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LEADER RESOURCE 1: Matching Belief Systems and Statements

Unitarian Universalism — We agree that after physical death, a person lives on through the people who have known them and the deeds they have done. We may hold different ideas about the nature or existence of an afterlife.

Roman Catholicism — We believe people are judged when they die, based on their sins and how completely they have repented by doing particular rituals. A few people go straight to Heaven. Some go to Hell and stay there forever. Some go to Purgatory, where they suffer until they are purified of their sins and can go to Heaven.

Fundamentalist Christianity — We believe anyone who accepts Christ as their savior will be saved and go to Heaven. People who are not saved go to Hell.

Buddhism — We believe a person will be born and reborn many times until their soul reaches an enlightened state called Nirvana.

Science — We know about the physical part of death because we can observe it by examining dead bodies. We can observe the return of all living matter to the earth after death. Until scientific experiments prove some facts, we cannot know what happens to the non-physical aspects of a person after their physical death.

Judaism — Life is more important than death. We do not have one, definite answer to "What happens when we die?" There may be an afterlife, but our faith offers many different concepts of what it might be. Hebrew scripture, rabbinic commentary on scripture and our own personal experiences and philosophies provide individual Jews with answers.

Hinduism — We believe each soul spends multiple lifetimes on Earth, evolving each time so it can ultimately become perfect and merge with the Divine. Between lifetimes, your soul may go to a heaven- or hell-like place, depending on your deeds on Earth—your karma—and your thoughts at the time of death. Our ideas about "What happens when we die?" are expressed in a scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita.

Liberal Christianity — We believe there is some sort of life after death but we do not know the details. We do not believe scripture is literally the word of God, yet we may look to the Bible's text to form our ideas about what happens when we die. However, our faith is more focused on how we live following Jesus' teachings than on what happens after.

Humanism — We only live once. To us, "life" means life in our human bodies. There is no afterlife. After we die, our molecules live on, but we do not.

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Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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