How Well Do You Know the World's Major Religions?



By: Allison Lips

5 Min Quiz

Image: Sangkhom Simma/Moment/Gettty Images

About This Quiz

Growing up, most of us are told not to talk about politics or religion. However, the latter is an important part of billions of peoples' lives. Some countries have an official religion, such as the 27 Middle Eastern and North African countries with Islam as their state religion. Others, such as the United States, have none and are home to a cornucopia of religious practices. 

In the United States, we celebrate Christmas with our Christian friends, wish our Jewish friends "shanah tova" for Rosh Hashanah, and our Muslim friends "Ramadan mubarek" during Ramadan. Unless you have a conversation with a member of each religion, you may not know much more than a few basic facts.

Regardless of your religion or lack of, you will want to take this quiz to find out how accurate your knowledge is and learn a few things to share with your friends. After all, Scientology is more than Tom Cruise and Rastafarianism is practiced by more than just Bob Marley. You may be surprised at how much each religion has in common, so let's celebrate the similarities and embrace the differences.

Are you a religious scholar? Test your knowledge of world religions with these questions!

Which sect of Christianity is associated with the pope?

The longest reigning pope was Pope Pius IX. He was pope for 31 years, 7 months and 23 days.


Mecca is a holy city for people who practice which religion?

Devout Muslims pray toward Mecca five times a day. At least once in their lifetime they also attempt to visit Mecca.


Which religion celebrates Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah?

Rosh Hashanah is referred to as the "Jewish New Year." It is the first two days of the month of Tishri. These days usually fall in September or October on the Gregorian calendar.


Which of these is not an Abrahamic religion?

Judaism, Christianity and Islam are called the Abrahamic religions because the Prophet Abraham is recognized as a common forefather. Judaism believes the Prophet Abraham is the ancestor of the Israelites. Islam believes Abraham's son, Ishmael, is the ancestor of the Arabs.


What state do Buddhists seek to reach?

The term nirvana literally means "becoming extinguished." Buddhists use it to refer to the elimination of hatred, desire and ignorance.


Which religion has over 2 billion followers worldwide?

The Roman Catholic Church makes up most of the total. It accounts for 1.1 billion members.


What is Siddhartha Gautama better known as?

The Buddha was born in the 6th century. He was born in Lumbini, which is modern-day Nepal.


Where is the Holy See located?

The pope is in charge of both Vatican City and the Holy See. However, the former refers to a physical location and the latter refers specifically to the government of that location.


Which of these is not a historically Indian religion?

There are over 900 million Hindus worldwide. The majority live in India and Nepal.


What is Islam's holy book called?

Muslims believe that the Quran collects revelations Muhammad received. When Muhammad was 40 years old, he received the first one. He continued to receive them until his death.


What is Christianity's holy book called?

The Bible consists of the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament tells the story of Earth's creation, while the New Testament tells the story of Jesus and Christianity's beginnings.


What religion uses the Torah?

During a typical week, the Torah is read on three days: Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Additionally, it will be read on holidays, even if that holiday does not fall on one of the aforementioned days.


Which religion is the Prophet Muhammad associated with?

Muhammad founded Islam. In 570, he was born in Mecca. In 622, he was forced to emigrate to Medina, Saudi Arabia with his followers.


What is the chief religious official of a synagogue called?

Rabbis guide other Jews through Torah study. The word rabbi is Hebrew for "master" or teacher."


What is a Muslim prayer leader called?

The Arabic word Imam means "leader" or "pattern." An Imam leads the five daily prayers, which make up the Second Pillar of Islam.


Which word refers to the Hindu concept that every action will have a future reaction?

In Hinduism, karma can occur across lifetimes. Something a person does now may not see a reaction until he is reborn. Hindus call the process of reincarnation samsara.


What is a native Japanese religion?

Practitioners of Shinto believe in kami, which is loosely translated into English as "spirits." Kami can be forces of nature and the essence of existence.


What religion takes its name from the Punjabi word for "learner?"

Sikh tradition states that Guru Nanak founded the religion in the late 15th century. The first 10 leaders of the Sikh religion have the title Guru.


Which religion uses the yin-yang symbol?

The main principles of Taoism involve unity and opposites. The yin-yang symbol symbolizes the belief that the world is made of complementary forces, such as light and dark.


Adherents of which religion attend Sunday services at Kingdom Hall?

Jehovah's Witnesses publish two magazines: The Watchtower and Awake! Both are available in over 200 languages.


What country is associated with Rastafarianism?

The Rastafari movement began in the 1930s. Former Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie is important to the movement. Some Rastas regard him as a prophet, while others view him as the second coming of Christ.


What religion's name is Spanish for "The Way of the Saints?"

In Santeria, Orishas are spirits. Followers of Santeria believe that rituals, such as eating with the spirits, need to be practiced for the spirits to continue to exist.


Which religion did Joseph Smith found?

Mormons are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormons believe that Joseph Smith received the information in the Book of Mormon from an angel called Moroni.


Which religion did L. Ron Hubbard found?

Scientologists believe that auditing helps them achieve spiritual enlightenment. Someone undergoing an audit is called a preclear.


What is a non-belief in God called?

The Pew Research Center found that not everyone who self-identifies as an atheist is irreligious. Based on the center's research, 26 percent of atheists say they are spiritual and 3 percent say they are religious.


Which religion is named after a Chinese philosopher?

Confucianism is not considered an organized religion. Rather it is considered a world view, political ideology, a scholarly tradition and a way of life.


Which religion prays in a mosque?

Mosques may look different. However, each one has a mihrab, which is shallow recess in a wall indicating the direction of Mecca.


What ceremony does a Jewish boy have when he turns 13 years old?

A bar mitzvah does not rely on having a special ceremony. A boy has one once he turns 13. At that time, he is considered an adult in Judaism with all the corresponding rights and obligations.


What month-long holiday do Muslims fast during?

Ramadan lasts approximately 30 days. At the end, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan.


What holiday do Jewish people fast during?

In Judaism, Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year. The name means "Day of Atonement." The day is spent in synagogue, praying for forgiveness.


What is the first day of Lent called?

Members of the Roman Catholic Church attend mass on Ash Wednesday. To obtain the ashes, palms from the previous Palm Sunday are burned.


Which of these is a Pagan witchcraft tradition?

While there is variation in Wiccan beliefs, most Wiccans believe in the Goddess and respect nature. Practitioners can be lone witches or belong to a coven, which usually have 10 to 15 members.


What does Easter celebrate?

Easter ends Lent, which is a 40-day fasting period. Many Easter traditions predate Christianity and come from pagan times.


What is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people called?

Currently, Tenzin Gyatso is the Dalia Lama. He is the 14th Dalai Lama. The first and second Dalai Lamas were given the title posthumously.


The cross is associated with which religion?

All Christian denominations use it as a visual identifier. It is simultaneously a symbol of suffering and one of salvation.


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