->''"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."''
-->--'''UsefulNotes/JesusChrist''', [[Literature/TheFourGospels John]] 3:16, King James Version of Literature/TheBible

The world's biggest single religious group. Roughly one in three people worldwide describe themselves as Christians, or about 2.4 billion followers by most estimates. That means two things: Most people you meet have at least a passing acquaintance with the general idea of Christianity, but Christianity itself is an extremely diverse movement with lots of historical and cultural variation and nuance.

Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion that originated in what is now UsefulNotes/{{Israel}} in the 1st century A.D. as an offshoot of UsefulNotes/{{Judaism}}. It is based on the teachings of [[UsefulNotes/{{Jesus}} Jesus of Nazareth]], a rabbi and preacher whose followers identified Him as both the ''Messiah/Christ'' promised in the Old Testament and the Son of God, who was executed by Roman and Judean authorities for supposedly presenting Himself as such. Originally one of several reformist sects of Judaism at the time, the movement of Jesus' followers opened its doors to non-Jews some time in the first hundred years after Jesus' death and gradually became a religion separate from if still linked to Judaism: Christianity. (According to the Literature/ActsOfTheApostles, the name "Christian" is in fact an AppropriatedAppellation: The followers of Jesus were mockingly called "little Christs" and decided it was [[InsultBackfire actually pretty catchy]].) Christianity spread throughout UsefulNotes/{{the Roman Empire}}, despite systematic persecution of Christians, and in the 4th century became the official religion of the Empire, and thereafter the dominant religion throughout Europe and the western world.

Literature/TheBible, the volume which contains all of Christianity's holy texts, is considered the ''bedrock'' of Western literature so reading it and having a good understanding of Christianity is essential to understanding the Western canon. Christianity has had a huge impact on world history and Judeo-Christian faith later inspired a new religion known as Islam founded by Muhammad. The Christian world in the Middle East fell to Islamic rule and the presence of Christianity there had greatly diminished even though it had been there the longest. The continued dominance of Christianity in Europe while other areas were [[JoinOrDie forced to convert]] is why people view Christianity as a "Western religion" [[{{Irony}} despite its Eastern roots]]. While Christianity shares many of the same principles with Judaism and Islam, it is also very different because of influence from the Church Fathers and Roman culture:
* Judaism and Islam both have dietary laws regarding meat, especially pork, but Christians are allowed to consume any animal.
* Modesty and humility is encouraged but Christianity (as a whole) has no specific dress codes.
* Judaism and Islam permitted polygyny but Christianity was almost entirely monogamous.
* Circumcision is not required nor forbidden.
* Judaism has Biblical Hebrew and Islam has Classical Arabic but Christianity has no single "sacred language" due to its founding in an empire where people spoke multiple languages. Ecclesiastical Latin is the most famous because of the ChristianityIsCatholic stereotype.
* Judaism and Islam stress orthopraxy (correct action) while Christianity emphasizes orthodoxy (correct belief). This led the other Abrahamic religions to view Christianity as more "liberal".
* Monasticism (a religious way of life in which one renounces worldly pursuits to devote oneself fully to spiritual work) plays an important role in Christianity. This is in contrast with Judaism where it only plays a marginal role and with Islam which forbids it.

Most Christians can agree on at least that much. Most, anyway. There are in-house disagreements on even these bare bones of its history. In fact, you can make a good case that a defining attribute of Christianity is the wide variety of ways the teachings are applied in religions.

A few basic points that the majority of Christians agree on; any disagreement will be mentioned '''in the entry for the appropriate sect!''':

* Christianity is a monotheistic religion from the perspective of modern adherents. The most prevalent view is that the one {{God}} subsists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit/Holy Ghost. Needless to say, a ''lot'' of philosophy and theology has been devoted to understanding this, and it's still a MindScrew for many. Some sects do away with it entirely, [[VoodooShark probably for that reason]].
* God is omniscient (i.e., [[TheOmniscient knows everything that has ever transpired or will transpire, past, present, and future]]), omnipotent (i.e., capable of doing anything He desires to), and omnibenevolent (i.e., [[AllLovingHero He loves everyone and everything]]). As above, a lot of philosophy has been dedicated to comprehending how these qualities interact with each other, and how they can coexist given the seemingly contradictory nature of the world man exists in. The general answer is that [[OmniscientMoralityLicense God is playing a long game]], [[InMysteriousWays the understanding of which is beyond man's comprehension.]]
* [[HumansAreFlawed Sin is an inexorable part of the human experience]], owing to Adam's original act of defiance to God by eating the forbidden fruit (i.e., Original Sin). No matter how pious a life one may try to lead, it is inevitable that at some point one will commit a sin intolerable to God - and thus, divine salvation is necessary for all souls.
* Jesus was [[GodInHumanForm the incarnation of God on Earth]]. In the person of Jesus, God walked among us and experienced human life ''as'' a human, including its sufferings and its privations. Don't ask whether Heaven had an "Out of the Office, Will Return In [X] Years" sign on it whilst Jesus was alive. That view is called "modalism", and is generally considered a [[UsefulNotes/HeresiesAndHeretics heresy]] formerly known as Sabellianism.
* Christianity is an expansion on or replacement of the covenant established between God and [[UsefulNotes/{{Judaism}} the Jewish people]] in the Old Testament. Key to this is the concept of blood sacrifice -- when sin transpires, blood must be spilled in its atonement. Whereas the ancient Jews fulfilled this necessity with intermittent animal sacrifices, Christ offered His own blood as a substitute, permanently, by dying on the Cross. Hence the sobriquet "Lamb of God"; whereas lambs were the preferred animal for sacrifice in the temple, Jesus became the lamb for the entire world.
* As a sign of God's power and the coming Resurrection of the Dead, Jesus came back from the dead three days after his Resurrection only to ascend into Heaven after appearing and preaching to his distraught followers.
* Most Christians, now and throughout history, obviously have had sex. Sexual morality, most universally in the form of refraining from sex outside of marriage, is of great importance for many Christians.
* The Christian faith is by no means restricted to those who are "perfect." In fact, Jesus Himself often lectured hypocrites, especially those who [[HolierThanThou saw themselves as "perfect"]], and hung out with sinners (a fact that really pissed off His opponents). Christianity is in fact a religion that embraces sinners; this doesn't mean you keep sinning, though. The emphasis is on on the process of sanctification -- becoming more conformed to God's will each day -- with God's help. It's not a "Get out of Hell Free" card, but rather the idea that, since God's love and grace are absolutely infinite, there isn't a sin you could imagine that He wouldn't forgive you for if your desire for forgiveness were sincere.[[note]]Whether it is possible to remain both a Christian and a willful sinner is a serious theological point of contention. Some denominations and schools of thought believe you can, but that it stunts your spiritual growth or deprives you of certain gifts and privileges you would have otherwise received; others believe that it's possible to lose your sanctification if you remain unrepentant, or that such behavior is a sign you never truly accepted God's grace to begin with.[[/note]]
* Traditional grammatical convention dictates that pronouns relating to God or to Christ be [[CapitalLettersAreMagic capitalized]] (e.g. "Him", "You", "His"), as you may have already noticed while reading this page. This also includes pronouns referencing Jesus and the Spirit, as they are also Him. This is done simply out of respect and is not a requirement, nor is it always practiced by non-Christians (never mind how thorny this would be for scripts that don't ''have'' capitalization, notably, Hebrew and Ancient Greek).
* A side issue: Jesus' historicity. The question of His holiness, position as Christ, and so on are obviously beyond the scope of scientific inquiry as they are not falsifiable. Jesus Himself left no writings that have survived to the present day, and the earliest Christian writings known today (the epistles of Paul) date to between fifteen and twenty years after His life. It is generally accepted as fact that Jesus, as in the individual described in the Bible, did, in fact, historically exist. This continues to be dicey, since the claim that Jesus the guy exists needs to be sorted for different notions of "exists". Was there an itinerant preacher guy named Yeshua somewhere in Judaea around AD 20-40 who made a stir and got offed by the powers that be? Almost certainly. Did that guy say or do anything ascribed to him in the Bible? Less certain. Was He born on December 25th of the year 1 B.C.? Almost certainly not, since modern archaeologists believe King Herod (during whose reign Jesus is said to have been born) to have died several years prior, and the date of Christmas to have been set by the early medieval church to coincide with competing winter solstice festivals.

The simplest definition of "Christian" is a person who calls themself a Christian. Unhelpfully enough, this doesn't actually cover all Christians (such as Messianic Jews), and it most certainly doesn't do anything to inform us of who is actually practicing the religion and who simply says they are. A slightly more complicated definition would be one who believes in the divinity of Jesus Christ and strives to live their life in accordance with His teachings. Of course, depending on who you ask, this means different things.

* '''Catholic Christians''' believe that UsefulNotes/ThePope is the rightful successor of St. Peter, who was given the authority by Jesus to guide and direct the Christian Church on Earth, and that faith alone isn't sufficient except combined with acts. This last bit means that a Christian, to a Catholic, is someone who acknowledges s/he is a sinner, accepts Christ's offer of salvation, is forgiven by God on Christ's behalf, repents and changes his or her life to reflect this, and spreads the word to others, with the Church (e.g. Pope) being the final earthly authority for figuring out how to actually do that; once you have done that, you have to do good things and actually act like you believe and try to be a better person to be saved. Contrary to common misunderstanding, Catholics do believe in the Bible as strongly as Protestant Christians do, but their belief in the Church's authority simply means they do not believe that the Bible is the sole source of knowledge in determining how to be saved and live a moral life. The term "Roman Catholic" is both a misnomer and was once a derisive term. Their official name is simply "The Catholic Church," which has many liturgical variants, or rites, but all believing in the same core values mentioned. The Roman, or Latin Rite, is what resides in Rome and is the liturgy seem most by Westerners, including the U.S.
* '''Gnostic Christians''' today most prominently include the Yazdani Rite of Iraq/Syria and the Nasrani Rite of India, but are almost extinct outside of said communities. Notable for its syncretic infusion of Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Egyptian and Greek theology and philosophy, and its attribution of the dickish behavior of the Old Testament God to the Demiurge, a kind of Lawful Evil counterpart to the Chaotic Evil Devil, often referred to as the 'Usurper'.
* '''Apostolic/Oriental Orthodox Christians''' include the Armenian, Coptic, Indo-Syriac and Ethiopian Rites, will share communion, and are often misconstrued as Eastern Orthodox practitioners. However, the Apostolic Churches actually divorced from Catholicism during the Era of Council, i.e. before the Byzantine Schism, and have different beliefs regarding the nature of the relationship between Jesus and the Creator (Miaphysitism). In fact, the Apostolic and Orthodox communities have historically not gotten along well, with many Apostolic communities siding with the Muslim invasions against the Byzantines in exchange for a protected status due to persecution from their Orthodox overlords.
* '''Logosophic/Nestorian Christians''' today most prominently include the Assyrian Rite and the Persian Rite, and akin to the Apostolic Church broke away from Catholicism over disagreements about the relationship between Jesus and the Creator.
* '''Orthodox/Eastern Orthodox Christians''' agree with Catholics on the role of the Church as the earthly authority that can make statements of doctrine. But instead of the Pope, they rely on ecumenical councils (basically, gatherings of all the bishops in the world, where each of them gets one vote) as the final authority. The last ecumenical council recognized by the Orthodox was held in the 9th century, though the Catholic Church has held councils of its own since then, and the Orthodox have held synods (similar meetings of bishops on a smaller scale) numerous times since; [[DevelopmentHell plans have been in the works for a new Orthodox council since before World War I]]. They have convened the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pan-Orthodox_Council Pan-Orthodox Council]] 19 to 26 June 2016.
* '''Esoteric/Hermetic Christians''' today most prominently include the Rosicrucian, NeoHermetic and Kabaalistic Rites, they broke away before the Protestant Reformation, and influenced the genesis of both the latter and the Masonic movement. Similar to Gnosticism in that it syncretized Kabbalistic and Pagan theology and philosophy with Christianity, it heavily influenced both the European School of Alchemy and the Muslim Persian School under Rhazes.
* '''Protestant Christians''', whose doctrines began as a critique of Catholicism arising within the West (i.e. in places where Catholicism had deep roots), deny the role of both the Pope and the Church, and believe instead that the Bible is the ultimate and only necessary authority for knowing how to live a Christian life, and further say that it is largely [[FigureItOutYourself up to the individual to interpret the Bible's instructions as to how to live their own life]]. The learned advice of the clergy is not to be discounted, but it is not authoritative. Because of the whole "up to the individual to interpret the Bible's instructions" thing, there is a ''lot'' more variation among Protestant sects than there is among the various subdenominations of Catholicism or Orthodoxy, with Protestant groups [[WeAreStrugglingTogether varying wildly]] on things like soteriology (does a human have to initiate the process of salvation or does God just do it Himself or is it some other thing?) and on more practical matters like church governance and what rituals are acceptable and how to conduct them.

Note that some liberal denominations reject the notion of external salvation entirely, and only focus on Jesus' message of compassion and forgiveness while not focusing so much, if at all, on His teachings on personal morality and sanctification. Others keep the focus on the personal morality and sanctification, but express it through acts of charity and giving -- many major charity organizations around the world are run by Christians, and many hospitals and ambulances worldwide originated as Christian organizations.

As you probably already know, Christians are not one collective bunch. Like in most religions, disagreements over theology and dogma have resulted in everything from quiet splits to devastating wars, in the past and even today. In Christianity, this has resulted in the notable tendency to create new churches, and this in turn leads to the large number of different Christian churches.

[[folder:Amongst these disagreements (and a comprehensive list would be literally impossible) are:]]
'''[[RuleOfCautiousEditingJudgement This section is not a test. These are rhetorical questions. Answering them is not something a wise person would do.]]'''

