Talk:Major religious groups/Archive 1

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As per Zain below, I would like to say that the Sikh population is far more than that reported on Wikipedia - I cannot find the numbers myself, not can I see how it can be calculated..

There were several problems on the page first the source of the statistics was not dedicated to finding statistics about relegions so there were many serious flaws in the statistics for example many big relegions which came in top 10 were simply missing like

primal-indigenous  : 150 million

African Traditional & Diasporic : 95 million

Juche  : 19 million


and some figures were full of errors like figures of Sikhism didn't even match figure given on wikipedia itself on page of Sikhism and was even less then total number of Sikhs in India Alone (19 million) which can be confirmed from variour sources like census data of india available of indian goverment website and which is even available on CIA world fact book on following link [1] I believe that statiscis related articles on wikipedia which can attract bias should have special check mechanism to avoid such big and evident errors which can put harm to wikipedia's reputation. Thanks

Zain 21:17, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)


As data from www.adherents.com had many small religions too and the title of the Article is World Major religions so to distinguish between major and minor religions I used the thumb rule which is mostly used in the world for example in 'CIA world fact book' Ethnic and religious population less then 1% is not generally described. Using this universal rule I differentiated between major and minor religion by having population less then 1%.

Zain 21:37, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)


Corrected the problem in which sum of adheres to different sects of christianity was more then total christian population I used the percentage from CIA world fact book based on currect population CIA World Fact book, Data on World and also compare it with data on Adherents.com Data on Different Brances of Christianity) which gave almost similar data.

Zain 12:19, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Religions that aren't religions

primal-indigenous

African Traditional & Diasporic

Chinese traditional religion


These are religion categories and are not religions as such. Their constituant religions do not comprise the requirements for listing as a major religion. "African Traditional & Diasporic", "Chinese traditional religion" and "primal-indigenous" must be split into their parts. --metta, The Sunborn 07:11, 29 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Actually I quoted from the source which grouped them in a single religion. I believe the actual source people, are doing a lot of research so they are in a lot better position to tell which is a separate religion and which is not. I'll like to give example of Hinduism, there is no single accepted definition of it, It simply evolved over the time and referred to as a single religion largely due to geography and similarity of some believes Let me quote from Page of Hinduism
Hinduism is characterized by a diverse array of belief systems, practices and scriptures.
Of course diverse is used bcoz contradicting can be an offending word to some, Plus all believes are not contradicting, like 'many' believes are common among 'many' 'Hindus'.
What I want to say that religions such as Chinese traditional religions can be grouped into single religion like Hinduism, bcoz of common believes among many of them, geographical similarity And there are no fine subdivisions among them, which can help u statistically (because quantitative analysis requires clear divisions). Try to find any authentic sub division of African Traditional & Diasporic with statistics, and you will find that why they are grouped into single religion, at least for statistical purposes.
So splitting them in many religions although may solve some problem but will make array of other problems and we won't be able to tell how much followers a single segment have. Problem further increases when we will be required to make a clear split in the religions, according to believes which is not always possible due to mix of believes.
So I'll suggest that if we want to split them we need two things to do that
  • Religions definitions which will help us to differentiate between them
  • Authentic statistics on Number of followers of each group
With regards
Zain 09:08, 29 Nov 2004 (UTC)


"Major Religion" and Major Changes

Zain, I am going to ask you to defend your definition of major world religion with a population cut-off. The 1% population approach is entirely arbitrary, and does not agree with standard views. Judaism is considered in almost every source as a "major religion," Shinto has been considered major for at least 100 years, and Sikhism and Baha'i usually are. There are many ways of defining major religion, so I have modified as appropriate. A discussion of major religions is here [2]. --Goodoldpolonius2 17:16, 1 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Reasons for removing recently purposed statistics

