Religions

This is a BIG subject, which I will be addressing over a couple of weeks, with the direct support of Lena Winfrey Seder and perhaps you. Yes, I’m asking for your opinions and insights, you can leave a comment here (if you request I will not publish your comment or your name).

The subject I want to address is religion in general, and the similarities in teachings and structures, as well as the differences.

I do not believe that we all worship the same God. By that, I mean that our reasons for seeking God may be the same, but what we choose to believe defines God can be exceptionally different. What we believe God wants from us, and how we should praise God, are often diametrically opposed to other people who profess a belief in God. Almost everyone agrees that “God is Love”, but love means different things to different people, and is expressed in different ways.

I will start by saying that I was raised Christian, subset Baptist, subset Southern Baptist. I had the great fortune to have a minister who was an intellectual scholar of the Bible, and who inspired the members of his church to thoroughly understand scripture. Not by telling us his interpretation, but by laying out several interpretations, comparing them and expressing his own views and biases, and encouraging us to interpret for ourselves. Thank you Dr. Colton. As a result of Dr. Colton’s teachings, I investigated several other religions in my youth, various branches of Christianity, Eastern religions, and pagan practices. In the end I found that I eschew organized religion, which typically follows a charismatic local individual. I follow the teachings of Christ in an “organic” manner, and to provide a label for those that wish to categorize me, I refer to myself as a Zen Baptist.

This chart reflects the relative sizes of world religions. I was rather surprised by many factors, I suspect that Communism in China has skewed the numbers for Taoism and “Chinese cultural religions”, but these numbers are representative of several sources.

rel_pie

Relative memberships of world religions

You can see that “Christian” is the largest group, and within that group are some exceptionally diverse denominations.

Denominations within category "Christians"

Denominations within category “Christians”

There are many people, including myself, who don’t consider Catholics to be “Christians”. “What?” you ask, “How could the Catholic Church, founded by Christ and led by the apostle Peter not be Christian?”. There are several reasons, I will point out just a few here. Christ said in Peter’s presence, “Call no man Father“, then the Catholic church decided to call it’s priests “father”. Christ taught that the individual’s relationship with God is one on one, yet the Catholic church requires confession to a priest, who has the power to absolve your sins. Christ denied any importance to his mother, yet the Catholic church reveres her as a saint. This does not sound like the doctrine of Christ.

This of course is my opinion, and will no doubt piss off many of my friends and relatives. My point is this, just because something is called “Christian”, doesn’t mean that it fits some universal definition of “Christian”. The members of the Westboro Baptist Church consider themselves Christians, but I’m pretty sure a website titled “GodHatesFags” is an indicator that they know little about Christ. Mormons have written their own version (not translation but different ideas) of the Bible, as have the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Following this line of discussion, just because an individual describes themselves as belonging to a certain denomination does not mean they fit the definition of a member of that church. This goes beyond little things. I met a girl at a dance, and we dated for several weeks before I met her father. He was the minister of a church that saw dancing as a sin. She had not told me this, so when he asked how we met…well that was the end of our relationship. Not to pick on Catholics, but they tend to stand out as the religion least likely to be adhered to. They have very strong doctrine about birth control, and many if not most Catholics ignore it while considering themselves “good Catholics”. I’ve known people who have totally removed themselves from the church and still consider themselves to be Catholic.

I am using Christianity in this article as an example, because at the root of all of this, Christians are just humans with a particular set of beliefs. There is nothing genetically or psychologically different from any other sample of humanity as a group. So when I hear people say “Christians are this” or “Religion is responsible for that” I feel the need to correct them. People do things, there are good people and bad people, and those people may belong to a religion, or they may not. Since thirty three percent of the world is Christian, it would seem natural to expect Christians to be responsible for about a third of the bad things out there. No religion is a monolith.

Religion in general, and any religion specifically, is not responsible for the actions of people who wave the flag of a religion. It has been my experience that those who justify their actions with religion are likely to have little to no understanding of the religion they’re talking about.

With Lena’s assistance I intend to look at the second largest religion, Islam, next week, and I would greatly appreciate the input of anyone who understands their own religion and can contrast the public impression of their religion for future articles.

Understanding our similarities helps us appreciate each other, understanding our differences helps us appreciate ourselves.

Chapter two of this series, “Islam” can be seen here.

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43 comments on “Religions

  1. Religion is a cognitive product of our evolution, and from its value in survival of the species, or rather sub-groups therein, its ‘truth’, in that regard, cannot be denied.

    The golden rule, do unto others as you would have done unto yourself is present in every religion I’m aware of, but rarely practiced when it applies to the members of others.

