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World Religions: Christianity

Use this primer with the lesson The World's Religions to teach about the diversity of faiths in the United States and around the globe.

Christianity is the world's largest religion, with about 2.1 billion followers throughout the globe. Christianity is also the United States’ biggest religion. Under the umbrella of Christianity, there are hundreds of denominations; about a quarter of all people in the U.S. identify with the Roman Catholic Christian denomination, while about half identify with one of the Protestant Christian denominations such as Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran or one of many others. Each denomination may have somewhat different practices, even though it shares beliefs common to most Christians.

Christians believe that there is only one god, but that there are three elements of God, including the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They also believe that 2,000 years ago in what is now Israel, God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to earth to save humans from the consequences of their sins (wrongdoings in the eyes of God). Christians believe that Jesus gave his life by being crucified (nailed to a wood cross) and on the third day rose from the dead (was resurrected). The Christian holy book is called the Bible.

Some religious observances:

Time of Year: December 25.  For Christians, Christmas is a holy day that marks the birth of Jesus, believed to be the son of God. Many non-Christians also observe with secular (non-religious) festivities. Although they differ around the world, some common ways of observing the holiday include attending worship services, hosting gatherings with family and friends, feasting and exchanging gifts.

Many decorate for the holiday using lights, Christmas (fir) trees, Nativity Scenes (displays depicting the birth of Jesus), and (commonly in the United States) images of Santa Claus, a character of legend who is believed to bring gifts to children.


Time of Year: Usually April.  Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ following Good Friday, the day of his crucifixion. Churches (Christian houses of worship) are filled with flowers, and people sing special hymns (religious songs).

Non-religious customs associated with the holiday include giving baskets of candy to children, with reference (commonly in the United States) to a character called the Easter Bunny. The holiday is often associated with celebrating the arrival of spring.


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Article by Celine Provini, EducationWorld Editor
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