* The Nature of Jesus: How does Jesus being both Man and God work out? Is there a dual-nature (the "Chalcedonian" position, called "hypostatic union") a unified single nature (when claiming the unified nature is somehow fully human and fully divine, this is called "Monophysitism"), or what?
* How can the doctrine of the Trinity be maintained without collapsing the persons into one or splitting them into three separate Gods?
* Just what is the Holy Spirit, to be precise?
* Circumcision. Paul says it's unnecessary, else God would have done it for us. Can we do it (for non-medical reasons) anyway? Are we still required to? Do we have to? Is it encouraged but not required? Discouraged? Forbidden? What about female circumcision?
* Should we be baptized as in Matthew 28:19 - in the Trinity, or as in Acts 2:38 - in Jesus' name?
* Is gambling cool? Does insurance count as gambling?
* If Jesus turned water into wine, is drinking at all a sin? Was it really wine or just grape juice?
* May women be ordained? For that matter, do we really need ordination at all?
* Baptism -- as a child, as an adult, at all, full immersion, sprinkling on forehead will do, one time only, or can we all just agree that we're glad we don't '''have''' to be circumcised?
* What happens if you, despite being a model Christian, forget to get baptized?
* Communion: Did Jesus say that the bread literally was his body and the wine literally was his blood? Was it purely symbolic? Neither? Cannibalism? How does this square with vegetarianism?
* Is fighting and killing other "Christians" in a ''Just War'' okay with God? For that matter, what exactly is a ''Just War''?
* Homosexuality: Can we all just agree that, regardless, we share the world with everyone and leave it at that? Or is the issue an important one that doesn't allow for compromise? Does the prohibition only apply to situations of [[DoubleStandardRapeMaleOnMale rape]] or [[QuestionableConsent dubious consent]], or does it apply to consenting adults as well? Are same-sex marriages valid?
* Sex: Is it better to be celibate, married, or just fool around? Is it OK to have sex with someone you love and are in a long-term relationship with (and maybe eventually will marry), but are not legally married to, or do you have to have a wedding ceremony first? And as per above: If marriage is required, can people of the same sex marry each other?
* When can someone get a divorce? Is divorce even ''real'', or is it just a legal term instead of a spiritual reality? Can someone remarry after a divorce, or must they remain celibate?
* What exactly is God's name? Jehovah? Yahweh? [=YHVH=]? Jesus? Yeshua/Yehoshua? Eloh? Al-Illah? Allah? Adonai? Abraxas? Lord? The [[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Lord ]]
? God? [[AliceAndBob Bob]]? [[TakeAThirdOption All of the above]]? Or [[TheseAreThingsManWasNotMeantToKnow are we not supposed to ask]]?
* Is evolution a lie construed by Evil Atheist Scientists, or a legitimate way to interpret Genesis? Is the story of creation a literal account of how the Earth came to be, or a metaphor for events and lengths of time Bronze-Age man wasn't ready to comprehend?
* Is intelligent design a viable fact, a diabolical attempt to pander to the pagans, a wishy-washy suck-up to the powerful proponents of evolution, or an unnecessary and pseudo-scientific attempt to "reconcile" evolution with faith when there is not really a conflict?
* Theistic Evolution: Is evolution just part of God's [[ThePlan plan]] where the causal chain from the big bang to the human soul is according to His will?
* What exactly is {{Hell}}? Is it a place or state? Is it eternal or temporary? Are there [[FireAndBrimstoneHell literal flames]]? Can you [[EscapedFromHell escape it]]? Is it maybe a metaphor? Is it layered, with some [[CirclesOfHell circles]] being worse than others, as in Dante's ''[[Literature/TheDivineComedy Inferno]]''?
* Purgatory: Do some/many/most/all souls need to finish being purified after death in order to enter Heaven? How long does that take? What might it entail? Can/should people on Earth pray for deceased relatives and friends to get them out of Purgatory faster?
* What happens to the righteous unbelievers? Are the worthy heathens able to convert in the afterlife? Might they be given a chance to convert at the moment of death if they were sincerely doing the best with what they believed in? Does it even matter what they believe, or will their acts of good get them saved despite never accepting Jesus? Or does God suss out who's willing to accept Jesus and take extraordinary measures to ensure that the Gospel gets to them -- not needing to go so far with the many who wouldn't accept even if they knew?
* What about people who died as unbelievers because they never heard about Jesus, or were too young or mentally infirm to understand? What about the millions of people who lived ''before'' Jesus? Is there a "Limbo" between Heaven and Hell where these folks' souls go, do they get a free pass to Heaven, or are they condemned to Hell? And is this Limbo a place of joy, punishment, or both, or neither? Similarly, does a baptism performed on someone who doesn't understand it, or is too young to understand it, "count" as far as salvation goes? And what happens if this person later gains the ability to fully understand what baptism and salvation are all about? Do kids eventually reach an "age of reason", beyond which they're accountable to God for their beliefs and behavior, but before which God considers them too young to know any better? If so, what is that age?
* Is religion actually an example of God's love refracted through culture and history, or is belief more like a valid passport?
* Prophecy: How can I tell who's talking to Him and who's talking to himself?
* Did Henry VIII suck at running a church and screw up Anglican apostolic succession?
* And that entire Reformation business, justified? And whose fault is it?
* Resurrection: Who? When? How? And what happens in the meantime?
* What is the Apocalypse of John about?! Is it a prophecy? Political allegory?
* Should every word in the Bible be taken literally, or should it be analyzed like a literary work for different symbols? Both? Neither?
* How does one go about interpreting the Bible literally? How literal is literal enough? Jesus taught in parables; does that mean the Bible as a whole should be taken as a spiritual parable? Or can we just pick and choose the bits to take literally and consign the rest to poetic allegory?
* What is the Bible? What books should compose it? Why is the Book of Jubilees in Ethiopian Orthodox canon but not Protestant canon?
* What about breaking up Biblical texts into chapter and verse?
* Was the Bible written and compiled by man, by God, or by both? If the text is "inspired," what does that mean?
* Should we care about saints? Are some of them just poorly concealed [[{{Expy}} rip-offs]] of local pagan deities? Or are they genuinely holy people who continue to care about people on Earth even after their own deaths? And how much power of intercession do they have anyways?
* Miracles -- does God personally intervene in people's lives to their benefit, or is He more of a cosmic watchmaker who observes but does not interfere?
* If there are so many issues Christians disagree on, does this prove that God is a fan of the art of debate? Or is there one true church that is right about all the major issues, and everyone should join that one? And how in the world do you figure out who that one church is?
* Is the King James Version of the Bible a great Bible, or the greatest Bible? Or is it written in extremely outdated language and based on somewhat sketchy source material influenced by political concerns? Should my Bible be precise? readable? poetic? And don't even get started on whether words should be translated as "young women" vs "virgin."
* Speaking of archaic language, what's the deal with [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thou#Religious_uses obsolete informal pronouns]]? Do they actually give a better sense of intimacy with God or do they just end up sounding even more formal because they're so rarely used?
* Does God have a gender? If so, does that mean that that gender is superior to any others, or that people of other genders are not ''truly'' made in God's image, or only reflect that through the "superior" gender?
* Was Jesus' manifestation in 1st-century Judea a one-time event? Is it possible that similar figures in other world religions were also manifestations of Him? If they are, does this mean these other religions are true? If intelligent life exists on other worlds, are they subject to the same covenant that human beings are?
* Is Judgment Day coming soon? Is the Literature/BookOfRevelation a literal account of things to come, or an allegory for events occurring at the time it was written? Will the righteous [[CaughtUpInTheRapture ascend bodily into heaven]] before the Tribulation begins? Will there be a Tribulation at all, or will the end times sneak in like a thief in the night?
* Do UsefulNotes/{{J|udaism}}ews need to accept Christ to be saved, or does the Old Covenant still apply for them?
* Liturgical language: What language should be used for public worship? The local vernacular? Or Latin? Greek? Coptic? Angelic tongues?
* Polygyny existed in Old Testament, the New Testament and onward (thus, today); it is allowed? Forbidden? Discouraged? God just happened to made exceptions in the past? God actually dislikes it but allows it? God liked it? It was the invention of machist writers? If we permit polygyny, do we or should we permit polyandry?
* Predestination: Does God know the future before it happens? If so, does that mean that [[PrescienceIsPredictable some people are elected to be saved before they are even born]], while others are damned? Or does human free will allow the future to change in ways that even God can't foresee?
* If a couple gets married in a civil ceremony, is that valid in the eyes of God, or does the marriage only count if they are married in a church? What about cohabitation? Interfaith marriages? Does a marriage in another faith count? Can/should such a couple renew their vows within this particular church?
* Does "outward holiness" matter, or is it what's on the inside that counts? If it does matter, then how does one define [[BeautyEqualsGoodness a "godly" appearance]]?
* Is it OK to wear makeup and jewelry, or to have cosmetic surgery?
* Is it OK for women to wear pants or cut their hair short, or for men to grow their hair long or wear a skirt? Or are men and women supposed to look and dress a certain way?
* Contraception: is that OK? A gateway to abortion, or a completely separate thing? Are married couples supposed to produce as many children as they possibly can? Can they limit the number of children they have, or choose not to have any children at all? What method(s), if any, are permissible? Was/is "be fruitful and multiply" an order, or was it more of a blessing or a suggestion? How does that mesh with being stewards of a planet with finite resources? Is using birth control "messing with God's will," or is God's will flexible?
* May infertile couples who wish to have children use drugs or IVF to conceive, or just pray, have sex, and hope for the best? What about the "extra" embryos produced in IVF? Is infertility a divine punishment on one or both halves of the couple? A test of faith? Just random? Might they be called to do something other than start a family?
* At what point does life begin? Is killing an embryo the same as killing a newborn? Are there ''any'' circumstances under which an abortion ''might'' be permissible, or do GoodGirlsAvoidAbortion always?
* How much influence does God have in the day-to-day lives of humans? Why does God allow bad things to happen?
* Is there actually a {{Satan}}, or is that just an excuse for [[HumansAreBastards our bad behavior]]? If there is such an entity, how much influence do they have? Does denying the existence of Satan deny the existence of God and/or vice versa?
* Can Christians fall from grace or be in danger of {{Hell}}, or is it that once they're saved (however that happens), they're guaranteed to go to {{Heaven}}?
* Are men and women equal, or has {{God}} ordained one to be superior to the other? Is one spiritually weaker inherently, or is that on an individual basis? How much power and influence can a wife have over her husband? Must she ''always'' submit to him? Does she even ''have'' to? How much power and influence can a husband have over his wife? Are men and women meant to be in [[StayInTheKitchen separate spheres]]? Can a woman own a business or work outside the home? If so, does she need permission from her husband (or her nearest male relative) to do so? Does she have to give up her career [[CareerVersusMan once she's married]] or [[CareerVersusFamily has children?]] Is she restricted to [[AcceptableFeminineGoals "feminine" careers]], like teaching or nursing, or can she hold any career she wants? Is [[HouseHusband a man who chooses to stay at home with the kids]] violating the natural order of things, or does he have the right to do that?
* Is dating permitted? If so, does it always have to be with the end goal of marriage? Does a suitor require the approval of the woman's father? Is a chaperone required to supervise the couple's "interactions?" Is it OK for a Christian to date or marry a non-Christian? Is it more trouble than it's worth? Are {{Arranged Marriage}}s the way to go?
* Do bad things only happen to bad people, or can good people experience tragedies, too? Can prayer, good deeds, and living a certain lifestyle influence what does or does not happen to you? Why does a supposedly loving and compassionate God allow tragedies to happen? Why does He/She/It choose to intervene in some people's lives and not others'?
* How much responsibility do we have to take care of the Earth? Are we meant to conquer it, or to care for it? Do we get a new Earth in the afterlife, or is this it?
* Can living a "godly" lifestyle make you (materially) wealthy? Is it OK to be rich, or to become rich? How much of your income, if any, must you give up? Do money and material goods necessarily corrupt people? Should church buildings be austere, or is it OK for them to have valuable items? How much can a pastor make? Should they generate income at all?
* Is tithing necessary? Do you have to donate 10% of your income to your church, or is that just an arbitrary number? What about people who can't pay this "church tax?" Are they still welcome?
* Who makes the decisions pertaining to a denomination or a congregation? A pope? A bishop or parson? A council made up of ordained leaders? Lay people? Both? Neither?
* Are we rewarded for believing the "right" things and/or doing good deeds here and now on Earth? Or is our reward solely an afterlife thing? What forms might these rewards take? Should we even be concerned about that?
* Who can become a monk or a nun? What kind of training do they get? Is this a lifelong thing, or can they leave? Are they strictly contemplative, or do they do other stuff, too? Can a parent dedicate their son or daughter to be a monk or a nun, or must that be up to the individual? Can monks and nuns be married, or are they to be celibate? Can they own property? If not, to whom do any possessions they might have or make use of belong?
* Is a marriage dissolved when one spouse dies, or is it eternal? What if a widow(er) gets remarried; to which of their earthly spouses (if any) are they married in the afterlife?
* Do we have to follow the Jewish dietary laws, or no? If consumption of blood is forbidden, does that extend to transfusions? What purpose do/did those laws serve, anyway?
* How concerned do we have to be about "causing others to stumble?" Does this extend only to people we know personally, or do we have to worry about causing strangers to stumble?
* Are the "brothers and sisters" of Jesus referred to in Literature/TheBible literal or figurative? Might they be Joseph's children from a previous marriage? Did Mary have marital relations with Joseph after the birth of Jesus, or did she remain a virgin her whole life? Does it matter, and if so, why?
* Is human sexuality inherently [[SexIsEvil evil]]? [[SexIsGood Good]]? Neither? Is it only to be used within a marriage [[LieBackAndThinkOfEngland for procreation]], or can a married couple enjoy sex for its own sake? Can they have oral or anal sex? Is there such a thing as [[MaritalRapeLicense marital rape, or is marriage "implied consent"]]? Is [[ADateWithRosiePalms masturbation]] OK, or is that a sin? Is noticing an attractive person tantamount to sex with that person, or is ''thinking'' about doing something different than actually doing it? Is there any such thing as {{Technical Virgin}}ity, or is it an [[DefiledForever "either you are or you aren't"]] kind of thing?
* What is {{Heaven}} like? Is it a state of being? Is it [[FluffyCloudHeaven a literal place]]?
* Is it permissible to use modern medicine to treat sicknesses and injuries, or do we just pray and hope for the best?
* Is [[MercyKill euthanasia]] permitted under any circumstances? Is "pulling the plug" and letting someone die naturally the same thing? Should extraordinary measures be taken to keep someone alive? Is keeping someone on life-support machines or even giving them CPR or defibrillating them "messing with God's will?" Should Christians always have a "Do Not Resuscitate" order ready for them (or their families) to give to doctors, nurses, and [=EMTs=]?
* May certain drugs (for example, peyote) be used in Christian worship? May Christians use any kind of drugs outside a worship context, or no?
* Are some sins worse than others, or are [[AllCrimesAreEqual all sins equal]] in the eyes of God? Might there be mitigating circumstances? Are all sins forgivable, or are there [[MoralEventHorizon some that cannot be forgiven?]] Is there a point where it's too late for forgiveness?
* Should we actively go out and preach, or simply wait for people to come with questions? Is there "a time and a place?" How important is it to "win souls for God?" Does doing so win you points for the afterlife?
* Is dance appropriate for Christian worship? Should we dance at all? Are there certain kinds of dances that are not appropriate?
* Do we have to get dressed up for church, or does God not care what you wear (or don't wear)?
* Can we be [[DemonicPossession possessed by demons]]? How do we know who's possessed, and who has a mental or physical illness? How might people become possessed, and is there any way to prevent it? Who can perform an exorcism?
* What role might [[OurAngelsAreDifferent angels]] play? Do they [[AngelUnaware walk among us]]? Are they really {{Winged Humanoid}}s, or might they take other forms? Do they have free will? Can they [[FallenAngel fall from grace]]?
* Can we bring complaints to God in our prayers, or is prayer for praise only? Is it OK to say a PrayerOfMalice? Is it bad to RageAgainstTheHeavens?
* Do children sit in the pews with their parents, or do they go to Sunday school while the adults worship? Who is considered an adult within the church?
* Are people who are DrivenToSuicide automatically barred from {{Heaven}} if they succeed? Or does God show compassion for what motivated them to that point? Does God even care about why someone did ''anything?''
* Are we permitted to use violence and/or weapons to defend ourselves, our loved ones, or our property? Or are we to be {{Actual Pacifist}}s?
* Are we obligated to obey our parents as adults, or only as children? How much (if any) say do parents get in their child's choice of mate? Do parents have the right to use [[DontMakeMeTakeMyBeltOff corporal punishments]]? Should they, or is there another way?
* Should parents keep their children sheltered from the world, or allow them to participate in worldly activities? Should children be educated at home, religious school only, or can they attend secular school?
* Do we have to go to church every Sunday? Or Saturday? Every day? Once a month? Are Christmas and Easter enough? Are there Holy Days of Obligation? Is it OK to do certain jobs on the Sabbath? What about partaking in leisurely and/or social activities?
* How often do we have to receive Communion? Is that even necessary? Who can receive Communion?
* Is cremation a permissible practice, or must the deceased be interred in a casket? How does that mesh with finite space on Planet Earth? What about when people die en masse, as during ThePlague or a war? Will people who are cremated be able to be resurrected at the end of time?
* Is it OK to verify that a needy person is actually needy, or are we to hand over money to whoever has their hand out? Should we help people directly, or can we donate through charities? Should we support social welfare programs? Is it OK or even better to help someone out in non-monetary ways?
* Will our pets be able to join us in Heaven? Are animals accountable to God for the way they live? Do they have souls? Can they be considered sentient? If so, does that mean [[MeatVersusVeggies eating meat is a bad thing]]?
* Are we permitted to attempt to communicate with the dead? Is that dangerous? What about trying to predict the future? Is it OK to read the horoscopes in the newspaper JustForFun, or is that sinful? Do certain people have psychic abilities, and might these abilities be gifts from God? Is it OK for such people to use their abilities for good purposes?
* If some people are saved, and some people are not, how do we know who is saved and who is not? How do we know what our own status is? Might that status change? Is there any point in living if you are not among the Elect?
* How does the concept of {{Hell}} mesh with the concept of a loving, compassionate, and forgiving God? Is there a limit to God's forgiveness or compassion?
* How does the concept of a murderer/rapist/child molester/thief/etc. being able to get into {{Heaven}} provided he/she repents mesh with the concept of a holy and just God?
* Is it OK to view and worship God as the chief deity of a larger pantheon, or must the very notion of other gods be renounced?
* Is Jesus meant as a "personal Savior," or did he come to help ''all'' of humanity? What does it mean to develop a relationship with Him?
* Is it OK to donate ill-gotten money to the church, or is that money "contaminated?"
* Are we obligated to forgive ''all'' offenses against us or people we care about? Is it bad to hold a grudge for something big? Or are some things unforgivable? Is it OK if we need [[FiveStagesOfGrief time to get through our anger and hurt]], or are we obligated to swallow our grief and forgive instantaneously? Does forgiving someone mean we are obligated to be friends with them? Is there such a thing as righteous or justified anger? [[IHaveNoSon Can parents disown their children?]]
* Do we as humans have the right to bargain with God? Do certain humans have that right and not others? Is God's will flexible, or is it set in stone?
* Should our religious beliefs have any influence on who we vote for? Should we be living in TheTheocracy?
* Is it OK to listen to secular music, read secular books, watch secular TV, etc?
* Are we obligated to confess our sins to a religious leader, or is it enough to pray privately for forgiveness? How often should we do it? If we confess, is that confidential? Or can the person who hears confessions report what they heard, such as to police?
* Can you be a good person without believing in God? Can people from other faiths be considered good, or do they have to convert first?
* Does the Bible contain a solution or a commentary on every conceivable problem one might face, or are there issues we face in modern times that wouldn't have come up at the time it was written?
* What does it mean to dress modestly? Covering up most of the body? How high can hems be? How short can sleeves be? How low can necklines be? Or does it mean keeping clothing and other adornment simple? What does that mean?
* Are we accountable to God for minor mistakes? Are mistakes distinct from sins? Can you commit a sin by mistake?
* Are we obligated to help impoverished people worldwide, or is it enough to take care of local problems?
* Are we obligated to fast during Lent and such? Or is that voluntary? Are certain people, such as the elderly, the sick, children, or pregnant women excused if it's normally obligatory? Does it mean abstaining from any food, or simply eating less? What does fasting do for us on a spiritual level?
* Does God have a certain race or ethnic group ordained as "chosen people?" Who are they? Can there be more than one? Does it even make a difference in this day and age? What about intermarriage?
* If a Christian chooses to marry a non-Christian, are their children Christian by default? Does it depend on the couple's choice? Must they be raised in the faith, or can they choose for themselves later? What holidays do they celebrate, and how? Does the non-Christian have to [[ConvertingForLove convert]] for the marriage to be valid? Should they? What if the marriage doesn't work out? Should Christians avoid this problem entirely by marrying only other Christians? If "winning souls" is important, is interfaith dating/marriage an appropriate means to that end?
* Is it more important to believe the "right" things, or to do good things? Or both?
* Are natural disasters and wars "acts of God," or just random events? Can they be both? If they are acts of God, what purpose do they serve? Are they TheScourgeOfGod? Can they be prevented by prayer and/or doing right? Is there any such thing as a random event or a coincidence, or does everything happen for a reason?
* Could other religions be just another way of understanding and worshipping God, and therefore not "wrong," but "different?" Or is Christianity the only way to go? And if it is...then what kind?
* Salvation: Does it come from grace, good works, both, or neither?
* Is God loving and forgiving, or vengeful and angry? Both? Neither?
* Should Christians live in communes, or can they live in individual homes and/or own property of their own?
* Do we have to publicly identify as Christian, or make a public statement of faith, or can that be private? Do we have to recite [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinner%27s_prayer the Sinner's Prayer]] in order to be saved, or to truly be a Christian?

