beliefs are losing ground to
Christianity and Islam throughout Africa.
    Key Issue 1: Where are religions
• There are 2 types of religions:
  – Universalizing- religions that attempt to be global
    and appeal to all people.
     • The 3 main universalizing religions are:
     • The other two main universalizing religions other than
       the above three are:
        – Sikhism 24 million followers, 21 of which are clustered in the
          Punjab region of India.
        – Bahá’í 7 million followers dispersed across the globe.
• CHRISTIANITY- 2 billion followers in N. and S.
  America, Europe, Australia, and some Asian and
  African countries.
     •   50% Roman Catholic,
     •   25% Protestant,
     •   10% Eastern Orthodox
     •   15% miscellaneous.
  – About 90% of the Western Hemisphere is Christian.
  – 95% Roman Catholic in Latin American
  – 50% Protestant in the U.S.
• 2 billion adherents make   Christianity
it most practiced in the
•Originated in Bethlehem
(8-4 BC) and Jerusalem
(AD 30) with Jesus Christ.
• Spread by missionaries
and the Roman Empire
(Constantine A.D. 313).
(Apostle Paul)
Christianity in the U.S.
• ISLAM- 1.3 billion followers in Middle East,
  Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh.
   – Core of beliefs is based on the 5 pillars of faith:
      • There is no god worthy of worship other than the one God, and
        Muhammad is the messenger of God.
      • A Muslim must pray 5 times daily facing the city of Mecca.
      • A Muslim gives generously to charity, as an act of purification and
      • A Muslim fasts during the month of Ramadan, as an act of self-
      • If physically and financially able, a Muslim makes a pilgrimage to
   – The two main branches of Islam are Sunni (83%) and
     Shiite (16%).
• 1 billion + adherents
• Originated in Saudi
Arabia (Mecca and
Medina) around AD
• Spread originally by
Muslim armies to N.
Africa, and the Near
• Sunni (83%) -
throughout the Muslim
• Shiite - Iran (40%),
Pakistan (15%), Iraq
Prophet: Muhammad

Holy Text: Koran

                            Reading the Koran,

            Islamic Calender
            •Begins in AD 622 when Muhammad was
            commanded to Mecca from Medina (Hijra).
            •Lunar calendar makes Ramadan move
            through the seasons (30 year cycle - 19 years
            with 354 days and 11 with 355).
The 14x46 displays are located on I-26 at
mile-marker 125 and US 301N in
• BUDDHISM- 365 million followers in China and S.E.
  Asia mainly.
  – Based on the 4 Noble Truths:
     • All living beings must endure suffering.
     • Suffering, which is caused by a desire to live, leads to reincarnation.
     • The goal of all existence is to escape from suffering and the endless
       cycle of reincarnation into Nirvana (a state of complete redemption),
       which is achieved through mental and moral self-purification.
     • Nirvana is attained through an Eightfold Path that stresses rightness
       of belief, resolve, speech, action, livelihood, effort, thought, and
  – The branches of Buddhism are Mahayana (56%), Theravada
    (38%), and Tantrayana (6%).
• 300 million + adherents primarily
in China and S.E. Asia
• Originated near modern Nepal
around 530 BC by prince
Siddhartha Guatama.
    •Cool story on how this
• Spread originally in India and Sri
Lanka by Magadhan Empire (250
    •Widely accepted because of
    the Caste System practiced in
• Indian traders brought it to China
in 1st century AD.
• By 6th century it had lost its hold
on India, but was now in Korea and
Karma - your past bad or good
actions determine your progress
toward Nirvana through
reincarnation. You are your own
  Theravada - the older, more
  severe form which requires the
  renouncing of all worldly goods
  and desires.
         Buddha is a teacher
  Mahayana - focuses on
  Buddha’s teachings and
         Buddha is a god
• The second type religion
  – Ethnic- religion that primarily appeals to one
    group of people living in one place. More closely
    tied to the physical geography of a particular
    region, especially with agriculture.
•ANIMISM- traditional African religions that focus on the
animate qualities of normally considered inanimate objects, like
stones, water, etc.
• Animism is a sort of all-encompassing term rather than a
specific religion

 Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread
 within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All
 things are bound together. All things connect.
 ~ Chief Seattle

                                            Bear Dance
•HINDU- the world’s 3rd largest
religion with 820 million
adherents. 97% live in India

