Category Archives: Religion and culture

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A.D.

Abbreviation of the Latin phrase anno Domini, translated as “the year of the Lord.” Traditionally, it is used to date years after the birth of Jesus. Scholars and textbooks are increasingly using the abbreviations B.C.E. for “before the common era” and C.E. for “common era” to avoid using terms defined by their relation to Christianity. AP style, however, remains A.D. and B.C. Use A.D. preceding the year, as in A.D. 77. Do not say the seventh century A.D. If A.D. is not specified, it is assumed to be A.D. Use B.C. afterward, as in 255 B.C.

Filed in Christianity, Religion and culture

abbess, abbot

The elected head of a monastery. An abbess oversees a community of nuns; an abbot, a community of monks.

Filed in Religion and culture

abortion

When choosing terms to describe a person’s stance on abortion, journalists should remember that abortion is a nuanced issue, with many people supporting or opposing abortion in some, but not all, circumstances. Take care to describe a person’s view rather than relying on terms popularized in the heated public debate. For example, journalists should use pro-abortion rights or a similar description instead of pro-choice, and opposed to abortion or against abortion rights instead of pro-life. The AP Stylebook advises using anti-abortion instead of pro-life and abortion rights instead of pro-abortion or pro-choice. See pro-choice and pro-life.

Filed in Anglican/Episcopalian, Baptist/Southern Baptist, Catholicism, Christianity, Government and politics, Orthodoxy, Pentecostalism, Protestantism, Religion and culture

academic degrees

Follow AP style, which prefers phrases rather than abbreviations. For example: “She has a master of divinity degree.” (Instead of “She has an M. Div.”)

Filed in Religious titles

accommodationist

A term used to describe people or groups who believe that government should accommodate religion to some extent in legal matters. The degree of accommodation can vary greatly. See separationist, Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause.

Filed in Government and politics

act of God

An event caused exclusively by forces of nature that could not have been foreseen or prevented.

Filed in Religion and culture

African Methodist Episcopal Church

The African Methodist Episcopal denomination was formed by a merger of black Methodist churches as a protest against slavery. AME Church is acceptable on second reference.

Filed in African-American, Christianity, Protestantism

African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church

The AME Zion Church traces its roots to the late 18th century, when free black Methodist preachers formed a church. In 1821, the church split from the Methodist Episcopal Church and the national organization was born. In 1848, Zion was added to the name to honor the first church in New York and to distinguish it from another black splinter Methodist church, the African Methodist Episcopal Church or AME. AME Zion Church is acceptable on second reference.

Filed in African-American, Christianity, Protestantism

altar

A raised structure, typically a table, used to perform religious rituals.

Filed in Religion and culture

angels

Spirit messengers, both good and evil, accepted in the traditions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and other religions. They appear in the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and the Quran. Capitalize angel when it precedes a name, such as the Angel Gabriel.

Filed in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Religion and culture

apocalypse, apocalyptic

A final, cosmic battle between forces of good and evil that encompasses the Earth; for religious believers, it ushers in the reign of God and results in the righteous being raised to everlasting life. Apocalyptic thought dates to ancient times and is present in Judaism, Christianity and other belief systems. The New Testament Book of Revelation and the Book of Daniel, found in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, are the best-known Scriptures involving apocalyptic prophecies, but other examples exist. Apocalyptic beliefs are most closely associated with Christians who read the Bible literally and with fringe religious movements. Other Christians are more likely to read Revelation as an allegory. Lowercase apocalypse when referring to the battle ending the world, but uppercase when using the traditional Catholic name for the New Testament Book of Revelation, which in Greek means “Apocalypse.” The Catholic News Service advises using the New American Bible name Revelation instead of Apocalypse except in direct quotations.

Filed in Christianity, Judaism, Religion and culture

apostolic delegate

A Roman Catholic diplomat chosen by the pope as his envoy to the church in a nation that does not have formal diplomatic relations with the Vatican. See papal nuncio.

Filed in Catholicism, Christianity, Religious titles

archbishop

The highest-ranking clergy person in a hierarchical religious jurisdiction. The distinction between a Catholic bishop and an archbishop is an honorary one, and an archbishop has no power to tell the bishop of a neighboring diocese how to run his churches. In some Eastern churches, the corresponding title is metropolitan. In the Anglican Communion, the title archbishop also is used. Capitalize only when used as a formal title before a name, such as Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl. (See exception in archbishop of Canterbury.) On second reference, use only the last name. Lowercase archbishop when it stands alone.

Filed in Anglican/Episcopalian, Catholicism, Religious titles

archbishop of Canterbury

The archbishop of Canterbury is the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church is part, and is the most senior bishop of the Church of England. He has no authority over other national Anglican/Episcopal churches but does hold a place of honor among them.

Capitalize the title when it precedes the holder’s first and last name; on second reference use only the person’s last name. Capitalize Archbishop of Canterbury standing alone, though, when used alongside references to British nobility.

The archbishop of Canterbury is also referred to by the honorific the Most Rev., as in the Most Rev. Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, but it is sufficient to refer to him as Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

 

Filed in Anglican/Episcopalian, Religious titles

asceticism

A practice or set of practices characterized by physical self-discipline, such as fasting or sleep deprivation, intended to help the practitioner achieve spiritual fulfillment or union with God.

Filed in Religion and culture

astrology

A tradition or system dating back to ancient times in which the apparent position of celestial bodies is used to understand, interpret and organize knowledge about reality and predict the future.

Filed in Other faiths, Religion and culture

ayatollah

Pronounced “eye-ya-TOE-la.” A Shiite term for senior clergyman. Capitalize when used as a title before a name, but lowercase otherwise.

Filed in Religious titles, Shiite

B.C.

Literally, before Christ or the Christian era. Scholars and textbooks are increasingly using the abbreviations B.C.E. for “before the common era” and C.E. for “common era” to avoid using terms defined by their relation to Christianity. See A.D.

Filed in Christianity, Religion and culture

B.C.E.

See B.C.

Filed in Catholicism, Christianity, Orthodoxy, Protestantism, Religion and culture

Baptist churches

A major division of Christianity. In the United States there are more than 70 distinct Baptist denominations or associations. Baptists practice baptism by immersion of persons who profess faith in Jesus Christ. They do not practice infant baptism and generally reject the notion of sacraments. They describe baptism and the Lord’s Supper as ordinances carried out in obedience to Jesus’ commands in Scripture. Baptists are noted for their emphasis on personal religious experience and the authority of Scripture, which individuals are free to interpret according to conscience. Some Baptists do not like to be called Protestant because they trace their tradition’s origins to John the Baptist, but most historians say the Baptist tradition began with several early 17th-century breaks from English congregationalism.

The local congregation is the highest church authority for Baptists. No leader from a regional or national headquarters can tell a congregation what to do, and it is incorrect to refer to any body other than a congregation as the Baptist church. Baptists refer to their church connections as voluntary “ropes of sand.” The most tangible link between a local church and any convention or association is money: Local churches contribute to the state or national organizations and are considered “members” of the organizations they donate to.

There are dozens of associations of Baptist churches. The largest in the United States by far is the conservative Southern Baptist Convention. The smaller and more liberal American Baptist Churches USA is based in the northern United States. Prominant black Baptist associations include the National Baptist Convention of America, the National Baptist Convention USA and the Progressive National Baptist Convention and the National Missionary Baptist Convention of America. Other major U.S. Baptist organizations include the Baptist General Conference, the Conservative Baptist Association of America, the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, the General Association of General Baptists and the North American Baptist Conference. The Baptist World Alliance, made up of more than 200 Baptist bodies throughout the world, organizes the Baptist World Congress, which generally meets every five years. The Southern Baptist Convention, a founder of the BWA, left the alliance in 2004 when the SBC leaders accused the BWA of becoming too liberal.

All members of the Baptist clergy may be referred to as ministers. Pastor applies if a minister leads a congregation. Use the Rev. on first reference before a clergy’s name. On second reference use only the last name.

Filed in Baptist/Southern Baptist, Christianity, Religious titles

Beatitude, Beatitudes

Beatitude is a formal title of respect for a Catholic patriarch or an Orthodox metropolitan. It should not be used except when it appears in quotations. The Beatitudes is the name given to a well-known portion of the Sermon on the Mount, recorded in the Gospels of Matthew (5: 2-12) and Luke (6: 20-23). In this section, Jesus describes the qualities of citizens of the kingdom of heaven. Capitalize when used as a title or when referring to the Beatitudes, but lowercase in other forms of reference. Beatitude means “blessed” but can also be translated as “happy.”

Filed in Catholicism, Christianity, Orthodoxy, Religious titles

bhikkhu

Pronounced “BHIK-koo.” A fully ordained monk in the Theravada Buddhist tradition; a nun is a bhikkhuni. In the Mahayana tradition, the Sanskrit forms (bhikshu, bhikshuni) are used. Capitalize when used with a name.

Filed in Buddhism, Religious titles

bishop

In Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican churches and some Protestant denominations that have an episcopal or hierarchical form of government, bishop is the highest order of ordained ministry. The distinction between a Catholic bishop and an archbishop is an honorary one, and an archbishop has no authority over a neighboring diocese. Some groups, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Amish and some Pentecostals, use the title bishop for someone who is the pastor of a congregation. Capitalize when used as a formal title before a name. On second reference, use only the cleric’s last name. Lowercase bishop in other uses.