First, I'll like to welcome you here. and hope here kilobytes of debates won't happen :-D I'll talk to you about definition of 'major' laterz. which in my view is 'disputed' (No matter how much I hate this word, I come across it :-( ) Secondly, All of the populations by religion are not estimated! Major Exemptions are like data from census. ‘Sample Population Surveys’ are only used where explicit data of census is not available, Population by religion computed in US or France are Examples of ‘Sample Population Surveys’.Example of other case is [3], which has official census report and by this you can see that how flawed was the statistics which were posted earlier. and for my wonders stats on the bbc page which you referred, Hindu population was also flawed, because they offered an estimate, which was even below the well confirmed statistics of Indian census department. In India alone Hindus make 850 million people and there are tens of millions of them in Nepal, Bangladesh even in Pakistan, Indonesia. so the statistics which were refered earlier, were simply flawed. I don't think that big names like bbc will make such blunders by mistake, I think they are deeply biased. As we should present factual things, I think that realities on these stats can be checked on Indian census department which can be found here [4]. Just to give you a hint of level of flaw these stats have. Please visit here on BBC [5], which shows that there are 750 million Hindus in the world. this figure is 100 million less then the Hindus in India alone!!. So in stats related to religion we have to be very very careful. So the stats which I put were not single copy paste. I checked them thoroughly against many other sources on the net tried to find authentic sources like Indian census and then shortlist the sources I also checked CIA world fact book among many others. Old stats which were present on the page, before I edited it, I disagreed with them on solid statistical ground, you might see my arguments on disagreement with them, earlier in the page( that time it was population of Sikhs which was clearly flawed). In process of collection the stats from different sources I came across many pages on wikipedia which had information on population by religion. In Hinduism page the population of total Hindus was given as 1.05 billion. I decreased it to 890 million and provided authentic statistics from CIA world fact book and statistics from Page on India which in turn had statistics from Indian census. and used their(Editors of Hinduism ) own statement of ratio of world wide Hindu population to Hindu population in India, to compute worldwide Hindu population and no body disagreed. I'll suggest you give close attention to the authentic data from Indian census to understand why I deleted those stats.

With Regards
Zain 01:13, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Zain, First, let me say I agree with you, this is a disputed subject, and I am just trying to show the various ways major religions are interpreted, since there is no one correct standard. The material I added was from the BBC and Christian Science Monitor, world-class authorities, even if you disagree with them, or your calculations differ from theirs. The CIA World Fact book is no more an authority than any other in figuring out these statistics (for example, the number of Jews and Muslims in the US, 1%, disagrees with other published surveys) and which are subject to huge errors. The adherents.com page which I cited earlier explains how all religion statistics are gathered, and its not very accurate:

    • Organizational reporting: Religious bodies (such as churches or denominations) are asked how many adherents or members they have. This is the simplest and least expensive method, but it can be highly unreliable. Different faith groups measure membership differently. Some count as members only those who are actively attending services or who have passed through a lengthy initiation process. Others groups count all who have been baptized as infants and are thus on the church records, even though some of those people may have joined other faith groups as adults. Some groups over-report membership and others under-report membership. When asked what religion they consider themselves to be a part of, many may name a religion that does not have them on their rolls. In the United States, for instance, three times as many people claim to be Unitarian Universalists than are actually on church records.
    • Census records: Many countries periodically conduct a comprehensive household-by-household census. Religious preference is often a question included in these census counts. This is a highly reliable method for determining the religious self-identification of a given population. But censuses are usually conducted infrequently. The latest census may be too old to indicate recent trends in religious membership. Also, many countries either have no accurate census data, or do not include questions regarding religious affiliation. It has been over fifty years since the United States included such a question in its national census, but Canada, India, New Zealand, Australia and other countries have very thorough, recent census data on the topic.
    • Polls and Surveys: Statistical sampling using surveys and polls are used to determine affiliation based on religious self-identification. The accuracy of these surveys depends largely on the quality of the study and especially the size of the sample population. Rarely are statistical surveys of religious affiliation done with large enough sample sizes to accurately count the adherents of small minority religious groups.
    • Estimates based on indirect data: Many adherent counts are only obtained by estimates based on indirect data rather than direct questioning or directly from membership roles. Wiccan groups have traditionally been secretive and often their numbers can only be estimated based on magazine circulations, attendance at conferences, etc. The counts of many ethnic-based faith groups such as tribal religions are generally based on the size of associated ethnic groups. Adherents of some tribal religions (such as Yoruba) are sometimes counted simply by counting the members of the tribe and assuming everybody in it is an adherent of the religion. Counts of Eastern Orthodox religious bodies are often done the same way. Such estimates may be highly unreliable.
    • Field work: To count some small groups, or to count the number of adherents a larger group has within a specific geographical area, researchers sometimes do "field work" to count adherents. This is often the only way to count members of small tribal groups or semi-secretive, publicity-shy sects. Field work may involve contacting leaders of individual congregations, temples, etc., conducting interviews with adherents, counting living within enclaves of the group, or counting those participating in key activities. There is substantial overlap between "estimates" and "field work."

