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Culture & religion The major religions of the w orld are... Christianity I slam Judaism Buddhism Taoism Catholic Orthodox P rotestant Christianity is a religion which is closest to our culture and traditions. Christians believe that Jesus Christ, son of God, was crucified and then resurrected in Jerusalem, a former Roman colony. Christianity can be divided into 3 main branches. Islam is the official religion in Arab countries, followed by more than 1,6 billion people. Buddhism is one of the big Asian religions. Its founder, Buddha, is believed to h ave lived in India between the 5th and 4th century BC (Before Christ). For Buddhists the u ltimate goal is to reach "nirvana", a moment when the soul is in state of salvation and total liberation. Taoism is not such a big religion in comparison with the other big Asian religion s - Islam and Buddhism. It was founded in China and the principal idea of Taoism is livin g in spiritual harmony. Taoist teachings also comprise of a martial art called "Tai Chi" and a great knowledge in the field of alternative medicine. Catholic Christianity has a long tradition in Southern and Central Europe and thanks to the Spanish and Portuguese explorations in 15th and 16th century, Catholicism is widely recognized in South and Central America as well. The Orthodox Church has its largest base of believers in Eastern Europe in countries like Ukraine, Russia, Romania and Bulgaria, but also the Greek Orthodox Church in Greece is very influential. Protestant Christians represent the majority in many wealthy Western-European countries like the United Kingdom and all Scandinavian countries as well. Protestant Christianity also prevails in the USA. The Bible is the most important Christian document, it is believed to have been written by Jesus Christ's early followers. Today, there are approximately 2,4 billion people following Christianity worldwide. That makes it the biggest religion in the world. The Cross Culture is... Each religion has a typical symbol. ...is the most typical symbol of Christianity. It refers to the cross, on which Jesus Christ was crucified. A circle split into black and white halves with two small black and white dots is a symbol mostly used in Taoism. It's sometimes called the "yin and yang symbol" and it symbolizes how totally opposite forces in the world of nature are actually connected to each other, such as light and dark or fire and water. ...is the best known symbol of Judaism. During the Second World War, Jews in Europeans countries that were under German control were ordered to wear yellow Stars of David on their clothes to be distinguished from the other civilians. Culture is made up of... We can even have the same special days and holidays like Christmas or Easter in our calendar as another culture, but according to our own habits and traditions, we might celebrate them in a completely different way. Knowledge Belief ...which is one of the most important parts of culture because the more a society knows, the more cultural it can get. Knowledge is usually held by scholars, scientists, philosophers, universities, libraries and even by art forms like literature. ...means that the society or nation believes in something, mostly through some religion. It has been shown many times that it can help a lot if the society believes in something, especially during tough times like war or economic crisis. Religion is also closely related to celebrations and special days in each country or nation. Law ...is a basic part of every culture because it helps to constitute a state. There are three major law systems in the world today - civil law (practiced in continental Europe including the Czech Republic), common law (formed in Great Britain and its former colonies) and religious law (mostly Islamic law in Arab countries). Habits and traditions simply express what people are used to doing - for example how they celebrate special days and other holidays or what they eat and drink. Habits and traditions The Bible or more specifically the New Testament is in fact the description of Jesus Christ's life, his acts and teachings. Freedom of religion is one of the most important issues today. Religion is... ...usually a collection of rules and recommendations for followers and believers. There is also a very special entity, usually called "God", in whom the followers believe. Religion can be monotheistic or polytheistic. Monotheistic religions have only one God. Polytheistic religions have more Gods, who usually represent natural forces and other important events - for example the God of war, God of rain, God of storm, God of crop or God of fertility. The biggest religions in the world are followed by billions of people. These religions usually have wide and international range. Taoism is mostly practiced in China and Taiwan. In total it has up to 20 million followers. The only country in which Judaism is a major religion is Israel, a small country surrounded by Arab countries. There are also millions of Jews living in Jewish communities around the world. The largest Jewish communities outside of Israel live in the USA and France. Like Christianity, Islam has its own religious text called the Koran, believed to be written by the prophet Muhammad. The prophet Muhammad, who lived in the 6th and 7th century, was the founder of Islam. He is believed to be the last messenger and prophet of God sent to mankind. Besides other rules, Muslims are not allowed to drink alcohol and eat pork meat. They meet and pray in buildings called mosques. Countries where Islam is a major religion include Northern African countries like Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia, Middle-Eastern countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran and countries in Persian gulf. Islam also has many followers in South-Eastern Asia - mainly in India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Malaysia. Judaism is one of the oldest monotheistic religions - the basis of this religion is the belief in one G