Filed in Amish/Mennonite, Anglican/Episcopalian, Catholicism, Christianity, Mormonism, Orthodoxy, Pentecostalism, Protestantism, Religious titles

Black Muslims

Black Muslim is a term that became associated with the Nation of Islam but is now considered derogatory and should be avoided. The preferred term is simply member of the Nation of Islam. Also, because of that association, do not use Black Muslim to describe African-Americans who practice traditional Islam, whose tenets differ markedly from the Nation’s. Instead, say African-American Muslims. See Islam and Nation of Islam.

Filed in African-American, Nation of Islam

brother

A man who has taken vows in a Christian religious, particularly Catholic or Anglican, order but is not ordained. Also, a monk or friar who is in seminary preparing for priesthood is called brother if he has taken his vows. In many traditions, especially evangelical, brother is used as a generic, friendly title. Capitalize before a name but not otherwise. On first reference, generally identify the religious community, for example Franciscan Brother John Smith. On second reference, use the first name if the person is known that way, such as Brother John. Otherwise, use only the last name on second reference.

Filed in Anglican/Episcopalian, Catholicism, Christianity, Religious titles

Buddhism

Buddhism, the fourth-largest organized religion in the world, was founded in India sometime between the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, known as the Buddha, or the “awakened one.” Buddhism teaches that meditation and the practice of moral behavior (and, according to some schools, rituals) can lead to the elimination of personal craving and hence the release of suffering and the attainment of absolute peace (nirvana). This is gradually achieved through successive cycles of rebirth (although some schools say such liberation may be obtained as quickly as within one lifetime). Although Buddhism is frequently described as a nontheistic tradition since the historical Buddha did not claim to be divine and there is no concept of a divine absolute God — the vast and complex tradition of Buddhism includes an intricate cosmology of beneficent and wrathful deities as well as transcendent Buddhas and bodhisattvas who can be propitiated to help Buddhist practitioners on the path to enlightenment.

There are three major forms or “vehicles” of Buddhism:

  • Theravada, found in most of Southeast Asia, focuses on individual realization, with practices particularly directed to monastic life;
  • Mahayana stresses the universality of Buddha-nature and the possibility of enlightenment for all beings. It developed into many variant schools in China, Japan and Korea;
  • Vajrayana, or Tibetan Buddhism, is found in Tibet, Nepal and Mongolia. Vajrayana developed from the Mahayana tradition but is often considered separately as a third “vehicle.”

See Buddha, Four Noble Truths, Eightfold Path and Siddhartha Gautama.

Titles for Buddhist teachers or masters are capitalized when used with a name but lowercase otherwise. The title of lama generally precedes a name; rinpoche, sensei and roshi generally follow the name, but practice varies, especially in the United States. (For example, a well-known Japanese Zen teacher is always referred to as Maezumi Roshi; a well-known American Zen teacher is Roshi Bernard Glassman.) To determine how to refer to a particular Buddhist teacher, ask or try looking up the name through a database or other Web tool.

Filed in Buddhism, Religious titles

C.E.

See A.D.

Filed in Catholicism, Christianity, Orthodoxy, Protestantism, Religion and culture

cantor

In Judaism, a synagogue official who leads the musical part of a service. Capitalize before a name, but lowercase otherwise.

Filed in Judaism, Religious titles

cardinal

A title of honor given to certain Catholics, nearly always archbishops, who are chosen as special advisers to the pope. Their primary function in today’s church is to elect a new pope, but they are assigned to serve as advisers to important offices in the Vatican bureaucracy. Some have a great deal of behind-the-scenes influence. Most cardinals are archbishops of “cardinalatial sees” — archdioceses that traditionally have a cardinal. However, the heads of important Vatican offices are usually also named cardinals, and occasionally the pope will name a respected theologian who is past 80 and thus ineligible to vote for a new pope. Cardinals are not required to be archbishops, bishops or even priests. In the U.S., Jesuit theologian Cardinal Avery Dulles is not a bishop. Cardinals should be referred to conventionally, as in Cardinal Avery Dulles, not Avery Cardinal Dulles. On second reference use only the cardinal’s last name.

Filed in Catholicism, Religious titles

caste system

The traditional social, economic and religious structure of Indian society, which divided people into four broad groups, or castes (“varna” in Sanskrit), and multiple smaller groups, or subcastes (“jati”). While it is believed that the system was once simply a division of labor and guild system, determined by skills and aptitude, it became a rigid hereditary hierarchy in which restrictions were placed on one’s social mobility, job opportunities, marriage prospects and even whom one could eat with. Although caste discrimination is illegal in India and most Hindu leaders stress that it is not sanctioned in Hinduism, it is still practiced among followers of all religions throughout South Asia. An additional group, the untouchables, was created from the lowest caste for people who performed tasks considered “polluting” in a physical or spiritual sense. Since the early 20th century, the Indian government has called this group the “Scheduled Castes.” See also Dalit, Harijan, jati, untouchable and varna.

Filed in Hinduism, Religion and culture

celebrant

One who conducts a religious rite, especially a Christian priest.

Filed in Anglican/Episcopalian, Catholicism, Christianity, Orthodoxy, Religion and culture

Christian Coalition

A group of political conservatives who generally also represent conservative theological views. It was founded in 1989 by televangelist Pat Robertson and is considered the successor to the Moral Majority, founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell in 1979. See Moral Majority.

Filed in Government and politics

Christian Science

A denomination founded in 1879 based on interpretations of the Bible found in the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy, who wrote Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. The church’s official title is the Church of Christ, Scientist. Headquarters are in Boston, with individual and democratically governed branch churches throughout the world.

Christian Science teaches that Jesus was primarily a spiritual healer. It embraces the original Christian teaching and practices of healing sin, sickness and death based on the church’s understanding of the divine principles of Jesus’ teaching and healing. Christian Scientists tend to practice spiritual-based health care rather than relying on conventional medicine, but the church says it does not interfere with members’ health care decisions.

Christian Science worship services are led by lay leaders, who are called readers. The faith also has practitioners, who are self-employed healers. Capitalize these titles before a name and on second reference use only the last name. Do not use the Rev. in any references.

The Church of Christ, Scientist, is not recognized as Christian by the Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox churches for a number of doctrinal reasons, including its rejection of the doctrine of the Trinity. In stories where this is relevant, journalists should explain the Christian Science beliefs and why other groups say those beliefs do not accord with traditional Christianity. In stories where different faith groups are mentioned, journalists should avoid judging which groups are Christian. For example, say Baptists, Christian Scientists, Presbyterians and Jewish groups took part in relief efforts rather than Baptists, Presbyterians and non-Christians, including Christian Scientists and Jews, took part in relief efforts.

The terms Christian Science Church or Churches of Christ, Scientist, are acceptable in all references. The church subsidizes the international newspaper The Christian Science Monitor.

Filed in Christian Science, Religious titles

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Members of the church are called Mormons or Latter-day Saints; either is acceptable. It is preferable to use the church’s entire name, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on first reference. The LDS church has asked not to be referred to as the Mormon Church but does not object to adherents being referred to as Mormons. Mormon, LDS and Latter-day Saint can all be used as adjectives, as in Mormon beliefs or LDS practices.

The church was founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith, a farm boy in upstate New York. Smith said he was directed to a set of golden plates that contained a record of ancient inhabitants of the Americas who had migrated from Jerusalem. Smith said he translated this record with divine help and published it as the Book of Mormon. The book tells of a visit by the resurrected Jesus to these inhabitants in the Western Hemisphere, which is why its subtitle reads “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.”

Mormons believe that Smith had a vision of God and Jesus Christ and that the church he founded is the restoration of true Christianity. In the 19th century, Mormons were persecuted for their beliefs and eventually fled to Utah, where they could practice their faith in peace.

Because of their extra-biblical scriptures and beliefs about God and Jesus (they reject the Nicene Creed, for example), Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant churches do not regard Mormons as Christian. In stories where that is relevant, journalists should explain why Mormons regard themselves as Christian and why other groups say their beliefs do not accord with traditional Christianity. In stories where different faith groups are mentioned, journalists should avoid judging which groups are Christian. For example, say: Baptists, Mormons, Presbyterians, Seventh-day Adventists and Jewish groups took part in relief efforts rather than Baptists, Presbyterians, Seventh-day Adventists and non-Christians, including Mormons and Jews, took part in relief efforts.

The church has headquarters in Salt Lake City and is highly structured. All worthy males, 12 and older, can be ordained to the priesthood; women are not ordained but can serve in leadership and other positions in the all-volunteer clergy.

The top authority is the “prophet, seer and revelator,” a position held by the most senior apostle, who has the title of church president. He is joined by two counselors, who constitute the governing First Presidency. When the president dies, the First Presidency is dissolved and the senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles becomes the new president. Under the First Presidency is the three-member Presiding Bishopric, which governs in temporal affairs. There is also the First Quorum of Seventy, which oversees missionary work and other aspects of church governance.