Outside that, in deleting the argument about organized vs. unorganized religions, you deleted real information, not just numbers, so I restored the listing, but not the population numbers. Please consider restoring the population figure information, or at least explain how your errors avoid the biases associated with errors. And, don't worry, we both agree that this is an "arguable" subject - no absolutes here. However, I do expect you to show some evidence that any major reference uses your definition of "major religion" (the 1% cut off) --Goodoldpolonius2 01:44, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Bias and accuracy

Well I think I did some extra edits, before you posted your comments, while you were entering information in talk page. If you think my these edits are not enough to clarify things about bias and errors in data. I’ll add more.
Second as main interest of the reader reading this article will be, which religions are major religions of the world, and won’t be mainly interested in what disputes surround them. I think writing an article about sources of disagreement will be a nice addition to wikipedia. And it will also avoid making this article messy. Although small comments or footnotes may be provided. But lengthy details, till new article is not written, should not come before the listing, it may come after the listing, comments or foot notes may come before listing.
Third I referred Indian census website multiple times to you, because it will tell you that hindu population is continuously increasing in India (by population), so if any source shows population less then even older Hindu population in india alone, it can’t be trusted.
I don’t think this is place to dispute that whether BBC and Christian Science Monitor is reliable or not. Here we can limit ourselves to the data about religion which you refered. It appeared to me, in your comments that, from all 5 methods you mentioned, Census is most reliable. As stats presented earlier gave total populations of some segments, even lesser then population of that segment, found by census in a single country alone, these reports can’t be called reliable. For example,(This is a totally hypothetical example, having nothing to do with actual stats in current world) if jewish population worldwide is a small fraction of the jewish population in Israel alone. And if any source produces a report mentioning worldwide jewish population lesser then jewish population, found by official census, in Israel alone, that source can’t be called reliable, at least in the context of that particular religion report.

Zain - I really don't have a problem with the population data you use, it is as accurate/inaccurate as anything else (Although you should know that census data doesn't exist for all countries. The US, for example, does not list religion on its census forms). Really, I think your work here is fine, and am impressed that you bothered to sort through all the data, like the Indian census. My big problem is that you took a step back by adding big bold major and minor divisions back in based on population - your major and minor definitions at the 1% population levels make no sense, and you have not defended them. Show me one site that says 1% is the threshold for minor and major religions (especially given that several of the religions mentioned are not actually religions, but collections of multiple beliefs). Every other distinction between major and minor in here is based on other sources, what are yours? Usually, standards of influence, dispersion, and measures of importance count more than just population.
Also, I think it is generally best practice to not refer to the talk page in an article, so you may want to put the discussion in a footnote, but I leave that to you.--Goodoldpolonius2 03:38, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I didn't rigorously defend of using 1%, as I understood that any line dividing major and minor will be line in water, but did explain the reasons in the talk page. for you I copy past it again
As data from www.adherents.com had many small religions too and the title of the Article is World Major religions so to distinguish between major and minor religions I used the thumb rule which is mostly used in the world for example in 'CIA world fact book' Ethnic and religious population less then 1% is not generally described. Using this universal rule I differentiated between major and minor religion by having population less then 1%.
Zain 21:37, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)
with regards
Zain 04:30, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Zain, are you happy with the current state of the article, so we can stop discussions? Your CIA world factbook argument is not very convincing on the 1%, I think that is more of an accuracy cut off than a major/minor one. Take a look at these entry, for examples:
  • World: Christians 32.71% (of which Roman Catholics 17.28%, Protestants 5.61%, Orthodox 3.49%, Anglicans 1.31%), Muslims 19.67%, Hindus 13.28%, Buddhists 5.84%, Sikhs 0.38%, Jews 0.23%, other religions 13.05%, non-religious 12.43%, atheists 2.41% (2002 est.)
  • Bulgaria: Bulgarian Orthodox 82.6%, Muslim 12.2%, Roman Catholic 1.7%, Jewish 0.1%, Protestant, Gregorian-Armenian, and other 3.4% (1998)

