It is tremendously difficult to summarize a religious tradition that has developed worldwide for two thousand years. Christianity is the largest religious group in the world, with over 2 billion followers, roughly one-third of all the people in the world. Although the largest number of Christians is in the United States, that number has begun to decline, although there has been tremendous growth in Africa and Latin America. Read more.
Christianity takes its name from “Christ,” a Greek word meaning “Anointed One,” the title given to Jesus of Nazareth, who is central to Christianity. Jesus’ teachings, his execution on a cross by the Romans, and his being raised again are at the center of Christian faith. Although there are great differences in understanding and interpreting the beliefs of Christianity, Christians generally share a few key beliefs: Read more.
Almost every religious tradition has a value which is known as “The Golden Rule.” The Christian form comes from the teaching of Jesus: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Christians are called to “love your neighbor as yourself,” to show tolerance, respect, and compassion for others. Read more.
There are no universally prescribed actions observed by all Christians. Christians do not generally wear distinctive clothing (though modesty is valued), they do not generally have restrictions on food (although restrictions did exist previously, e.g. for Catholics not to eat meat on Fridays), and they do not generally observe universal times for prayer or other observances (except for a Sunday Sabbath). Living as a Christian is largely a matter of personal practice, based on the customs or teachings of one’s particular denominational tradition. Read more.
In no particular order, these are key issues that concern Christians today [NOTE: you will find passionate Christians on all sides of most of these issues]:
Separation of church and state
Christian attitudes about the relationship of faith and governmental structures run the whole spectrum of possibilities from complete identification to complete separation. In the Bible, Jesus responds to the question of whether the Jews should recognize the secular authority of Caesar by answering, "Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God" (Luke 20:25). During the medieval age, church and state frequently allied; Popes fielded armies and emperors depended on the church’s support to hold their power (although at some times the relationship between the Church and state became strained). Being Christian was often compulsory, and those who refused to convert (primarily Jews, and later various Protestant sects) were subject to torture and execution. Read more.