The church is divided into territories called stakes, and each stake is headed by a president, two counselors and a stake high council. Individual congregations are called wards. The leader of a ward holds the title of bishop. The only formal titles in the LDS church are president for the head of the First Presidency, apostle, bishop and elder. Female leaders are called sisters. Capitalize all formal titles before a name on first reference, and only use the person’s last name on second reference. The terms minister and the Rev. are not used.

Filed in Christianity, Mormonism, Religious titles

Churches of Christ

There is no central headquarters or organization for the Churches of Christ, as each congregation is autonomous. Members have traditionally regarded their churches as a restoration of the New Testament church. They typically do not use instrumental music in worship because, they say, the New Testament does not command it, and whatever is not commanded is forbidden. Baptism by immersion is generally regarded as essential for salvation. The minister of a congregation is addressed by members as Brother. Do not use the honorific the Rev. for Church of Christ ministers. Do not refer to the space for worship as a sanctuary; auditorium is usually preferred. Do not refer to the Communion table as an altar; use Communion table.

Filed in Christianity, Protestantism, Religious titles

city upon a hill

A phrase made famous in 1630 by future Massachusetts Gov. John Winthrop, who told Puritans sailing from England that the colonies would serve as a model, a “city upon a hill.” The phrase has come to encapsulate the idea, cited by politicians from John Adams to John F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton, that America has special blessing from God as well as a special responsibility.

Filed in Christianity, Government and politics, Protestantism

civil religion

The phrase, first noted in 1762 in Jean Jacques Rousseau’s The Social Contract, has come to mean a collection of sacred beliefs Americans hold about their country – beliefs that transcend any particular faith or institution of religion. It was popularized by a 1967 essay by sociologist Robert Bellah.

Filed in Government and politics

civil union

A civil ceremony that gives same-sex couples some of the rights married couples have in the areas of tax benefits, medical decisions and estate planning. In 2000, Vermont became the first state to allow civil unions.

Filed in Government and politics, Religion and culture

clergy, cleric

Priests, ministers, rabbis and others who are ordained by specific religious bodies to perform official duties. Most denominations have specific requirements for education, training and the selection process. The singular form is cleric.

Filed in Religious titles

committed

See devout.

Filed in Religion and culture

Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions

The Parliament of the World’s Religions was first held in 1893 to create unprecedented global discussion around faith. The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions was formed in 1988 as a host organization to the 1993 centennial celebration, which developed into a series of subsequent conferences in 1999, 2004, 2007 and 2009.

Filed in Interfaith

creationism

In the United States, creationism usually refers to the belief that the Bible’s account of creation is literally true and accurate. That generally means Genesis 1-2:4a, where God creates the Earth and all its life forms in six consecutive 24-hour days less than 10,000 years ago. (Genesis also tells a second creation story, in 2:4b-24, in which man is created before the Earth’s vegetation, and specific days are not described.) See intelligent design.

Filed in Anglican/Episcopalian, Baptist/Southern Baptist, Catholicism, Christianity, Orthodoxy, Pentecostalism, Protestantism, Religion and culture

creed

A statement of religious belief or faith that encapsulates official teaching. Most have developed over time amid religious and political debates. The word creed is based on the Latin word credo, which means I believe. The most common creeds in Christianity are the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed.

Filed in Anglican/Episcopalian, Catholicism, Christianity, Orthodoxy, Protestantism, Religion and culture

cult

A term that has come to be associated with religious groups far outside the mainstream that have overly controlling leadership or dangerous practices. For that reason, journalists should use it with the greatest care and only when they are certain it fits. On rare occasions, cult is an appropriate description. Two groups whose members committed mass suicide are examples: the Peoples Temple (Jonestown in Guyana, South America, 1978) and Heaven’s Gate (1997, California). Another example is the Branch Davidians, whose founder, David Koresh, died along with 75 followers in a 1993 standoff with government officials.

Filed in Other faiths, Religion and culture

Dalai Lama

The title of the leader of Tibetan Buddhism and the spiritual and (now exiled) political leader of the people of Tibet. Dalai Lama is a title rather than a name, but it is all that is used when referring to the man. Capitalize when referring to the person who currently holds the title; lowercase when referring to the title in general. Each dalai lama is considered to be the reincarnation of the last; the current, 14th Dalai Lama left Tibet in 1959 after China’s invasion and resides in Dharamsala, India. Tibetan Buddhists address him as Your Holiness and refer to him in writing as His Holiness.

Filed in Buddhism, Religious titles

deism

A belief in God based solely on natural reason and morality and rejecting revelation, prayer and supernatural acts, such as miracles. Deists believe that God exists as creator of the world but left it to run on its own. The belief emerged in the 17th century and spread during the Enlightenment; many of America’s founders were deists.

Filed in Religion and culture

deity

A god or goddess; having a divine nature.

Filed in Religion and culture

devil

The word devil is lowercase, but capitalize Satan.

Filed in Catholicism, Christianity, Orthodoxy, Religion and culture

devout

Using the word “devout” is problematic in reference to all faiths. It’s one thing for individuals to call themselves that, but it’s another for a reporter to attach the description. It’s a subjective term without a precise meaning to all readers. Words like “serious” or “practicing” or “committed” have similar problems. All these terms mean different things to different people.

When journalists use words like “devout” it implies that the person it is applied to somehow adheres more to a faith’s teachings and practices than others of that faith. And it can too often be viewed as code for fanaticism or extremism or something out of the norm.

Since journalists do not have a direct line into the soul to discern a person’s faith, it is far better to use precise descriptions of a person’s religious practice and observance. For example, “Joe Smith attended Mass every day” or “Jane Smith received a church annulment from her marriage to Joe Smith.” Or “Joe Smith attended worship every week, even when ill.” Or “Jane Smith contributed $200,000 to Trinity Church, where she worshipped.”

 

Filed in Religion and culture

disciple

Filed in Christianity, Orthodoxy, Religion and culture

doctrine

The systematized principles or beliefs of a religious faith.

Filed in Religion and culture

Dr.

See religious titles.

Filed in Religious titles

Eastern Orthodox

A group of Christian churches that do not recognize the authority of the pope in Rome, but, like the Roman Catholic Church, have roots in the earliest days of Christianity. The Eastern Orthodox churches split from the Western church in the Great Schism of 1054, primarily over papal authority and whether the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father (as the Orthodox believe) or from the Father and Son (as the Catholics believe). Included in the Eastern Orthodox churches are the Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox and Armenian Orthodox, as well as other, smaller churches based on the nationalities of various ethnic groups such as Bulgarians, Romanians and Syrians. Eastern Orthodox clergy comparable to Catholic archbishops are known as patriarchs or metropolitans. They recognize the patriarch of Constantinople, now Istanbul, as their leader. He has the power to convene councils, but he does not have authority over the activities of the other archbishops. The patriarch of Constantinople is known as the ecumenical patriarch. Working with the archbishop are other archbishops, bishops, priests and deacons. Archbishops and bishops frequently follow a monastic tradition in which they are known only by a first name. When no last name is used, repeat the title before the name in subsequent references. Archbishop may be replaced by the Most Rev. on first reference. Use the Rev. before the name of a priest on first reference. On second reference use only the cleric’s last name. The churches have their own traditions on matters such as married clergy; for example, a married man may be ordained, but a priest may not marry after ordination. In the United States, the largest Eastern Orthodox church is the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, followed by the Orthodox Church in America.

Filed in Orthodoxy, Religious titles

ecumenism

A modern theological and social term referring to the effort to promote understanding and cooperation among diverse Christian groups. The adjective, ecumenical, refers to interaction between Christians of different traditions. It is also linked to a 20th-century religious movement to bring a variety of denominations under a single Christian umbrella, such as the World Council of Churches.

Filed in Catholicism, Christianity, Interfaith, Protestantism

Episcopal Church

The Episcopal Church is part of the Anglican Communion. Officially called the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. Episcopal Church is acceptable in all references. Two bodies govern the church nationally — the permanent Executive Council and the General Convention, which meets every three years. One bishop holds the title of presiding bishop. The General Convention determines national policies, and all acts must pass its House of Bishops and House of Deputies. Under the council are provinces, dioceses or missionary districts, local parishes and local missions. A province is composed of several dioceses and has a synod made up of a house of bishops and a house of deputies. Within a diocese, a bishop is the principal official and is helped by the Diocesan Convention, which is made up of all clergy in the diocese and lay representatives from each parish. A vestry, composed of the rector and lay members elected by the congregation, governs the parish or local church.

Among Protestant churches, the Episcopal Church has titles that are particularly challenging. Capitalize titles before a name but lowercase otherwise. Note that some positions have more than one title or honorific. Because some U.S. congregations have broken ties with the Episcopal Church and affiliated with Anglican bishops, be sure to make clear in stories about such disputes whether a bishop is Anglican or Episcopal.

The presiding bishop is the chief pastor and primate who leads the national Episcopal Church. She is addressed as the Most Rev.

All other bishops use the title the Rt. Rev. before their name. Priests and deacons use the title the Rev. Priests who head a chapter, or governing body of a cathedral, are called deans and are addressed as the Very Rev. Archdeacons are addressed with the honorific the Venerable, as in the Venerable Jill Smith. Women and men in religious communities are called brother or sister and may be ordained.

