A 2011 article in "USA Today" states that the Seventh Day Adventist Church is the fastest growing church in North America. This conservative Christian religion has confused many outside its ranks because of its beliefs about salvation, dietary practices and a host of other issues, leading some to erroneously confuse it with other world religions.

Fundamental Principles

Two features of the Seventh Day Adventist religion usually stand out in comparison to other world religions. Seventh Day Adventists adhere to the Jewish sabbath, meaning that they attend religious services on Saturday instead of Sunday. The other prominent element of the religion lies in the church's focus on end times prophesy. The name of the church arises from these two elements. The seventh day refers to Saturday being the seventh day of the week. Adventist comes from "advent," which means "coming," and refers to the second coming of Jesus.

Lifestyle

Seventh Day Adventists pay strict attention to their lifestyle and diet. Most members of the church adhere to a strictly vegetarian diet and while some of them eat meat, they do so under the principles of Mosaic food laws. Adventists also do not drink alcohol. Other religions such as Judaism and Mormonism have diet guidelines as well. For example, Mormons avoid alcohol, drugs and caffeine, while some who practice Judaism also restrict their diets based on Mosaic food laws.

Church Prophetess

Prophets and prophesy played an important role in the growth of the early church. However, most churches today do not actively follow a church prophet, but rather rely on the prophets of old to shape their view of the Bible and the world. The exception to this is the Mormon church, which always has a sitting prophet taken from the senior ranks of the church, according to "Slate" magazine. However, in the early days of the Adventist church, Ellen G. White, writer and pastor's wife, was considered a church prophetess. White wrote some 40 books and thousands of articles about religious life and teachings, many of which she based on prophetic dreams and visions that she had. The church today has no replacement for White, although her teachings remain important.

The Afterlife

While many religions around the world embrace the idea that the dead go to a better place upon dying--heaven in the Christian religion--Seventh Day Adventists believe otherwise. Although the church believes that the dead in Christ will eventually go to heaven, Adventists believe that it can be a number of years or even a number of centuries before the dead go to heaven. The church doctrine bases its beliefs on information found in Ecclesiastes 9:5. In this text, the dead are assumed to be unconscious and knowing nothing as in a state of sleep. They awaken either at the second coming of Christ or at the final battle between good and evil at the end times. Because of this belief, Adventists do not believe in hell in the same way that other religions do.