In other words, pretty much ''everything'' is up for debate outside of specific denominations.


There are a lot of different denominations, all with their own slightly different beliefs, practices, {{trope}}s, and what not. Broken up by type:

We're going to define the Catholicism type as Churches in communion with the Roman Catholic Church as well as those churches that broke off.

!!!Roman Catholic Church

The largest sect in raw numbers (about one in six human beings are Catholic) and one of the two oldest types of Christianity, having coalesced in the 4th century AD after the Roman government began allowing Christians to practice openly. The leader of the Catholic Church, UsefulNotes/ThePope, is the Bishop of Rome just as St. Peter was; in practice, the real authority of the Church is with its Bishops, each of whom is responsible for passing on the teachings of the Church intact within their dioceses. It should be kept in mind that Catholicism is comprised of diverse segments of believers and that inevitably, there's bound to be some arguments amongst themselves, and let's leave it at that.

Catholicism is generally best known for its rituals and a rather authoritarian approach to religious and moral doctrine. It is believed that the church's teachings on these subjects are "infallible" -- without error -- because the Holy Spirit will not allow the Church to be in error; debate remains, however on how to interpret this infallibility. There are three sources of infallible teachings, two of which are not controversial. First, there is the "Magisterium" of the Church: the teachings of the church that are considered universal by the Pope and Bishops. Second are the teachings of Church Councils -- meetings of all the bishops within the Church, called by the Pope to settle in a democratic fashion questions of an extraordinary nature. The Catholic Church recognizes 21 Councils as having occurred in its history, such as the Second Vatican Council held from 1962-1965 (which, among many other changes, allowed Mass to be said in languages other than Latin).

The last source, and the most controversial, is the Pope himself. Catholics believe the Pope is infallible when he speaks on matters of faith or morals and invokes his infallibility. This circumstance is known as ''ex cathedra'', which literally means "from the chair." When the Pope solemnly defines a doctrine or dogma, he is speaking ''ex cathedra''. In the grand scheme of the Church it is a very new idea, first officially pronounced in 1870[[note]] due to the principle of ''doctrinal development'' in Catholicism (the belief that new dogmas are simply ''existing'' beliefs that have been better understood and now ''explicitly'' defined, as opposed to doctrinal ''innovation'', which means coming up with new doctrine or changing existing ones), this rule applies ''retroactively''[[/note]], and which modern theologians recognize as having been exercised [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papal_infallibility#Instances_of_papal_infallibility only seven times in the history of the church, such as in 1950]]. Each of the seven times, the declaration has been about rather high-level theological issues surrounding the nature of Christ and salvation[[note]]Two are letters which define Christ as having two natures and two wills (fairly standard Chalcedonian Christology); one says, in essence, that yes, saints are a thing and are currently with God in Heaven (which is almost parodically Catholic); two denounce as heretical the points on salvation made by a seventeenth-century Flemish bishop and theologian named Jansen that amount to a program for turning Catholic theology into Calvinism Lite; one defines the rather esoteric doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, whose significance ties into the nature of Original Sin and Christ's role as redeemer; and the final one formally adopted and defined the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary, which holds that the Virgin Mary was bodily taken up to Heaven at the end of her natural life, an old doctrine the Church had long generally accepted and indeed more or less shared with the Orthodox (the Pope was vague enough on the point that the Orthodox doctrine is one of several valid interpretations of the Catholic one).[[/note]] rather than some specific moral or practical question.

Catholicism recognizes seven "sacraments," signs of God's grace: Baptism, Communion (a remembrance of the Last Supper, and where Catholics believe Jesus acting through the priest turns the bread and wine into Himself), Confirmation (when people are made full members of the Church as adults), Marriage, Holy Orders (where clergy take their vows), [[{{Confessional}} Reconciliation]] (the act of confessing one's sins and performing penance for them, typically in the form of prayer), and Anointing of the Sick (sometimes, and not quite correctly, called "Last Rites"; Last Rites often includes the sacraments Anointing of the Sick and Reconciliation, but is not itself a sacrament).

An important difference between Catholicism and some Protestant sects is that Catholics do not believe the Bible is meant to be read in its entirety like a historical textbook, rather conveying truth by means of every genre between [[Literature/BookOfPsalms poetry]] and [[Literature/BookOfCorinthians letter-writing]]. For example, Popes have endorsed the theory of evolution as consistent with Catholic teaching, referring to the Literature/BookOfGenesis as describing the creation of man by God "in simple and metaphorical language adapted to the mentality of a people but little cultured[[note]][[http://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_12081950_humani-generis.html Per Pius XII]][[/note]]." This reflects the greater emphasis that Catholicism puts on human reason and philosophy in terms of theological learning. Scholasticism, popularized by St. Thomas Aquinas, is a major influence on this way of thinking.

Another important Catholic tradition is the remembrance of Canonical Saints: people who have been found by the Church to have led holy lives, are considered examples for Catholics to follow, and are believed to have demonstrated they are in Heaven and have God's favor by granting what the church considers miracles (usually, healings without a certain medical explanation) to those who ask saints to "intercede" for them with God. There are at least 5,000 Canonical Saints, the most important being the Virgin Mary, who was Jesus' earthly mother. Unlike most Protestants, Catholics put a strong emphasis on praying to Saints, who act as intercessors to God by their heavenly union with him. This emphasis on prayers-to-saints is one of the primary reasons why the Virgin Mary is so important to Catholics, since there are few people better at chatting with God than his mom.