• 900 million + adherents, primarily in India (4th largest)
• Hinduism is an ancient term for the complex and diverse
set of religious beliefs practiced around the Indus River.
• The four sacred texts are ancient
hymns called the Vedas, but few
Hindus historically could read.
• Coastlines and river banks most
sacred sites.
• Many, many festivals, often
surrounding harvest or spring or
the birth of Gods.
Ganges River, Varanasi, India
 Brahman                      In the Hindu religion, Brahman is the
                              eternal, unchanging, infinite, immanent, and
• Brahman is the divine
                              transcendent reality which is the Divine
creator but is
manifested in literally       Ground of all matter, energy, time, space,
hundreds of gods, of          and being.
which Brahma, Shiva,
and Vishnu are most
common.                   The first principle of Indian thought, therefore, is that the
                          ultimate reality is beyond description. It is something that
                          can be experienced only by bringing the mind to a stop;
                          and once experienced, it cannot be described to anyone in
                          terms of the forms of this world.                           -
                          Joseph Campbell

 Another important concept is that Hinduism believes in the omnipresence of
 the Supreme God in every individual. There is no "fall." Man is not cut off
 from the divine. He requires only to bring the spontaneous activity of his
 mind to a state of stillness and he will experience that divine principle within
 him.                                           - Joseph Campbell
Hindu Beliefs and Practice
Reincarnation – the soul is immortal but the body endlessly
cycles to higher or lower levels of existence.
Yoga – the practices or tools used to break from habits of past
lives. Includes various meditations and physical practices.

 The Purusharthas or The Four Aims of
    Human Life:
 1. Dharma (righteousness)
 2. Artha (wealth)
 3. Kama (desire)
 4. Moksha (salvation or liberation) –
    release from the endless cycles.
The Trinity of Brahman
               Brahma (The Creator)
               -    depicted with four
                    faces each continually
                    reciting one of the
                    Vedas. The force of
                    creation and birth.
               Shiva (The Destroyer)
               -      Shakti or power; the
                     dissolving force in life;
                     centrifugal force;
A hint of            entropy.
How does
               Vishnu (The Preserver)
stack up?
               -     peace; balance;
                     Sustainer of life.
• JUDAISM- 6 million followers in U.S., 4
  million in Israel, 2 million in Russia, 2
  million elsewhere. First religion to support
  monotheism- the belief in only 1 god, as
  opposed to polytheism- the belief in many
• 14 million adherents

• Monotheistic

• Pentateuch
    – First five books of the Old Testament
• Sects
    – Orthodox, Conservative, Reform
• Israel
    – Homeland for Jewish people
    – Created 1948
    – Conflict between Israel and Palestine
        The Geography of Religion

* Ethnic Religions versus Universalizing Religions (proselytic)
* Polytheism versus Monotheism
                                                   Other Religions
                                               •   Eastern Religions
                                                    – Confucianism (China)
                                                    – Taoism (China)
                                                    – Shinto (Japan)
                                               •   CONFUCIANISM- mainly in China,
                                                   stresses ethical lifestyles; More of a
                                                   philosophy then a religion

                                               •   TAOISM- mainly in China also,
                                                   followers seek the dao (tao) meaning the
                                                   way or path.

                                               •   SHINTO- mainly in Japan, before WWII
                                                   was the state religion and emperor was
                                                   regarded as divine.

