(This fact is briefly addressed below.) We agree with the prominent comparative religion scholar Irving Hexham (an Evangelical Christian, and a professor at the University of Calgary) who wrote:
Baha'is have achieved this status partially through their worldwide geographical spread and increasing numbers, and partially by constantly insisting that they are indeed the "newest world religion."
The classical set of twelve is not necessarily the most accurate reflection of the present, real-world religious situation.
For most religious Chinese who do not explicitly follow a different religion such as Islam or Christianity, these different ancient Chinese philosophies and traditions form a single, seamless composite religious culture and worldview.
In many countries (Germany is a good example) there is also segment of the population which is counted as adherents of a religion, but which do not personally profess belief in that religion.
Barrett (World Christian Encyclopedia, 2001) classified 384,806,732 "Chinese folk-religionists," 6,298,597 "Confucianists" and 2,654,514 "Taoists," or about 394 million total.
There are thousands of religions in this world, but according to how many are there website, there are twenty-one major beliefs in 2013 and each religion contains multiples branches....
One portion of this broad grouping includes those who are best described as "nonreligious," i.e., those who are essentially passive with regards to organized religion, generally affirming neither belief nor disbelief.
For the purposes of this list, this grouping also includes more proactive or well-defined philosophies such as secular humanism, atheism, agnosticism, deism, pantheism, freethought, etc., most of which can be classified as religions in the sociological sense, albeit secular religions.
People who specify atheism as their religious preference actually make up less than one-half of one percent of the population in many countries where much large numbers claim no religious preference, such as the United States (13.2% nonreligious according to ARIS study of 2001) and Australia (15% nonreligious).
The highest figure we have for "Nonreligious" is 20% of the world population, or about 1.2 billion: "Over 20 percent of the world's population does not claim any allegiance to a religion.
Although these religions have vastly different fundamental ideologies they have a major commonality, the presence of a super divine god that is essentially the highest power....
Ninian Smart approached religion as a religious studies specialist and instead of trying to define religion, he identified certain recognizable elements that religion in general possess and focused on studying them 3, 4, 9.
But at this point, it is difficult to accurately determine how many of those classified as atheists or nonreligious during Communist-era USSR and by the current Chinese government are actually atheists according to their personal beliefs, and how many are unregistered religious adherents or participants in less-organized traditional systems that are oriented around ancestors, animism, shamanism, etc.
Seven years later, Air Force leaders are still struggling to find an appropriate balance that will continue to allow airmen their religious freedom while honoring their commitment to duty.
Between 300 and 600 CE, religions with universal effort began to spread across various geological regions and a new spiritual earnestness developed with social and political contacts that gave religious belief powerful understanding....