 

Filed in Anglican/Episcopalian, Religious titles

eschatology

Pronounced “es-kuh-TAH-lah-gee.” The theological study of end times, when the fate of individual souls and all of creation will be decided. It is often associated with doomsday predictions, but Christian eschatology also focuses on eternity, paradise, resurrection of the dead and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The Book of Revelation and the prophecy of Daniel are considered eschatological or apocalyptic.

Filed in Catholicism, Christianity, Orthodoxy, Protestantism, Religion and culture

Establishment Clause

One of two clauses in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that address religion. It reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion …” The U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted the clause to mean that the federal government is prohibited from declaring and financially supporting a national religion, preferring one religion over another, or even religion over non-religion. Religious conservatives argue that the specific wording of the Establishment Clause does not prohibit the federal government from engaging in certain religious activities, such as promoting prayer in public schools or posting the Ten Commandments in public spaces. On the other side is the argument that the Establishment Clause carries a broader meaning as set out in the writings by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison that suggest “a wall of separation” between church and state. See Free Exercise Clause.

Filed in Government and politics

evangelical

By definition, all Christians are evangelicals. The word evangelical is derived from the Greek evangelion, which means “good news” or “gospel.” But the term evangelical has generally come to mean Protestants who emphasize personal conversion; evangelism; the authority, primacy — and, usually — inerrancy of the Bible; and the belief that Jesus’ death reconciled God and humans. Evangelicals tend to be conservative theologically, but the terms evangelical and conservative Christian are not synonymous, though they both may apply to the same people. Fundamentalists, who generally separate themselves from what they see as a sinful culture, are distinct from evangelicals, who tend to embrace culture and use it to build up the church. In the early 21st century, religious identification surveys show that between a quarter and 40 percent of the U.S. population claims the evangelical label. Many, though not all, also identify with a specific tradition or denomination, ranging from mainline Protestant denominations to the Roman Catholic Church. In Europe, evangelical is a generic word for Protestants. Uppercase only when part of a formal name.

Filed in Christianity, Protestantism, Religion and culture

ex-gay

The movement, mostly found in conservative Christianity, that purports to change the sexual orientation of people from same-sex attraction to opposite-sex. It is also referred to as reparative or conversion therapy. It is highly controversial. Several major medical associations have rejected such therapy when it views homosexuality as a mental disorder or sickness, or assumes that homosexuals’ sexual orientation is something that must be changed. Ex-gay should never be used without explaining the term and the controversy associated with it. See gay.

Filed in Catholicism, Christianity, Gender and sexuality, Judaism, Mormonism

faith-based

Term that came into popular use when President George W. Bush established the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives in 2001. Generally, the adjective faith alone is preferred, as in faith groups instead of faith-based groups.

Filed in Government and politics, Religion and culture

Father

Use the Rev. in first reference before the names of Episcopal, Orthodox and Roman Catholic priests. On second reference use only the cleric’s last name. Use Father before a name only in direct quotations.

Filed in Anglican/Episcopalian, Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Religious titles

First Amendment

Written by James Madison, the First Amendment guarantees basic freedoms and is the root of disagreements over church-state issues involving the complicated relationship between the government and religious organizations. It went into effect with the Bill of Rights on Dec. 15, 1791. It states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” See Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause.

Filed in Government and politics

Free Exercise Clause

One of two clauses in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that address religion. It reads, “Congress shall make no law … prohibiting the free exercise (of religion).” As interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court through several decisions, a person’s right to believe in any religion – or none at all – is absolute, but the government can place limitations on free exercise. The court has ruled that any law that specifically targets a religion violates the First Amendment. The situation is much murkier when a law that is religiously neutral or generally applicable has the effect of interfering with a religious practice or belief. Through a series of rulings in the 1950s and 1960s, the high court determined that governments had to show a “compelling interest” for passing any laws that had an unintended effect of interfering with religious practice or belief. The burden of proving that compelling interest was heavy. But in 1990, the Supreme Court narrowed the scope of “compelling interest,” lightening the government’s burden and requiring little justification as long as the law was not aimed at a specific religion or religious practice. See Establishment Clause.

Filed in Government and politics

gay

Term used to describe men who are sexually attracted to other men. For women, lesbian is the preferred term. When referring to both, say gay men and lesbians, though gay is acceptable for referring to both in headlines. Avoid references to a gay, homosexual or alternative “lifestyle.”

Filed in Anglican/Episcopalian, Baptist/Southern Baptist, Catholicism, Christianity, Gender and sexuality, Mormonism, Orthodoxy, Pentecostalism, Protestantism

glossolalia

Pronounced “glos-uh-LAY-lee-uh.” A form of speaking in tongues. Mentioned as a practice in the New Testament, and a hallmark of contemporary Pentecostal and some charismatic Christians. It is most commonly viewed as a private, heavenly language given by the Holy Spirit to communicate with God. Xenoglossia, also called zenolalia, is another form of speaking in tongues; it involves uttering a foreign language previously unknown to the speaker. Some conservative Protestant groups believe that the gift of tongues ceased after the first century and that current practices are a spiritual counterfeit.

Filed in Christianity, Pentecostalism, Protestantism, Religion and culture

God

Capitalize in reference to all monotheistic religions. Also capitalize such references as God the Father, Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit. However, lowercase personal pronouns, such as him and he. Many Christians consider God to be beyond gender, so be sensitive to the context of the story and avoid gender-defining pronouns when appropriate. Orthodox Jews write G-d to avert the sin of erasing or defacing God’s name. Journalists should respect these Jews’ practice by using G-d in quotes of written material, but otherwise should refer to God.

Filed in Anglican/Episcopalian, Baptist/Southern Baptist, Catholicism, Christianity, Judaism, Orthodoxy, Pentecostalism, Protestantism, Religion and culture

gods, goddesses

Lowercase the words god, goddess, gods and goddesses in reference to polytheistic religions and when referring to metaphorical gods, as in gold was his god. However, capitalize the proper names of specific deities, such as Zeus or Odin, and capitalize Goddess if a monotheistic religion’s believers worship the feminine divine as God.

Filed in Religion and culture

golden rule

Variations on this precept, which can be succinctly stated as “Treat others as you wish to be treated,” are found in the texts of every major religion, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Filed in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Religion and culture

grand mufti

The most supreme religious leader. One can be a grand mufti of a city, region or country. It is a title used mostly by Sunnis. Capitalize when used before a name.

Filed in Religious titles, Sunni

guru

Pronounced “GOO-roo.” Broadly used to refer to a teacher of any subject, but especially of spiritual matters. In Hinduism, one’s spiritual guru is seen to be a representative of the divine, through whom one is given the teachings and practices necessary for enlightenment. Guru Gobind Singh: The 10th teacher of the Sikh religion, Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708) led Sikhs in a battle for autonomy and has come to represent the Sikh ideal of the saint-soldier. In 1699, he formed Sikhs into the Khalsa, a spiritual sister- and brotherhood, and gave them five articles of faith (the Five Kakaars). He passed the guruship on to the Sikh scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib.

Filed in Hinduism, Religious titles, Sikhism

Haredi

A Hebrew term (Haredim in the plural) that literally means “fear” or “anxiety” and is used in the context of a devout believer who “trembles in awe of God.” The label can be applied to strictly observant Orthodox Jews instead of the term ultra-Orthodox, but Haredi is not widely used outside of Israel and Jewish media outlets.

Filed in Judaism, Religion and culture

heaven

Lowercase in all references.

Filed in Anglican/Episcopalian, Baptist/Southern Baptist, Catholicism, Christianity, Orthodoxy, Pentecostalism, Protestantism, Religion and culture

hell

Lowercase in all references.

Filed in Anglican/Episcopalian, Baptist/Southern Baptist, Catholicism, Christianity, Orthodoxy, Protestantism, Religion and culture

hermeneutics

Pronounced “hur-muh-NOO-tiks.” The theory and principles of interpretation often associated with scriptural texts.

Filed in Religion and culture

homosexual

A person attracted to someone of the same sex. The preferred terms are gay and lesbian.

Filed in Gender and sexuality

hot-button

Hyphenate when used as an adjective.

Filed in Religion and culture

idol

Be cautious in using this word because it can imply that something is a false god. For example, do not use idol to refer to the representations Hindus use in worshipping. The correct term to use is murti. For similar reasons, idol worship is also inaccurate.

Filed in Hinduism, Religion and culture

imam

Pronounced “ee-MAHM.” In everyday use, any person who leads a congregational prayer. Traditionally, only men have been imams, although women are allowed to serve as imams for other women. To lead prayers, one does not have to be a cleric. In a more formal sense, an imam is a religious leader, but can also be a political leader. Many Shiites believe imams are intercessors with God; many also believe in the Twelve Imams, descendants of Prophet Muhammad whom they consider his rightful successors. The Twelfth Imam disappeared from the world in 873, but followers of Twelve Imams Shiism believe that he is still alive and will return as the Mahdi, or “the guided one,” who will restore righteousness before the end of the world. On first reference, uppercase imam when preceding a proper name. On second reference, use only the person’s last name. Uppercase imam when referencing the Twelve Imams.