14th Century Chinese painting depicting Lao-
tze and Confucius protecting Sakayumi, the
future Buddha.
• Branch- a large fundamental division within a
• Denomination- a division of a branch that
  unites a number of local congregations in a
  single legal and administrative body.
• Sect- a relatively small group that has broken
  away from an established denomination.
• Pilgrimage- a sacred religious journey.
        How do Universalizing and
         Ethnic Religions Differ?
        Universalizing                          Ethnic
•Appeal to people everywhere     •Has meaning in particular place
•Individual founder (prophet)
                                 •Unknown source.
•Message diffused widely
(missionaries)                   •Content focused on place and
                                 landscape of origin.
•Followers distributed widely.
                                 •Followers highly clustered.
•Holidays based on events in
founder’s life.                  •Holidays based on local climate and
                                 agricultural practice.
• Which type religion   • Give three examples
  has more bearing on     of positive
  the global              influences and three
  landscape?              negative
• How does ethnic       • How is this either
  religions try and       unsuccessful or
  hold their identity     successful in today’s
    Key Issue 2: Why do religions have
          different distributions?
• As a general rule, universalizing religions have origins based
  on a specific individual’s life in the past, ethnic religions
  typically have either no origin or an unclear one at best.
• Some religious origins:
    – Christianity- based on the life of Jesus
    – Islam-trace lineage back through Abraham’s other son Ishmael; based
      on the life of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam.
    – Buddhism- based on the life of Siddhartha Gautama, who later became
      Buddha (the enlightened one)
    – Sikhism- founded by Guru Nanak about 500 years ago.
•     Hindu- did not originate with a specific founder. Beginnings
    of Hindu date back to before recorded history. It is the oldest
    living religion
• Missionaries- individuals who help to transmit a
  universalizing religion through relocation diffusion.
• Pagan- followers of polytheistic religions in ancient
• Ghetto- city slum designated for Jew habitation.
• Cosmogony- creation story.
• Solstice- day when sun is at highest or lowest point in
  the sky.
• Diffusion of Religions
    – Christianity spread mainly through the work of missionaries, and also by some
      conquest and colonization.
    – Islam spread mainly through conquest.
    – Buddhism spread mainly through missionaries and trade merchants.
• Buddhism and Islam are the universalizing religions that place the most
  emphasis on identifying shrines/holy places.
    – In universalizing religions, the holy places are generally locations at which
      memorable events happened in the founder’s life
         • Mecca is in Islam because it is Muhammad’s birthplace.
• Holy places in ethnic religions are often physical features that are closely
  tied to the religion.
    – Hindu one of the most important rituals is the bathing of oneself in the Ganges
Diffusion of Christianity
                  Diffusion of Islam

Islam is considered the fastest growing religion in America. Only a small
part of this growth is from black Muslims and the Nation of Islam.
Diffusion of Buddhism
• Ethnic religions rarely diffuse, and when they do, it is
  to a small extent.
• universalizing religions diffuse mainly at the expense
  of the smaller ethnic religions, and often a semi-
  hybrid religion will result with concepts from both
  the ethnic religion and the universalizing religion
   – Judaism is an exception in that it has diffused widely
     throughout the years, mainly because its people have had to
     flee persecution from many areas in the world.
• Cosmogony and calendars also differ betwixt
  universalizing religions and ethnic religions.
   – Ethnic religious creation stories tend to deal with the
     physical environment and natural events
   – Ethnic religions typically organize their calendars around
     the seasons, other natural events, or the physical

   – universalizing religion stories often attempt to explain the
   – Universalizing religions’ main purpose in calendars is to
     commemorate events in the founder’s life, thus the seasons
     or weather are not central to the structure.
Syncretism - the mixing of two or
more religions that creates unique
rituals, artwork, and beliefs.
 Examples include syncretism of
Christianity and indigenous beliefs in
the Americas, Africa, and Asia.               Voodoo Dolls, Haiti

• Caribbean Voodoo (Haiti, Louisiana)
• Christianity in Indigenous Latin

                                         Shrine, Bangalore, India
Syncretism - the mixing of two or
more religions that creates unique
rituals, artwork, and beliefs.
   Key Issue 3: Why do religions organize
        space in distinctive patterns?
• The distribution of religious elements on the landscape reflects the
  importance of religion in people’s values.
    – In Christianity, the landscape is dominated by a high density of churches. They
      are critical because of the emphasis placed on regularly attending worship.
    – In Islam, mosques are the places for general assembly. They are not viewed as
      a sanctified place but rather a convening point for the community. A mosque
      normally has a central courtyard surrounded by classrooms.
    – In Hinduism, temples are built within the home or individual community. They
      have a central room to house a spirit, with rooms for rituals, and outer purifying
      pools. In both Buddhism and Shinto, pagodas are the common architecture.
      They are typically built to enshrine sacred religious artifacts.
    – In Bahá’í, the church officials decided to open seven Houses of Worship on
      multiple continents to stress the universality of their religion.
         Religion and Environment
• Burial practices
   – Judeo-Christians bury.
   – Hindus and Buddhists