--Goodoldpolonius2 04:59, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Well to be true, I saw the fractions before you mentioned them and so if you closely look to my talk, OK let me copy paste it for you
"in 'CIA world fact book' Ethnic and religious population less then 1% is not generally described "
To be frank I didn't see any ethnic/religion segments other then jews mentioned when they are less then 1%, but I didn't mentioned it because this might be seen as offending to some, who might thing as I making the case for Yet another 'evidence' of 'Jewish' bias in United States. If you have come across any other exception please let me know. And Yeah even if it does or does not come I will stick with my wordings of 'generally described' because I see it line in water dividing major and minor.
with regards
Zain 05:55, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Zain. You are totally incorrect. Look at the world listing: Sikhs 0.38%. Or for Christians, the Gaza Strip, "Muslim (predominantly Sunni) 98.7%, Christian 0.7%, Jewish 0.6%." Or for indigenous religions, Rwanda: "Roman Catholic 56.5%, Protestant 26%, Adventist 11.1%, Muslim 4.6%, indigenous beliefs 0.1%" Or for Hindus and Christians, Thailand: "Buddhism 95%, Muslim 3.8%, Christianity 0.5%, Hinduism 0.1%, other 0.6%." Where religions are significant, and numbers are available they are listed.
Anyhow, this isn't about Judaism (I didn't understand your argument about "Jewish bias" -- are you saying the CIA includes Jews because it likes them?), Sikhism, or Bah'ais, this is about the fact that random authors should not be setting arbitrary lines without any outside authority. Your warning says "some would dispute" the 1% line, but, as you did last time, you have not produced any evidence that anyone besides yourself actually believes the 1% line. Unless you can produce one authoritative source that uses 1% as the dividing line between major and minor, you should not inject such definitions yourself. Since you have no more authority than me backing you on this, I am going to set the major/minor line at .1% -- why not? If you produce one authoratitive source (not your conjecture), I will accept your one percent line, otherwise I suggest we eliminate the arbitrary catagorization. (I hope these arguments aren't personal for you, by the way, as you can see I happily compromise when you convince me something is right) --Goodoldpolonius2 07:10, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Organized and Unorganized Religions (differentiation)

I’ll like to find out that, how an ‘organized’ religion is defined

  • If organized religion means that it has some core believes on which all agree or it was has a single person/group origin then why you mentioned Hinduism is defined as ‘organized religion’.
  • If ‘organized religion’ mean it can’t be subdivided into further clear religions, then will breakup of Chinese tradition religion and other big ‘unorganized religions’ will result in ‘organized religions’ bigger then some smaller already listed ‘organized religions’ decreasing their rankings.
  • If these both are incorrect I’ll really like to find out definition of organized religions.
Organized r


Order of methods

I think as you didn’t remove (or asked to remove) my method of ‘major’ by ‘majority’ and I didn’t remove or edited your method of ‘major’ by classical (if that is the right word for it), this thing(as far as existence of these two is concerned), is settled for now. Now what’s major (by appearance, not by wording), left is that, which of them should come first. I believe 'Classically defnied' method should be moved later because of following reasons.

Similar approach used by ‘adherents.com’

I will like to review your first post, in which you explained the reason of your changes. In that you referred me to the link [6], in this page population, was ‘main’ method which was used to declare a religion ‘major’,I assumed ‘main’ because it came first and it had bolder headlines), is population, and 'classical method' is mentioned later, there might be several reasons for it which I don't know but the reason I know are mentioned later in this post. As you might have observed that that website is quite non-bias and quite comprehensive about religion data. So for them too putting population first, is preferred method on classical method first.