    Liked by 1 person

    • kblakecash says:

      “The golden rule, do unto others as you would have done unto yourself is present in every religion I’m aware of, but rarely practiced when it applies to the members of others.”

      You’ve obviously never seen the parking lot of Queen of the Universe after mass on Sunday.

      Like

  2. Tackling the simple subjects again KB, can’t wait to see the reaction to ‘Catholics aren’t Christian’, and the rest of your big assignment over the coming weeks. My religion is my own Consciousness, when I listen to it I have faith that everything is as it should be, at least in my part of the world. *sighs and starts singing* Imagine all the people…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Desert Rocks says:

    Catholic means Universal. Universal is a word implying and describing unity. To divide is easy because every human mind is different. This post seems rather divisive but I look forward to the next one. Blessings to you Kb.

    Liked by 1 person

    • kblakecash says:

      The intention is not divisive, but I agree that any portion of the series may be seen as divisive. Thank you for maintaining an open mind.

      Like

    • Roman Christianity is pretty strange, being used to justify the stalking of the revolutionary refugee Jews for 2000 years, especially in Europe.

      Liked by 1 person

      • kblakecash says:

        The overriding theme of this series is the use of organized religion to justify acts that are contrary to the teaching of the religion. When it comes to stalking Jews, the Roman Catholic church has no monopoly, nor is it the only religion to have taken on Islam or any other group that it sees as outsiders.

        It is the acts of those in power within a church, and not the church itself, in which the fault lies.

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      • marcusampe says:

        Where did you get the idea that especially in Europe, the part where I live in, Christians would have been stalking the Jews? In many countries they lived and live in unison. In Europe most of the Christians also know that Jesus was a Jew while in the United States of America lots of people deny that Jesus Christ was a Jew.

        Liked by 1 person

    • marcusampe says:

      As such we can find groups like catholic protestants or catholic reformed or even catholic or universal pentecostals.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Mari Collier says:

    I agree with many of your writings and basically what you have to say about beliefs. I happen to be Christian that belongs to a Lutheran Church. Like you, I had a pastor that was a scholar. He taught the Bible, Catechism classes, but mixed in the period history with it. He encouraged us to read the Bible and see if it agreed with what we were taught and if we felt our church was wrong to find another. I did search the scriptures and discovered that for me, no, there isn’t any other church that follows the teachings of Christ as closely as this one. It happens to be a Lutheran Church affiliated with the Missouri Synod. There are a couple of things I could quibble about, but as I said I’ve found none that follow Christ more closely. Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • marcusampe says:

      Dear Mari what about the One God? did you find the word Trinity in your Bible somewhere? did you find a place that God said He was coming down on earth and that He was Jesus or the other way round?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mari Collier says:

        I was not taught that the Bible used the word Trinity. It does have numerous references to the Spirit, the Father, and the Son; yet, it does teach that there is but one God. It does have the miraculous birth of Jesus in several places and is referred to by both John and Peter in their epistles. I never bothered to memorize chapter and verse. You are using the same question that was asked of Christ time after time. He most defining answer was: He who believes in me will be saved. I prefer not to challenge God on that point.

        Liked by 1 person

        • kblakecash says:

          Matthew 28:18~20 reads as follows:
          18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

          This, I believe, is evidence of a trinity.

          The way in which we worship this trinity, whether we see the three as aspects of God, or as three Gods, or as three beings worthy of equal or at least similar respect, are issues which I intend to address in the fifth article of this series.

          In the faith of Christianity, the question is if we see believing or not believing in a trinity as integral to following Christ, or if it is a construct to divide believers.

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          • Mari Collier says:

            It definitely divides some, but that will be God’s (the Trinity) judgement, not mine. To me, belief in the Trinity is integral. The pastor I mentioned encouraged us to read God’s Word and follow the religion we believe follows it most closely. That is what I have done. You, just quoted one of the verses that to me prove the Trinity I never argue with people that are adamant about their beliefs as it would be futile. I do not have a call from the Lord to do so. If they insist, I direct them to my pastor.

            Liked by 1 person

        • marcusampe says:

          In the Holy Scriptures we do find that Jesus was the son of man, the son of David, the son of Abraham, the son of Adam and the son of God. But nowhere you shall find that he is the god son. God can not bee seen by man or they would die. God can not be tempted nor sin.Jeshua or Jesus was seen by many, who did not die. Jesus also was tempted more than once. He could sin but did not. This was the whole issue in the Garden of Eden and the whole reason why we had to wait such a long time before the Messiah came unto earth and succeeded in his task.

