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15 interesting religions you may not know about

Published: Thursday, Aug. 14 2014 11:40 a.m. MDT

Blurred people in cathedral

Jose antonio Sanchez reyes, Getty Images/Hemera

Religion is by no means an unpopular subject throughout the world.

In fact, there are about 4,200 religions on Earth. Although it’s tough to estimate how many religions are in the United States, the population is 78.4 percent Christian, breaking down into a number of denominations from there, according to the Pew Research Center.

With so many religions around the world, it’s tough to keep track of them all. Here’s a list of 15 religions you may not have heard of:

Druze

Druze — a spinoff of Shiite Islam — has been around since the 11th century and is now primarily found in Lebanon and Syria, according to Pew. It’s been estimated that anywhere between 700,000 and 2 million people in the world follow this religion. One of those was the late radio host Casey Kasem, who was highly acclaimed by the religion, according to Deseret News National.

Yezidi

The Yezidi sect has popped up in the news a little more recently with the conflict in Iraq. American troops have actually been sent to Iraq to help free the trapped Yezidis, The Daily Star reported. But what’s the faith about? It’s actually a combination of Shiite and Sufi Islam and has been referenced more often as an ethnoreligious group rather than a solidified religion.

Church of All Worlds

The Church of All Worlds is one of the oldest offshoots of neopaganism and centers on the mother Earth goddess, according to the religion’s main website. Believers worship a divine being connected to the Earth, which flows into their everyday beliefs.

“CAW as a religion is a system of values, customs and ideas organized in an organic fashion,” reads their website. “It will grow, develop and evolve in a way that brings about the best in humanity and honors Divinity.”

Jediism

The Force is surely with these believers. Everyone’s heard of Jedis, but did you know it’s also an actual religion? The religion has accumulated thousands of supporters in recent years (about 5,000 in the United States alone), promoting the idea that all living things are connected and bound together by an omnipresent force, according to The Daily Mail.

“No, we don't worship Yoda,” said believer Ally Thompson to The Daily Mail. “And telekinesis is not something that we necessarily do — at least not like in the ('Star Wars') movies. ... But I won't deny that the Force is very present in our teachings. Some people call it magic. Some call it Ashe. The scientific community calls it energy. But it's everywhere. You can find it in the Bible. When Moses parted the Red Sea — how did he do that? With energy. With the Force.”

Mami Wata

As with the Church of All Worlds’ emphasis on nature, Mami Wata is an African religion that focuses heavily on water. The Smithsonian explained that the religion worships the water spirit Mami Wata, who can bring good fortune through the use of water.

Jainism

Jainism is an extremely popular religion in India — accounting for more than 4 million of the near 2 billion that live there — with about 6 million followers worldwide, Patheos reported. The main focus of the religion is for followers to clear themselves of all karma and take themselves out of the rebirthing process — which makes one into a “conquerer,” where the religion gets its name, according to Patheos.

Candomblé

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