Filed in Islam, Religious titles

indigenous religion

Refers to the myriad religious traditions of local and regional societies where language, kinship systems, mythologies and rituals shape religious practices that may borrow from traditional religion but are unique to the local culture.

Filed in Religion and culture

intelligent design

The belief that some aspects of life forms are so complex that they must reflect the design of a conscious, rational intelligence. Proponents do not identify the designer, but most people involved in the debate assume that intelligent design refers to God. Many supporters of intelligent design reject the theory of evolution and support the idea of creationism. Most intelligent design supporters do not believe that life forms share a common ancestor, although some do.

Filed in Anglican/Episcopalian, Catholicism, Christianity, Orthodoxy, Protestantism, Religion and culture

interfaith

This refers to activities or events that draw people from entirely different religious traditions, such as Christians, Jews, Buddhists and Muslims. It is not a synonym for ecumenical, which refers to a multiplicity of Christian traditions, or interdenominational.

Filed in Interfaith

intifada

This Islamic term for shaking, uprising and insurrection generally is used to refer to the Palestinian resistance of the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Specific events mark the beginnings of different intifadas.

Filed in Government and politics, Islam

Islam

Religion founded in seventh-century Mecca by the Prophet Muhammad, who said Allah (God), through the Angel Gabriel, revealed the Quran to him between 610 and 632, the year of his death. Followers of Islam are called Muslims. They worship in a mosque, and their weekly holy day is Friday. Islam is the second-largest religion in the world, after Christianity.

After Muhammad’s death, Islam split into two distinct branches — Sunni and Shiite — in an argument over who would succeed him. Sunnis make up an estimated 85 percent of all Muslims. Shiites are the majority in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain, while Sunnis are the majority in other Islamic countries. In Sunni and Shiite Islam, there are various madhhabs, or schools of thought, and other theological traditions.

There is no central religious authority, so theological and legal interpretations can vary from region to region, country to country and even mosque to mosque.

Capitalize all Islamic titles when used before a name and lowercase otherwise. Use the title and name on first reference and only the person’s last name after that.

Shiites and Sunnis use a few of the same religious titles but differ on others. Shiites have a more-defined hierarchy than Sunnis. For example, Sunnis call people who lead congregational prayers imams, while Shiites almost exclusively reserve imam to refer to any of the 12 descendants of the Prophet Muhammad who Shiites believe were his rightful successors. Sheikh, on the other hand, is used in both communities, but can be used either as term of respect — to address older men, for example — or for a formally trained scholar. Among Sufi Muslims, sheikh holds a more exclusive status that is reserved for highly trained scholars and heads of Sufi orders.

Among Shiites, mullahs are lower-level clergy who generally have only rudimentary religious education. A hujjat al-Islam is more learned than a mullah but does not have the authority to issue legal rulings. Mujtahids and faqihs are jurists with the authority to issue rulings. A higher-level mujtahid is a marja, the most educated of whom are called ayatollahs.

In addition to imam and sheikh, Sunni titles include mufti and grand mufti, which indicate a higher status usually conferred by an institution. Grand muftis are usually the top religious scholar in a country.

Because the Quran is in Arabic, it is a common misconception that all Arabs are Muslim and all Muslims are Arab; neither is true.

Filed in Islam, Religious titles, Shiite, Sunni

just war

A doctrine with roots in Christianity that posits that governments sometimes – but not always — have a morally justified reason for using mass political violence. It has three parts, known by their Latin names: jus ad bellum, which considers the justice of the cause for going to war; jus in bello, which concerns justice within the conduct of war; and jus post bellum, which concerns the justice of peace agreements and the termination of war.

Filed in Catholicism, Christianity, Government and politics

Khalistan

The name adopted by proponents of an independent Sikh homeland in India. It means “land of the pure.” Khalistani separatists declared their independence from India on Oct. 7, 1987, but this declaration has not been recognized by any nation.

Filed in Government and politics, Sikhism

King, Martin Luther Jr.

The civil rights leader and Baptist minister was born on Jan. 15, 1929, and assassinated on April 4, 1968. A federal holiday honoring him takes place on the third Monday in January. Refer to him as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on first reference.

Filed in Baptist/Southern Baptist, Christianity, Government and politics, Protestantism

Kwanzaa

The name of a popular African-American festival held between Dec. 26 and Jan. 1. Uppercase in all references. The name is a Swahili term meaning first. Begun in 1966, Kwanzaa celebrates African-American heritage. It has become increasingly associated with religion as more churches observe it. The seven principles of Kwanzaa are unity, self-determination, work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

Filed in African-American, Christianity, Protestantism, Religion and culture

lay person

A member of the laity, rather than the clergy. The terms lay person and lay people are each two words. Layman and laywoman, however, are each one word.

Filed in Religious titles

lesbian

A woman who is sexually attracted to other women. Preferred to gay when referring to women.

Filed in Gender and sexuality

LGBT

An acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. Should not be used without defining it.

Filed in Gender and sexuality

Lord

Always capitalize when referring to God in a monotheistic faith, as in Lord Jesus or in Lord Krishna.

Filed in Anglican/Episcopalian, Catholicism, Christianity, Orthodoxy, Protestantism, Religion and culture

mantra

Pronounced “MUN-tra.” A syllable, word or phrase with spiritual power, it is chanted or held in the mind in connection with meditation or ritual. Mantras are commonly used by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains and are traditionally drawn from Sanskrit scriptures, such as the Vedas. The adherents of some vernacular texts, such as the Hindi Ramcharitmanas, believe their verses have the power of mantra as well. Some of the more powerful mantras consist of a single syllable, the most popular of which is “om.” See om.

Filed in Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Religion and culture

meditation

A quiet, alert, sustained, powerfully concentrated state in which new knowledge and insights are awakened from within as awareness focuses on an object or specific line of thought. In the West, practices that are taught as meditation are primarily techniques of concentration (“dharana” in Sanskrit). The more appropriate Sanskrit term for meditation is “dhyana”; it is more of a state of reflection on the nature of the self or of reality, and is one of the eight limbs of yoga.

Filed in Buddhism, Religion and culture

metropolitan

In the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox churches, a metropolitan heads an ecclesiastical province, a metropolitan see, and ranks below the patriarch. In Orthodoxy, a metropolitan is said to govern a metropolia, while the Eastern Catholics call it an archeparchy. In the Western churches, the corresponding terms are archbishop and archdiocese.

Filed in Orthodoxy, Religious titles

minister

Most Protestant denominations use the term minister to describe their clergy, but it is not a formal title and is not capitalized. It is also used in Catholicism, with a strong distinction drawn between ordained ministers (priests and deacons) and lay ministers (including, for example, Eucharistic ministers, who take Communion to the sick, and youth ministers). The Nation of Islam also uses the term, and in that case it is a title and should be capitalized before the person’s name.

Filed in Protestantism, Religious titles

monk

A term often applied to any man in a religious order, it should be restricted to members of contemplative orders, such as Benedictines, Cistercians and Carthusians. Friar is the name given to members of the mendicant orders, such as the Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians and Carmelites, which are pledged to live on free-will offerings. Brother is a title given to laymen who take vows as members of religious communities. Monks and friars can be, but often are not, ordained priests. Brothers remain in the lay state but as vowed members of the community. All monks, friars and brothers who are not ordained can be addressed as Brother in conversation and on first reference, such as Brother John Doe. On second reference, continue to use Brother and the first name if the person is known that way, such as Brother John. Otherwise, use only the last name on second reference.

Filed in Catholicism, Religious titles

monotheism

A religion devoted to the worship of a single god. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are known as the world’s three great monotheistic religions.

Filed in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Religion and culture

monsignor

An honorary title given to some diocesan priests by the pope. Capitalize before the name on first reference. Do not use the abbreviation Msgr. or the titles the Very Rev. or the Rt. Rev.

Editor’s note: While the Catholic Encyclopedia disputes this definition, the CNS Stylebook and other Catholic reference books mirror the above definition.

Filed in Catholicism, Religious titles

Moral Majority

Started in 1979 by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, it was made up of conservative Christian political action committees that campaigned on issues it believed central to upholding its concept of Christian morality. Its leaders believed it represented the majority of Americans’ beliefs; hence the name. The organization officially dissolved in 1989, but its work continues through the Christian Coalition network initiated by Pat Robertson. After the 2004 presidential election, Falwell created a new group called the Moral Majority Coalition.

Filed in Christianity, Government and politics, Protestantism

mullah

A Shiite term for lower-level clergy. Capitalize the title when it precedes a name.

Filed in Islam, Religious titles

mysticism

Meditation, prayer or theology focused on some form of direct experience or union with the divine. Examples of mysticism and mystics can be found in a variety of religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as in neo-paganism.

Filed in Religion and culture

National Baptist Convention of America

An association of black Baptist churches that formed after a split with the National Baptist Convention USA.

Filed in African-American, Baptist/Southern Baptist, Protestantism

National Council of Churches

The formal name of this group, which was founded in 1950, is the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. It is commonly called the National Council of Churches, and that term is acceptable in all references. Use NCC on second reference. The NCC is an ecumenical organization that is the major national umbrella group for mainline Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, historic African-American and Living Peace churches. More than 50 other faith groups, including Roman Catholics, work with the council on humanitarian, justice and interfaith issues.