Zain, look at the title of the Adherents article, "Major Religions Ranked by Size" and the title of the chart: "Major Religions of the World Ranked by Number of Adherents" they are ALL major religions, right down to Scientology. You are misreading the article. Lets just eliminate the line entirely. I originally kept the line just to make you happy anyway, since their seemed no justification for it.

Lesser acceptance by the readers

In addition to this, I believe most of the readers here will believe that ‘major by majority’ is less undisputed as compared to other methods. And Frankly speaking ,before you mentioned it, I even didn’t know about ‘major by classical definition’.

Many things are major that are not in majority and classical lists are simply the religions everyone learns about, because they were/are important, rather than simple majority decisions.

Classical Method is based on ignorance rather facts

I believe that, a lot more ‘dispute’ will rise ,by giving the impression that, ‘major by classical definition’ is default method, of declaring a religion, ‘major religion’. You may see it by the statement you wrote in the article and I quote:

”As the exposure of Westerners to other religions increased, five other religions were added “

Now as u can see that, main cause of excluding other religions, was merely there ignorance of their existence. So a classical definition has a lot to do with their ignorance, rather then ‘facts’. And I believe we should give ‘factual data’ more importance, rather then the data based on ignorance.

More dispute will arise as the result of randomly dividing the list of "Major Religions" in half - why not make them all "Major Religions"? You have no ground to stand on in dividing the list.

‘Hypothetical’ Example of Analogy with ‘Major countries’

For example if we have an article about ‘world major countries’, a ‘classical definition’ will exclude the countries like USA and Canada among others, not because they are not known to us now, but because they were not known earlier. If such list is written ahead of other lists, in an article on ‘world major countries’ today, like list by population or other methods (I strongly believe other methods should be added in this article too), if ‘world major countries’ article is written, ‘classical methods’ will be removed or at least lowered then other methods.

Classical in this case does not mean ancient, I describe how the list was arrived at through evolution. Look at the Adherents article.

Other possible problems

Now as u mentioned that, this ‘major’ definition had a lot to do with the lack of information about other religions, people in other parts too may like to put, their local ‘classical definition’ of ‘major’ religions on the top.

Yes, yes, please do give other classical definitions. That would be both interesting and enlightening. Just put in sources. --Goodoldpolonius2 07:26, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Proposal of other methods for new ‘Major’/’Minor’ rankings

I really really agree with you that, here we should not make population a ‘sole’ method of declaring a religion ‘major’. I am personally interested in finding ranking of religion by ‘GDP’, ’PPP’, ‘Education’, ‘military’ , ‘natural resources’ (oil, gold etc), ‘attachment to their religion’, ‘By Area’, ‘Crime rate’, ‘technology’, ’foreign policy strength’, any many others and of course an acceptable method of finding an aggregate method which will combine these and many others into a single ‘major’ religion ranking. But problem is that, data other then population is not available, by religion. If you have any links to other possible rankings of ‘major’ religions. I’ll be really happy if you let me know about them.

with regards
Zain 07:00, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Zain, you are really into statistics! Major religions have been traditionally defined because of their importance in history and theology. It would be interesting, for example, to know what Golden Age Islamic scholars considered the major religions. --Goodoldpolonius2 07:16, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)

This discussed improved the article a lot factually

I believe that this discussion made this article more true fatully, and made it less disputed and made it more informative. Now people can see more ways how to see a religion 'major' or 'minor'. Listining to all sides and makeup their own minds which method of 'ranking' is more correct and acceptable to their own concepts. of course our job here is not to change what people 'Believe In' but to change 'What People' Know. Here what we are telling people that which methods are used to define 'major' religion. And what result it has on the place of a religion when 'If' that particular definition is used. I believe if we try to change people 'knowledge' rather then changing their 'believe'.We can solve our differences more objectively and even without any dispute!!!!(Yes I believe this).
Now about the comment, on the refrence to the talk page which you made. Actually I believe if I see clearly that a significant number of users might get a picture a lot different, from a picture if they know a lot more information. I think its my job to provide them information in a more Clear manner. If a lot less readers are effected and scope of the difference which extra information might have is less. I believe in using a foot note or smaller steps.
SideNote: This Post I entered before your 0.1% method Of course u can make any definition like 10%, 0.1%, 0.01%, top 10, top20, top100 but just let me think about finding some more acceptable solution. And I believe I will be able to find.:-D

