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"Nooo, Mummy, I want to sleep in!"
"Look, you little bastard, get up. A few extra hours in bed is not worth eternal damnation."

-An exchange that occurs in millions of households every Sunday morning


A church is a building in which people belonging to a religion meet to perform some of their rituals.

Commonly these rituals occur in churches:

It can also refer to a given religious denomination, as in "The Anglican Church" or "The Church of Scientology".

Christian churches

See main article: Christianity

Christianity is an Abrahamic religion based on the worship of and personal relationship with the tribal deity of the Israelites and his son, Jesus Christ.

The Christian churches can be organized into four main groups:

First, the Roman Catholic Church originated from a collection of churches that Paul of Tarsus helped to found. It is now led by an infallible person known as the Pope who lives in the VaticanBenedict XVI recently became the first pope to resign in centuries.  The cardinals have elected a new one.

The Eastern Orthodox Church is organized differently from the Roman Catholic Church, having split from it in 1054 CE. It is primarily located in eastern Europe.

Protestantism is a product of Martin Luther's schism from the Roman Catholic Church. It is generally characterized by the concept of Sola fides, or "faith alone," the belief that salvation is earned solely by acceptance of Jesus' execution. Specific churches include the Lutheran in Germany, Presbyterian in Scotland, Calvinism in Switzerland and the Netherlands, Methodist, and Baptist and Church of England in England.

Lastly, although Restorationism resembles Protestantism these churches cannot be traced directly from the Protestant Reformation. Rather they began as entirely new churches, most founded in the 19th and 20th centuries. They include the Church of Christ, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Pentecostalism, Christian Identity, Seventh-day Adventism and its offshoots (including the Branch Davidians and the Worldwide Church of God), Christadelphians, Plymouth Brethren, Joel's Army, and the Discipling and Shepherding and Local Church movements.

Christianity's most holy book is called the Bible. In it the exploits of Jesus are documented in the Gospels of the New Testament. Therein the word "church" is used only twice, although, since the concept of the Christian Church did not yet exist at the time of its writing, these passages were likely added later.

Christian denominations

The Christian denominations, also known as sects, include:

Christian movements

The following movements and philosophies have shaped Christian thought throughout history:

  • Gnosticism refers to many different churches, groups, or sects in the ancient near-east at or around the 1-3rd Century CE. They believed that the body is a mere vessel for the soul, which is the true form of the person. Scholars know only of the Christian Gnostics from texts written by those who saw it as heresy.
  • The Calvinist belief system is sometimes summed up as belief in predestination. It was influential on the Presbyterian, Reformed, and Puritan movements
  • Puritanism, common in the seventeenth century, refers to various staunch Protestant movements. Historical examples include theologian John Calvin, the French Huguenots, the Pilgrim Fathers who founded the Plymouth Colony in 1620, Oliver Cromwell's "Commonwealth" government of England (1649-1660), and the poet John Milton. Modern examples include the Presbyterians, Baptists, Quakers, and Congregational Church (which is today known as the United Church of Christ).
  • Congregationalism is practiced by some Protestant Christian churches. It is the idea that individual churches should operate independently. It is derived from the Puritan church and is often Calvinist.
  • The First Great Awakening is an eighteenth century transatlantic revival involving England and its North American colonies. Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), a minister of a Congregational church, helped start it.
  • The Holiness movement of the 19th century had its roots in John Wesley's Methodism and in the German Pietist movement. It teaches strict legalistic personal morality and that sanctification is a second act of grace after being born again. Examples include the Salvation Army, Wesleyan Church, Church of the Nazarene, Christian and Missionary Alliance, and Church of the Brethren. Examples of Holiness Pentecostals include the Pentecostal Holiness Church, Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee), Church of God of the Mountain Assembly, and Church of God in Christ.
  • Evangelicalism is centered on the need to be "born again" as an adult. There is a strong focus on bringing Christianity to others and a renewed focus on the resurrection aspects of Jesus in both one's spiritual life as well as one's personal day-to-day expressions of life. See Evangelical agenda for their political and social objectives.
  • Quiverfull is a social movement popular in some Evangelical circles in the United States. The movement's central tenet is that couples should have really large families.
  • Dispensationalism is a Christian theology holding that time is divided into seven different "social contracts". The pre-tribulation rapture belief comes from this movement.
  • Millennialism is the eschatological belief that the last judgment will be preceded by a period of one thousand years during which Christ will rule the world in an age of peace and prosperity
  • British Israelism is a variant of fundamentalist Christian theology. They believe that the lost tribes of Israel migrated to the British Isles and were the ancestors of today's Anglo-Saxon English people.
  • Christian Identity is a white supremacist, anti-Semitic belief system rooted in British Israelism that claims that only white people can be "saved," that non-whites don't have souls, and that Jews are Satanic and control the world.
  • King James Only is the belief that the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible from 1611 is either the best or the only reliable or genuine English translation, if not the only proper translation period. It is most prominent among fundamentalist Independent Baptists and is also found in other churches, from the Mormons to the snake handling sects to some ultra-conservative Anglicans.
  • Jesus-only baptism is practiced by the United Pentecostal Church, the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, followers of William Branham, about half of the snake handling churches, and some other fringy sects.
  • Posse Comitatus is the belief that the only legitimate form of government is at the county level. They are tied to Christian Identity.
  • Fundamentalist Mormonism consists of splinter groups from Mormonism. Most of them split off due to their belief in polygamy, and what they felt was the selling out of the LDS Church to the federal government by banning the practice.
  • Traditionalist Catholicism is Catholic fundamentalism.
  • Positive Christianity is a brand of Christianity fashioned after beliefs of National Socialism that sought to appeal to the largely religious German populace.
  • Jesus Freaks are people from the hippie movement who converted to Christianity.
  • Dominionism is a political and religious philosophy that seeks to make the United States government a Christian theocracy. WallBuilders is a Dominionist Christian book publisher.
  • Name it and claim it is a "word of faith" theology.
  • Christian pacifism groups historically espouse pacifism.
  • Spiritual warfare uses prayer and other religious activity to oppose Satan, a concept that is currently popular with large parts of evangelical Christianity. It is especially associated with Pentecostal, Dominionist, name it and claim it, and certain fundamentalist groups, and with many megachurches and televangelists.