Filed in Christianity, Government and politics, Interfaith, Orthodoxy

National Missionary Baptist Convention of America

A black Baptist denomination that was formed in the 1980s after a disagreement with the National Baptist Convention of America over publishing endeavors.

Filed in African-American, Baptist/Southern Baptist, Protestantism

neo-paganism

A term used to describe contemporary paganism, as opposed to ancient paganism. Some groups or individuals describe themselves as “pagan” because they trace their belief and practices back to ancient times and the emphasis on the natural world and goddess worship. Others prefer “neo-pagan” because their faith blends the old and the new.

Filed in Other faiths, Religion and culture

New Age movement

A spiritual movement that developed in Western society in the late 1960s. Adherents link elements of religion with psychology and parapsychology. It remains a loose network of spiritual seekers, teachers, healers and other participants. Followers construct their own spiritual journeys, which are heavily influenced by the mystical elements of many organized religions, as well as native practices such as shamanism and neo-paganism.

Filed in Other faiths, Religion and culture

New Religious Movement

A widely accepted term that describes religious groups outside the mainstream. These fringe groups often have roots in Christianity, Judaism or other major faiths but have beliefs and practices that are rejected by mainstream organizations. Some New Religious Movements are not new, and a few eventually evolve into mainstream religious groups. Cults, which are generally considered groups with overly controlling leadership or dangerous practices, are included in this category. New Religious Movements are sometimes called NRMs, but journalists should avoid using the abbreviation. See cult and sect.

Filed in Religion and culture

nones

An increasingly popular term for people who answer “none of the above” in surveys that ask them to categorize what religion they follow. Many nones say they believe in God and/or consider themselves religious. In the early 21st century, nones are one of the fastest-growing segments in religious identification surveys. Journalists should define the term on first reference.

Filed in Government and politics, Religion and culture

nongovernmental organization

A public or private institution that is not part of a government and is not a business. NGOs, as they are known, usually focus on providing aid, disaster relief or developmental assistance, particularly on an international scale. NGO is acceptable on second reference.

Filed in Religion and culture

nonprofit

No hyphen.

Filed in Religion and culture

ordination

The process of authorizing a person to perform ministry in an official capacity for a specific religious organization, usually Christian or Jewish. Many denominations require formal education and training, and many ordain deacons as well as clergy. Lowercase ordained and ordination in all references.

Filed in Christianity, Judaism, Orthodoxy, Religion and culture

orthodox, orthodoxy

A term used to denote a clear doctrine that implies correct belief according to a particular religion or philosophy. Lowercase except when referring to Judaism or the Eastern branches of Christianity or as part of a denominational name, such as the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

Filed in Christianity, Orthodoxy, Religion and culture

pagan

Generally, a person who does not acknowledge the God of Judaism, Christianity or Islam and who is a worshipper of a polytheistic religion. Many pagans follow an Earth-based or nature religion. The modern religious movement known as neo-paganism has adopted the name as a badge of faith. Note: Some pagans prefer to see the term capitalized. See neo-paganism.

Filed in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Religion and culture

pantheist

A worshipper of all gods or one who believes that God and the universe are one. See polytheism.

Filed in Religion and culture

paranormal

An event or perception that involves forces outside the realm of scientific explanation, such as extrasensory perception, ghosts, telepathy, clairvoyance, astrology, communicating with the dead, witches, reincarnation and channeling.

Filed in Religion and culture

parish

Originally this referred to a geographic territory whose residents were all to go to the one church within that territory. That is still essentially how it functions within Roman Catholicism. In the 1960s theEpiscopal Church allowed its members to attend any parish they chose, eliminating the geographic use of the term. Today, a growing minority of Catholics also attend the parish of their choice, and there is no sanction involved. In some heavily Catholic parts of the nation, particularly Louisiana and Philadelphia, counties or neighborhoods are still known as parishes. Capitalize as part of the formal name. Lowercase when standing alone.

Filed in Catholicism, Christianity, Government and politics

pastor

Generally, the head minister or priest of a Christian church, although in some denominations any ordained minister is called pastor. It means shepherd and is also used in reference to bishops and to the pope.

Filed in Anglican/Episcopalian, Catholicism, Christianity, Orthodoxy, Protestantism, Religious titles

patriarch

One of the ancient fathers of Judaism and Christianity — Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, a patriarch is the highest-ranking bishop. Capitalize if used before a name. In the Roman Catholic Church, the patriarch is the bishop of Rome and is called pope. Unlike the pope, who has jurisdiction over all Roman Catholic territories, the authority of Eastern and Oriental patriarchs is more limited. They have a great deal of enforceable jurisdiction in their own territories but no authority over each other’s.

Filed in Christianity, Judaism, Orthodoxy, Religious titles

pluralism

When referring to religion, pluralism is a framework that allows different religious traditions to interact with each other with respect for each other’s viewpoints but without pressure to adopt or agree with each other’s beliefs. It acknowledges that those in the majority should respect different traditions and not impose their beliefs on others.

Filed in Interfaith, Religion and culture

polytheism

The belief in or worship of more than one god.

Filed in Religion and culture

postmodern

A sociological term frequently discussed in relation to religion. Postmodernists believe there are no absolute values or truths; everything is relative and is shaped by the cultural context of a particular time and place. For that reason, postmodernity is considered a threat to religion, which teaches universal truths.

Filed in Christianity, Religion and culture

practicing

See devout.

Filed in Religion and culture

predestination

The belief that God predetermines whether people’s afterlife is to be spent in heaven or hell. It is most often associated with Swiss theologian John Calvin.

Filed in Protestantism, Religion and culture

priestess

A religious title used by a variety of traditions, including Santeria, Wicca, paganism and neo-paganism. Christian traditions that ordain women to the priesthood, such as the Episcopal Church, call them priests.

Filed in Religious titles

pro-choice

A term used to describe people who support abortion rights. Abortion, however, is a more nuanced issue, with many people supporting abortion in some circumstances, but not all. Journalists should instead use the term pro-abortion rights or a similar description. See abortion, pro-life.

Filed in Christianity, Government and politics, Protestantism

pro-life

A term used to describe people who oppose abortion. Abortion, however, is a more nuanced issue, with many people opposing abortion rights in most, but not all, circumstances. Journalists should instead use a description of their views, such as opposed to abortion or against abortion rights. See abortion, pro-choice.

Filed in Anglican/Episcopalian, Catholicism, Christianity, Government and politics, Orthodoxy, Protestantism

progressive

A term that emerged as a way to refer to people of faith who are liberal-to-moderate in their political views. It is a disputed term because it implies that other groups are regressive, which carries a negative connotation.

Filed in Government and politics

Progressive National Baptist Convention

An African-American Baptist denomination formed in Cincinnati in 1961 after disagreements with the National Baptist Convention, USA, and partly out of a desire to fully support the civil rights movement.

Filed in African-American, Baptist/Southern Baptist

prophecy, prophesy

The first is a prediction viewed as a divine revelation; the second is a verb meaning to make such a prediction. The principal theological definition of prophesy, though, is not to foretell the future but to speak the word of God. Some Christian traditions – especially Pentecostals – use it primarily to refer to revelation of future events involving the return of Christ. Other churches, however, use it primarily in references to biblical teaching about social justice and concern for the poor.

Filed in Christianity, Pentecostalism, Protestantism, Religion and culture

prophet

Someone who speaks divine revelation, or a message they received directly from God. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all have certain figures they formally recognize as prophets. Some traditions, including the Mormons, some charismatic groups and some non-Christian faiths, believe their leaders receive ongoing divine revelation. In much of Christianity, all ordained clergy are considered to have a prophetic role because their job is to proclaim the word of God. Capitalize when used before the name Muhammad to refer to Islam’s final prophet, but otherwise do not capitalize as a title.

Filed in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Orthodoxy, Religion and culture

proselytize

The act of seeking converts to a faith. However, many Christian groups – particularly the Roman Catholic Church – draw a strong distinction between proselytizing and evangelizing. Proselytizing is viewed as the use of unethical methods – such as coercion, bribery or threats – to bring conversions. Evangelizing is considered a pressure-free effort to present the faith and invite others to freely accept it. This distinction explains why Pope John Paul II frequently condemned proselytizing while encouraging – and engaging in – evangelization. Do not use the word proselytize unless you know it is being used in a negative context. Evangelism (Protestant) or evangelization (Catholic or Orthodox) are the preferred terms.

Filed in Christianity, Orthodoxy, Religion and culture

Providence

Capitalize when referring to divine care or God.

Filed in Religion and culture

rabbi

Hebrew word for teacher and the title used by Jewish clergy. On first reference, capitalize before a name. On second reference use only the cleric’s last name.

Filed in Judaism, Religious titles

reincarnation

The belief that a person’s soul is reborn in another body after physical death. It is common in many Asian traditions — including Buddhism, Sikhism and Hinduism — as well as some Native American traditions. According to Hinduism and Buddhism, incarnation in the next life is determined by one’s previous actions. See karma.

Filed in Buddhism, Hinduism, Religion and culture, Sikhism

religion

A general term referring to religious practice. It should not be used in regard to different traditions within the same faith. For instance, Catholics and Baptists should not be referred to as belonging to different religions. They both belong to the Christian religion. The same goes for Shiite and Sunni Muslims, Reform and Orthodox Jews.

