With the appointment of the new Pope in Rome, much is being written about his being the first South American to hold the office, if it can be called that, and the nature of his stance during the brutal past wars his country engaged in. However, every Pope has had past baggage, just like every major world religion has much in common with other competing religions. Often, the only difference between the major religions of the world is the false belief of the practitioners that their religion is truer and better than others.
If we look at religions in a highly abbreviated format, we can see most of them promote the same basic objectives, but with only slightly different trappings.
- It only makes sense that the founder of this faith, a humble, obscure first century Galilean carpenter who preached humility, otherworldliness, non-accumulation of possessions, tolerance and forbearance, would have his message taken over by acquisitive, palace-building, gold hunting aggressive clerics. The Roman Empire, corrupt, evil, on its last leg to collapse, took over the religion it had formerly persecuted and installed its Caesar as the new head of the church, the first "Pope." Jesus may have overturned the tables of the money changers, but the word ever since is go for the gold, constructing ornate, opulent city-size palaces, wearing gold robes, golden jewelry, crowns with rubies, emeralds, diamonds, the gold stolen from South American natives who were later converted to the faith. Catholic clerics preach to the poor to not practice birth control often in the most poverty-stricken countries like Brazil that don't have the resources to handle their mushrooming population, to the point that they have to cut down the Amazon Rain Forest to try and survive. Catholics want to out-populate other religions in the best imperialistic style of the old Roman Empire, and the expanded birth program of the more recent Nazi Germany. They have launched crusades and wars of conquest against supposed heathens, but also against other Christians. Pillage, plunder, murder, in the name of Jesus. Priests molest young boys. What's all this have to do with Jesus?
- The Jews rightly believe they're the oldest, but like other religions, wrongly believe that they're also the best, as if there is such a thing as a best religion. More clannish than some other religions, that means they don't want you to marry their daughter if you're not also Jewish. They believe in the more cruel, austere Old Testament minus Jesus, which tends to recount a lot of smiting (killing). Everyone who doesn't believe in the Old Testament gets smited, whether it's Canaanites, Philistines, or the Palestinians of today. If they don't like you, they really like to smite you. Like other religions, this religion has many curious symbolic acts, such as painting animal blood over doorways at Passover, stomping glass cups at weddings, refusing pork, wearing little beanies that don't provide shade from the sun, and getting obsessive over candle holders. Because over the centuries they were often mistreated by Catholics, they developed a sense of humor when they're not smiting, and provided many fine comics and entertainers.
- A dry desert air religion. More obsessive with direction than other religions, everybody has to bow and point their head toward Mecca, signifying that something of importance once happened in this sleepy little desert spice-trade caravan town. Just as imperialistic as other religions, Islamists tend to be humorless, unlike the Jews, so that when they smite you, or do a jihad on you as they like to put it, it makes you angrier than if they told a joke and smited you. Beards are big in this religion, beards and turbans. Instead of God and Jesus, or God and no Jesus, they believe in God and the Prophet. They have their own Bible, the Koran. Less materialistic and gold-hungry than other religions, and not as interested in ringing bells, they nevertheless like to build tall towers, climb to the top and yell over loudspeakers. They have many sects in this religion, including the not-so-crazies, and the real way-out-whackos. They treat women and donkeys badly. They believe they are the un-corrupted voice of God, and have a duty to gain supremacy and conquest over non-believers, just as Christians believe they are un-corrupted and want to conquer the Islamists.
- Sells itself as a religion that's not a religion. Doesn't believe in any one God, any one dogma, any one concept, or set of rites, but includes a crazy gargoyle patchwork of deities sprouting multi-heads and arms and multiple mix-mangled philosophies seemingly based on the premise that hallucinogenic inarticulacy is profound. Death and rebirth and reincarnation are important to Hindus, who believe that if you commit wrong, you come back as an unpleasant animal, and the concept of duality, the whole, and the self, and the all-knowing and the no-knowing, that nothing is real, and life is an unbroken circle, and transcendent. This is a religion for people who believe the bigger the words describing it, the more important it must be, and therefore the closer to God, words such as "Satchidananda." Everything has to end with the letter A, like karma and yoga. Not for the simple-minded. Obsessed with cremation and dumping people's ashes in already-polluted rivers, and like other religions, stresses over-population to out-represent other religions way beyond the ability of the natural resources of the Asian countries where it is often practiced.
- Less imperialistic than many other religions, less of an emphasis on money and conquest, Buddhists believe everything means everything. Everything has symbolic importance, even little insects. Big on insects. You shouldn't step on one. Big on symbolic trappings, but unlike other religions, not opulent, but bargain basement accoutrements, robes, prayer wheels, incense. Big on shaved heads and sitting trance-like with crossed legs, and making hum-sounds. More into the life-sucks-and-everything-after-is-better philosophy, Buddhists believe in eight principles of meekness that in art represents a ships' wheel.
Protestant - An offshoot of Catholicism, founded by a drunken lecher and butcher English king who wanted to divorce his wife.
- Would you believe in an angel named Moroni? A cult founded by a mushroom-smoking Upstate New York hillbilly with a forged set of commandments and a secret inner sanctum in Utah, and whose proponents include very clean, hardworking conservative people who look like Donny Osmond and who like other religions, recommend large families to out-populate other religions, and who send out boys wearing ties on bikes to convert heathens in exotic countries where like most other religions, they are not wanted.
Methodist, Presbyterian, and all the rest. More offshoots. Includes elements of all the above.