Note that the word "saint" is often misinterpreted to mean an especially good person. In Catholic theology, anyone currently in heaven is a "saint" (hence the fact that the Church does not canonize living people); thus, anyone who died in a state of grace is a saint, regardless of what sort life they led. From the Church's point of view, if your beloved but long-dead grandmother died in a state of grace and is currently in Heaven, she is no less a saint than Mother Teresa. However, again from the Church's view, we have no way of really being sure if your grandmother is in Heaven; even if she was a good person and a devout Catholic, she may have held some kind of private sin we don't know about that is even now keeping her in Purgatory.[[note]]Note that in many medieval conceptions of Purgatory, the process of purgation for even the lightest of sins took decades if not centuries. None of this is official, of course, since the Church has always been vague about Purgatory, but Dante's ''[[Literature/TheDivineComedy Purgatorio]]'' gives a reasonably clear view of this educated medieval opinion.[[/note]] Therefore, when a Catholic talks about the saints, they're usually talking about the ''canonical saints''--that is, the people the Church is pretty sure are in Heaven, based on some traditional methods of proof. Because you're trying to prove that a deceased person is in Heaven, and the only way (according to Church doctrine) that anyone in Heaven can influence events on Earth is through God, you're basically going to have to show that it's pretty clear that this person is talking to God, and that God is paying attention--thus the focus on miracles. The Church has thus set up a process of canonization; this process is long and involved, with four stages:

# "Servant of God," which is basically an official statement that "this person was very good in life and could very well be in Heaven, but we need more time to investigate."
# "Venerable," which amounts to saying "this person was good enough in life that it's fairly likely he/she is in Heaven, although we have no proof."
# "Blessed," after the process of Beatification, after the attribution of one miracle to the deceased's intercession, meaning "We now have strong but not incontrovertible evidence that this person is actually in Heaven."
# "Saint," after the process of Canonization, after the attribution of a second miracle (roughly equivalent to saying "OK now there are ''two'' miracles; either this person's in Heaven or the Church collectively is a monkey's uncle").

Thus despite common usage, the Pope does not "make" people saints; only God can do that. The Pope is merely reporting on current events. This is also why the phenomenon of "local saints" exists: the Catholic residents of a given community may be absolutely convinced that a someone is in Heaven and speaking with God on their behalf, regardless of whether the Vatican has verified the attributed miracles to its own satisfaction.

!!!Traditional Catholicism

In 1964, the Second Vatican Council announced a number of major reforms in Catholic practice, including the removal of a number of traditional saints from the ([[InsistentTerminology universal]]) feast calendar, the de-emphasizing of meatless Fridays (except during Lent) to the horror of fish sellers, nuns' habits (the full habit is no longer mandatory, just the headscarves), and the adoption of a [[InsistentTerminology Mass that may permissibly said in the vernacular]] as opposed to Latin, and issued a full repudiation of anti-Semitism, the idea that the Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus, and the doctrine that the Catholic Church was the only source of Christian salvation. Some of these changes proved quite controversial, though a modified version of the Latin Mass could still be said if you filled out the right paperwork (Pope Benedict XVI, who was known for being quite conservative, has made the process a little bit easier -- technically, there doesn't need to be actual paperwork, just a steady, willing congregation and a priest who knows what he's doing). A small group of traditional Catholics continue to observe these pre-Vatican II practices of the Church.

!!!Traditional Catholics in irregular Canonical situation

A number of conservative Catholic groups chose to reject Vatican II or some parts of it, and continue to this day to observe pre-Vatican II practice without Rome's blessing. Pope Benedict XVI made efforts to reconcile these groups with the Church, most notably making it easier to say the Latin Mass, though a full reconciliation is unlikely in the near future. A famous group was led by French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, becoming known as the Society of St. Pius X. A flap emerged in 2009 when Benedict [=XVI=] lifted the excommunications of several bishops Lefebvre had ordained twenty years prior (ordination without papal approval being grounds for excommunication), it having not been widely known before then that one of them questions the numbers of Holocauts victims. On the very fringes of traditional Catholicism are the Sedevacantists (''sede vacante'' meaning ''the chair is empty'') who claim that there hasn't been a validly elected Pope since John XXIII, and the Conclavists (who choose to elect their own Pope instead).

Actor/director Mel Gibson was one of the best known of Traditionalists with questionable standing with Rome.

!!!Old Catholic Church

Which split off at the First Vatican Council, primarily because of their opposition to the dogma of Papal Infallibility. Funnily enough, despite their name, their beliefs are among the most liberal of the Christian denominations.

!!!Polish National Catholics

An American offshoot, annoyed by the predominance of [[IrishPriest Irish immigrants in the American Catholic hierarchy]], they joined the Old Catholic Church, but not to be outdone, then broke off with the Old Catholic Church over ordination of women.

!!!Eastern Catholicism

A group of autonomous "particular Churches" of the Eastern traditions that are in full communion with Rome and recognize the Pope as head of the Church. Almost every Eastern Rite has a counterpart among the Eastern Orthodox and other Eastern churches, and largely keep the same traditions. They are pejoratively termed "uniates" by their counterparts that are not in communion with Rome. "Roman Catholicism" as it's commonly known in the West ([[NunsNRosaries you know, Latin, priestly celibacy, Mass, unleavened bread, old ladies wearing headcovers praying the Rosary in front of a statue of Mary]]) is actually more properly called the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. Eastern Catholics have Divine Liturgy (not Mass) and use leavened bread at communion. Most Eastern rites don't require priests to be celibate (a ''discipline'' of the Latin Rite, not a ''dogma'' of the Catholic Church). However, unlike Eastern Rite priests and like their Latin Rite counterparts, bishops may ''not'' be married in the Eastern Rite; much like the Orthodox, much of the upper Eastern Rite hierarchy is therefore taken from the ranks of monks and monastics. Byzantine Catholics cross themselves right-to-left just like their Eastern Orthodox brethren. Among the one billion or so Catholics in the world, only about 17 million are from one of the Eastern Rites. Eastern Catholics are every bit as Catholic (in terms of being in communion with Rome) as the Latin Rite Catholics, but due to their small numbers and their more prominent Orthodox counterparts, most people (heck, most Latin Rite Catholics) don't even know that they exist except in places where they are locally prominent, like western Ukraine or certain parts of the Middle East, and places with significant diasporas of people from those places (e.g. UsefulNotes/{{Pittsburgh}} for western Ukrainians[[note]]Fun fact: Creator/AndyWarhol came from the Eastern Catholic community of Ruthenians--basically ethnic western Ukrainians who ended up being ruled by Poland and Austria rather than Russia--in Pittsburgh[[/note]] or UsefulNotes/NewJersey and UsefulNotes/{{Detroit}} for Middle Eastern communities).

!!!Personal Ordinariate

Announced in October 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI, in the wake of the growing schism within Anglicanism regarding the ordination of openly gay priests, this is a new structure designed to accommodate those Anglicans who wish to convert to Catholicism while retaining their Anglican identity. This has taken the form of parishes joining the Catholic Church ''en mass'', but instead of becoming part of the usual local diocese, reporting to a individual "ordinay" (essentially a bishop in practice, but not so formally ordained) covering the whole of the respective country; three have been established: one for the UK, one for the U.S. (with a division for Canada) and one for Australia and New Zealand. They are permitted the use of an Anglican-influenced liturgy and the retention of married clergy. Even the ordinaries thus far appointed have been former Anglican bishops who have been ordained as Catholic priests (which, since no Catholic or Orthodox ordained bishop is permitted to be married, is why the ordinaries are not ordained as bishops; the Anglican bishops who have converted were married and could only be ordained as priests in the Catholic Church). This may eventually lead--and many Catholicizing Anglicans advocate--to the establishment of an "Anglican Catholic Church" along the lines of the Eastern Catholics, but for varying reasons (including the fact that the Anglicans are originally a Western rite and a desire not to step on the toes of the actual Anglican Communion, with whom Rome has maintained reasonably good relations of late) the Church is a little leery towards taking such a step.

!!!Roman Catholics in People's Republic of China

Not exactly a formally recognized group but a fairly large subset of Catholics in an ambiguous category. After their victory in the Chinese Civil War, the Communist Party has required that all religions in mainland China sever ties to foreign bodies, such as the Vatican, and submit to the authority of the Chinese state. Those Catholics who refused to renounce the Vatican went underground and have been subject to persecution, especially before 1980's. Those who did were organized as the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA) that maintained the same practices and doctrines as Catholics elsewhere but did not recognize the authority of the Pope, at least in an official sense. Technically, this would make the CPCA a "schismatic" group in Catholic terminology and several Catholic groups, especially those opposed to the government of the People's Republic of China consider them as such. However, the Vatican itself considers the situation as taking place under duress due to the complex situation that is mostly political in nature and accepts the CPCA churches as being in full communion with Rome. This means all sacraments at CPCA churches are considered valid and those who are baptized by CPCA priests and attend masses therein are as Catholic as any other. While CPCA bishops are formally appointed by the Chinese government (after having been "elected" by appropriate bodies) without official input by Vatican, most of them are given informal recognition by the Vatican as well. Still, because CPCA is subject to the authority of the Chinese government, it often bends its doctrines to accommodate the latter's wishes, even on matters of religious doctrine. The status of the CPCA, in addition to the more common problem concerning Taiwan, is a major stumbling block preventing a formal relationship between the Holy See and the People's Republic from being established. In contrast, the "One Country, Two Systems" policy implemented in the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau ensures the free practice of religion without intervention from the state, and the Catholics who live there are considered to be in full communion with Rome.

Various Churches that broke with the Church in Rome a millennium ago or more (they say Rome broke with them, others see it as a clean break both ways). Many branches are in active discussion with the Catholic Church over reuniting, some almost a millennium:
* '''Eastern Orthodox''' -- Established as a distinct entity in 1054 when the Pope and the Patriarch of Constantinople mutually excommunicated each other (the question of who exactly broke off from whom is a millennium-old flame war, [[SeriousBusiness literally]]).[[note]]No, ''[[KillItWithFire really]]'' [[LiteralMetaphor literally]]. The Byzantines fought the Catholics (and everyone else) by [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_fire pumping fire on them]] .[[/note]] Similar to Catholicism in theology and practice, the Eastern Orthodox Church is a collection of related churches, usually of an ethnic or cultural makeup. Whatever language this group traditionally used is the language of their religious ceremonies (as Latin was for the Roman Catholic Church until the Second Vatican Council held from 1962-1965). The main triggers for the split were Papal supremacy and whether the phrase ''filioque'' (and the Son) should be inserted into the Nicene Creed, as Eastern Orthodoxy insists that it throws off the delicate balance of the Trinity's interrelationship, which they labored so hard to establish intellectually.[[note]]Some scholars now believe that the latter issue stemmed from a massive failure to communicate on both sides -- to put it briefly, the Greek version of the creed used words that had slightly different nuances from their counterparts in the Latin version, which neither side was fully aware of. At least, that's what those scholars say. Other less theologically inclined scholars would argue that the split stems ultimately from the growing cultural and political division between Latin Western Europe led by Rome and Greek Eastern Europe led by Constantinople. [[/note]] A further divergence from Western Christianity arose during the Hesychast Controversy of the 14th century, which resulted in the official denial of understanding of absolute divine simplicity held by Roman Catholics and most Protestants which, ironically, is too complex to describe here.\\
The most commonly known churches in this group are the Greek Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church. Widely known for their practice of iconography, a particular artistic tradition for making images of Christ, Mary, and other holy figures that may be venerated, often with kissing. Also on a different calendar than the Western churches, so that Easter (or Pascha, rather) and related holy days don't coincide with the ones being observed around them. While Greeks and others use a calendar otherwise similar to the Gregorian, some churches, such as the Russian and Serbians, use the Old Julian Calendar, so that even fixed observations are fixed to different dates. This translates to excellent clearance discounts on Christmas shopping. Like Catholics, Orthodox Christians recognize seven sacraments and venerate saints, many of whom they share in common with Catholics.
* '''Oriental Orthodox''' -- Not to be confused with Eastern Orthodox, this is a collection of national churches structured similar to the Eastern Orthodox Church which did not accept the Council of Chalcedon (451). The Coptic (i.e. Egyptian), Ethiopian, Syrian, Indian, and Armenian Churches are examples. Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants sometimes label them as Eutychians (who believe that the human nature of Christ was united with and overwhelmed by the divine nature), but they self-define themselves as miaphysites (who believe in one ("mia") united nature ("physis") in which the human attributes are not overwhelmed). They consider the dyophysitism of Chalcedonian Christians to be at best crypto-Nestorian. (If you didn't understand any of that, don't worry, you've got something in common with 99% of us Christians).\\
Much in the way that the Eastern Orthodox recognize the Patriarch of Constantinople as first among equals, the Oriental Orthodox recognize the Patriarch of Alexandria (who confusingly lives in Cairo), the head of the Coptic Church, as the first-among-equals "head" of the communion. Despite the style "Pope" (which actually predates the Roman use of the term by 300 years) he actually has no authority over the rest of the churches (merely influence). The current Coptic Pope, Theorodos II, is 118th in a line originating with St. Mark himself, and was selected (as all Coptic Popes are selected) by a complicated process involving a synod, the President of Egypt (who as a practical matter is always Muslim), and a blindfolded child literally pulling his name out of a container at random (out of a pool of three candidates).
* '''Churches of the East''' -- Technically Three Churches:
** Assyrian Church of the East -- On its own since 424, that while traditionally based in Mesopotamia it's expanded all over the world.
** Ancient Church of the East -- Split off from the above over reforms in 1964, based in Baghdad.
** Chaldean Catholic Church -- Technically a Rite in the Catholic Church that would fall under eastern Catholicism above, this church left the Assyrian Church of the East in 1553 to join the Roman Church.

