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2 min read
Lisa Stewart
December 13, 2023
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2 min read

How to talk about religion in English

In this article, we'll explore how to discuss religion using examples from the three major Abrahamic religions — Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.
How to talk about religion in English

How to talk about religion in English

Talking about religion and different beliefs can be a sensitive topic, especially for English learners. It's essential to approach these conversations with tact and consideration, respecting the diverse perspectives and beliefs of others.

In this article, we'll explore how to discuss religion using examples from the three major Abrahamic religions — Christianity, Islam, and Judaism — and provide insights into common questions and practices, thus promoting interfaith dialogue.

Asking about religious beliefs

When inquiring about someone's religious beliefs, being respectful is important. Instead of asking directly, "Are you religious?" or "Do you believe in God?", you can use more polite and open-ended questions. For instance, you could ask, "Are you a person of faith?" or "Do you belong to a religion?"

Man asking politely

These questions allow individuals to respond comfortably, providing insights into their religious inclinations.

Discovering specific religions

To delve deeper into someone's beliefs, you can inquire about their specific religion or faith. A simple question like, "What religion do you believe in?" or "What faith are you?" can elicit informative responses.

For example, Christians may respond with, "I'm Christian," or "I believe in Christianity." Muslims may say, "I'm Muslim, and I practice Islam," while Jewish individuals may answer, "I'm Jewish, and I practice Judaism."

Different religious symbols
Image by WordPress

Some individuals may identify as atheists, indicating that they do not believe in the existence of any god. Others might describe themselves as spiritual, meaning they have a sense of connection to something beyond themselves but don't adhere to a particular organized religion.

Different denominations

Many religions have different denominations or distinct religious bodies within their larger framework. For instance, within Christianity, you'll find various denominations like Catholicism, Protestantism, and Methodism. Jewish denominations include Orthodox, Conservative and Reform. Islam also has denominations, such as Sunni Islam, Shia Islam, and Sufism.

If you're curious about someone's religious body, you can ask, "What denomination are you?" or "Where do you worship?" For example, a Muslim might respond, "I’m a Sunni Muslim and my mosque is on 7th Street," while a Jew might mention their Orthodox synagogue near Central Park, and a Christian might share that they worship at a Methodist church in Queens.

Different religious buildings
Image by KindPNG

Sacred texts

Each religion has its sacred texts, which hold significant importance in their respective faiths. If you're interested in knowing what holy books someone reads, you can ask, "What's your sacred text?" Christians commonly read the Bible, while Muslims turn to the Qur'an for guidance. Jewish people study the Torah.

These texts serve as foundational sources of wisdom and spiritual guidance within their respective religious traditions.

Religious figures from different faiths coming together
Image by AsiaOne

Understanding religious practices

To gain a deeper understanding of someone's religious beliefs, it can be insightful to inquire about their practices or rituals. For example, Christians may engage in practices such as prayer, reading the Bible, and participating in sacraments like Baptism and receiving the Eucharist.

Muslims follow the Five Pillars of Islam, which include praying five times a day, giving alms to the poor and needy, fasting during Ramadan, and making a pilgrimage to Mecca. Jewish individuals study the Torah, follow the Ten Commandments, and observe the Sabbath — a day of religious observance and abstinence from work from Friday evening to Saturday evening.


In our diverse world, it's essential to approach conversations about religion with an open mind and respect for different beliefs. Remember, embracing diversity is key when discussing Christianity, Islam, Judaism, or any other faith.

Whether you are deeply religious or not religious at all, understanding and empathizing with others' perspectives can foster meaningful connections. By expanding our vocabulary in the English language and being sensitive to cultural nuances, we can engage in respectful conversations that bridge gaps and promote mutual understanding.