          Jesus was lower than the angels though God is and always has been the Most High. God cannot die being an eternal Spirit, = having no beginning and no end. Jesus had a beginning, was born, had to learn (while God knows everything), did not know many things, even not when he would come back.

          Jesus never claimed to be God and said to the people that he could not do anything without his Father to whom he praid and we also should pray too.

          Jesus really died, though God cannot die, and was taken up by is Father from the dead after three days in hell (sheol = the grave). It was not on his own force Jesus was resurrected, but by the Power of God, by whom he was also placed in the womb of the virgin Mary (Miriam)

          Jesus was taken up in the heaven to become a high priest and mediator between God and men, sitting at the right hand of his Father and not taking the seat of God, to whom he shall hand over the Kingdom of God after some time.

          All these things which clearly indicate that Jesus (Jeshua) and God (Jehovah) are two differnet beings can clearly be found in the Holy Scriptures (= Old and New Testament).

          Look at some verses and compare the above said with your own Bible: John 5:19; 8:40-45; 14:28; 1Corinthian 11:3; 15:28; John 20:17; Hebrew 2:9,1417; Galatians 4:4; Luke 1:30-35; 3:21-23; Acts 10:38

          Liked by 1 person

          • kblakecash says:

            Marcus, again you speak to my thesis, interpretation. All of the scripture you mention can be interpreted as evidence for or against the trinity. The word “Trinity” comes from the Latin noun “trinitas” meaning “three are one.”

            I point out in particular the scripture you mention, Luke 1:30-35. “30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”

            From this it is clearly stated that the Holy Spirit is separate from God, because the angel says “The Holy Spirit will come upon you” rather than “God will come upon you”. It can also be interpreted from this that the Holy Spirit and God are one, because after the Holy Spirit comes upon Mary, she produces the Son of God.

            As a student of quantum physics, I find it easy to accept the existence of things I cannot visualize. I address this aspect of spirituality briefly in chapter three of this series, and will touch on it again in chapter four. It may very well be the centerpiece of chapter five.

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            • marcusampe says:

              why does it state that the Spirit is separate from god? It tells about the Power of God which shall bring to being. It is god’s Power wich comes over the virgin so that she could become pregnant.
              The Holy Spirit and God are naturally One because the Forse, the Speaking the Thinking, the Handling are all part of God and in God, but it is not a person but a situation and action, a manifestation of the Working of God.

              Liked by 1 person

              • kblakecash says:

                I believe the answer to your question is obvious, you do not see a question. I would point out the scripture of Matthew, verse 18;

                15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. 18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

                In this Jesus validates interpretation, that as long as two agree they have God with them. This precludes single, individual interpretation, creating a church, but allows interpretations separate from the church, allowing for the formation of new churches. Such as the Christadelphians.

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          • I usually try to respect people’s beliefs and though I do believe in Jesus the reality is quite different from the Roman version of Judeo-Christianity. Jesus was a Jew when he died, Christianity and the divide with Jews didn’t start to occur until nearer the time of the fall of Jersusalem and the second diaspora – probably beginning with futile attempts to appease the Romans.

            The whole virgin birth thing is also a nod to the Romans and their Greek based tradition of half gods, half men. I would hope that most of the readers of this blog are also familiar that the word ‘virgin’ was a mistranslation and application of the original prophesy. The actual word is much closer in meaning to maiden.

            You should also know that it is commonly accepted that it was the Sadduccee (sp?) sect which prosecuted Jesus, not the Pharisees. Also, crucifixion is the punishment for a crime against the Roman State, his fellow crucifixees were also revolutionaries. If the Jewish local authorities had wanted to kill him on their authority they could have done so, by stoning.

            Historical anti-Semiticism is actually a divide and conquer anti-PEOPLE strategy of the Empire. It is also very likely that political refugees from the recent fall of the Republic had been wandering around the middle East. Certainly some would have read the pro-people/republic writings of Cicero.

            Jesus was a non-violent, and effective, leader, a man of the People. His death was, to some degree, part of what escalated the violent resistance. The ability of the Romans to turn his resistance into a religion that would then be used to justify the stalking of the real, Jewish, followers of Jesus, especially in Europe, measures their ability, and evil.

            Although there are many, many very good Catholics, and similar the religion is at its elite top, nothing more than the smile on the face of the Republican Politico/Law School student Ted Bundy.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Lorelei Bell says:

    I must fall into that realm of “other” since I’m neo-pagan and feel/believe that the Bible was writen by men in power who dictated what went in and what stayed out. there were 60 different versions of the Bible in Euroup at one time–not all of them said the same things. In one version, the word “unicorn” was used. There are many documents that were either destroyed or ignored. If things had gone differently, we would not be discussing Christianity, but Agnosticism.
    Obviously I’ve had a long time to think about this stuff. I was once a Jehova Witness at age 19 (less than a year), and oddly enough, learned to hunt for “the truth” and didn’t find it in Christianity. Although I did learn that Christians tend to attack those who are of different views, and kill thousands of people because they thought they were “witches”.

