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06_relig - 1 2 why study religion Geographers study...

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1 1 the geography of religion the geography of religion 2 why study religion? Geographers study religion because it is an essential part of how people live and interact with each other and with their environment. Religion has several geographic aspects: Religion is fundamental to many cultures. Religions vary in their distributions: some are widespread; others are very limited in distribution. Religions are important in the organization of space. Most religions require active participation or loyalty; adopting one religion usually means giving up all others. Religions may spread by both relocation and expansion diffusion. 3 religion and culture Religion directly and indirectly affects many aspects of culture: Food and drink Housing and architecture Occupations and economics Laws, customs and politics Relations between men and women Birth and death Land and landscape 4 food & drink: dry counties The relationship between Baptist/Methodist areas and “dry” counties (counties where alcohol sales are restricted or forbidden) is striking. 5 classifying religions We can classify religions based on several different geographic criteria: Who may become a member? o Universalizing vs. Ethnic (and Tribal) What is the focus of worship or devotion? o Monotheism vs. Polytheism (and Animism) Where is the religion distributed? 6 universalizing vs. ethnic Universalizing religions seek out new members – generally speaking, anybody can become a member. Ethnic religions are usually the faiths of particular ethnic groups. Generally speaking, they don’t want new members (and sometimes they forbid it – no outsiders allowed).
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2 7 monotheism vs. polytheism In a monotheistic religion there is only one God. In a polytheistic religion there can be many Gods. In animism there may or may not be “gods” as such; the whole world is “animated.” 8 distribution of world religions Note that some religions (Islam, Christianity) are widely distributed, some (Hinduism) are not. 9 membership Membership figures for religions are very unreliable – but it’s usually assumed that out of the world’s population of 6 billion there are about : 2 billion Christians. 1½ billion Moslems. 1 billion Hindus. 1 / 3 billion Buddhists. ½ billion members of other religions. Plus about 1 billion who have no religious beliefs. To put it another way, out of all the world’s people, roughly: 1 / 3 are Christians. 1 / 5 are Moslems. 1 / 6 are Hindus. 1 / 6 have no religion. 1 / 12 are some other religion. 1 / 20 are Buddhists. 10 us membership In the US today About 80% of the population are Christians. About 5% belong to other major world religions. About 16% are “unaffiliated.” Source: http://pewresearch.org/pubs/743/united-states-religion 11 taxonomy of religion Taxonomy is a method for classifying things into an ordered system of relationships.
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