Here some background information about Christianity, the most practiced religion in the world.
Beliefs/Practices: Followers of the Christian religion base their beliefs on the life, teachings, and death of Jesus Christ.
Christians believe in one God that created heaven, earth, and the universe.
The belief in one God originated with the Jewish religion.
Christians believe Jesus Christ is the "Messiah" or savior of the world. They also believe that Christ is the son of God.
Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem to Mary, a virgin at the time of conception, and Joseph, her husband. Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel and told she would conceive a son, though she was not yet married and a virgin and he would be the Messiah.
Jesus was crucified on a cross. His death made salvation and forgiveness of sins possible for all.
On the third day after his crucifixion, Jesus Christ arose from the dead. The resurrection of Christ is celebrated on Easter, which is considered Christianity's most important holiday.
After Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection, God's presence remained on earth in the form of the Holy Spirit to be a comforter to all.
Salvation can only be obtained by believing that Jesus was sent by God to forgive the sins of every human, and to confess those sins to him.
Interpretations of the Bible and the practices of each church vary by denomination, but the belief in one God and Jesus as the Messiah is central to all Christians.
History: Christian beliefs date back thousands of years before Christ.
Many prophets predicted the coming of Christ, as written in multiple books of the Old Testament, according to Christian belief.
Many theologians believe that Jesus was crucified between 30 and 33 A.D.
The first Christians were Jews who came to believe Jesus was the Messiah. Gentiles (non-Jews) also made up a large majority of its followers, as is the case today.
392 AD - Christianity becomes the official religion of the Roman Empire.
1054 - Disputes about the Pope's role and authority caused a split in Christianity between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. The split still exists today.
1517 - Martin Luther, a German monk, started a movement called the Reformation when he criticized certain church practices as well as the supremacy of the pope. This divided Western Christianity into the Roman Catholic Church and Protestantism.
Statistics: World Religions (2010 est./CIA Factbook/newest available as of 2014)
Christian 33.39% (Roman Catholic 16.85%, Protestant 6.15%, Orthodox 3.96%, Anglican 1.26%)
Other religions 10.95%
United States Religions (2007 est./Pew/newest available as of 2014)
Protestant - 51.3%
Roman Catholic - 23.9%
Mormon - 1.7%
Jewish - 1.7%
Buddhist - 0.7%
Muslim - 0.6%
Unaffiliated (includes atheist and agnostic) - 16.1%