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Chapter 6.1: Where Are Religions Distributed?

Chapter 6.1: Where Are
Religions Distributed?
• Human Geographers study where
religions are located and why they
• Scale (globalization vs. local diversity)
causes most religious tensions in the
– People draw their core beliefs from
– Some are designed for global
appeal, while others are intended
for geographically limited areas
– Religious values affect how
cultures organize their landscapes
– Most require exclusive adherence
so global religions make people
abandon local beliefs
– Migrants take religions to new
locations. While they may learn a
new language they often keep their
old religion
• Identification with a religion leads to
pride, but can also lead to conflict with
other religions
Where Are Religions Distributed?
• There are two types of religion: Universalizing and
• Universalizing religions: attempt to be global, appeal to
all people wherever they are in the world not just one
location of culture
• Three major universalizing religions: Christianity, Islam,
World Distribution of Religions
Fig. 6-1: World religions by continent.
• Each religion is
divided in three ways
– Branches- large
fundamental division
within a religion
(Catholic, Protestant)
– Denominations- a
division of a branch
that unites local
(Baptist, Lutheran,
– Sects- small group
that has broken away
from a religion
• Christianity
– Has 2 billion adherents and widest distribution
– Three major branches: Roman Catholic, Protestant,
Eastern Orthodox
• Roman Catholic- Southwest/East Europe
• Protestant- Northwest Europe
• Orthodox- East/Russia
– In the Western Hemisphere
• 50% of N. America is Protestant (Baptist, Lutheran)
• 95% of S. America is Roman Catholic
– Some smaller branches exist in Asia, Middle East,
and Africa
Christian Branches in Europe
Fig. 6-2: Protestant denominations, Catholicism, and Eastern Orthodoxy are
dominant in different regions of Europe—a result of many historic
Christian Branches in the U.S.
Fig. 6-3: Distribution of Christians in the U.S. Shaded areas are counties with more than
50% of church membership concentrated in Roman Catholicism or one of the
Protestant denominations.
1.3 billion in Middle East, N. Africa,
and Asia
Islam means “submission to the will
of god”
Five major pillars of faith
1. There is only one true god and
Muhammad is his messenger
2. Muslims must pray five times a
day facing Mecca
3. Must give generously to charity
for purification/growth
4. Must fast during Ramadan for
self purification
5. Must make a pilgrimage to
Two major branches: Sunni and
Dominant in Middle East and Asia,
also a minority religion in Europe
and America
• Buddhism
– 365 million people, mostly in
China/Southeast Asia
– Four Noble Truths (major tenets)
• All living beings must endure suffering
• Suffering is caused by desire to live and
leads to reincarnation
• Goal of all existence is to escape suffering
and endless cycle of reincarnation into
Nirvana which is achieved through selfpurification
• Nirvana is attained through the eightfold
path which is rightness of belief, resolve,
speech, action, livelihood, effort, thought,
and meditation
– Hard to make an accurate count since
there are not many Buddhist institutions
– It is not an exclusive religion like
Christianity and Islam
Ethnic Religions
• Hinduism
– 97% live in India
– Believe it is up to the individual to
decide how to worship God
– You alone are responsible for your
own actions and must suffer any
– No central authority or holy book,
you select your own rituals
• Others include Confucianism,
Daoism, Judaism, Animism
Chapter 6.2: Why Do Religions
Have Different Distributions?
Origin of Religions
• Universalizing religions have
precise places of origin based on
events in the life of man
• Ethnic religions have unknown or
unclear origins, not tied to historic
• Origin of Universalizing religions
– Christianity: founded on the
teachings of Jesus who died
around 30 AD in Jerusalem
– Islam: founded by Muhammad
around 610 AD in Mecca
– Buddhism: founded by
Siddhartha Gautama near
present day Nepal
• Origin of Ethnic
– Hinduism existed prior
to written history
– Earliest surviving
Hindu documents are
dated around 1500 BC
Diffusion of Religions
• Diffusion of
– Hearths of the three
largest universal
religions center around
3 individuals
– All three of these
hearths originate in
– Diffusion of Christianity
• Spread through relocation,
hierarchical, and contagious
• First through relocation:
missionaries carried the religion
through the Roman Empire
• Contagious: spread through daily
contact between believers and
non-believers (Pagans)
• Hierarchical: the emperor
Constantine converts and
encourages spread.
