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Religions of the world

Resources on religious beliefs and practices for
chaplains, medical personnel, hospital personnel,
and anyone else dealing with the public.

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Author's note:

By coincidence, work on this essay began on the 40th anniversary of the official
recognition of multiculturalism in Canada. On 1971-OCT-08, Prime Minister
Pierre Trudeau announced that Canada was the world's first and only constitutionally
multicultural country.

One aspect of multiculturalism is religious diversity and, hopefully, religious tolerance and freedom.

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Why this type of information is needed.

Two hundred years ago, the U.S. was an overwhelmingly Protestant nation with a smattering of Deists among the intellectual elite. Catholics, non-Christians, secularists were a rarity. A hundred years ago, with the influx of Roman Catholic and other immigrants, North America brcame an overwhelmingly Christian nation of diverse beliefs: Protestants, Catholics, Anglicans, Orthodox and other Christians. Today, with multiple flows of immigrations from the Middle East and Asia, the increase of the number of persons unaffiliated with any religion, the arrival of New Age, Wicca and other Neopagan religions, the surge in Agnostics, Atheists, Secular Humanists, and unaffiliated NOTAs (None Of The Above) etc., Protestants have recently become a minority and the U.S. has become religiously diverse.

The book publisher HarperSanFrancisco wrote in their introduction to Diana L. Eckj's book: "A new religious America" (1997):

" 'The United States is the most religiously diverse nation in the world,' leading religious scholar Diana Eck writes in this eye-opening guide to the religious realities of America today. The Immigration Act of 1965 eliminated the quotas linking immigration to national origins. Since then, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Zoroastrians, and new varieties of Jews and Catholics have arrived from every part of the globe, radically altering the religious landscape of the United States. Members of the world's religions live not just on the other side of the world but in our neighborhoods; Hindu children go to school with Jewish children; Muslims, Buddhists, and Sikhs work side-by-side with Protestants and Catholics.

As a result, anyone who deals with the public will find knowledge of various faith groups' beliefs and practices to be helpful. This is particlarly important for persons engaged in pastoral work in prisons, universities, hospitals, the military, and other institutions.

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Sources of information about diverse religions:

bulletPagan Pastoral Outreach operates programs and/or has extensive information available about Pagan prison programs, Pagan hospital chaplaincy, Pagan death and dying options, Pagans in the Military, Pagan chaplaincy in universities, pastoral training programs, Pagan ethics, multifaith issues, religious rights and their group's administration. Although a Canadian group, their information has world-wide applicability. See:

bullet North Carolina Department of Correction has a "Religious Practices Reference Manual" online. See:


The U.S. Army has a Chaplains' manual. It is titled: "Religious Requirements and Practices of Certain Selected Groups: A Handbook for Chaplains," by the Office of the Chief of Chaplains, United States Army, 2001-OCT. mentions that:

"A specific purpose of the handbook was also to limit the amount of information provided on each group. Thus, while the information is accurate (in most instances approved by authorities from the individual groups themselves), it is by no means comprehensive. The material presented in the handbook was derived through an extensive research effort.

However, one Amazon reviewer cautions:

"The contents of this book were published in 1978, then copyrighted and reprinted by University Press of the Pacific in 2001, without update. In at least the case of Wicca, the material is badly out of date and incomplete.

Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store

bullet The Ontario Multifaith Council on Spiritual and Religious Care publishes the "Multifaith Information Manual, 5th edition" in both English and French. It contains information on the Baha'i faith, Buddism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Native Spirituality, Sikhism, Unitarianism, Wicca, and Zoroastrianism. See:

bullet Correction Services Canada once produced a Chaplaincy Manual on Religious and Spiritual Accommodation. It no longer appears to be available. We have written to Correction Services to determine if a replacement document is available.

Sources of multifaith wall calendars:

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Websites listing holy days and seasonal days of celebrations for many faiths:

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A scan of's book data base for "Chaplain Handbook" produces these books:

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A scan of's book data base for "Chaplain Manual" produces these books:

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A related essay on this website:

bullet The Affirmation of Acknowledgment: A statement of interfaith tolerance

bullet A vision of religious diversity tolerance and freedom

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Book Review of "A New Religious America: How a Christian Country Has Become the World's Most Religiously Diverse Nation." by Diana L. Eck, The Pluralism Project, at:    
  2. image of book cover Read reviews or order Diana Eck's book safely from online book store   

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Copyright 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last updated 2011-OCT-10
Hyperlinks checked 2011-OCT-09
Author: Bruce A Robinson
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