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What All Religions Have In Common

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.

Can you identify the symbols of the 12 major religions?

Can you identify the symbols of the 12 major religions?

I have taught Major World Religions in high school and in college. The one thing that students took away from the course is that all religions have some of the same things in common.

The average person might not know about all 12 of the major religions. However, people might know something about a few religions other than the one they belong to.


Religion: Definition

Religion can be defined as an organized system of beliefs by followers, ceremonies, practices, and worship that are centered around one supreme God, or deity.

Religion can also be described as man’s attempt to gain the highest possible good for himself by living his life the best way he can according to some spiritual guidance.

What All Religions Include

A system of beliefs



Worship of one supreme being or deity

Attempt to achieve highest possible good

Recognizable symbols

12 Major World Religions

There are thousands of religions in the world but only twelve major ones. Those twelve are the ones that are often included in world religion surveys and studied in world religions classes.

The twelve major religions are listed in alphabetical order in the chart below along with what each religion has in common.

Most religions have the following things in common:

  • A supreme being to worship
  • Sacred texts for instructions
  • A golden rule to follow for instruction on how people should relate to others
  • A pilgrimage that may or may not be required by some religions

Symbols of the 12 Major Religions


What Religions Have in Common

ReligionDeity or Supreme BeingSacred WritingsGolden RulePilgrimage

Baha'i (5-7 million)

Monotheistic God

Writings of the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh

Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself.

Holy places in Iraq and Iran

Buddhism (520 million)

No supreme being, the path of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama is followed to reach nirvana

Tripitaka and The Sutras

Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.

Bodh Gaya in India

Christianity (2,420 million)


The Bible

Do unto other as you would have them do unto you

The Holy Land

Confucism (6 million)

No supreme being but Confucius is honored.

Four Books

What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others.

Mount Tai, a holy mountain in China

Hinduism (1,150 million)


The Vedas

Treat others as you treat yourself

Sacred sites in India

Islam (1,800 million)


The Quran

That which you want for yourself, seek for mankind


Jainism (4 million)

Arihant and Siddha

The Agamas

Treat all creatures the way you want to be treated.

Shatrunjaya in Gujarat

Judaism (17 million)

Monotheistic God

Tanach or the Jewish Bible

Love your neighbor as yourself:


Shinto (100 million)


The Kojiki and the Nihon-gi

The heart of the person before you is a mirror. See there your own form.

Three Grand Shrines in Japan

Sikhism (30 million)


Guru Granth Sahib

Treat others like precious jewels and do do hurt them.

Amritsar and Harmandir Saheb (the Golden Temple)

Taoism (Daoism) - (12-173 million)

No God like other religions

The Tao Te Ching and Lao-tzu

Regard your neighbor's gain and losses as your own.

Sacred mountains in China

Zoroastrianism (124-190 thousand)

Ahura and Mazda

Gathas and Yasna

Do not do unto others whatever is injurious to yourself.

The Iranshah Atash Behram


As you can see from the chart above, every religion has a golden rule that says basically the same thing even though it is not worded exactly alike. The Golden Rule in all religions encourages people to treat others as they would like to be treated. It is stated in a way that people should be treated in a fair and just manner.

Informal and Unorganized Religions

If you are wondering why there are only 12 major religions while there are hundreds of religions in the world, the answer is quite simple. A religion is considered major not because it is viewed as being more special than another. Instead, it is based on the number of current adherents in that particular religion.

The number of followers is based on census reports and population surveys that do change over the years. Because of the way questions are phrased on the surveys, it is difficult to get an accurate number of adherents, especially on informal and unorganized religions.

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