– Emperor Theodosius makes it the
official religion in 380 AD
• Later spread to North/South
America through relocation again
Diffusion of Christianity
Fig. 6-5: Christianity diffused from Palestine through the Roman Empire and continued
diffusing through Europe after the fall of Rome. It was later replaced by Islam in
much of the Mideast and North Africa.
– Diffusion of Islam
• Originally spread
through the conquest of
Muslim armies including
North Africa, southern
Spain, South Eastern
Europe, Turkey
• Later spread to SubSaharan Africa and
Southeast Asia through
relocation diffusion and
Diffusion of Islam
Fig. 6-6: Islam diffused rapidly and widely from its area of origin in Arabia. It
eventually stretched from southeast Asia to West Africa.
– Diffusion of Buddhism
• Spread more slowly
than the other two
• The Magadhan Empire
begins the spread in
257 BC when it sends
missionaries to
Kashmir, Burma and
other parts of India
• Merchants introduce
the religion to China,
which allows
missionaries to spread
the religion.
– Later spreads to
Korea and then Japan
Diffusion of Buddhism
Fig. 6-7: Buddhism diffused gradually from its origin in northeastern India to Sri Lanka,
southeast Asia, and eventually China and Japan.
• Lack of Diffusion of Ethnic Religions
– Most ethnic religions have very
limited, if any, diffusion
– In some places they actually mix with
universalizing religions (AfricaChristianity)
– They can diffusion through relocation
if the new region does not force them
to change religions
– Judaism is an exception to this rule
• It is practiced in many nations and did
not even have a home until Israel was
founded 1948
Holy Places
• Religions sometimes elevate
particular places to holy positions
• Ethnic religions have less
distribution because its holy places
are derived from the physical
environment of its hearth
• Universalizing religion often grants
holiness to the cities and other
places in their founder’s life, and
these areas do not have to be near
one another
• Universalizing Holy Places
– Buddhists: 8 places are holy
due to important events in
Buddha’s life (Birthplace, first
sermon, death)
– Islam: cities associated with
the life of Muhammad (birth:
Mecca, Medina: his first
Holy Sites in Buddhism
Fig. 6-9: Most holy sites in Buddhism are locations of important events in Buddha’s
life and are clustered in northeastern India and southern Nepal.
• Ethnic Holy Places
– Tied very closely to physical
geography of one place
– Cosmogony: set of religious
beliefs concerning the origin
of the universe.
– Events in the physical
universe are more likely to be
incorporated into the
principles of an ethnic religion
(animists, Confucianism).
• Universal religions tend to think
God is more powerful than
The Calendar
• Ethnic religions tend to celebrate holidays based
on the seasons, while universalizing religions
center around the founder
• Ethnic Religions
– Often celebrate the seasons and their changes
– Rituals often pray for favorable environmental
conditions or thanks for past farming success
– Jewish calendar: two holiest days are in Autumn
• Rosh Hashanah - New Year
• Yom Kippur - Day of Atonement - this corresponds with the
planting season
– Many ethnic religions recognize the winter solstice
• shortest day of the year
• Universalizing
– Celebrates events of
the founder’s life
– Easter, Christmas,
Chapter 6.3: Why Do Religions Organize
Space in Distinctive Patterns?
Places of Worship
All major religions have some form of
buildings for spiritual use
Christian Churches
– The Christian landscape has a very high
density of churches
– Plays a more critical role than buildings
in other religions
– Believe the structure itself is an image of
– Traditionally the church was the largest
building in the center of a town, still
applies in rural areas
– Churches are very expensive, requires
donations from members and rich
congregations have more ornate
• Muslim Mosques
– Considered to be a place for
community assembly
– It is not viewed so much as a
holy place as it is a place for
the community to gather and
pray together
– Mosques are usually found in
larger cities, in small villages a
simple place is chosen for this
– It is organized around a
central courtyard and the
pulpit always faces Mecca
– A distinctive feature is the
minaret, a tower where the
Muzzan summons people to
• Hindu Temples
– Most Asian ethnic and
universal religions place
little emphasis on collective
– Important religious
functions are more likely to
be done in the home in
their own shrines
– Hindu temples are home to
one or more god and are
funded by wealthy
– These temples contain a
dimly lit interior room with a
statue of the god and
perhaps room for a
purification pool
– There are no organized
services, people come to
worship or meditate as they
Sacred Space
• Religious land use is typically
for burial of the dead and
religious settlements
• Burial
– Christians, Muslims and
Jews typically bury their
dead in cemeteries
– Hindus tend to cremate
rather than bury.
