11the geography of religionthe geography of religion2why 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.3religion and cultureReligion directly and indirectly affects many aspects of culture:Food and drinkHousing and architectureOccupations and economicsLaws, customs and politicsRelations between men and womenBirth and deathLand and landscape4food & drink: dry countiesThe relationship between Baptist/Methodist areas and “dry” counties (counties where alcohol sales are restricted or forbidden) is striking.5classifying religionsWe can classify religions based on several different geographic criteria:Who may become a member?oUniversalizing vs. Ethnic (and Tribal)What is the focus of worship or devotion?oMonotheism vs. Polytheism (and Animism)Where is the religion distributed?6universalizing vs. ethnicUniversalizing religions seek out new members – generally speaking, anybodycan become a member.Ethnic religions are usually the faiths of particular ethnic groups. Generally speaking, they don’t wantnew members (and sometimes they forbid it – no outsiders allowed).
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27monotheism vs. polytheismIn 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.”8distribution of world religionsNote that some religions (Islam, Christianity) are widely distributed, some (Hinduism) are not.9membership Membership figures for religions are veryunreliable –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:1/3are Christians.1/5are Moslems.1/6are Hindus.1/6have no religion.1/12are some other religion.1/20are Buddhists.10us membershipIn the US todayAbout 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-religion11taxonomy of religionTaxonomyis a method for classifying things into an ordered system of relationships.
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