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Navigating through the
Overview of World Religions


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The Overview of World Religions site is the outcome of a collaborative project undertaken by the Museum of World Religions in Taiwan and the Department of Religion and Social Ethics at St.Martins's College, Lancaster. Its purpose is to provide a systematic interactive resource of religions of the world that will be of use to both the specialist scholar and the non-specialist who wishes to develop his or her knowledge of religion. The site consists of an Introductory Essay on the issues involved in classifying religions plus two extensive sections: one on trans-cultural religions and one on religions specifically characteristic of major regions of the world. The user can access the introductory essay simply by clicking on the Introduction.

The trans-cultural religions section consists of flow charts that depict the way particular religions have developed into subgroups as a result of sectarian divisions or other causes. By clicking on the name of a religion the user will access such a chart. In the case of Buddhism, Christianity and Islam a general flow chart will appear, sections of which lead to more detailed charts representing branches of the religion. In the case of Hinduism, there are two flow charts (one depicting Hindu devotional groups and the other depicting ritual and ascetic groups), each of which can be accessed through the other. All other religions are represented by a single flow chart.

Accompanying each chart is an essay explaining how the chart has been conceptualised. This can be accessed by clicking on the icon representing the religion, which can be found in the top right corner of the page (In the case of Buddhism, Islam and Christianity, an explanatory essay is available for each chart.) In the top left corner of every chart is the Overview of World Religions logo, which provides a link back to the OWR homepage when clicked.

Once the user has accessed a chart s/he can then access entries on the sub-groups depicted in each chart. Each entry provides information on the sub-group's doctrines, history, symbol system, adherents and headquarters or main centre. Each entry has links at the top of the page to return the user to the current religion's flow chart (by clicking on the religion's icon in the top right corner) and the OWR homepage (by clicking the OWR logo in the top left corner). In the case of Buddhism, Islam and Christianity, the religion icon in the top right corner leads back to the general flow chart, and a separate link is provided in the top centre of the page to return to the current sub-chart.

The sections on regions depict the religio-historical development of major areas of the world. This consists of charts with the indigenous, transplanted and new or neo-traditional religions represented by chronologically arranged bars. The charts are accessed by simply clicking on the name of the region; accompanying each chart is an explanatory essay accessible by clicking the on the name of the religion in the top left corner, just beneath the OWR logo. The entries on indigenous, new and neo-traditional religions are accessed simply by clicking on the name of that religion. These entries are in the same format as those of the sub-groups in the trans-cultural religions section. Clicking on the name of a transplanted religion (those listed in the trans-cultural religions section) will provide access to the flow chart of that religion. Once again, the front page can be accessed from the regional charts by clicking on the OWR logo.

We would like to thank you for visiting this site, and hope you have found the information here useful and worthwhile.
Please feel free to send any comments by email to either:
Elliott Shaw (General Editor): e.shaw@ucsm.ac.uk or:
Jim McGrath (Web Site Design): j.mcgrath@futurimij.8m.com


This page written by J.I.McGrath, Web Site Designer and Coder, with input from E.Shaw, General Editior