    Native American beliefs are closest to what I believe in, and that God is a “mystery” to man. Wiccans and other forms of this craft are good people, not evil, unless they are dark or black witches, of course, which has nothing to do with the wiccan religeon.

    I don’t believe in asking God for favors thru prayer. I’m not a medicine person, and so won’t ask God to heal someone or keep them from dying. My thought is why, if God is good, so much evil exists? I don’t believe in the Devil, either. I think it’s just that evil perpetuates itself, and that humans are so very weak, emotionally, that they can’t help themselves to lean toward it.
    Okay, I’ve said my piece. Thanks. Have a very good day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • kblakecash says:

      Yes Lorelei, you are in the sixteen percent “non-religious” which I find rather odd as it includes several religious practices. In coming weeks, I will be addressing each of these religious groups, including yours. My point in this article is that the monolith we call “Christian” does indeed have many different beliefs (the sixty versions of the Bible is but one aspect). Just as you point out, the pagan religions are not a monolith either. Next week, I will either move on to Islam and start working on the major slices of the pie, or delve into the Christian segment further since it does represent such a large portion of the world’s population.

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    • I had an interesting experience this last winter camping with some pagan sorts who believed in active, actual, spirits. Though I do not believe in same, I was also moved, and changed, by these individuals and the ‘spirit’ of my dog, who died at the time, is very much still with me, inside my head.

      Personally, I believe we get the god, and the government **we** deserve and if we treat each other with disrespect we are going to get malicious evil, which I define in legal terms though some might call it the devil.

      Liked by 1 person

    • marcusampe says:

      In the Garden of Eden the first man and mannin (woman) doubted the right of power and might of the Holy Creator. The adversary of god got the humans so far to repost against their Maker. He then gave them the possibility to proof they could rule the world better. They got it all for them. So they can not complain now that it worked out worse for them.
      It is not God who is responsible for good and evil. He allows it to exist, but it are human beings who are totally responsible for all the things that happen.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. KB, great blog! Really I like the charts and the way you have stated your points. And I am so glad that you and everyone here are sharing and being open minded.

    I can’t wait to see what you have planned next, and thanks for including me in the discussion. Ask me anything you want, and I hope that I can be of assistance.

    Indeed, we have to realize there are good and bad people throughout the world regardless of what religion they affiliate themselves with. And inside of religion there are those who practice it and those who don’t. Those who prefer culture over religion as well. This is what has happened in Islam. There are many who do not even truly know the essence of their own religion.

    A religion might be good at its source, but may not be practiced correctly or its followers may do things contrary to it and reflect badly upon it.

    This is a very interesting discussion!

    Take care and peace to everyone here!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. […] This week, I continue the series on world religious beliefs, focusing on the second largest block of religions, Islam. If you missed chapter one, you can see it here. […]

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  8. marcusampe says:

    The Jehovah Witness did not create their own Bible. Like many Christian denominations they use their favourite Bible Translation, but if you accuse them because they use the New World Translation of being unchristian you should do that withthe Church of England, the Anglicans and all the denominations which prefer using their own translation.

    Secondly about the same or different God. Jews, Christians and Muslims should have the same God. But about certain Christians you could say they have a different God. Because a majority of Christians adhere a trinitarian god. they have three gods: 1.God the Father;2. god the son; and 3. God the Holy Spirit. Though the Bible is very clear that there is only one divine God Creator between the many gods, and that is the Elohim Hashem Jehovah.

    Jews, non-tinitarian christians and Muslims honour that Only One God, Allah of whom no statues or pictures may be made and whom can not be seen by men or they would die. That Only One God also is eternal, so can not die because he has no beginning and no end. That God is an eternal spirit who knows everything, can not lie, can not be tempted and is a god of love and order.

    Jesus had a beginning (is born), had to learn everything, was tempted more than once and really died. He was at first lower than the angels (remember God is and was always and shall be always the Most High). Jesus was taken out of the dead, after three days in hel (sheol = the grave), was made higher than the angels and taken into heaven to sit at the right hand of his Father. Notice that Jesus did not take the seat of the Most High God. Jesus did not know when he would be returning to the earth, but God shall decide when Jesus will come back to judge the living and the dead and to allow them or not into the Kingdom of God,which after some time he will hand over again to his Father, Jehovah God.

