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I. BASIC RELIGIONS.
II. RELIGIONS ORIGINATING IN INDIA.
III. RELIGIONS ORIGINATING IN CHINA AND JAPAN.
IV. RELIGIONS ORIGINATING IN THE MIDDLE EAST.
The world has changed since the last edition of this book was published. After September 11, 2001, it was no longer necessary to question the need for the academic study of religion. Policymakers, students, and the public at large came to understand very quickly that religion had replaced economics as the most ideologically potent force in the post-Cold War world. Just as religions include the seeds of peace, they offer the potential for hatred and violence. It is naive to believe that understanding alone will lead to tolerance and acceptance of the basic humanity of others. Some interpretations of most religions are inherently intolerant and incline toward violence. Understanding the dark side is, however, essential in the struggle to overcome it. Understanding religions other than our own, even if our own is none, is also necessary if we are to avoid stereotyping all members of a faith because of the violent acts of a few. In preparing the ninth edition of Lewis Hopfe's text, I have drawn on my experience teaching the introductory course on world religions to thousands of students over the past decade and living and working in Buddhist and Muslim societies for extended periods. I have tried to bring the book and the study of world religions into the post-September 11 era. There is expanded coverage of "new religions" and new variants of established traditions. Some of these traditions, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the new Chinese religion Falun Dafa, have been the victims of persecution. Others, including the version of Islam promoted by Usama bin Laden and his associates and Hindu fundamentalist in India, encourage acts of violence.
Mythanks to the reviewers of the ninth edition: Barry R. Sang, Catawba College, and Pamela Jean Owen, University of Nebraska.
This edition of Religions of the World is dedicated to the survivors and victims of the tragedies of September 11, 2001.
Mark R. Woodward