"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:
- See main article: Christianity
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 Vatican. Benedict XVI recently became the first pope to resign in centuries. The cardinals have elected a new one.
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.
The Christian denominations, also known as sects, include:
- Christian Identity--fundamentalist, racist, Aryan Nations is a nutjob Christian Identity group in Hayden Lake (Idaho)
- United Church of Christ
- Church of England--AKA Anglicanism, State religion of England
- Church Of God With Signs Following--offshoot of Pentecostalism, practice snake handling
- Discipling and Shepherding
- Eastern Orthodox Church
- Episcopal Church--Anglican Church movements outside of Britain
- Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church --"Christian" spinoff of the Rastafari movement
- The Gideons
- Independent Baptist
- Jehovah's Witnesses
- Joel's Army--a spiritual warfare movement linked to Dominionist movements and to megapastor Todd Bentley
- Mormonism--followers of the Book of Mormon, significant differences from the rest of Christianity, believe Word of Wisdom is a prophecy made by Joseph Smith, Jr. that alcohol, tobacco, and "hot drinks" such as coffee are not to be consumed; most are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, funded California Proposition 8
- Next Level Church--interdenominational Christian church
- Pentecostal--believe Word of Wisdom is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit referred to in I Corinthians 12:8-10
- Roman Catholic Church
- Salvation Army--part of the Holiness movement
- Seventh-day Adventism
- Society of Friends--AKA Quakers, breakaway from Puritanism
- Southern Baptist Convention
- Old Catholic Church
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.
- Saint Peter and the other apostles--traditionally the first Christians
- Pierre D'Ailly--cardinal of the Catholic Church in the fourteenth century, criticized the philosophical proofs for God's existence made by Thomas Aquinas
- Martin Luther--monk and theologian who became a major figure in the Protestant Reformation and founded the Lutheran Church
- Joan of Arc--later made a saint of the Church
- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955)--a Jesuit priest, archeologist, and scholar
- Adolf Hitler--no introduction needed
- Fred Phelps--of Westboro Baptist Church, anti-homosexual
- Philippa Stroud--British Conservative politician and Pentecostal Christian, believes that homosexuality is caused by demons
- Ted Haggard--former head of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs (Colorado), methamphetamine user and a regular customer of Denver's male prostitutes
- Jack Hyles--was pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hammond (Indiana), repeatedly caught in scandals and allegations of everything
- Jerry Falwell--televangelist, obnoxious christofascist demagogue, creator of Moral Majority, ran Halloween Hell House attraction, founded Liberty University
- Jim Bakker--disgraced televangelist from the PTL Club
- Garner Ted Armstrong, Herbert W. Armstrong--televangelists, cofounded Worldwide Church of God
- John Todd (Lance Collins)--born into family of witches for eventual placement in the Illuminati, Children of God (a cult) promoted his claims, claims to have started Christian Rock
- Seán Manchester--Old Catholic Bishop, exorcist, and vampire hunter
- Joel Osteen-- evangelical television preacher, his Lakewood Church seats 30,000 plus congregants, his theology has been described as "cotton candy"
- Rod Parsley--televangelist
- Paul Crouch--the batshit crazy televangelist who runs the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN)
- Benny Hinn--a faith healer, televangelist, prophet, minister, and a crank
- John Hagee--wackjob televangelist preacher
- Gene Scott--radio evangelist and televangelist
- Harold Camping--radio evangelist who famously predicted the return of Jesus
- Father Coughlin (Charles E. Coughlin)--a Catholic priest often cited as a prototype of right-wing talk radio, popular during the Great Depression
- Jack Chick--American Christian fundamentalist, tract writer
- Gerald Flurry--conservative fundamentalist, Philadelphia Church of God (a break off church of The World Wide Church of God), editor in chief of The Philadelphia Trumpet being a religious magazine that writes about world events and how they were prophesied by the Bible
- Alberto Rivera--American fundamentalist Christian evangelist significant in the extreme anti-Catholic wing of Protestantism
- Bob Larson--a notoriously sensationalist fundamentalist Christian windbag
- Darwin Fish--a very ironically named fundamentalist whackjob
- Ken Ham--a cretinist wackaloon, president and founder of Answers in Genesis
- Sylvia Browne--leader of an allegedly Gnostic church called the Society of Novus Spiritus based around the teachings of her channeled "spiritual guide"
- William Donohue--president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
- Russell Doughten--Christian filmmaker
- Andrea Yates--Catholic, bad mother
- Kenneth Hagin--prominent Pentecostal preacher
- William Branham--Pentecostal evangelist, predicted the end of the world would be in 1977, snake handlers have fondness for his teachings
- David Noebel--American evangelist, trying to start a moral panic over rock and folk music
- David Wilkerson--Christian evangelist, author, prophet, founder of Teen Challenge
- Joseph Farah--creationist
- Pat Robertson--a founding member of the 700 Club, founded Christian Coalition being a political special interest group
- Glenn Beck--TV commentator, Mormon
- W. Cleon Skousen (1913-2006)--Mormon author
- Ed Poor--moonie
- Orson Scott Card--member of the Church of Latter Day Saints, intelligent design apologist nutjob
- Jack Mormon--one who is raised Mormon and still identifies with the culture but not the belief system or church