!!Protestant Christianity
Not one sect, but an umbrella term for hundreds of churches who broke with Catholicism, most of them claiming descent from Martin Luther's stand in 1521. Protestantism eschews most Catholic sacraments and the veneration of saints, and encourages individual study of Scripture. Generally, Protestants do not practice the sacraments of confession, confirmation (though in churches that practice adult baptism the ceremony shares commonalities with confirmation), or anointing of the sick. Baptism is performed by many Protestant groups, though when (birth vs. joining the church as an adult) and how (sprinkling vs. full immersion) differs from church to church. Frequency of celebrating Communion varies greatly within Protestant denominations, anywhere from never to being practiced during every service. Typically, churches with more formal liturgy (orders of service) and more Catholic trappings will celebrate it more frequently, while those lacking such liturgy will usually celebrate it infrequently and usually on an informal basis. Belief in transsubstantiation is almost unknown, but liturgical churches typically believe in a doctrine of Real Presence that is extremely similar. Around half of Protestants, by population, are members of churches that confess a doctrine of Real Presence.

Due to Protestantism's distrust of having an official hierarchy to maintain orthodoxy and emphasis on biblical interpretation, the original sect from the Reformation splintered very quickly. Protestant churches now include Lutherans, Baptists, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, and Methodists, among many others. If a sect of Christianity doesn't fall into any other category, it usually gets filed under Protestantism.

Despite the chaos of Protestant denominations, there are some useful ways to group them, arising out of their structure and doctrines. Thus general, one can categorize Protestant churches along two axes: church '''polity''' and doctrinal '''soteriology'''.

* '''Polity''' refers to the ''structure'' of the denomination: i.e. how the church is organized and how it handles its internal affairs. Broadly speaking, there are three kinds of church polity:
** ''Episcopal'' polity: Not to be confused with the Episcopalian denomination. This polity is hierarchal, and broadly similar to that which exists in the Catholic and Orthodox tradition. It is built on bishops (''episcopos''="bishop" in Greek): if a denomination has bishops, it's a fair bet that it has an episcopal polity. Bishops are ordained and consecrated church leaders, generally claiming Apostolic Succession in the same way that Catholic and Orthodox bishops do: that is to say, they were consecrated by a bishop who was consecrated by a bishop who was consecrated by a bishop, etc., etc., etc., up until one of the Twelve Apostles. Protestant churches with an episcopal structure generally have a somewhat flatter structure than Catholicism and Orthodoxy; there are usually archbishops, but no popes, cardinals, or patriarchs. Usually, a synod or assembly of the bishops of the denomination determines doctrinal issues and appoints/elects new bishops and promotes existing bishops to higher positions (e.g. archbishop) to run the day-to-day operations of the whole denomination or a large chunk of it. Each bishop is responsible for the day-to-day operations of his/her diocese (diocese="church organization within a particular territory, run by a bishop"), and it is the bishop who appoints parish priests and so on.
** ''Presbyterian'' polity: Not to be confused with the Presbyterian denomination. This polity is essentially a federal democracy. Each individual congregation (i.e. local group of worshipers) elects a "session" of ''presbyters'' or elders ("presbyter"="elder" in Greek), roughly equivalent to a town council or corporate board of directors, and they handle the running of the congregation, including the hiring and firing of the congregation's minister. Congregations are grouped, usually regionally, to form a presbytery; each congregation sends one elder and its minister to join some other divines (e.g. theological college profs) to form the presbytery, whose duties typically include such things as ordaining ministers. Presbyteries can also be grouped into synods, and all of a country's synods are typically grouped into a General Assembly; these higher bodies generally have authority to determine Church doctrine and maintain Church discipline.
** ''Congregational'' polity: Not to be confused with the Congregationalist denomination. This denomination runs on the theory that each congregation is its own church and can do what it likes. As in a presbyterian congregation, a board or some such body of congregation members is elected to run the affairs of the congregation. However, there is no higher authority than that board. Congregational churches can and do enter into networks with other congregations with whom they agree, but they do not need to do so, are not bound by decisions taken by the governing bodies of those networks, and may change their affiliation or abandon all affiliations at any time.
* '''Soteriology''' is the theory of salvation: how does Jesus save the human soul? And which human souls does He save? This was one of the major points of contention between the Reformers and the Catholic hierarchy during the Reformation, and the reformers all came up with different theories for why the Church was wrong, and as a result they ended up [[WeAREStrugglingTogether arguing with each other at least as much as they argued with Rome]].
** ''Calvinism'': A soteorological theory first developed by Huldrych Zwingli, a contemporary of Luther. Promoted and refined by John Calvin in Switzerland and John Knox in Scotland. Built on three points: unconditional election, limited atonement and irresistible grace. Unconditional election means that everybody going to Heaven has already been pre-ordained as such; no-one can "earn" the right regardless of their faith or good deed, in a way. This all ties into another central Calvinist doctrine, Total Depravity, which states that all men were born totally corrupted and wicked (In Adam's Fall, we sin'd all), and so they cannot love God or do Good because they are so completely evil, therefore God grants a select few irresitable grace, which cannot be rejected, and is enough to make them goody-two-shoe Christian people. With that in mind, it is God alone who knows who the Elect are. Calvinists believe in "double-predestination"; people are predestined to either heaven or hell. The fundamental tenets of Calvinist doctrine, sometimes called "the Five Points", can thus be remembered by the mnemonic device "TULIP": Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible grace, and Perseverance of the saints. This emphasis on pre-ordination and the idea that God has planned (or simply knows) ''everything'' also leads into another Calvinist belief, namely that everyone has their own role or job to do on Earth, whether that be an occupation, a calling, service or whatever. This particular belief is what Max Weber termed the "Protestant Ethic", which emphasises hard work, obedience and productivity.
** ''Arminianism'': A response to Calvinism developed by Jacobus Arminius, it holds that election to salvation is conditional and that God's grace can be resisted. Many Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists, Evangelicals, and Pentecostals (see below) hold to Arminian soteriology. "Arminian" is often misspelled "UsefulNotes/{{Armenia}}n," which is a totally unrelated ethnic group that has a totally unrelated form of Christianity (see "Oriental Orthodox" above). Critics of Arminianism claim it promotes the notion that one can "choose to be saved", or that one can "save themselves". Arminians deny these accusations, saying the critics are actually describing ''semi-Pelagianism''.
** These are the two major soteriological streams in Protestantism. There are others: Luther had his own soteriology, roughly halfway between the Calvinist and Arminian (although it ''predates'' the Arminian, Luther having been dead for about ten years by the time Arminius was born), which only the Lutherans really buy. Then there's Universalism, which is, simply put, "[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin everyone is saved]]"; a few churches have bought into that over time. And then there's the aforementioned (semi)-Pelagianism, in which being saved is a choice you make; this doctrine would be more or less not worth mentioning, except that Mormonism (whose place in the Christian tradition is peculiar and a bit uncomfortable) has been described by a (somewhat eccentric) Mormon theologian as having a "completely Pelagian" soteriology (most Mormons who care about the subject would insist that they are, if anything, Arminians, but it's still a point of contention).

* '''Anglicanism''' -- An offshoot of Roman Catholicism originating in 1534 when Henry VIII claimed dominion over the English church with the Act of Supremacy. Very similar to Catholicism in terms of ceremonial practice. It should be noted that Anglicanism is considered a Protestant church in a historical context; as the acceptance of the Pope as temporal head of the church is ''required'' for conciliation with the Roman Catholic denomination, Anglicans by definition are not RC. However, it did not split from Rome in the same way as the original Protestant Movement, though Henry's schism with Rome allowed many sincere Protestants within England to preach. Initially Anglicanism was (as might be expected given its origin) simply Catholicism with the King of England replacing the Pope, but over time it evolved into its current form which is described by the Church itself as "both Catholic and Reformed"[[note]]as in, the Protestant Reformation[[/note]]. As a result, Anglicanism is episcopal in polity; its soteriology is neither Arminian nor Calvinist nor any of those other things, but rather essentially Catholic, with a few Lutheran-inspired modifications (honestly, the Anglicans never got what the fuss over soteriology was). Further note that many "low" Anglican churches are firmly committed to independence from Rome.\\
Some "highs", on the other hand, are "More Roman than Rome" in terms of worship practice. Anglican Churches recognize two sacraments, Baptism and the Eucharist, as primary, since those were the only two that Jesus himself presided over. Anglicans on the whole believe in the real presence of Christ in communion, though it is officially left a mystery just how that looks.\\
Within Protestantism generally, belief in the Real Presence of Christ in Communion tends to be less common the "lower" the church. This is not, however, the case in Anglicanism for rather peculiar reasons. The Anglican church uses its ''Book of Common Prayer'' as its "rule of faith." This includes the "39 Articles," which are basic statements of doctrine. These state that the bread and wine actually "partake" in the body and blood of Christ. Generally speaking, high church Anglicans consider the "39 Articles" to be of historical but not doctrinal interest, but due to their closeness to Catholics they do affirm the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Low church Anglicans, on the other hand, take the 39 articles seriously and so they ''also'' believe in the Real Presence of Christ in Communion. Likewise, it also specifies the various necessary services (daily prayer, sunday services, weddings, funerals, etc.) as well as the set readings from the Old and New Testaments as well as Psalms.\\
A word that you might encounter in England is "Nonconformist", which sounds like a sect but isn't. Nonconformism is simply a term used as a catch-all for all the Protestant denominations that can be found there other than the Anglican Church of England. These were also historically known in England ([[MyFriendsAndZoidberg and Wales]]) as "Dissenters", and historically they came in all flavours (Presbyterian, Congregationalist, Baptist, Quaker, Methodist, Unitarian...). They were historically marginalised in English society, although not as much as the Catholics, but despite (and in some ways because of) this marginalisation they had a profound effect on both [[UsefulNotes/ColonialAmerica the history of the United States]] and of [[UsefulNotes/ATouchOfClassEthnicityAndReligion Great Britain]], but now we're getting ahead of ourselves.
** '''Episcopalianism''': What the Anglican Church morphed into in the United States. It's not company-owned, but it's certainly the largest franchisee (and one of the first, if not the first, depending on how you regard the Scottish Episcopal Church). The split came after the American Revolution when clergy swearing an oath of loyalty to the British monarch suddenly became a bit of a problem. Similar to Modern-Day Catholicism, albeit more liberal. Subject to the Archbishop of Canterbury (an Anglican bishop) in a "First amongst equals" sort of way, and thereby subject to the authority of the Anglican Communion as well. However, Episcopalians are ''not'', technically, Church of England, and are therefore not subject to Her Majesty. Still keeps rituals the Catholic church has abandoned, such as incense and kneeling rails at the altar to receive communion. Like the Church of England uses the ''Book of Common Prayer'', but with its own set of revisions, the most notable being the development of alternate rites for Sunday service with more modern language introduced in 1979.\\
Sadly, the Episcopal Church in the United States has been experiencing schisms lately, particularly over the issue of ordaining gay clergy, the uniqueness of Christ, and the authority of scripture (this is probably where the stereotype of Episcopalians as "anything goes" types comes from). The actual "falling apart" piece of the Episcopalian Church is a rather small number of very vocal churches. That said, several other pastors have issues with the church, just not enough to break off. Furthermore, one could argue that the Episcopalian Church has been "breaking apart" for the better part of the 20th century, with issues including abortion, gay marriage, ordination of women and so forth causing certain churches to break off. A small group of these churches have petitioned the Anglican Communion to become a separate region of the Communion within the United States (these regions are normally defined by geography, not belief). The issue is complicated.
*** Continuing Anglican/Traditional Anglican: The aforementioned offshoots, more religiously (though not necessarily politically) conservative than the Episcopal Church.
*** Reformed Episcopal Church: Broke off long before (1873) other Episcopal Offshoots. They are usually not counted with "Continuing Anglicanism" due to the breakoff being over the belief that the Episcopal Church was becoming too Catholic rather than too Liberal.
* '''Fundamentalism''' -- A movement within conservative Christianity unique to America beginning in the early 20th century as a response to modernity and theological liberalism. It has a heavy focus on [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dispensationalism Dispensational Premillennialism]] (a belief in an [[{{CaughtUpInTheRapture}} imminent rapture]], the rapid decline of the world, the belief that [[UsefulNotes/{{Judaism}} ethnic Jews]] remain God's favored and Chosen people, and that national Israel -- rather than the Church -- is God's primary focus in history). Dispensationalism is a doctrine developed in the 1830s by Anglican theologian John Nelson Darby, and popularized by the widespread circulation of the Scofield Reference Bible (1909 - rev. 1917). This theology was woven into the fabric of fundamentalism and remains a key feature of much of evangelicalism to this day. Both Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism are highly Arminian.
* '''Evangelical Christianity''' -- Somewhat synonymous to "Fundamentalism", without the combativeness and reclusiveness of the former. While early leaders of this movement shunned mainline churches, their followers instead stayed within their congregations and spread their teachings through these communities, injecting a particular flavor of Premillenialist theology into already-existing American Protestanism. However, around the turn of the century the movement did start splitting from these mainline churches to create their own congregations and are now mostly associated with giant cross-denominational mega-churches.\\
Evangelicals emphasize the potential imminence of Judgment Day and the importance of converting non-believers. Notable evangelical preachers of the 20th century include Jimmy Swaggart, Oral Roberts, Billy Graham (and later his son Franklin), Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson. Most of these preachers are best known to the public through TV programs connected to their respective churches, and are thus sometimes called "televangelists". Evangelicals have a reputation for being highly, but not exclusively, conservative and in America are highly influential in politics, especially in the southern states.
* '''Pentecostal/Charismatic''' -- Another branch of Protestantism that was born in America, this refers to Christians that believe in the continuance to the present day of miraculous "Gifts of the [Holy] Spirit" mentioned in Acts and the Pauline Epistles. The gifts tend to materialize in the form of "speaking in tongues" (must be seen to be believed), faith-healing, or having the entire congregation spontaneously fall over in religious ecstasy. Needless to say, services can be noisy and emotional affairs. However, beliefs differ depending on which church type you go to. More traditional Pentecostal churches have interesting/old fashioned rules such as female church members not being allowed to wear pants due to them supposedly being too revealing. Also, traditional members are not allowed to listen to non-Christian music, watch movies or TV, or read non-Christian novels. As one can imagine, younger members are likely to sneak in "taboo" entertainment behind their parents' backs. However, the larger Pentecostal denominations such as Assemblies of God churches allow most things traditional Southern Pentecostal churches do not, but still have most of the same views on morality.\\
Pentecostal churches split from mainline Protestant churches around the same time the Evangelical/Fundamentalist movement did, but for different reasons. Pentecostals wanted to rediscover the emotional catharsis that was present in American Christianity around the 18th century, and Evangelicals instead sought to attack new ideas of Modernity (Darwinism, changes in social behavior, and the introduction of liberal theology). A lot of people tend to get them confused, and there is some overlap between the two movements in the modern day, particularly with the more visible televangelists.\\
Pentecostal churches are almost invariably congregational in polity. Pentecostal soteriology remains highly Arminian in North America, but is decidedly Calvinist in other places, like South Korea.
* '''Lutherans''' -- A collection of predominantly Germanic and Scandanavian denominations that broke communion with Rome under the leadership of Martin Luther. The most important issues were salvation by faith alone, the total bondage of the will to sin, and scripture as the only infallible authority. Believe in the objective presence of Christ in communion (but in a different way than Catholics. Catholics believe in "transubstantiation", or that the bread and wine become the ''actual'' body and blood of Christ. Lutherans believe in the "sacramental union", which teaches that Jesus is real and present in the meal, but doesn't necessarily specify in what way). Unusual among Protestants for their identification of being 'born again' with baptism. Episcopal in polity; their services are very similar to Catholic masses. Much like the Anglicans, they have a split between catholicizing "high church" and reforming "low church", although none of the catholicizers are quite as high-church as the Anglican ones. Originally known as 'Evangelicals.' They only recognize the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. Lutherans believe that people are predestined to heaven, but not to hell. Lutherans reject dispensationalist theology.
* '''Methodists''' -- Offshoot of Anglicanism started by John Wesley in Britain, this movement focused on holiness, pietism, and Christian Perfection. Wesleyan Methodism is very Arminian as a whole, although his colleague George Whitefield was a Calvinist. In polity, Methodism is episcopal, albeit without a strong emphasis on Apostolic Succession, and with a strong presbyterian influence on their structure. The modern United Methodist Church is largely Arminian in soteriology, while Methodists in Korea are decidedly Calvinist.
* '''Reformed/Presbyterians''': As the name implies, these have a presbyterian polity; also, following the Reformed tradition of Zwingli, Calvin, and Knox, they typically have a Calvinist soteriology. The major origin point for this denomination is Geneva, but most extant churches originate in either the Netherlands (where the Reformed church became dominant for a number of reasons) or Scotland (where Knox successfully converted the Lowlands). In general, if a church calls itself Reformed, it's probably in the Dutch tradition (with Dutch actually having ''two'' words for "Reformed", the ''hervormde'' being somewhat laxer Calvinists and the ''gereformeerde'' being stricter and more doctrinaire), while if it calls itself Presbyterian, it's probably in the Scottish tradition. \\
Zwingli believed that communion is symbolic, but Calvinists (following their namesake) believe Jesus is "pneumatically" present.
* '''Baptists''' -- Baptists are defined from other Christian sects by practicing baptism when one "becomes a Christian"--which is to say, sometime, past the age of reason, when the person can consciously understand Christianity, and decides to choose to accept it--rather than infant baptism. Baptists reject the Nicene, Apostle's, and Athanasian creeds--electing to accept "no Creed but the Bible". The Southern Baptist denomination is centered in the American Deep South, where it is a deeply ingrained part of traditional Southern culture, and often characterized as an exceedingly conservative organization and an important part of the community, especially in rural areas. Other Baptist churches and subdenominations vary widely in actual doctrine, often adhering closely to one of the other denominations mentioned on this page. Baptist churches are nigh-universally congregationalist in polity; many Baptists adhered to slightly modified Calvinist soteriology.

