In a nutshell: Reincarnation is an important doctrine in Tibetan Buddhism, but is not always embraced by Western Buddhists. Many Buddhists who accept reincarnation believe in the bardo, a spiritual realm where the soul goes between dying and rebirth.

In detail: Lama Surya Das describes the variety of Buddhist views on the afterlife.

Is reincarnation the same as rebirth?
What aspect of us is reincarnated?
If the Self doesn't exist, how can it reincarnate?

Related link:
Preparing for Reincarnation
Transcript on Tibetan Buddhism from the NPR series "The End of Life: Exploring Death in America."


In a nutshell: Most mainstream Christian denominations reject the concept of reincarnation, citing, among other Bible passages, Hebrews 9:27: "It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment."

In detail: Scripture scholar Ben Witherington III explains that, for Christians, earthly life is a one-time-only affair.

Does the New Testament support reincarnation?
Reading the Elijah and "blind man" scripture passages
Really Born Again: Evangelicals who believe in reincarnation

Related links:
Debunking "support" for reincarnation in the New Testament
Origen and Beyond: Reincarnation in the history of the early church

Christian Denominations

Roman Catholicism

In a nutshell: The Roman Catholic Church rejects reincarnation; its catechism states categorically that "Death is the end of man's earthly pilgrimage" and "There is no 'reincarnation' after death" (read citation).

Redemption, Purgatory, and reincarnation
Reincarnation, the early Christians, and body theology

Related link:
Come Again?
Accessible article on the resurgence of belief in reincarnation, its history, and the Catholic position on it, following the March 1997 Vatican Conference on Reincarnation and the Christian Message.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)

In a nutshell: The LDS Church teaches that there is only one physical death for any one person. Within a lifetime, each person experiences spiritual "births," but these "do not in any way constitute any type of reincarnation," according to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. After death, existence in a spirit world precedes the resurrection. Eventually those who lived the gospel of Jesus will have a glorified celestial body.

Reincarnation and the Book of Mormon

Related link:
LDS Theology Rejects Reincarnation

Eastern Orthodox Christians

In a nutshell: Eastern Orthodoxy teaches that "The moral progress of the soul, either for better or for worse, ends at the very moment of the separation of the body and soul; at that very moment the definite destiny of the soul in the everlasting life is decided. ...There is ...no reincarnation" (read citation).


In a nutshell: The concept of reincarnation is thought to have originated within Hinduism, the world's oldest major religion. Hindus believe they will experience multiple rebirths based on their actions in this and previous lives. This doctrine of cause and effect over many lives is called karma.

In detail: The remarkable story of Shanti Devi, a four-year-old girl whose distinct past life memories were researched by several investigators, illustrates what Hindus believe about reincarnation.

When the cycle finishes, is there a Hindu heaven?
Hindus skeptical about reincarnation

Related links:
Will we reincarnate as members of other religions?
Deepak Chopra responds
Karma as DNA
Are inherited (genetic) illnesses the result of bad past life karma?

In a nutshell: Muslims reject the concept of reincarnation, believing that the soul will be judged after death.

In detail: Kenneth Briggs explains what Muslims believe about the Day of Judgement.

Can any Qur'an passages be interpreted to support reincarnation?
Does God give each person enough time for tasks to be completed?

Related link:
The Qur'an and Reincarnation
Argues that the Qur'an unequivocally rejects the idea of reincarnation.


In a nutshell: Because Judaism is primarily focused on life here and now, it puts less emphasis on afterlife teachings. Some Jewish mystical traditions accept the concept of gilgul, an ongoing cycle in which the soul is reborn. However, most mainstream Jews reject the concept of reincarnation.

In detail: Rabbi David Wolpe explains Jewish views of the afterlife.

Gilgul: Recycling the soul
Resurrection vs. reincarnation

Related links:
Olam Ha-Ba: The Jewish Afterlife
Did Biblical Characters Reincarnate?
One rabbi's list of those reincarnated in Jewish history.

In a nutshell: Wiccan beliefs about what happens after death vary widely. In general, however, most Wiccans either accept or remain open to the possibility of reincarnation.

Reincarnation and power animals
Pagan teens: Is it OK not to believe in reincarnation?

Related link:
"The Most Plausible Possibility Out There"
A Wiccan teen explains why she accepts reincarnation.

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