    When looking at different denominations in Christianity there are a lot of different teachings going on which are not always according to the instructions or teachings in the Bible (Old and New Testament).

    Who of all those may call themselves Christian and what would be the meaning of the word Christian? That is the first question to ask. First the barometer to measure should be decided on before a review or enquète can be made.

    Secondly people do have to see very clear taht there is a very big difference between religion and A certain religion like Christianity. Is it a study about Religion you want to make or over Christianity or over just one group (the trinitarians) or one aspect of Christianity you want to make?

    Liked by 1 person

    • kblakecash says:

      So many things to reply to, thank you for your thoughts.

      The “New World Translation”, or Jehovah’s Witnesses Bible, is significantly different than just a different translation. Concepts are altered well beyond the differences of interpretation.

      “God” is a concept that is seen differently by each individual religion, and each individual within each religion. The trinity is a useful example, as some trinitarians see three distinct Gods, some see three aspects of a single God, and many variations in between. How a Muslim views God and a Jew views God are different, which could be interpreted as different Gods, or different beliefs about God.

      For myself, and I believe I stated in the article, a Christian is one who follows the teachings of Christ. Those who choose to alter or add to those teachings are not, to me, Christians, but this series is meant to encourage thought, so that the question may be reflected upon by the individual.

      And that brings me to your last “Secondly”. The point of the series is to assist in recognizing the differences and similarities between religions, and the difference between “Religion” and “A Religion” for the non-religious. If you read further, you will find this to be the first chapter, with a new chapter published each week (presently I am writing chapter three).

      I will publish your views as they apply to the subject or any statements, but I will not publish any of your personal comments. I will be in touch with you via email so that you may reconsider some of your other comments.

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      • marcusampe says:

        I would agree with “a Christian is one who follows the teachings of Christ”. But when you say “Those who choose to alter or add to those teachings are not, to me, Christians” Then all trinitarians would not be Christians because they are not accepting that Jesus is lower than God and that Jesus is a real human being who prayed to his Father in heaven and said many times he (Jesus) would not want to do his (Jesus) will but only the will of his Father, who is also our Father, God.

        All the teachings of Christ can e found in the Gospel and partly also in the epistles. They gave very neat instructions how to behave against others, how to live and also how to serve God. In many great denominations we can see those rules are not followed, so according to your thinking they would fall out of the Christian denominations and should not be called Christians.(?!?!)

        Liked by 1 person

        • kblakecash says:

          Again, I do not believe that labels make the believer, the trinity may be interpreted by each individual. Jesus of Nazareth is seen by many Christians as the human manifestation of God, and understanding the nature of God is a mystery which we shall never answer on Earth.

          Your next statement crystallizes this chapter of the series, particularly when you say “according to your thinking“. I am very clear that this is my thinking, and not the teachings of any denomination. I am specific in the ways that some denominations vary from the teachings of Christ, and again, each individual within a denomination may stray from the teachings of that denomination. Therefore, one could belong to a denomination that I do not consider to be Christian, but that person’s faith and practices could indeed be Christian.

          You will also see, should you choose to read as far as the second chapter of this series, that there are universal beliefs, even between religions that are often seen as opposites. It is my belief that God has denied his truth to no one, and that he alone will judge our faith when we leave this Earthly realm.

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      • marcusampe says:

        In your reply underneath, to which I could not answer, I would like to point out to every reader coming along that you mention a very very important factor often forgotten: “one could belong to a denomination that I do not consider to be Christian, but that person’s faith and practices could indeed be Christian.”
        All those many denominations might be part of the Body of Christ. They are just a means to come to Christ and to come to God. But in those churches each individual has to take on his or her responsibility to make himself or herself to become like Christ. And each can make up in their own head and heart their teaching and following according to what they believe; In the end they shall all have to come in front of Jesus to be judged. Nothing shall stay hidden before God, because He knows the heart. And Jesus shall be the mediator between God and man.

        Liked by 1 person

        • kblakecash says:

          We must have run out of reply options, I’m not sure how to address that. I think you’ve picked up my meaning, thank you.

          Will you be replying to the email I sent you earlier, or do you want me to publish your other comments as they are?

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  9. […] do not believe that we all worship the same God says the writer of Religions (kblakecash.wordpress.com) who wants to look at ‘religion’ but gives more the […]

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  10. […] you have missed the first two chapters, Christianity and Islam, you may view them by clicking those […]

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  11. […] previous chapters focusing on Christianity, Islam, and Eastern Religions, can be accessed by clicking those […]

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  12. […] previous chapters, Religions, Islam, Eastern Religions, and “Others”, may be viewed by clicking those […]

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