- John R. Rice--evangelist and Independent Baptist
- Randall Terry--founder of Operation Rescue
- Tom Metzger--minister in the Christian Identity Movement
- Peter J. Peters--Christian preacher from Laporte, Colorado, critics would describe him as Christian Identity
- Mike Warnke--preacher and a lying dirtbag, author of the 1972 book The Satan Seller which the Satanic Panic largely grew out of
- Oral Roberts--televangelist and faith healer
- Tony Alamo--figure of the Christian right
- Linda Harvey--former advertising executive and current kook, founded and runs wingnut noise-box Mission: America
- Mike Huckabee--former governor of the State of Arkansas, candidate for the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election, Baptist minister and young Earth creationist, rejects evolution among other elements of modern science
- Kirk Cameron--child actor, sidekick to Ray Comfort
- Ann Coulter--might be a "petite", reasonable, intelligent person with much to offer the marketplace of political discourse Wiley Drake--Southern Baptist minister and talk radio host, the vice-presidential candidate on the American Independent Party ticket in 2008
- Mary Baker Eddy--wrote Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures being the primary source for the theology of Christian Science
- Kent Hovind--young Earth creationist, graduated from Patriot Bible University being an unaccredited fundamentalist Christian university and diploma mill, tax protester, author of $250,000 challenge, see also Kent Hovind's doctoral dissertation
- Timothy LaHaye--evangelical Christian activist, author of Left Behind being a series of apocalyptic novels
- Billy Graham--moderate evangelist, founded Christianity Today being a monthly magazine founded by in 1956 to discuss Christian themes and issues
- Mel Gibson--founder of his own little bizarre Catholic sect, producer and director of The Passion of the Christ being a splatter film that follows Christ's final twenty-four hours on Earth during the events known as the Passion
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
- American Scientific Affiliation--ID/Creationist organization whose main reference seems to be the Bible
- Boy Scouts of America--do not allow atheists
Christian movies and books
- Jesus Camp--documentary about children in the Christian Evangelical movement
- Holy Blood, Holy Grail--details Priory of Sion being a conspiracy theory that Jesus Christ married Mary Magdalene
- The Da Vinci Code--book and movie with essentially the same plot as preceding
- Catholic sacraments--baptism, penance, Eucharist, confirmation, marriage, holy orders, last rights
- Revival meeting
- Chastity belt
- Christian side hug
- Virgin birth
- Holy Trinity
- Ten Commandments
- The Ten Commandments as natural law--St. Thomas Aquinas, argument from morality
- Flat earth
- Simony--the practice of exchanging money to gain access to religious secrets
- Magdalene laundry--house for women who had "fallen" from "moral correctness"
- Imprecatory prayer--asking God to harm an enemy
- the one True Cross
- Ark of the Covenant
- Transubstantiation--where the Priest converts the wine and host (a cracker) to the actual blood and body of Christ
- End times
- Spirit--disembodied being of pure intelligence
- Demonic possession
- Stigmata--the appearance of Jesus Christ's crucifixion wounds on the bodies of Christians
- Self projection as god--Cafeteria Christianity
- Fast Food Christianity
- Collectivism--a broad label for any ideology maintaining that society or some other group of people should matter more to an individual than his or her own self
- Morality police--one of many names used to describe groups of people whose job (often self-appointed) is to enforce standards of moral behavior
- Jerusalem--a holy city to all three of the Abrahamic religions
Not all churches are Christian. In fact these are some non-Christian churches:
The Unitarian Universalist Church has Christian and atheist members.
The Universal Life Church ordains mail order ministers for the nonreligious.
Last Thursdayism refers to the idea that the universe may have been created last Thursday.
- Jesus Christ
- Mary (mother of Jesus)--probably
- Muhammad--as regarded by Muslims, the final prophet of Allah
- Thomas Jefferson--was a deist who wrote the Jefferson Bible being 200 pages of the sayings of Jesus
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.
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 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.
- Sun Myung Moon--leader of Unification Church, founded Professors World Peace Academy being a publisher
- Jim Jones--guru, preacher, and complete nutcase
- David Miscavige--leader of the Church of Scientology
- Tom Cruise--Scientologist
Issues concerning "the church"
- Same-sex marriage
- Free will
- Child abuse
- Book burning
- Birth control
- Overpopulation--Catholic Church denies
- Saddlebacking--term invented by author Dan Savage
- Exotheology--a branch of religious study that concerns itself with the potential impact on earthly religions and theologies of the discovery of life or intelligence elsewhere in the universe
- Tree of life
- Classroom prayer
- War on Christmas--a right wing demagogic neologism referring to secular progressives' attempts to keep the December solstice holiday shopping season culturally inclusive
- Science and religion--see also section in Religion
- Biblical sexism
- Problems with biblical inerrancy
- List of actions prohibited by the Bible
- Atheophobia--fear of atheism
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
"I was in church attending a wedding."See here for the statement in context.
- Atheism--not a religion
- New Atheism
- Atheist fundamentalism
- Scientific revolution
- Freedom From Religion Foundation--anti-religious group
- Go Ahead. Skip Church. The Thinking Atheist explains why attending church can be unpleasant and frustrating.
Adapted from an out of date version of a RationalWiki article