!!!Other Protestants
* '''Anabaptists''' -- an extreme Reformation sect that practiced an extreme heresy in the eyes of the rest of the rest of Christianity: "believer's baptism," a re-baptism for people when they join the church, regardless of whether they were baptized as infants. In fact, Anabaptists didn't believe in baptizing infants at all. This ended up going badly for the Anabaptists; it turns out that infant baptism is the kind of issue that makes strange bedfellows. In between killing each other, the Roman Catholics and the Lutherans teamed up to burn and drown the Anabaptists on this issue... Didn't really work, as the existence of modern day Amish and Mennonites can attest.\\
A lot of modern Anabaptist descendants believe in nonviolence and separation from modern societies and countries. Anabaptists are not to be confused with Baptists, which are descended from more "mainline" Protestantism. Anabaptists are survived in the modern day by a number of different denominations, including the Amish, Mennonites, and Hutterites. These groups tend to be almost exclusively based in rural communities, though there are plenty of exceptions. To qualify the rosy portrait given above, it must be noted that many Anabaptists were violent theocrats. Incidentally, the Mennonites (from whom the Amish split in the 17th century) were always pacifists and separatists, which was the reason they survived persecution, not a result of persecution. Collectively, the Amish, Mennonite, Quakers, and Church of the Brethern (also anabaptist) are known as the "Historic Peace Churches" because of their pacifism, and most of the American and European laws regarding conscientious objection in war were originally created with them in mind.
** [[UsefulNotes/{{Amish}} Amish]] -- Probably the most well known of the Anabaptists, they are most well known for their disavowal of technology. They aren't hostile to technology per se, only its tendency to get in the way of leading a good Christian life. So they do allow SchizoTech -- case in point: horse drawn buggies with blinkers. Also famous for their barn raisings, quilts, excellent homemade furniture and oddly enough, wild teenagers. They are also [[IncrediblyLamePun sects maniacs]], schisms within schisms (based as often on what technology and/or dress is permitted as actual beliefs), to the point where many sects consist of a single congregation, and more than one of a single family. Outsiders tend to collectively refer to the horse-and-buggy, no-buttons sects as "Old Order".\\
On the wild teenager issue: it is referred to as ''Rumspringa'' or ''Rumschpringe'', a method to short-circuit the "teenage rebellion" phase by giving said teens free rein to rebel for a short time (as many tropes on this site will tell you, teenagehood and strict religious moralizing are not the best combination for producing a mentally healthy adult). It also allows the teens to make an informed choice about whether or not they want to join the church by showing them the "other side of the coin". At age 16, teens are allowed to leave the Amish community and experience life outside, and unsurprisingly, the experience usually consists of a combination of SexDrugsAndRockAndRoll. At least, that is the Hollywood version of the event. In most communities, Rumspringa tends to be quite tame. It simply involves the parents giving the teen more space to act out, be slightly more tolerant of "the lip", letting them wear "Englisch" (the Amish refer to anything and anyone "not-Amish" as English, regardless of its actual nation of origin) clothes, drive, drink alcohol, and such. The outrageous things are usually done more out of a symbolic "been there, done that" ideal then in actual defiance. The period ends when the teen is ready to return to receive baptism to join the church as an adult, or with him or her deciding to leave the church. Moral indiscretions in this period are usually quietly forgiven and forgotten. All things considered, leaving the church (which is not the same thing as getting the shunning treatment) is a very rare event. This practice also means that for a subculture that shun technology, every Amish knows how to drive.
** '''Mennonites''' -- Another modern day Anabaptist group, the Mennonites have much in common with the Amish, including similar beliefs (such as nonviolence, believers baptism, and the separation of church and state) and a penchant for sects and schisms. Their views on technology and interaction with the outside world are much less strict than the Amish, however, and run the gamut from complete isolation to immersion. They sometimes serve as the "Shabbat Goy" for their more restricted Amish brethren, providing services that the Amish cannot do themselves. Any two given Mennonite congregations could live drastically different lives, from communities indistinguishable from the Amish, to those who live in cities with modern technology such as cars and computers. The Mennonite Church in North America consists mostly of the latter kind of Mennonites; the conservative, Amish-looking Mennonites are a minority. Also, thanks to missionaries there are fast-growing Mennonite populations outside of North America, and Africa as a continent now has more Mennonites than North America does.
* '''Quakers''' -- The correct name is Religious Society of Friends. At the very core they believe that God (or Jesus, or the Light, depending on where you are and who you ask - some Quakers are non-theistic) is in everyone. From this comes a number of other, better known values, such as nonviolence (would you kill God?), simplicity (so you can better hear the light), equality (if God's in everyone...), and integrity (would you lie to God?). In consequence, they were early supporters of race, gender, and gay equality, the abolition of slavery, and nuclear disarmament. Very non-hierarchical; they do not believe in ministers and "meeting for worship" consists of any one who wants to coming up and talking about whatever they want, amid vast amounts of silence (yes it's ''supposed'' to be "awkward"). Quakers show up in some of the most unexpected places; for instance, would you believe that UsefulNotes/RichardNixon was a Quaker? (He wasn't particularly religious, though.) (UsefulNotes/HerbertHoover was also a Quaker.)[[note]]Interestingly, although Quakers aren't supposed to "swear" things--they're supposed to "affirm"--both Hoover and Nixon "swore" the Presidential Oath of Office. This is particularly surprising in the case of Hoover, who was otherwise quite serious about being a Quaker; his post-UsefulNotes/{{World War|II}} charitable work relied heavily on Quaker networks, and his general reputation for personal charity and kindness (despite his disastrous laissez-faire economic policies) are very much in the Quaker mode; it would be fair to call him the UsefulNotes/JimmyCarter of his day.[[/note]]
* '''Shakers''' -- got their name from the fact that they'd "shake the sin out of their fingers." Founded by Ann Lee, it dwindled to a current population of 2 (yes, two) as of January 2017 due to the fact they don't believe in sex, helped along by a 1960 law that banned religious groups from adopting children. The Covenant, an official document that all members must sign to be considered Shakers, was closed by the dwindling community in 1957, which means that this denomination will officially die out with this generation. Renowned for their furniture.
* '''Seventh-day Adventists''' -- The basics are in the name: they worship on the Jewish Sabbath (sundown Friday to sundown Saturday) instead of on Sunday, and they believe the Second Coming is imminent. They believe that they should honor the Sabbath each week, but, like most Christian sects, do not follow the scriptural teachings of the Sabbath Year (every 7th year) or the Jubilee Year (every 25th or 50th year). Also known for vegetarianism, a strong focus on healthy living (many adherents belonging to the medical field), and a belief in soul sleep.[[note]]That is, the idea that a human soul has no consciousness after death, and instead remains inert until the resurrection of the dead on Judgement Day.[[/note]] Adventist teaching is largely based on the work of a nineteenth-century writer Ellen G. White; Adventists refer to Mrs. White as the "Voice of Prophecy" and consider her writings second in authority only to the Bible. The SDA grew out of the Millerite movement which believe that the world would end on 22nd of October 1844. This day is now referred to as "The Great Disappointment" in a massive understatement. Many modern Adventists view "The Great Disappointment" as a result of misinterpretation of the of the date, stating that it was incorrectly meant to be the end of the world, when it was merely the start of "The Remnant Church" in preparation for the End Times.\\
On the healthy-living front: The Seventh-Day Adventists ran numerous sanitariums in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly in the Midwest (and most particularly in UsefulNotes/{{Michigan}})--today, the SDA runs the second largest "chain" of hospitals in the US, behind the Catholic Church. While some SDA ideas did end up in modern nutrition, a lot of them (like eating bland food to suppress impure urges) didn't. They are, however, responsible for the Kellogg's food company, makers of the corn flakes you ate for breakfast this morning and a few other forms of breakfast cereal.
* '''Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement''' -- generally called some variant of Disciples of Christ, Church of Christ, or a generic Christian Church. Founded when Barton Stone and Thomas Campbell independently came up with the idea that all these creeds and churches named after a founder is wrong. Individual churches are autonomous and believe on full immersion baptism. Churches that call themselves "Churches of Christ" are (almost always) strictly non-instrumental in the South, and more often than not non-instrumental elsewhere. Churches that go by "Christian Church" pretty much always use instruments. The Disciples of Christ formally split from the others when they formed an ecumenical council.
** In many cases, the independent "Christian Churches" that schismed off in the 20th Century are basically Baptists in practice, descended from Presbyterians (the Campbells were Scots-Irish), and refuse to use any sectarian name more specific than "Christian." (The term "Campbellite Baptist" was applied by outsiders, and is not used by the sect.) Quite a small sect, and of course they insist they're not a sect, they're just Christians. Very confusing, and then they start calling themselves Christian in contrast to other Christian sects, thus taking the name of a major world religion for their tiny schism of same.
* '''Christian Scientists''' -- more properly "The Church of Christ, Scientist". Founded by a Boston woman, Mary Baker Eddy, whose sickness was not healed by "animal magnetism" (which worked by inadvertently hypnotizing the patient) but did get better after praying. Their main difference from other types of Christianity is denying the existence of the physical world (which peculiarly sounds rather like UsefulNotes/{{Buddhism}}). This leads to the conclusion that there is no need to rely on drugs and medical treatment, since these imply a reality to the physical. In practice, failing to be good enough at seeing that there is no physical world is not a sin, so members are allowed to seek medical help as a second resort. They also deny the existence of evil, Satan, and any need to evangelize or proselytize. They are very much in favor of reading, though. Not to be confused with the [[ChurchOfHappyology Church of Scientology]]. The sect established ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Christian_Science_Monitor The Christian Science Monitor]]'' as a response to criticism and ridicule of Eddy early on; it eventually became a top outlet for high-quality journalism in the United States. Currently, the church is in the process of a long and slow decline brought about by the invention of antibiotics and chemotherapy. The denomination is generally grouped with other Metaphysical Christian movements spawned during the 19th Century such as Christian Spiritualism and the Unity Church, of which Christian Science is the largest of these denominations still extant.
* '''Moravians''' -- One of the oldest Protestant sects, and one of the very few surviving that can lay claim to independence before Martin Luther's proclamation. The Moravians have their origins in 15th century Bohemia and Moravia, following the execution of Jan Hus, a priest who openly criticized the Catholic Church, particularly their practices of indulgences and not allowing texts to be published and said in the language of the people. He was burned at the stake in 1415; his followers organized and rebelled. Although they were successful, they were eventually overrun and scattered by the Catholic Habsburgs in 1621. A group of refugees managed to escape to Germany, where an open-minded nobleman, [[AwesomeMcCoolname Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf]], allowed them to settle on his estate at Herrnhut. Fascinated by their story and teachings, he eventually became a Moravian bishop, sent forth the first Protestant missionaries, and founded the [[{{Eagleland}} American]] Moravian settlements of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and Salem[[note]]now Winston-Salem[[/note]], North Carolina.\\
Much like their early counterparts, modern Moravians strongly believe in a focus on the essential basics of Christianity, the freedom to choose styles of worship, tolerance towards others who believe differently, and a call of stewardship to dedicate time and talents to those who need them. The most famous Moravian practice is the ''Lovefeast'', a simple meal, usually bread and a beverage, eaten as a congregation to show of fellowship and celebration.[[note]]This does ''not'' replace communion, which Moravians also observe.[[/note]] There are also 26-pointed stars called Moravian stars that are often used as Christmas decorations; they did not get their start as religious symbols, but are called so because they were used as a geometry lesson at the Moravian Boys' School in Niesky, Germany. Funnily enough, most modern folks know them not for their theology, but their tasty traditional baked goods, especially super-thin Moravian cookies, gooey Moravian sugar cake, and sweet Moravian Lovefeast buns.\\
The Moravians were also a strong influence on John Wesley; he actually studied with Zinzendorf in Herrnhut for a brief time, though he ultimately disagreed with them on a few key theological points. These difference were enough for him to create what would become Methodism.