• They first purify the
body in the Ganges
• Religious Settlements
– Most human settlements
serve economic purposes,
but sometimes they are
formed due to religion
– Examples include utopian
settlements: an ideal
community built around a
religious way of life
– Oneida, New York and New
Harmony, Indiana are
examples of these
– Colonial settlements were
not entirely planed for
religious purposes, but
Puritans tended to settle in
such communities
Administration of Space
• Members of universalizing
religions must be connected for
communication and consistency
of the religion
• Ethnic religions tend not to have
these organized authorities
• Hierarchical Religions: have a
well-defined geographic structure
and organizes territory into
administrative units
– Roman Catholics
– Pope- Archbishops (province)Bishops (diocese)- Priests
• Autonomous Religions: Self
sufficient with little
communication with other
communities of that faith
– Islam provides a great deal of
local autonomy
– Has no formal hierarchy or
– Each member is expected to
participate equally in rituals
– The exception to this is when
the government is run by and
Islamic majority
– Migration to Mecca and a very
explicit doctrine keep unity in
the religion
• Judaism, and Hinduism also
have no centralized authority
Chapter 6.4: Religious Conflict
Religion vs. Government
• Government policies can come
into conflict with religious
• Religion vs. Social Change
– In LDC’s, participation in
the global economy brings
western influences into
– Westerners do not consider
economic development as
incompatible with religious
values, but many nonChristian religions do
– The Taliban
• Take over Afghanistan in the late
• Impose very strict Islamic principles
on the nation
• Men are beaten for shaving beards,
women stoned to death for adultery,
homosexuals buried alive, women
wearing nail polish have their
fingers cut off
• Banned all western activities
including TV, kite flying, and music.
– Soccer stadiums were converted
into execution and flogging arenas
– Hinduism vs. Social Equality
• The caste system divides India into
four groups: Brahmans (priests),
Kshatriyas (warriors), Vaisyas
(merchants), and Shudras (farm
workers, very low group).
– Below these groups are the
untouchables or descendants of the
natives before Aryan conquest.
• Almost no socialization outside of
your group, very few rights for
untouchables and Shudras
• The British rulers and Christian
missionaries fight to eliminate the
system, succeed in abolishing the
untouchable caste
– Eastern Orthodox Christianity
vs. Communism
• With the Communist revolution in
Russia in 1917, the Soviet
Government eliminates the official
church-state connection to the
• Religious organizations are
banned from social and cultural
work and most East Orthodox
Christians either abandon the
religion or go underground
• With the dissolution of the Soviet
Union, religions are once again
spreading in Russia
Religion vs. Religion
• Conflict is most likely to occur between
borders of major religions
• Two long-standing conflicts are in the
Middle East and in Northern Ireland
• Religious Wars in the Middle East
– Jews, Christians, and Muslims have
fought for control of this region for 2000
– Jews consider this area their holy land,
Christians consider Jerusalem holy due
to Jesus’ death/resurrection, and
Muslims regard it as holy since
Muhammad ascended to heaven here
Fig. 6-14: The Old City of Jerusalem contains holy sites for Judaism, Christianity,
and Islam.
– The Crusades
• Muslims conquer most of the middle east during the 7th
• 150 years of Christian led invasions of the holy land known as
the crusades
– Jews vs. Muslims in
• Divided by the United
Nations following WWII
into Jewish and Muslim
• A series of wars between
Israel and its Arab
neighbors leaves Israel
with possession of the
Gaza Strip and West
Bank, which were
originally given to the
• Jewish settlements in
these areas caused open
violence between
Palestinian groups and the
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