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Church Police
An organization of persons dedicated to enforcing a particular religion's laws, in a role similar to (or overlapping with) civil law enforcement. This is almost always in cases where there is no separation between religious and secular authorities, but not necessarily: it could be a Secret Society maintaining a Masquerade, in which case the Church Police are not their religion's public face, but rather a kind of Secret Police. They may do double-duty as monks (or priests) and cops. Sometimes they are even styled after monastic orders.

Very likely to be a State Sec. Knight Templars and Church Militants are to be found among their ranks. May be Well Intentioned Extremists. They are frequently Faceless Mooks in hooded robes. Often a symptom of the Path of Inspiration, the Corrupt Church, or on the far extreme, the Religion of Evil. However, on occasion these groups aid the protagonists. Sub-Trope of Church Militant. May be led by a Sinister Minister.

This trope also covers the closely related phenomenon of "internal" religious police, a very similar group as this, but strictly working within their own religious community and having no connection to an external state apparatus, and little or no jurisdiction over non-members.


Examples:

Anime and Manga:

Comic Books
  • The Warrior Monks who enforce Cardinal Trebaldi's edicts in Le Scorpion.

Film
  • Equilibrium: Although not specifically the judicial arm of a Church or theocracy, the government in Libria invokes an awful lot of religious imagery and titles: the Tetragrammaton Council is headed by "Father," the Grammaton "Clerics" are the elite policemen, and so on.
  • Frollo's guards from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Literature
  • Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth stories. The United Church has agents that hunt down wrongdoers in several novels. To be fair, though, the Church is basically a pan-galactic Unicef rather than a religious organization.
    • For Love of Mother-Not. Agents of the Church's Moral Operations branch pursue Flinx.
    • In Bloodhype, Kitten Kai-sung and the Tolian named Porsupah are agents of the Church's Intelligence Arm sent to the planet Repler to investigate the trade in the illegal drug bloodhype.
  • In Inheritance Trilogy the order of Intempas has Order Keepers to protect the laws.
  • In A Study In Scarlet, the LDS church has a secret and very ruthless force.
  • In His Dark Materials, each branch of the Church has its own enforcement, usually a sort of armed police with an intelligence wing. The Church also has an overall army.
  • In Kraken, all of London's cults have armed wings, usually former soldiers who defend their cult and hunt down apostates. Some, such as the Church of God Kraken, have "apocalypse brigades" designed as a last-ditch, kamikaze defense of the congregation. Others, like the Dharma Buddhists and the Chaos Nazis, are entirely militant.
  • The short story A Word For Heathens, by Canadian sci-fi author Peter Watts, features brutal descriptions of a future totalitarian theocracy that artificially boosts the religious centers of the brains of it's shock troops in order for them to feel righteous as they slaughter innocents.
  • The Faith Militant in A Song of Ice and Fire: They are the military arm of the Faith of the Seven. In the book A Feast for Crows they are shown to be acting in a rather police-like manner.
  • As much as Big Brother and the Party had replaced God and religion in 1984, the Thought Police would count as this trope, similar to the Telegrammaton Clerics in Equilibrium.