Note: All the different Christian churches need collections from the faithful. God won't provide money the church needs however hard believers pray. See http://www.godisimaginary.com/i10.htm.

Famous Christians

Christian position statements

  • Clergy Letter Project--letter on the subject of the creation vs. evolution debate, endorsed by the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, and the Southwestern Washington Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Chicago Statement--two position papers by leading evangelicals and fundamentalists

Christian organizations

Christian websites

Christian movies and books

Christian texts

Christian terms

Non-Christian churches

Not all churches are Christian. In fact these are some non-Christian churches:

Judaism is the other Judeo-Christian religion.

Islam, the third Abrahamic religion, was founded in the 7th century CE. See also Islam in the US.

The Unitarian Universalist Church has Christian and atheist members.

The THC Ministry proclaims itself to be a religion that believes that cannabis is a sacrament.

The Universal Life Church ordains mail order ministers for the nonreligious.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster is the obvious source of all Order, Sense, and Morality in the universe.

Last Thursdayism refers to the idea that the universe may have been created last Thursday.

Raëlism is a religion that teaches that all living things were created by extraterrestrial beings.

Famous non-Christians

Cults

My 11-year-old recently defined a cult as any religion that is a minority. Cultists are also known as Kool-Aid drinkers, or "true believers." There are some cults:

The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, AKA the Moonies, owns the Washington Times. They created the New World Encyclopedia as well as the American Freedom Coalition (1987) as a conservative interest/political front group. Jonathan Wells is a follower.

The Church of Scientology, created by L. Ron Hubbard, is based on Dianetics, a method of psychological therapy. Narconon is a drug rehab program they run. In Scientology the E-Meter is used in "auditing" sessions which are supposed to uncover "engrams" (traumatic incidents) stored in the subconscious mind from both the subject's current and past lives. They teach that Xenu was the evil ruler of this part of the galaxy 75 million years ago. The Scientology Volunteer Ministers are a corps of whackers. A clear is a Scientologist who no longer has a reactive mind.

Free Zone is fundamentalist scientology.

The Church of the SubGenius, a self-proclaimed cult, is probably a parody religion. J. R. "Bob" Dobbs is the High Epopt and spiritual leader. They have adopted Unified Conspiracy Theory as their fundamental dogma. There is a strong maltheistic streak to its deities.

Discordianism, another parody, worships Eris. They are related to the Church of the SubGenius above.

Synanon was a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center and movement investigated in 1974 as a cult.

The Children of God originated love bombing, a cult recruitment tactic also adopted by the moonies.

The Temple of Set is an occult organization founded in 1975 by Michael Aquino.

The Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ is a possible cult or fringe sect of Christianity that preaches the (racist?) message that only Hispanics, Native Americans, and African Americans are destined for salvation. More investigation needed.

Cult personalities

Issues concerning "the church"

Church in politics

  • Religious right--conservative religious voters
  • Jesusland--name for the 30 U.S. states which voted for George W. Bush in 2004, overly Christian population
  • Faith-based initiative--federal government would give money to religious organizations in order that they would do the government's work in caring for the poor, endangered, and troubled

Quotes about church

Richard Lenski explains his activities on the day that Conservapedia was posting criticism of his research:

"I was in church attending a wedding."
See here for the statement in context.

Counter-church movements


There is a good and a a bad side to Christianity, see the category page

See also

External links

Adapted from an out of date version of a RationalWiki article

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