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Religious Statue

World Religions for Kids

What is a "religion"? Is it just a set of beliefs? Does it explain the world around us and why we're here? Is it more like a set of values that help us decide what is right and wrong? How many people have to believe something to make it a religion? Does a person's religion define who they are more than anything else? These are all great questions that help us understand religion. 

How many religions are there? Believe it or not, some scientists estimate there are over 4,000 that exist today! Imagine how many there have been in the past! Where did they come from and how did they develop? This website is a good place to start a journey to understand.

Church Candles

About This Website

This website is designed to be a consistent resource for young people who are learning about religions. I have included vocabulary words, in bold and simple definitions in parenthesis if it's not directly explained. Religion is an extremely complex set of beliefs, values, events, and opinions far beyond what is covered on this website. I wholeheartedly acknowledge, there are omissions and potential misunderstandings, but they are honest mistakes or judgement calls in the interest of simplicity or consistency. I did my best to research multiple sources from various perspectives to arrive at the content of this website. I am a history teacher. This is my best effort to provide a consistent, engaging history of the world's major religions. Thank you for understanding, I hope you enjoy. 

Religious History for Kids

Religion is one of the most interesting parts of the human experience. The earliest religions were usually based on nature and born from our own curiosity and creative thinking as we observed the world around us. Later, more complex religions developed in the four ancient civilizations. These world religions used some of the ideas and customs from the earliest religions. Using older customs and ideas helped people convert (change) to a new religion. Polytheism (belief in many Gods) was the most common form of religion before the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, which stress monotheism (belief in one God). From the time before writing, often referred to as prehistory, to the beginning of ancient civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia through Classical antiquity in Greece and Rome and extending to Native American tribes--polytheism was the pervasive religious belief. This created a big motivation toward monotheism that we saw develop in the Abrahamic religions.

There are six major religions covered on this website (for now). This history is written for student, kids, or learners looking for a basic explanation of the major events and beliefs that led to the development of the major world religions. Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism developed in South Asia. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam developed in the modern day Middle East. The Middle East is a very beautiful, contentious, and sometimes dangerous place. Religion has been at the center of many conflicts and wars from the start of this story. 

Symbol of Hinduism


2500 BCE

Christian cross


30 CE

Jewish Star of David


2000 BCE

Islamic crescent moon and star


600's CE

Buddist Symbol


500's BCE

Sikh Symbol


1500 CE

Sikh Golden Temple
Ganesh statues
Silhouette of Cross Against Sky
Quran and Prayer Beads
Reading from the Torah

World Religions Today

Graph showing major religious population percentages

In all this talk about religions, it's important to note that the 3rd largest religious group in the world are unaffiliated or nonreligious people. It's as high as 25% in the United States. Just as with religious people, there are many levels of nonreligious people who say they are unaffiliated with religion. Some feel strongly, and others don't--but they are all mingled and living amongst religious people in the areas you see below. The map below shows the main religion in each nation. There are likely many other religious and nonreligious people living among the main religion. Some of the nations below do show multiple religious populations such as China, but all of them have a mixture of religious beliefs. 

Nations with many different religions would be considered religiously diverse. Some nations are more mixed than others. The main reason some are more mixed is that some nations are tolerant of other religions and others are not tolerant. Some nations are tolerant, but have a small population or low immigration.  According to a 2022 Pew Research study Singapore, Vietnam, France, and Japan rank as very high or high in religious diversity. That is compared to Afghanistan, Iran, Puerto Rico who ranked low in religious diversity. 

Wold map of major religions
Buddha Close Up
Statue of Jesus
Holi Festival of Color
Sikh man

Categories of Religions

To help understand diverse belief systems, it is beneficial to categorize them based on their views on a higher power—God(s). Most religious beliefs fall into categories like Atheism, Agnosticism, Deism, Theism, Pantheism, and Panentheism. However, some religions fall into more than one category. This is because some religions have denominations or groups of people that believe very different things from others within their own religion. Religious scholars also interpret beliefs in different ways. Let's take a look at some of the categories and what they mean.

Atheism is the absence of belief in any gods or deities. Atheists reject the existence of a divine being. Religions such as Buddhism and Jainism are often considered atheistic because they lack a central deity in their belief systems, but it doesn't necessarily make Buddhists atheists. Sometimes Buddhism is considered Autotheistic. Auto means "self," and Buddhists focus on the improvement of the self to reach Nirvana. Agnosticism is characterized by a lack of certainty or knowledge regarding the existence of a higher power. Agnostics might identify as "spiritual" and generally believe in a higher power but are unsure of its true nature. Agnosticism is not tied to specific religious traditions and can be embraced by individuals in many belief systems, including Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.


Deism acknowledges the existence of a creator or higher power but rejects most organized religious beliefs. Deists believe a divine being set the universe in motion but does not actively intervene in human affairs. There is not a two-way exchange between God and believers, such as an answered prayer. They also don't believe in most supernatural events, such as a virgin birth. This perspective aligns with certain aspects of Hinduism and Buddhism but is most commonly associated with America's founding fathers, such as Thomas Jefferson.


Theism asserts the existence of a personal god who is actively involved in the world. Religions like Christianity, Islam, and Judaism fall into the category of theism, as they believe in a singular, personal deity. Hinduism and Sikhism can also fall into this category. Theism includes a two-way exchange between the follower and God.


Pantheism views the universe as physical manifestations of God. There isn't a God in the sky watching Earth—God is the sky, Earth, and everything in the universe. In Hinduism, for example, the concept of Brahman represents an all-encompassing existence that is synonymous with the universe. Panentheism sees God as the universe like Pantheism but also existing beyond the universe. Sikhism is the most prominent Panentheistic religion, but some scholars include Buddhism and unique denominations of Judaism in the Panentheistic family.

Religious Categories graphic
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