The Church

Organized religion serves as a major source of authority figures. Fiction can build on this by attributing to The Church an absurd amount of power, official or not, and organization, or go the other direction and portray its members as harmless old men sipping tea.

Subtropes include Saintly Church, Corrupt Church, Scam Religion, Path of Inspiration, and Religion of Evil.

Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • The futuristic "Catholic" Church in Trinity Blood is basically a military with a different kind of dress uniform.

    Literature 
  • In the Dreamblood Duology, the priesthood of Hananja essentially rules the city-state of Gujaareh, with most of the city's power centered in the Hetawa, where the priests live, rather than with the palace and the Prince. Hananja's priests also serve as the gatekeepers of Hananja's magic.
  • Release That Witch has "The Church", the main religious institution within the setting which supports the elimination of monsters, witches and all other magical things. They're eventually revealed to be the remnants of an ancient witch organization devoted to fighting the Demons out in the Wild Wilderness, who created anti-witch propaganda to help in the capture and sacrifice of witches, whose blood was necessary for their Super Soldier program.

    Podcasts 
  • Dice Funk: The religious center of Stoneroot is powerful enough to challenge the lord and important enough that the populace simply refers to it as "The Church."

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Throughout the series, the Aedra-worshiping Temple of the Nine Divines is the primary religious sect of most of Tamriel and is the official religion of each incarnation of the Cyrodiilic Empire. It is treated as a Saintly Church in every facet, with it being uniformly benevolent in every series' appearance to date.
    • However, in the backstory, the Alessian Order was a rabidly anti-Elven religious sect which established a Theocracy in the 1st Era that wielded nearly as much power as the Emperor at its height. It was a very solemn, strict, severe, spartan, and sometimes outright cruel Order. In addition to their pogrom against the remaining Ayleids in Cyrodiil (many of whom sided with St. Alessia during the Alessian Revolt and were allowed to keep their lands as vassals) which included the destruction of Ayleid artifacts and writings, the Order attempted to purge the gods themselves of their Elven basis. Wielding ill-begotten divine power, the Order caused what is known as the "Middle Dawn", the first and longest Dragon Break on record with a heaping dose of Reality-Breaking Paradox and Reality Is Out to Lunch. The excesses of the Order would eventually become too much to accept and the Order would be destroyed in the War of Righteousness by an alliance of Tamriellic nations. However, their influence on Imperial law and religion can still be felt in the Empires that have come since their fall.
    • As primarily seen in Morrowind, the Dunmeri (Dark Elf) Tribunal Temple is another. They worship ALMSIVI, or simply "the Tribunal," a trio of formerly mortal Physical Gods. Though thought of by most non-Dunmer as a Scam Religion, in ages past, when the Tribunal deities themselves lived and worked among their people, the Temple was an undeniable force of good. However, when the Tribunal were cut off from the source of their divine power, they were forced to withdraw from the day-to-day affairs of the Dunmer in order to conserve power. When mortal leaders took over the Temple, it quickly became a Corrupt Church (though individual worshipers could still fall anywhere on the scale). As a result of the events of the game and its Tribunal expansion, the Tribunal are permanently cut off from the source of their power and two wind up dead. As revealed in Skyrim's Dragonborn expansion, the "New Temple" has been formed in the two centuries since Morrowind took place, and it is quite a bit less corrupt. The "Good Daedra" Anticipations of the Tribunal (Azura, Boethiah, and Mephala) are slotted back in as the Temple's chief deities known as "Reclamations", while the Tribunal themselves have been demoted to Saints.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheChurch