Free choice and opportunity, not race, creed, gender, orientation, caste, class, or color make people different.
- Universal Life Church Monastery Mission
Some religions are primal faith traditions, meaning that they existed at the beginning of recorded history. Few of these exist as major world religions today; however as examples, certain beliefs in Hinduism, Chinese folk religion, Zoroastrianism, and Judaism probably qualify to be called "primal."
Most primal traditions were localized and did not have missionary conversion doctrines. Over time, a religious conversion meme dominated world politics and certain religions became prominent as other religions went into decline or total non-practice. Of the three world religions with a tradition of converting non-believers to their belief systems "Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam" the latter two have been particularly domineering worldwide in the forcefulness of their propagation. Christians usually referred to primal faith traditions as "pagan", while Muslims usually referred to them as what is translated to mean "idolaters." Both of these terms are derogatory within those religions.
There typically is no connection between any one primal faith tradition and another. Even primal traditions in close geographical proximity or in different groups within a cultural or ethic category can vary to the point of complete differentiation. The fact that primal faith traditions are grouped together in this book is due to an ability to give fair treatment to any of them.
With apologies, a goal of this book is to be concise and meaningful to the greatest number of readers. An overview of each is not possible within that goal. Interested parties should do their own research and be aware that many primal faith traditions are preserving their doctrines by means of Internet documentation and awareness campaigns.
Primal Faith Traditions by Geography
Africa is a continent which contains areas subjected to wide-scale human rights abuses of the worst kinds for at least centuries. Through no fault of their own, indigenous peoples there have had their faiths shaken in literally ungodly ways. Those that remain are soulful, steadfast, inspirational, and in need of increased global awareness without further shocking intervention.
Most European native traditions are chronicled in history as being converts. Some traditions are well-documented otherwise; some exist even today.
Northern Siberia's native traditions remained intact longer than elsewhere in Russian Federation due to that land being less economically desirable than other places in modern times. Heavily populated places became homogeneous more readily.
When the "New World" was "discovered" by Westerners in the late fifteenth century CE, it was actually already inhabited in most viable regions. Very few indigenous peoples north of Mexico live without thorough integration into non-indigenous society. Often the decimation of native religion in the Americas is paired with decimation of native renewable resources.
When Australia was "discovered" in the early seventeenth century CE it was actually already inhabited in most viable regions by the Aborigines and the Torres Strait Islanders. The debate about the impact of this "discovery" is known in Australia as the "History Wars." Pacific Island tribal faiths are some of the best preserved still in practice.
China has been recovering from an identity crisis stemming from the British Opium Wars in the early nineteenth century; since then its government has taken varying stands on the status of native religion.
India has legal protections in place since the mid-twentieth century for what are called "Scheduled Tribes," "Scheduled Castes," and "Other Backward Classes."
Middle Eastern native traditions were documented in various ways. A great tragedy of the twenty-first century was the public loss of Mesopotamian religious artifacts in the American / Iraqi War.
For those interested in learning more of the various Primal Faiths the ULC Catalog carries the The World's Religions by Hutson Smith.