With Regards
Zain 07:51, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)

A Modest Proposal

Let all the religions on the page be listed as major religions and keep the classical talk as a historical discussion about what people used to think of as major religions (and add the views of others besides Christians, if possible). Population does not always relate to significance - Singapore has a little over 4 million people, yet it is considered a major economic and military power. Similarly, Sikhism, with 22 million people, is a major religion in India (and has a major influence in the country even with 1 billion non-Sikhs, see Indira Gahndi if you want to know more) and, increasingly, the West; while Zorastrianism, with just 150,000 adherents, is considered "major" because of the role it played in theology and the history of the Middle East. The splitting hairs game is silly and arbitrary. --Goodoldpolonius2 07:38, 2 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I am taking a little break because I have some disagreements but I don't want that an edit war should start here. I took a day off and now thinking of taking some more days off probably even a week or two. This I am doing in as shown in Wikipedia:Staying cool when the editing gets hot Although i don't agree with the current state of the Page but I don't thing that there is any factual problem with it. but rather problem is of 'opinion' that where to draw the line we both agree that any line will be 'arbirtary' but if we want to distinguish between two we have to draw it some where. and its locatoin will be always contoversial. Although I have some ideas in mind that how to make it more acceptable to all (Yes I have some ideas which can make even this possible!) and when I'll return I'll let u know and till then I hope you won't change it a lot further in disputeable areas.
thanks in advance
With regards
Zain 14:59, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Zain, I won't touch anything we have been debating, though I main clean up the grammer a little. While you are gone, think if any line is really necessary, of it we just can't keep a list of all these religions as "major" religions. In any case, I am sorry if you felt upset. --Goodoldpolonius2 15:28, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Also - I think you are puttting too much faith in these numbers. Even the best studies have much larger margins of error than expected. That makes any line very arbitrary. Numbers from Adherents.com:
  • Spreads can be as great as 100%: World estimates for Buddhism vary between 230 and 500 million, with most around 350 million
  • Definitions of religions are difficult (especially unorganized religions): According to the 1997 Encyclopedia Britannica Book of the Year, there were 10,292,500 adherents of "Spiritism" in the world. But a recent census from Brazil indicates 15 million professed spiritists (practitioners of Umbanda, for instance), as well as a fringe following (not officially professed, but possibly quite avid) of up to 50 million.
  • Shinto numbers could be as high as 100 million or as low as 4: Shinto is one of the "classic" eleven or twelve "major world religions." But adherent counts for this religion are problematic and often misunderstood. In a nutshell, Shinto is simply the indigenous ethnic practice of Japan and its importance is almost entirely historical and cultural, not contemporary. The number of adherents of Shinto are often reported as being around 100 million, or around 75 to 90% of the Japanese population. These figures come from the Shukyo Nenkan (Religions Yearbook), put out by the Ministry of Education & Bureau of Statistics, and they obtain their figures by asking religious bodies for statistics
  • Even large religions have error rates of 400 million people: Contemporary figures for Islam are usually between 900 million and 1.3 billion, with 1 billion being a figure frequently given in comparative religion texts, probably because it's such a nice, round number. Goodoldpolonius2 16:56, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)

doesnt work the Czech link - who will help?

this one cs:Hlavní_světová_náboženství doesnt work in the article (if you try to jump, in the cs-wiki starts edit-mode; some koding problem, maybe; it is exactly

Who will help to repair the link from en to cs article?

Thanks many--Josefjan 12:05, 3 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Well I don't know Czech. May be if you ask this question on any Czech article of wikipedia. It might be more helpful.
Zain 14:41, 3 Jan 2005 (UTC)