Live-Action Television
  • The Tribe:
    • The Chosen, and in particular their Praetorian Guard, both of whom were of the Faceless Mooks in hooded robes variety. They were a religious cult that worshipped the slain Zoot as a God, and extolled the virtues of "power and chaos." They were led by a Sinister Minister, the Guardian, and his lieutenant.
    • In the final episode, members of another hooded, robed tribe were briefly shown; however, it was not established if the costume served a religious purpose, though it might have been meant to connect them visually to the distinctive outfits of the Chosen.
  • The Ori made use of these in Stargate SG-1.
  • Synthiotics/New Realism in the cyberpunk miniseries Wild Palms had two versions, really both extensions of the same authority, that of the Church's founder, Senator Kreutzer: one was a well-dressed bunch of thugs in suits who beat up and silenced people (they worked more or less directly for the Senator's crypto-fascist political organization, the Fathers); the other was a group more closely affiliated with the Senator's religious role as founder of Synthiotics: They dressed like naval sailors and accompanied young demagogue Coty Wyckoff.
  • The "Lawgivers" of the planet Beta III in Star Trek: The Original Series episode, "Return of the Archons," were humanoid drones in monk-like hooded robes whose function within "The Body" was to enforce the will of Landru (the computerized descendant of the planet's so-called greatest philosopher).
  • The Divine Order in the series Lexx and its TV Movies had such a force, but as their society was a more traditional theocracy, they were more or less the same as the League of 20,000 Planet's regular military (Priests, however, were sometimes shown and more frequently implied to have some kind of police-like authority, though we mostly saw them tending to His Divine Shadow).
  • The Sliders ran afoul of several of these in their Alternate Universe-hopping adventures. Of particular note was an Earth where America was controlled by a fundamentalist religious group that outlawed modern technology and science, and employed a network of police and spies to confiscate advanced technology.
  • In the MontyPython sketch "Bishop on the Landing" a family finds a dead bishop on their landing. They debate whether to call the church or the police, so they call the Church Police.
  • The militant Sons of Ares cult in the reimagined Battlestar Galactica series. It's possible that given the henotheistic nature of their society, other Gods and Godesses have similar militant followings. The Sons of Ares were shown raiding Baltar's cult's compound using paramilitary tactics and weapons in retaliation for what the other Colonials perceived as an attack on their Gods by Baltar and his followers. Adama's and Tigh's reactions to hearing their name indicated that the group had a violent history in Colonial society. They were later shown on patrol, bearing arms and intimidating the residents of Dogsville.
  • Farscape has The Nebari Establishment, another example of a totalitarian society where service to the State is the State Religion, employs agents who will do anything to advance the Establishment's goals, including "Mind-Cleansing" other species and rebellious members of their own kind. Their behavior regarding "the greater good" borders on religious reverence. In their case, the "salvation" (re-integration) of non-comformists is a matter of Mind Control technology. Of course, the Nebari are a race of Well Intentioned Extremists, with the few Nebari encountered away from their homeworld being either ruthless government agents like Varla or rogue non-conformists like Chiana.
  • Parodied on Late Night with Conan O'Brien with a recurring skit where a couple of priests would show up and start interrogating Conan on why he hadn't been coming to church and asking other similar questions. And then their boss (Jesus, played as Da Chief) would show up and tell them to cut it out.

Tabletop Games
  • Warhammer 40,000's Inquisition and sub-branches such as the Ordo Malleus and the Adeptus Arbites. They're the one's charged with monitoring for heresy, eliminating those who flout the Emperor's Law and so on. Space Marines and Sisters Of Battle are Church Militants.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade has The Sabbat, a vampire organisation which apes the practices of the Catholic Church, has it's own Inquisition, who're responsible for ensuring ritae are performed correctly, that Sabbat officials conduct themselves properly and for rooting out heretics, infiltrators and demon-worshippers.

Video Games
  • In the Dragon Age series, the Templar Order enforces the Chantry's Ban on Magic across all lands. Also, the Seekers of Truth (another) functions as Internal Affairs for the Templars themselves.
    • The Qunari (who are actually a religion rather than the species typically called qunari and technically kossith) have the Ben-Hassrath, who are spies in non-qunari lands as well as enforcers of qunari ideological purity; you meet one in the Mark of the Assassin DLC.
    • And now that both the Templars and the Seekes of Truth have gone rogue, It's Up to You to build a new Inquisition to bring back order in the third installment.
  • The Ordinators in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind are inquisitors, Vivec City guards, guard temples and sacred sites, ensure the safety of pilgrims in Molag Amur by maintaining the Molag Mar outpost, hunt Daedra-worshippers and vampires and will kill you if you wear their sacred armor. They are also Bad Ass and very cool.
    • The Thalmor of Skyrim combine this with being elven Nazis. Part of the White Gold Concordat's terms was a ban of Talos worship across the Empire. Thalmor agents are allowed to wander Imperial territory and enforce this ban, imprisoning and executing any suspected Talos worshippers they find.
  • The Warrior Monks in Final Fantasy X are nothing more than the personnal army of the church of Yevon, keeping the capital of Spira and the dignitaries of the church safe and wiping out people who snuff around Yevon's dirty secrets.

Webcomics
  • The Star Org in Last Res0rt are partially semi-official police (especially on Last Resort station) and partially the Church Militant of the Endless.
  • In Drowtales, the Kyorl'solenurn clan's wardens, judicators, etc. arrest and conduct field executions of the "tainted" and "corrupt" - often, much to the other clans' annoyance.

Church of HappyologyAdministrivia/No Real Life Examples, Please!Churchgoing Villain
Church MilitantReligion TropesChurchgoing Villain

alternative title(s): The Inquisition
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