!!Other denominations
The following groups are pretty hard to fit into any of the above categories. Some of these sects are considered by some of the other sect to not be Christian. Most of them tend to disagree. We will all (mostly, somewhat) agree that they are definitely not Catholic, probably not Protestant, and that we really, really, ''really'' don't want to start a FlameWar (literally or figuratively) about this issue.

* '''UsefulNotes/{{Gnosticism}}''' -- Non-"orthodox" sects which were active from approximately 100-400 AD. Orthodox Christian sects ended up disavowing them, which resulted in some rather interesting developments. Gnostic writers and their texts were far more common in the early centuries of the Church and have a very different flavor than the modern Bible. Today they are largely extinct, but a few holdouts still remain, especially with the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library in the 1940s.\\
Gnosticism interpreted the teachings of Christ in the context of late Greek philosophy and local polytheistic religions. Gnostics identified the God of the Old Testament with a being called the Demiurge, a kinda sorta evil deity who created the world to trap human souls in flesh. They saw Jesus as an incarnation of pure wisdom sent by a good God to teach man to transcend his bodily form, but not as a universal "savior" in whom one must believe. Though Gnosticism itself is rarely heard of outside theological symposia these days, its influence can be felt in the Gospel of John, which shares much gnostic terminology, while subverting it (John 1:1, the word, or Logos, became flesh, wah!?). Also in ''Literature/TheDaVinciCode'', but that's [[DanBrowned another story]].
* '''Catharism/Albigensianism''' was a particularly large offshoot of the gnostics. Taking root in France in the 11th century, they allegedly believed in poverty, avoidance of sex, and vegetarianism (but fish and anal sex were both OK, one because of confusion about how sexual reproduction works, the other because it can't lead to having kids). They were ultimately all but wiped out during the Albigensian Crusade in the 14th century, making their final stand at the fortress of Montségur in southern France. (But not before they gave us the word ''buggery'': they were often called ''bougres''--"Bulgars" in French--because the sect allegedly began in Bulgaria, and so the name remained attached to their, um, practices even after they were all wiped out.) The voluntary poverty of the Dominican Order of Preachers was inspired by the Cathars, against whom Saint Dominic himself had preached with limited success. Note that as the Cathars never committed the details of their religion to paper, virtually all sources for actual Cathar beliefs are suspect, having been written by the Catholic Church, who had every reason to twist the truth and even outright lie about Cathar beliefs and practices.
* '''Messianic Judaism''' -- A largely American and British phenomenon beginning in the late 19th century, Messianic Judaism attempts to reconcile the division between Christianity and Judaism by combining aspects of each. Messianic Jews tend to describe themselves as Jews who observe Jewish law and believe that Jesus is the messiah as described in the Hebrew Bible. Messianic Jews sometimes are stuck in a bit of a inter-religious limbo: many Jewish groups dispute their self-identification as Jews (the Law of Return in Israel, for one, considers them a separate religion); meanwhile, quite a few Christian groups dispute their self-identification as Christians, as many Messianic Jews follow the Jewish understanding of the Messiah and thereby denying the Trinity. The fact that Jews have a very different concept than Christians of what it even means to be the Messiah explains why most mainstream Jews consider Messianic Judaism to be a Christian rather than Jewish sect.
** One of the best known branches of the movement is "Jews for Jesus", which was founded by and largely consists of former Southern Baptists--although the status of "Jews for Jesus" as Messianic Jews is somewhat complex, as many of them simply convert to Baptist Christianity and continue observing some Jewish customs, rather than the full-fledged "Judaism, but we believe Jesus is the Biblical Messiah" attitude of many other Messianic Jews.
* '''UsefulNotes/{{Mormonism}}''' -- More properly known as "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints". Members of this church prefer to be referred to as LDS or Latter-day Saints, but understand that Mormon is the most generally recognized term for members of this faith. Established in the US in the 1830s by Joseph Smith, a prophet who claimed to have translated ''Literature/TheBookOfMormon'' from golden tablets containing records of early migrants from the Middle East to the Americas (one group came over ca. 2200 BC, the other ca. 600 BC).\\
They have very different ideas of what God is compared to mainstream Christianity, since LDS doctrine holds that there was a universal departure from what was taught in Christ's time, necessitating a restoration via Joseph Smith. The LDS church holds the view that there are living prophets on the Earth today relaying modern revelation, much of which is found in the book ''Doctrine and Covenants''. The canon of Scripture is: the Bible (in English-speaking countries, the King James version is official), the ''Book of Mormon'', the ''Doctrine and Covenants'', and a smaller, more miscellaneous volume called ''Pearl of Great Price''. The LDS view of the afterlife includes three possible levels that can be fairly described as "heaven" (and one level called "outer darkness", reserved for the most evil). Mormons believe if they do good works and live faithful lives now, they can be Gods in the afterlife and rule over their own planets. This is not to say that they believe they can "earn" this on their own merits. They don't, but regard the Atonement made by Christ as essential to any of this and that even after becoming like gods they are still under the rule of God. (The fact that the word "god" has multiple meanings makes the topic somewhat confusing to talk about.)\\
As in any major religious group, there are offshoots of the Latter-day Saints church, some of which are the source for the continuing stereotype of isolated polygamists. The mainstream LDS church, based in Salt Lake City, UsefulNotes/{{Utah}}, considers polygamy grounds for excommunication, and has since 1890, Divine authorization for this practice having been withdrawn (largely due to Congress' insistence on a ban on polygamy before granting statehood to Utah). Although there are also LDS offshoots that headed in the other direction, repudiating many of standard Mormonism's more "out-there" doctrines to be closer to mainstream Christianity, the biggest of those being the Community of Christ (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). As Mormon doctrine is wildly different from most other Christian churches, as noted above, some don't consider it to be Christian at all. Others (such as Latter-day Saints, obviously) take the view that Latter-day Saint theology is a restoration of original Christianity, without accretions and variances found in other Christian traditions. Rather good at keeping genealogical records, incidentally, due to the doctrine that families are meant to be eternal, they believe it is possible for dead people to be converted.
* '''Unitarian Universalists''' -- An offshoot of 18th-century Deism, the idea that God is a "cosmic watchmaker" who created the universe, and has spent the time since years watching his Great Work unfold perfectly, while not interfering any more than a watchmaker must once the watch he builds is activated. Composed of two different denominations that merged: the Unitarians who, amongst other things, believed in the singularity of God and the non-divinity (though [[JesusWasWayCool awesome person]]) of Jesus, and the Universalists, who believed that since God loves everybody, He's not going to let any of them go to hell. Currently it is the only major world religion that is either a path for finding one's own spirituality and beliefs or a church for people that don't like religion, depending on who you ask. Many Unitarians would probably not identify themselves as Christians and some might identify as Buddhists, Jews, agnostics, Wiccans, atheists, or just about anything and/or any combination imaginable. Why are they here? Because the world is weird, that's why.
** There are some small unmistakably Christian Unitarian groups, maintaining the old traditions of Christian Unitarianism: that is, a combination of mild Calvinism with Deism, with Jesus being accepted as a great moral teacher and ''possibly'' the Biblical Messiah, after a (unique) fashion (they were rarely pure Deists). This wasn't particularly uncommon in the US in the 18th and 19th centuries, being a highly intellectual offshoot of standard New England Congregationalism. Four US presidents (UsefulNotes/JohnAdams, UsefulNotes/JohnQuincyAdams, UsefulNotes/MillardFillmore, and UsefulNotes/WilliamHowardTaft) were Unitarians in this sense (Taft [[OlderThanTheyThink actually had to fight accusations of atheism]] because of this, as he had been offered the presidency of then-Congregationalist [[UsefulNotes/IvyLeague Yale]] before he became President of the US and responded "I do not believe in the divinity of Christ" and had to explain that he meant that he was a Christian Unitarian, ''not'' an atheist). UsefulNotes/ThomasJefferson was also a kinda-sorta Unitarian; his Christology and Deism match up, but even if he had been the churchgoing type, it would've been difficult to find a Unitarian church in Virginia (where Episcopalianism was the state religion until Jefferson himself signed the Virginia Charter of Religious Freedom in 1786, and which was not fertile country for Northeastern Congregationalisms of any kind until the Methodists softened the territory up enough for the originally-New Englander Baptists to take over the whole region).
* '''Jehovah's Witnesses''' -- Jehovah's Witnesses treat Literature/TheBible as the only source of truth. They use God's name, Jehovah[[note]]Most scholars of the Hebrew Bible agree that while the lack of vowels in written Hebrew make it uncertain, the most likely pronunciation of God's name was Yahweh (or something very similar like Yahuwa or Yehowa). Jehovah seems to have been a corrupted Latinization that fused Yahweh with Adonai ("Lord"), the world that ancient Jews actually ''spoke'' in the place of God's name because speaking His name aloud was forbidden in almost all circumstances. But regardless of this, Jehovah's Witnesses are certain that Jehovah was and is His real name.[[/note]], and are most widely known for their [[HollywoodJehovahsWitness worldwide preaching activities]], honoring Jesus' command to "make disciples of people of all nations." They do not consider Jesus to be God himself, but rather, the son of God and inferior to the Father. Each member of this faith has made an extensive study of the Bible and dedicated his or her life to Jehovah God to do his will. No one is required to preach for any set amount of time, nor do they receive any pay, for their witnessing is a lifelong volunteer work. Their official website, with Frequently Asked Questions and other information, can be found [[http://www.jw.org/en/ here.]]\\
They teach that Christ was not nailed to a "cross" but a stake, which was the common method of execution for criminals then, and which the Romans referred to as a ''stauros'' (upright stake) or ''crux simplex'' in Latin. They also believe that only 144,000 persons will reside in Heaven while the rest of the faithful will remain on earth to live forever in peace, and the wicked will be destroyed (i.e. and not spend the rest of eternity getting tortured, a view not shared by most of Christendom). Focus on individual study of the Bible, the holiness of blood (they are not OK with blood transfusions,[[note]]Which has led to some interesting applications in medicine involving [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autotransfusion autotransfusion/"cell saver"]] technology, as transfusions of your own blood ''are'' OK. This incidentally has led to a rare intersection of medical malpractice and the First Amendment in lawsuits involving American Jehovah's Witness patients seeking treatment in hospitals specializing in "bloodless" surgery catering to their religious wishes; Drexel University Hospital in UsefulNotes/{{Philadelphia}} has been a particularly interesting case study.[[/note]] but don't go to the lengths Jews go to to remove blood from meat--unlike Jews, Muslims and most other religions with taboos concerning blood, saving of a life does not trump the taboo, and [=JWs=] would rather die than receive a transfusion), and disbelief in the ability of earthly human governments to solve the world's problems (they obey the laws of the land in which they reside and pay taxes, but refuse to serve in the military[[note]]Which is one of the main reasons UsefulNotes/DwightDEisenhower was rather fuzzy about his religious beliefs until shortly before he took office, when he was formally baptized as Presbyterian: Eisenhower's parents were Witnesses, but he never really bought the doctrine, making a permanent break with it when he went to West Point--but he never picked another religion to replace it.[[/note]] or salute the flag). They are most known for their door to door preaching work, or "witnessing" which has both changed many lives and annoyed many others. FYI: Although the late Michael Jackson used to preach door to door, he had left Jehovah's Witnesses soon after the release of ''Thriller''. (In his immediate family, only his mother is an active member.)
* '''Arianism''' -- an offshoot of Christianity that sparked the first major heresy of the young religion. They believed that the Father created the Son, while the mainstream Christians believed they both always existed. Really, really big outside of TheEmpire and among the Germanic tribes. though it never really caught on with any group that didn't get conquered by someone else. Arianism is sometimes used to refer to believers in the creation of the Son who had no continuity with the original Arians, such as Creator/GaryGygax and maybe Isaac Newton too. Not, repeat, NOT to be confused with "[[ThoseWackyNazis Aryanism]]."
* '''Nestorianism''' -- The doctrine that Christ has two persons. Named after Nestorius, Archbishop of Constantinople 428-431, who taught that Mary could be referred to as 'the mother of Christ,' but not as 'the mother of God.' His opponent, Cyril of Alexandria, argued that this implied that Christ was really two persons rather than one. Nestorius was deposed by a council held at Ephesus before his supporters could arrive. Nestorianism flourished in Persia and extended as far as China and India. Most modern Nestorians hail from either Iraq or India. Notable for being the religion of many of Ghengis Khan's relatives and in-laws.
* '''Monophysitism''' -- The doctrine that Christ has only one nature. Divided between Eutychianism (now extinct) which taught that the human nature was overwhelmed by the divine like a drop of water in an ocean. Miaphysitism, which holds that the human nature was not thus overwhelmed, is the position of the Oriental Orthodox churches.
* '''Donatism''' -- A sect in North Africa that split from Rome due to a controversy over the continued service of bishops and priests who had recanted Christianity while under torture. Best known for teaching that the validity of sacraments depends on the purity of the priest or bishop who administers it, concluding that if a person ever confessed to anything under torture they were unfit to be in a church position, and their association with the Circumcellion. Famously opposed by St. Augustine, who originally had doubts about calling in the Roman military to quell rebellions over the argument, as he felt calling in earthly, political authority to settle church matters might set a bad precedent for later conflicts. Hindsight is 20-20, as they say. Donatism was slowly reabsorbed into Catholicism before dwindling to nothing following Muslim occupation.
* '''Circumcellions''' -- Perhaps the most bizarre of them all. They decided that the primary virtue in the life of a Christian was martyrdom, and to that end, wandered the countryside with blunt clubs they called "Israelites." They would waylay armed travelers, taunting them and beating them lightly with the clubs while shouting "Laudate Deum!" in hopes of earning a swift martyrdom. They really did that. Obviously one of those sects that are universally regarded as "not getting it." Also probably got funny looks in the afterlife. This sect was wiped out in the 4th century after several groups decided to help them out and slaughtered all their members.
* '''Christian Identity''' -- A sect based loosely on British Israelism, a now-discredited 19th century anthropological hypothesis claiming that the Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, and Celtic peoples (i.e. modern Western/Central Europeans) were the descendants of the lost tribes of Israel. While other Christian groups concern themselves with baptism, interpretation of scripture, clerical authority, and other theological debates, Christian Identity is all about MightyWhitey. They believe that white people are God's chosen race and the only ones capable of attaining salvation, while non-whites have no souls and thus cannot be saved. The modern Jews are descended from either Satan himself (the product of the intercourse between Eve and the serpent) or from the last thousand years or so and converts with no connection to the ancient Israelites.[[note]]This is a sharp contrast with the original British Israelism, which was often more Judeophilic than anti-Semitic, the argument going that "if we Europeans are part of the same ethnic family as the Jews, then what reason is there for ethnic bigotry?"[[/note]] This sect is almost exclusively found within white nationalist and far-right political movements within the United States, including the modern UsefulNotes/KuKluxKlan.
* The most influential group preaching this message was Herbert W. Armstrong's '''Worldwide Church of God''', publishers of the British-Israelite ''Plain Truth'' magazine to be found as a free publication at newsagents and news-stands all over the USA and Britain. The [=WWCoG=] did not survive Armstrong's death in 1986, and has schismed into many mutually opposed groupings (including one that abandoned British Israelism and has since been accepted into mainstream evangelicalism). At least three schismatic groups currently offer ''their'' version of ''The Plain Truth'' online, thus perpetuating British-Israelism into a new century.
* '''Positive Christianity''' -- A sect formed by UsefulNotes/NaziGermany in order to provide a theological fig-leaf for their rule and win over the more religious Germans. It rejected the parts of the Bible descended from Judaism, including the entire Old Testament, and {{retcon}}ned Jesus into a full-blooded Aryan who fought against Jewish "corruption". Largely died out after UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, for obvious reasons, and now a quaint footnote in the history of Christianity practiced only by a tiny smattering of neo-Nazi diehards.
* '''UsefulNotes/AmericanChurches''': This is just a list of all the different churches active in the United States.