Filed in Religion and culture

Religious Freedom Restoration Act

A federal law passed in 1993 that offers important protections for people’s right to the free exercise of religion. It prohibits the government from burdening a person’s religious practice unless a compelling state interest justifies the restriction. After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1997 that the law did not apply to state or local governments, states began passing their own RFRA laws. RFRA is acceptable on second reference.

Filed in Government and politics

religious left

A term used to describe people of faith with liberal political views. Journalists can refer to the so-called “religious left,” but it is best to specify which groups they are referring to and what action they are promoting. See religious right and progressive.

Filed in Government and politics

religious movements

Refers to a shift in the thinking, doctrine or practice of people within a specific religion. Also refers to the development of a new religion.

Filed in Religion and culture

religious references

In general, follow AP’s guidelines on religious references.

  • deities: Capitalize the proper names of the deities from monotheistic religions — God, Allah, the Father, the Son, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit. Lowercase pronouns referring to the deities. When referring to the deities of polytheistic religions, lowercase the words god and gods, but capitalize the proper name of a specific deity, such as Zeus or Odin.
  • life of Christ: Capitalize the names of major events in Jesus Christ’s life, such as the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, the Nativity, the Resurrection. Crucifixion and Resurrection should always be capitalized when referring to Jesus — a departure from AP style.
  • rites: Capitalize proper names for rites commemorating the Last Supper or that signify a belief in Christ’s presence, such as the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, Holy Eucharist. The word communion alone is lowercase. Lowercase the names of other sacraments. Capitalize Benediction when referring to the Catholic religious service with that name, but not when referring to other rites or acts of blessing. Capitalize Mass, but lowercase preceding adjectives, such as funeral Mass.
  • holy days: Capitalize the names of holy days.
  • other references: Lowercase heaven, hell and devil. Capitalize Hades and Satan. Lowercase angel unless it precedes a name, such as the Angel Gabriel. Lowercase apostle unless it precedes the name of one of the original Twelve Apostles or of Paul, or refers to those Apostles collectively.
Filed in Catholicism, Christianity, Orthodoxy, Protestantism, Religion and culture

religious right

A term used to describe people and groups whose religious beliefs inform their conservative political and social views. The term dates to 1979, when the Rev. Jerry Falwell formed the Moral Majority. Since then, politically active religious conservatives have diversified in their goals and approaches. Journalists should refer to the so-called “religious right” or religious conservatives. It is best to specify which groups the term refers to and what they are promoting. See religious left.

Filed in Christianity, Government and politics, Protestantism

religious titles

Guidance on titles in specific faith traditions can be found below. More explanation is usually offered under the individual entry on that group, or, sometimes, under an entry on the title itself. Not all faith traditions are listed here. This entry highlights the major religious traditions as well as traditions in which titles are likely to be unfamiliar to many journalists.

For all faiths, the title Dr. is generally not used before the names of scholars or clergy who hold academic doctorates. If the person’s academic credentials are important to the story, it is better to give specifics, as in Jane Doe, who holds a doctorate in systematic theology, led the discussion. Never combine Dr. with other titles, such as the Rev. Dr.

Baptist churches: All members of the Baptist clergy may be referred to as ministers. Pastor applies if a minister leads a congregation. Use the Rev. on first reference before a clergy’s name. On second reference use only the last name.

Buddhism: Titles for Buddhist teachers or masters are capitalized when used with a name but lowercase otherwise. The title of lama generally precedes a name; rinpoche, sensei and roshi generally follow the name, but practice varies, especially in the United States. (For example, a well-known Japanese Zen teacher is always referred to as Maezumi Roshi; a well-known American Zen teacher is Roshi Bernard Glassman.) To determine how to refer to a particular Buddhist teacher, ask or try looking up the name through a database or other Web tool.

Teachers may be addressed by their titles (e.g., “Rinpoche, may I ask a question?”). Dalai Lama is capitalized when referring to the man who holds the title and no name is used; dalai lama is lowercase otherwise. Buddhists address the Dalai Lama as Your Holiness in person and His Holiness in writing. Ordained monks in Theravada Buddhism are given the honorific Venerable before their names.

Church of Christ, Scientist: This denomination, also called the Christian Science Church, has lay leaders called readers who lead its worship services. The faith also has  practitioners, who are self-employed healers. Capitalize these titles before a name, and on second reference use only the last name. Do not use the Rev. in any references.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Apostle is a title used for the church’s highest-ranking members. The senior, or longest-serving, apostle serves as the church president and carries that title. Other titles used by Mormons are bishop, elder and sister. Capitalize all of these when used before a name. The terms minister and the Rev. are not used.

Eastern Orthodox churches: The patriarch of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) is known as the ecumenical patriarch; he is regarded as “the first among equals.” Capitalize this title if used before a name, but not otherwise.

In the Eastern Catholic and Orthodox churches, a metropolitan heads an ecclesiastical province, a metropolitan see, and ranks below the patriarch. Capitalize metropolitan when used as a title before a name.

Eastern Orthodox archbishops and bishops frequently follow a monastic tradition in which they are known only by a first name. In those cases, repeat the title before the name in subsequent references. Archbishop may be replaced by the Most Rev. on first reference.

Use the Rev. before the name of a priest on first reference; on second reference use only his last name.

Episcopal Church: Among Protestant churches, the Episcopal Church has titles that are particularly challenging. Capitalize titles before a name but lowercase otherwise. Note that some positions have more than one title or honorific. Because some U.S. congregations have broken ties with the Episcopal Church and affiliated with Anglican bishops, be sure to make clear in stories about such disputes whether a bishop is Anglican or Episcopal.

The presiding bishop is the chief pastor and primate who leads the national Episcopal Church. She is addressed as the Most Rev.

All other bishops use the title the Rt. Rev. before their name. Priests and deacons use the title the Rev. Priests who head a chapter, or governing body of a cathedral, are called deans and are addressed as the Very Rev. Archdeacons are addressed with the honorific the Venerable, as in the Venerable Jill Smith. Women and men in religious communities are called brother or sister and may be ordained.

A diocesan bishop has jurisdiction over a diocese and is sometimes known as the Ordinary. They may be assisted by other bishops, known as bishops suffragan. In addition, bishops who retire or resign from their diocese may assist in another diocese in some capacity; the church variously refers to them as assistant bishops, bishops assisting or assisting bishops.

The archbishop of Canterbury is the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church is part. Capitalize the title when used before the holder’s name. He is also referred to by the honorific the Most Rev., as in the Most Rev. Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, but it is sufficient to refer to him as Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

Hinduism: Hindus have no formal clergy but do have spiritual teachers, or gurus. Capitalize guru before a name on first reference, and use only the last name on second reference. Swami is a title of respect and reverence conferred on a religious teacher and, in particular, one who has taken vows of celibacy and renunciation; it, too, should be capitalized before a name.

Islam: Capitalize all Islamic titles when used before a name and lowercase otherwise. Use the title and name on first reference and only the person’s last name after that.

Shiites and Sunnis use a few of the same religious titles but differ on others. Shiites have a more-defined hierarchy than Sunnis. For example, Sunnis call people who lead congregational prayers imams, while Shiites almost exclusively reserve imam to refer to any of the 12 descendants of the Prophet Muhammad who Shiites believe were his rightful successors. Sheikh, on the other hand, is used in both communities, but can be used either as a term of respect – to address older men, for example — or for a formally trained scholar. Among Sufi Muslims, sheikh holds a more exclusive status that is reserved for highly trained scholars and heads of Sufi orders.

Among Shiites, mullahs are lower-level clergy who generally have only rudimentary religious education. A hujjat al-Islam is more learned than a mullah but does not have the authority to issue legal rulings. Mujtahids and faqihs are jurists with the authority to issue rulings. A higher-level mujtahid is a marja, the most educated of whom are called ayatollahs.

In addition to imam and sheikh, Sunni titles include mufti and grand mufti, which indicate a higher status usually conferred by an institution. Grand muftis are usually the top religious scholar in a country.

Jehovah’s Witnesses: Jehovah’s Witnesses have no formal clergy titles and do not use honorifics such as the Rev. They refer to baptized members who evangelize as publishers and those who devote greater time to ministry activities as regular pioneers. Full-time workers are called special pioneers.

Judaism: Rabbi and cantor should be capitalized before a name on first reference. On second reference, use only the person’s last name.

Nation of Islam: Its clergymen use the title minister, which should be capitalized on first reference before a name. On second reference, use only the person’s last name.

Pentecostalism: There are dozens of Pentecostal denominations as well as many nondenominational churches that are Pentecostal, so titles vary greatly. Common titles are bishop, minister, elder and superintendent; capitalize them before a name. Evangelist is another common title, but do not capitalize it, even with a name. Some clergy use the title of the Rev., but some do not.

Protestant churches: Customs vary in different traditions. Many, but not all, use the Rev. before a clergy member’s name on first reference. Do not include the honorific unless you are certain it is acceptable in that tradition. Among those that do not use the Rev. are Churches of Christ and the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Some Protestants use other titles for their clergy, including pastor, bishop or brother. Capitalize when used before a name.

