A number of alternative terms have been used instead of "ethnic" or "indigenous" religions.
The term "primal religion" was coined by Andrew Walls in the University of Aberdeen in the 1970s to provide a focus on non-Western forms of religion as found in Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Terms such as "primal religion," "primitive religion," and "tribal religion" have been contested by Walls' student, Jim Cox, who argues that such terms suggest an undeveloped religion which can be seen as a preparation for conversion to Christianity. Cox prefers to use the term "indigenous religion."
Another term that is often used is "folk religion." While "ethnic religion" and "folk religion" have overlapping uses, the latter term implies "the appropriation of religious beliefs and practices at a popular level." The term "folk religion" can therefore be used to speak of Chinese and African indigenous religions, but can also refer to popular expressions of more multi-national and institutionalized religions such as Folk Christianity or Folk Islam.