Category Archives: Religious titles

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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, and its headquarters are in Boston. Christian Science teaches a practice of spiritual healing, and teaches that Jesus was primarily a spiritual healer. It claims that sin, sickness and death are illusions that will be destroyed by a complete understanding of the divine principles of Jesus’ teaching and healing. Christian Scientists sometimes refuse medical treatment, and generally deny death, saying instead that it is a “passing over” into the realm of spirit.

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. Christian Science has no clergy, but its leaders are called readers, practitioners and lecturers. 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 also subsidizes the international newspaper The Christian Science Monitor. The terms Christian Science Church or Churches of Christ, Scientist are acceptable in all references.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. Sheik, 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, sheik 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 sheik, 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

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

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

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

mullah

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

Filed in Islam, Religious titles

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

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

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

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 no clergy, but its leaders are called readers, practitioners and lecturers. 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. Sheik, 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, sheik 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 sheik, 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

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

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

sheik

Most Islamic clergymen use the title sheik like a Christian cleric uses the Rev. Sheik also is used as a secular title. Capitalize it when used before a name, but lowercase otherwise.

Filed in Islam, Religious titles

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