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Issues and Traditions in Western Religions

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Religion can be described as a system of worship and faith, based on a belief in the benevolent God. This is usually expressed by believers according to the religion's customs and rules of behavior. The religions that will be discussed in this paper are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. A brief summary of the top two current issues facing each of these religions will be provided. This paper will also identify two sacred holidays for each religion and provide the significance and major characteristics of each holiday.


Judaism is the religion of the Jews. It is a way of life with a set of basic beliefs and values. Judaism is more concerned with this life than the afterlife. One of the top current issues that Jews often face is anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism has existed for many years, but has now increased even in communities where Jews have never lived. The Palestinian attacks have been a clear indication of hostility towards Jews. Another issue Jews face today is Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ." The movie caused much controversy when Gibson said he was going to tell "the truth" about the last 12 hours of Jesus' life (Anti-Defamation League). The script raised concerns that it could possibly increase anti-Semitism.


Christianity is the religion of Christians. "Christianity is a religion based upon the belief that the Bible contains a divine message and that Jesus represents a change in the relationship between man and God" (Encyclopaedia of the Orient). One of the top issues that Christians face is the issue of abortion. Christians are strongly opposed to abortion, and they feel that abortion harms women physically, mentally, and spiritually. They feel that the life should be celebrated and not taken for granted. Christians also believe that a baby is a gift God gave women for the sake of humanity. Another issue Christians face is homosexuality. It is the strong belief of Christians that homosexuality is a sin. They believe that marriage is intended to be a bond between only a man and a woman.


Islam is the religion of Muslims. Islam teaches monotheism which is the doctrine that there is only one God in all existence. One of the top issues Muslims face today is the issue of them being terrorists. Muslims constantly face threats and insults, and in a few instances, violence, since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Even though the fear has subsided for Americans, suspicion is always in the back of their minds. Another issue that many Muslim women face is domestic violence. In the instance of husband and wife, Islam gives a level of authority to the husband. This often leads to poor treatment and sometimes abuse.

Sacred Traditions


Judaism has many well-known sacred traditions. One of the most important holidays of the Jewish year is Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement, which means "afflict the soul." Since no work can be performed on this day, many Jews will not go to work; they will fast, completely refrain from food and drink. Most of the day is spent in prayer at a synagogue. Yom Kippur is part of Rosh Hashanah, also known as the Jewish New Year. Rosh Hashanah or "first of the year" is another very important holiday for Judaism. "Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the most holy days through the year for Jews" (Encyclopaedia of the Orient).


Christianity also has many



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