Quakers have no recognized ranking of clergy over lay people. Their meeting officers are called elders or ministers, and these terms should be capitalized when used before a name. Many Quaker ministers in the Midwest and West use the Rev. before their names. On subsequent references to Protestant clerics, use just the last name.

Roman Catholic Church: A pope should be referred to by his full papal name on first reference, as in Pope Benedict XVI. On subsequent references, use the pope, the pontiff or just his papal name (without Roman numerals), as in Benedict. Catholics also refer to the pope as the Holy Father, a term that should be used only in quotes.

For cardinals, archbishops, bishops and deacons, capitalize the title when used with a name on first reference, as in Cardinal Bernard Law, but lowercase otherwise. On second reference, use just the person’s last name.

For priests, use the Rev. before the name on first reference; on subsequent references, use just the last name. Monsignor can be substituted if a priest has received that title. Catholics commonly address priests as Father; use this only in quotes, and capitalize it with or without a name attached, as in She said, “We asked Father what we should do.”

For nuns, sisters and brothers, capitalize sister, mother or brother before the name on first reference. In subsequent references, use just the last name for those who keep surnames; otherwise, continue to use the full name, as in Mother Teresa.

The title Venerable is applied to a person posthumously if a pope has approved the first stage in his or her official cause for canonization, as in Venerable Fulton Sheen.

Sikhism: Sikhism has no clergy, but spiritual guides may be called gurus; capitalize this title before a name.

Filed in Religious titles

revelation, Revelation

In monotheistic religions, revelation is the process through which God reveals or communicates truths about God’s self or will. Uppercase when referring to the final book of the New Testament, the Book of Revelation. (Note that Revelation is singular.)

Filed in Catholicism, Christianity, Judaism, Orthodoxy, Protestantism, Religion and culture

Reverend, the

An attributive form of address given to many but not all ordained Christian and Buddhist clergy. Do not use this honorific form unless you are sure that the particular denomination accepts its use. Follow AP style of using the article the to precede the abbreviation Rev. Never use the Rev. Dr. together before a name. See religious titles for guidance.

Filed in Anglican/Episcopalian, Buddhism, Catholicism, Christianity, Protestantism, Religious titles

rinpoche

Pronounced “RAHN-poh-shay.” Literally “precious one,” rinpoche is a title of respect for a Buddhist teacher, often signaling one considered to be an incarnate lama. The title of rinpoche generally follows a name, but practice varies, especially in the United States. Capitalize when used before or after a name. See lama and tulku.

Filed in Buddhism, Religious titles

roshi

Title for Zen Buddhist master, literally “old teacher.” It generally follows a name, but practice varies, especially in the United States. Capitalize when used before or after a name.

Filed in Buddhism, Religious titles

sacrilegious

Characterized by irreverence toward a sacred person, place or thing.

Filed in Religion and culture

scripture, scriptures

The sacred writings of a religious group. Capitalize when referring to writings from the Holy Bible but not otherwise.

Filed in Anglican/Episcopalian, Catholicism, Christianity, Orthodoxy, Protestantism, Religion and culture

sect

Refers to a group that has broken off from another. Avoid this label unless you are sure it fits; it often carries negative connotations.

Filed in Religion and culture

secular humanism

An outlook that emphasizes human rather than religious values. Secular humanism stresses reason, scientific inquiry, individual freedom and responsibility, human values and compassion, and the need for tolerance and cooperation.

Filed in Atheism/Agnosticism, Religion and culture

secularism

The belief that religion and religious considerations have no place in public life and education.

Filed in Religion and culture

separationist

A term used to describe people or groups who support a strong separation of church and state in legal matters. See accommodationist, Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause.

Filed in Government and politics

serious

See devout.

Filed in Religion and culture

sexual orientation

Sexual attraction. Use the term sexual orientation instead of sexual preference.

Filed in Religion and culture

shaman

A spiritual leader in a tribal society who heals people by channeling spirits, often in an altered state. Sometimes referred to as a medicine man or witch doctor. It is a description rather than a formal title; do not capitalize, even when used with a name.

Filed in Religion and culture, Religious titles

sheikh

Most Islamic clergymen use the title sheikh like a Christian cleric uses the Rev.

Sheikh also is used as a secular title. Capitalize it when used before a name, but lowercase otherwise.

Filed in Islam, Religious titles

skullcap

A small, close-fitting headpiece worn in some religious traditions, particularly by men. Other names for it include yarmulke (worn by Jews), zucchetto (worn by Roman Catholic prelates) and kufi (worn by Muslims).

Filed in Catholicism, Islam, Judaism, Religion and culture

Social Gospel

Refers to a Protestant movement, prominent in the 19th and early 20th centuries, that sought to apply Jesus’ teachings to social problems, such as poverty and industrialization. Sin and salvation were seen as social rather than individual.

Filed in Government and politics, Protestantism

Somali

A person from Somalia, or as an adjective for a thing related to Somalia. Avoid “Somalian.”

Filed in Government and politics

spiritualism

The belief that the human personality survives death and can communicate with the living, usually through the use of a medium. Sometimes called spiritism.

Filed in Religion and culture

talisman

An object believed to have magical powers.

Filed in Religion and culture

tarot

A set of cards used in fortunetelling. It is usually made up of 78 playing cards, including 22 cards, the Major Arcana, that depict the elements, vices and virtues in sometimes elaborate drawings.

Filed in Religion and culture

temple

A building used for worship or religious purposes. Uppercase when part of a formal name or when referring to the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. The word temple is used differently in different religious traditions. It is the place of worship for Hindus, Buddhists and Jews, although Orthodox Jews and many Conservative Jews believe the only temple is the one destroyed in Jerusalem and so they call their congregational buildings synagogues. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, temples are sacred buildings with restricted access; they differ in purpose from meetinghouses, where weekly worship takes place.

Filed in Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Religion and culture

theocracy

A government ruled by religious authority or people who believe they are carrying out divine directions.

Filed in Government and politics

titles, religious

See religious titles.

Filed in Religion and culture

totem

A representation of a person or likeness such as an animal or plant that is revered by a tribe or group. It is a part of many American Indian and African religious practices.

Filed in Other faiths, Religion and culture

transgender

Adjective describing people whose gender identity/expression differs from the biological features they were born with. Includes preoperative and postoperative transsexuals, female and male cross-dressers, drag queens or kings, female or male impersonators and intersex people. The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association Stylebook Supplement advises, “When writing about a transgender person, use the name and personal pronouns consistent with the way the person lives publicly.” Do not necessarily equate transsexual with transgender. Transsexuals are people who identify themselves as members of the opposite sex and who acquire the physical characteristics of that gender.

Filed in Gender and sexuality

unchurched

This term can be offensive to non-Christians. When using it, put the word in quotes.

Filed in Religion and culture

Watch Night

A New Year’s Eve worship service popular in African-American churches. It dates back to 1864, when tradition holds that slaves waited all night long to hear word of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Filed in African-American, Christianity, Protestantism

White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

The successor to the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, which was begun in 2001 by President George W. Bush to make federal funding available to religious organizations for social services. Under President Barack Obama, the renamed program has a broader scope.

Filed in Government and politics

witch

A practitioner of natural magic; often a follower of a pagan religion, such as Wicca.

Filed in Other faiths, Religion and culture

World Council of Churches

Formed in 1948 in Amsterdam, the World Council of Churches claims the membership of 340 churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 100 countries and territories, representing some 550 million Christians, including most of the world’s Orthodox churches. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member but has a working relationship with the council. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the council works for Christian unity while stressing that it is not aimed at creating a “global super-church.” It is viewed with suspicion by many theologically conservative Christian groups — including strong factions of some member churches — who believe that it waters down Christian theology and substitutes social action for spreading the gospel.

Filed in Christianity, Government and politics, Interfaith, Orthodoxy

worship, worshipped, worshipper

Worship is the act of offering devotion and praise to a deity or deities. It is most often used in reference to formal religious services, but also applies to private prayer and other acts done to honor or revere the sacred. Many evangelical Protestants have a tendency to use it specifically in reference to music – especially contemporary praise music – sung in church. Thus, the leader of the contemporary singing group may appear in the church bulletin as “praise and worship leader.”

Filed in Protestantism, Religion and culture

Yahweh

Pronounced “YAH-way.” An English translation of the four Hebrew letters usually transliterated as YHWH that form the name of God. Jews do not attempt to pronounce this name, as they believe that would risk taking the name of God in vain. Wherever it appears in Scripture, they say “the Lord” (“Adonai”) instead, and a vowel marking beneath the four consonants renders the word unpronounceable in Hebrew. Sixteenth-century Protestants attempted to transliterate this word, resulting in “Jehovah.”

Filed in Christianity, Judaism, Protestantism, Religion and culture

Zionism

A modern movement in Judaism rooted in the establishment of a separate Jewish nation, based on God’s biblical promise that Israel would forever belong to Abraham and his descendants as a nation. Many Zionists do not have religious motives, but believe a Jewish state is necessary because of the long history of persecution of Jews. That goal was realized with the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. Zionism refers to Mount Zion, the site of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. A Zionist is a supporter of Zionism.


Filed in Government and politics, Judaism