Christianity developed out of Judaism in the 1st century C.E. It is founded on the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and those who follow him are called "Christians." Christianity has many different branches and forms with accompanying variety in beliefs and practices. The three major branches of Christianity are Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism, with numerous subcategories within each of these branches. Until the latter part of the 20th century, most adherents of Christianity were in the West, though it has spread to every continent and is now the largest religion in the world. Traditional Christian beliefs include the belief in the one and only true God, who is one being and exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the belief that Jesus is the divine and human Messiah sent to the save the world. Christianity is also noted for its emphasis on faith in Christ as the primary component of religion. The sacred text of Christianity is the Bible, including both the Hebrew Scriptures (also known as the Old Testament) and the New Testament. Central to Christian practice is the gathering at churches for worship, fellowship, and study, and engagement with the world through evangelism and social action. Most Christians are omnivores and have no moral or religious objection to eating meat of any kind, though some fast on Fridays or during Lent mainly for spiritual reasons. Some Christians are demi-vegetarians and refuse animal products that have been intensively reared and eat only free-range meat and fish. Some Christians are vegetarian, and exclude fish, flesh and fowl, but not necessarily all dairy produce and eggs. Some Christians are vegan, and exclude fish, flesh and fowl and all dairy produce, including eggs, and honey.
The Druze are a secretive, tightly-knit religious sect whose origins can be traced to Egypt a thousand years ago. They believe that God was incarnated on earth in the form of their leader, al-Hakim bi-Amrih Alla. The Druze do not have their own homeland. Thus, many of them migrated to the isolated mountains of Lebanon, Syria, and Israel, while others settled throughout the Middle East. The Druze are of mixed race. They are largely of Arab descent but they also have Iranian, Kurdish, and European heritage. Little scholarly study has been done on the Druze, and much of what is available has not been translated into English. The Druze themselves are reluctant to share information about their faith or their culture with outsiders, primarily because of the fear of persecution. They have seemed radical for their belief in equality for men and women, the abolition of slavery, and separation of church and state. The Druze have survived and thrived within their own communities by remaining isolated and secretive. Estimates of their numbers vary from 700,000 to 2 million worldwide. This wide range is because the Druze has not been part of any formal census since the 1930s. However, rough estimates place the number of Druze at 390,000 in Lebanon, 420,000 in Syria, 75,000 in Israel, 15,000 in Jordan, and about 80,000 scattered around the rest of the world, mostly in North America, Australia, and West Africa. The American Druze Society estimates the number of Druze in the United States at between 15,000 and 20,000. Although they live in various parts of the world, the Druze have a flag, which strengthens their sense of unity. The flag includes five colors, which represent five prophets. It combines a green triangle on the hoist side and four horizontal stripes of red, yellow, blue, and white. Red symbolizes the heart and love of humanity, green the farmer and life, white the air and purity, yellow the sun and wheat, and blue the sky and faith. Members of Syria’s Druze community, a small but significant religious minority, are joining the opposition in bigger numbers,