Providing detailed descriptions of the beliefs, rituals, history, and organization of the world's eight major religious traditions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Shinto, this fully revised and updated edition is an easy-to-use comparative guide for anyone seeking basic religious literacy. Clearly and eloquently written by a scholar with more than 40 years of study and teaching experience, The Handy Religion Answer Book is organized into chapters on each major religion and contains a wealth of information about their history, beliefs, symbols, membership, leaders, observances, and customs. The reference answers more than 800 questions, such as What is the significance of the Star of David? How did so many different Christian churches come into being? What is the importance of the month of Ramadan? What is an Ayatollah? and Do Taoists believe in heaven and hell?, as well as new questions concerning religion and violence and suborganizations that claim affiliation with the major faith communities. A glossary of religious terminology, maps of the general coverage areas for each religion, and suggestions for further reading are also included.