Muddying the waters in regards to discussions of Christianity and its various denominations and branches is that the names of some of these branches come from concepts that most of Christianity adheres to. Words such as "catholic", "orthodox", and "evangelical" have meanings beyond being the name of a kind of church.[[note]]For instance, "catholic" can mean "universal", "orthodox" can mean "having the correct beliefs", and "evangelical" can mean "talking to other people about your faith". Naturally there are many churches that embrace these concepts, regardless of what they call themselves.[[/note]]

!Tropes associated with or named by Christianity:

* AmbiguouslyChristian: A character ''might'' be Christian, though this is unconfirmed.
* BrokenBase: Catholicism vs. Protestantism, the Protestant denominations vs. each other, Mainstream Christianity vs. Mormonism vs. Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.
* CapitalLettersAreMagic: Or at least reverent, when used in words referring to God or Jesus.
* CaughtUpInTheRapture: The belief held by ''some'' Christian denominations that faithful Christians will be taken up to {{Heaven}} at the end of the world, and spared the tribulation to come.
* ChristianityIsCatholic: Because Catholicism is one of the bigger sects and one of the oldest, some people think everyone is like that.
* ChurchMilitant: There were times when The Church had its own army or called one up, for instance, the crusades.
* ChurchOfSaintGenericus: A church is shown, but it's not clear which denomination it is.
* ContinuityNod / DisContinuityNod: Several groups have claimed they can trace their group back to Jesus. Several other have questioned these claims.
* CorruptChurch: Let's just say every church has the possibility for this, and history is filled with examples of churches going horribly wrong. The bigger the institution, the more likely it is to have rogue elements while the smaller the institution, the more likely it is to fall under the sway of one corrupt leader.
* CreepyCoolCrosses: Obviously considering what happened to the Founder. Traditional Christianity uses a wide range of crosses, with subtly different meanings. For example, St. Peter's symbol is an upside-down cross[[note]]according to tradition, Peter was sentenced to be crucified, but considered himself unworthy to die the same way Jesus did--so he asked the Romans to nail him upside down[[/note]], which confuses some people who assume an upside-down Cross must be anti-Christian (many Satanists use it as a symbol).
* DeepSouth: The region is also known in North America as the Bible Belt.
* DevilsAdvocate: The Devil's Advocate (''advocatus diaboli'') is the popular name for the Promoter of the Faith (''promotor fidei''), a person appointed by the Catholic Church who argues against the formal recognition of someone as a Saint by, again, the Catholic Church. The job has been taken up on at least one occasion (Mother Theresa) by an outright atheist (Christopher Hitchens).
* {{Fanon}}: Much of Christianity's pop culture presentation comes from the work of artists and writers of non-{{Canon}} literature, perhaps most famously John Milton and [[WordOfDante Dante Alighieri]]. This may explain some of the non-source weirdness in Christian belief.
* TheFundamentalist: No more of a problem with Christians than with any other religious faith, but no less so, either. In particular, a bad phenomenon in the 20th century, as the rise of Christian Fundamentalism in America - the most powerful country in the world - has had repercussions all around the world.
* {{God}} He is present in all the sects but they have disagreements on a lot of stuff.
* GodIsGood: "God is good" and "all the time" are part of many sects. Counter-intuitively, God's benevolence is one of the more controversial bits of the faith to many outsiders. To almost all Christians, this may be the central point of the religion- explaining why it's so controversial.
* GodInHumanForm: According to pretty much all Christian beliefs, this is UsefulNotes/{{Jesus}}' identity but it's complicated; fully human and fully divine at the same time.
* GoAndSinNoMore: Essentially, this is the Christian belief about salvation; seek forgiveness for sin and then don't repeat the sin in the future. For bonus points the TropeNamer is Jesus.
* GoodShepherd: The Church is a large organization and some of its clergy has been more benevolent than other parts.
* {{Heaven}}: The place of God, His Angels, and where all Christians ultimately want to end up in.
* {{Hell}}: Most sects believe in it, but some don't. The general idea is a place where the angels that repelled against God ended up that is very unpleasant to say the least.
* FireAndBrimstoneHell: Also depending on the sect, Hell may or may be depicted as a firey place of pitchforks and Inquisition style torture.
* FluffyCloudHeaven: This is a MemeticMutation of Christian doctrine and both Christian and pre-Christian folklore. EasterBunny (same), SantaClaus (same)
* HijackedByJesus: Obviously, if unintentionally. This certainly wouldn't be a Biblical edict. See also SevenDeadlySins.
* HumansAreSpecial: According to Christianity, humans were made in God's image. There is also some debate among Christians if only humans have souls and can go to heaven and hell, or if animals have one as well and can go to heaven and hell.
* JesusTaboo: [[RunningGag Obviously]]. Although it would be pretty hard to discuss Christianity without ever mentioning UsefulNotes/{{Jesus}}, you will sometimes find his name avoided out of reverence, such as calling him "Our Lord."
* JesusWasWayCool: [[OverlyLongGag Obviously.]] While you don't necessarily have to be Christian to agree (as the trope page proves), if you don't like Jesus, Christianity might not be for you.
* KnightTemplar: The historical ones are a inversion; the bulk of them were pretty reasonable and involved with day-to-day banking but they are well known as zealots.
* TheLegionsOfHell: Armies of demons, devils, hellspawn etc. are often seen in art and literature.
* TheMissionary: All the sects have people spreading the Good News but Jenhova's Witnesses consider this their hat.
* NiceJobBreakingItHerod: The trope naming scene is in the Gospel of Matthew.
* NunsAreMikos: When Christians went to Japan there was a miscomunication of some kind. It's likely because the locals are more familar with local traditions then something from across the globe.
* NunsAreSpooky: If not spooky then [[NunsAreFunny Funny]] and/or [[NaughtyNuns Naughty]]. Yeah, ideas about what women who spent their lives in seclusion away from men did all day are diverse to say the least.
* NunsNRosaries: To quote the page " just the basic stereotypical stuff."
* PalsWithJesus: Quite literally in some traditions, adherents are advised to develop a personal relationship with Jesus.
* PiecesOfGod: Possibly the Holy Spirit. It's never clearly elaborated on, but presumably it's what allows people to perform miracles, so it may (or may not) be part of the soul. Or the soul itself.
* RaisedCatholic: A person who was raised in the faith, and though s/he might have left it, still has some practices or hang-ups from the faith.
* {{Satan}}: Though the character goes back to Judaism or before, the mythology now associated with him is largely a Christian invention. His characterization has evolved continuously with the religion, growing from a rather buffoonish trickster/tempter figure in medieval folktales to an almost Manichean embodiment of evil in contemporary media. Sometimes he's been thought to represent Man's capacity to do evil, and has thus grown as our ability to do harm to one another has grown.
* ScalesOfJustice: Though the trope originated in other religions it can be found here too with the Archangel Raguel who is sometimes portrayed with scales, since he's the angel of justice.
* SaintlyChurch: Also what every church has the possibility to be. While there are plenty of atrocities in church history, there are also plenty of churches quietly trying to help people out. A large organization is bound to have some good elements, while a small church can have a [[RousseauWasRight genuinely good leader]].
* SevenDeadlySins and SevenHeavenlyVirtues: The Deadly Sins as we know them were compiled by Pope Gregory I as a condensed version of an older version of such a list. His Holiness's list became entrenched in Christian faith and culture, and eventually led to a GoodCounterpart of sorts in the SevenHeavenlyVirtues, conceived by the poet Prudentius in the fifth century and popularized in the Middle Ages.
* SinisterMinister: The Church is a large organization and some of its clergy has been more manevolent than other parts.
* TheVicar: These show up in the 16th century but it's safe to say the 'funny' associations didn't come until later.

Also known for putting the Messianic in MessianicArchetype, though the trope itself is [[OlderThanTheyThink older than many of us think]]. The Messiah, just to let you know, is actually a Jewish Trope (and Judaism the TropeNamer). Mashiah actually means Anointed One, and refers to the King of Israel, born of David's line, who will usher in a new era of peace and restoration of the Davidic/Solomonic kingdom (the Golden Age, so to speak). Christians just happen to believe Jesus is that Messiah, whereas non-Christian Jews (obviously) don't. Jews also do not believe that the Messiah's role involves any saving of souls, while Christians believe that to be the entire purpose of of the Messiah.