• Relationship with
   – Sacred Spaces
   – Sacred architecture
   – Role of religion in
     domination of earth?
• The disposing of the dead differs from religion to religion. Some prefer to
  bury while others choose to cremate.
• Religion often influences the place-names of certain regions.
    – Ex. The vast amount of places named for saints in predominantly Roman
      Catholic Quebec.
• Hierarchical religion- well-defined geographic structure with a high degree
  of organization.
        Ex. The Roman Catholic Church
         • Diocese- the basic geographic unit of the R.C.C.
• Autonomous religions- self-sufficient religions with little organization.
      Ex. Islam prefers to unify by faith rather than specific

• Most ethnic religions are autonomous. Protestant faiths vary.
  Key Issue 4: Why do territorial conflicts
      arise among religious groups?
• Fundamentalism- the literal interpretation and strict intense
  adherence to one’s religious principles.
   – Fundamentalists try to return society to its religious ways. The most
     obvious example is the Taliban in Afghanistan.
• Caste- the class or distinct hereditary order into which a Hindu
  was assigned according to religious law.
• Religion is nearly always suppressed in communist countries.
   – Leaders believe that religion has a tendency to upset stability and
     therefore ban it altogether, though often they just concrete the people’s
     religious adherence instead of destroying it.
• Other times, when people of different religions live in close
  proximity to one another, engage in contact often, or share
  interests in a particular location, especially violent interaction
  will occur.
   – Ex. The Middle East. Jews, Christians, and Muslims have fought for
     over 2,000 years to control the same small strip of land in the East
   – Historically the Crusades between Christians and Muslims played out
     as each fought to control the Holy Lands.
   – Hostilities continue in the modern era over these same lands.
         Social Impact of Religion
• Gender roles
   – Women’s
     rights          World Distribution of Hogs
• Diet
   – Vegetarian
   – Pork, beef
   – Alcohol
• Ethics and
• Schools and
• Banking and lending
                               Economic Impact
  - Biblical prohibition against usury (lending at interest). Still
  followed in Muslim world (only fees are charged).

• Protestantism and capitalism
  – Max Weber and the Protestant Ethic; argues that
  individualism of Protestantism leads to acquisitiveness.

• Catholic Church and capitalism
  – Pope John Paul II praised free markets but with the
  caution that they cannot meet all needs and salaries must
  be “just.”

• Confucianism versus individualism
  - Confucius elevated the status of noble bureaucrats and
  commitment to societal good. This allows Asian nations to
  attract top talent to government jobs. Also, diligence with
  regard to savings and spending may be a consequence of
  Confucian ideas.
• The controversy in Ireland occurred when predominantly
  Catholic South Ireland wished to secede from predominantly
  Protestant Great Britain.
   – However, the northernmost six counties of Ireland are overwhelmingly
     Protestant and wished to remain part of the U.K.
   – When the split occurred a small number of Roman Catholics in both N.
     Ireland and the Republic of Ireland joined the Irish Republican Army
     (IRA), a militant organization devoted to achieving Irish unity by
     whatever means necessary.
   – A Protestant organization has formed in return.
       •  Violence continues as extremists from both sides disrupt the lives of
         peaceful civilians.
       • “Bloody Sunday” – U2
Secularization - a process that is Fundamentalism - a process that
leading to increasingly large groups is leading to increasingly large
of people who claim no allegiance groups of people who claim there is
to any church.                       only one way to interpret worship.
Some of these people are atheists.       Fundamentalists generally envision
Others simply do not practice. Still    a return to a more perfect religion
others call themselves spiritual, but   and ethics they imagine existed in
not religious.                          the past.
•Common in Europe and the cities        •Common in the U.S. and in some
of the U.S.                             Islamic nations.
•Common in former Soviet Union
and China.
                  Religious Conflict
The Big Question: Can secular society exist alongside
traditional and fundamentalist religious sects and states?
• We are quick to notice fundamentalism abroad (i.e. Salman Rushdie’s
death sentence by Shia clerics) and not so quick to recognize it at
home (abortion clinic bombings; Southern Baptist Convention’s calls
for women to submit to their husbands’ authority).
• American evangelical Christianity and Islamic fundamentalism are
the two most influential fundamentalist movements in the world.
• Fewer and fewer states are governed by an official church.
• Rubenstein, James- Cultural Landscape;
  An Introduction to Human Geography
• http://www.glendale.edu/geo/reed/cult
• http://www.quia.com/pages/mrsbellaph
• Google

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