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Church Police

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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. Knights Templar 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, and frequently overlaps with Culture Police. 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.

No Real Life Examples, Please!


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    Anime & Manga 
  • ''The Devil is a Part-Timer!: Suzuno is a deadly assassin for the church who begins to question the church's orders and motives forexpecting her to carry out their dirty work.
  • Dokuro: Takeo was the most deadly assassin of the Nirvana Church of Creation's security department's elite Canis division, before turning on them.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist features a Corrupt Church in its introductory chapters/episodes. Although Father Cornello earns the peasants' loyalty with dazzling miracles and a convincing act as a compassionate priest, his clergymen wield staves and firearms in their attempts to capture the blasphemous Ed and Al.
  • In Parallel World Pharmacy, the church sends priests out to capture and kill Farma for blasphemy before realizing that he basically is the incarnation of a god after all.
  • In Trinity Blood, the AX and the Inquisition conduct investigatory, espionage, and covert operations for the papacy. Including hunting vampires.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • In the Discworld continuation fics of A.A. Pessimal, the state church of Rimwards Howondaland has opened up a local Kerk in Ankh-Morpork to serve the spiritual needs of the expatriot community there. People attend for a variety of reasons; it's a reminder of Home, it fosters a sense of community, especially in summer when you can have a braai afterwards, and it performs all the usual rites of passage summed up as Hatch, Match, and Despatch. But people also attend because the local BOSS sector head Liutnant Verkramp is a dedicated communicant and a friend of the Pastor. There is a well-founded suspicion that the secret policeman is taking attendance and noting who might look sceptical or fall asleep during the sermon. note .

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • The Holy Office: Naturally.

  • As much as Big Brother and the Party had replaced God and religion in Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Thought Police would count as this trope, similar to the Telegrammaton Clerics in Equilibrium.
  • In Candide, Candide and Pangloss fall into the hands of the Inquisition of Portugal, due to Pangloss' optimistic philosophy getting them branded as heretics. They are put to the torture and Pangloss is hanged, but an earthquake allows Candide to escape. Afterwards, he learns that his Love Interest, Lady Cunégonde, is still alive, but has fallen into the hands of a corrupt Jewish merchant and the even more corrupt Grand Inquisitor, who have both treated her horribly. Candide kills both her captors, but has to flee when an alcalde (Spanish fortress commander) comes after him for killing the Grand Inquisitor.
  • The Alchemy War: Stemwinders—horrific bladed centaur robots—are the muscle of the Dutch Empire, enforcing their disdain for Catholicism with extreme prejudice.
  • The Consistorial Court of Discipline in The Book of Dust.
  • The Defenders of Sataki from Dark Crusade, a brutal force whose main aim is to hunt inuchiri—"those who betray the one faith" (in Sataki).
  • In the Dreamblood Duology, the Sentinels, those of Hananja's chosen who are best suited to the path of the soldier, act as the Hetawa's elite guards.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • "El Inquisidor De Mexico" persecutes Jews until one takes revenge on him.
  • 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.
  • In A Study In Scarlet, the LDS church has a secret and very ruthless force.
  • 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.
  • In Tales Of The Branian Realm, Essussiatism has actual Inquisitors, but the Triarchy has its own dungeons and heresy trials. Both have orders of Knights Templar to hunt down heretics.
  • In Victoria, the Christian Marines are explicitly formed with the goal of making the Ten Commandments the law of the land.
  • 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 its shock troops in order for them to feel righteous as they slaughter innocents.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The militant Sons of Ares cult in Battlestar Galactica (2003). It's possible that given the henotheistic nature of their society, other Gods and Goddesses 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 and 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-conformists 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.
  • Game of Thrones: The Faith Militant has basically taken over as the police force of Kings landing from the Goldcloaks. They're much better at it and can't be bought off, much to the dismay of everyone who breaks the law... which just happens to be almost everyone in a city like the capital. Following the explosion of the Great Sept of Balor, where their leader the High Sparrow was located as well most (if not all) of the Faith Militant, the entire order is effectively extinguished.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus
  • 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.
  • The Ori made use of these in Stargate SG-1.
  • 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 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 Tudors: Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, takes it upon himself to lead an informal inquisition against Lutherans and other "heretics" in Season 4.
  • Synthiotics/New Realism from Wild Palms has two versions, really both extensions of the same authority, that of the Church's founder, Senator Kreutzer. One is a well-dressed bunch of thugs in suits who beat up and silence people (they work more or less directly for the Senator's crypto-fascist political organization, the Fathers). The other is a group more closely affiliated with the Senator's religious role as founder of Synthiotics: they dress like naval sailors and accompany young demagogue Coty Wyckoff.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Deadlands, the Free and Holy City of Lost Angels is a theocracy ruled by the Church of Lost Angels. The local police force, known as Guardian Angels, not only enforces the city's laws but also the religious edicts of the church head Rev. Grimmes.
  • In Dogs in the Vineyard, players are "God's Watchdogs" ("Dogs"), who travel from town to town delivering mail, helping out the community, and enforcing the judgements of the True Faith of the King of Life. This may involve anything from delivering new interpretations to the town's Steward to executing heretics.
  • Fading Suns: Temple Avesti. The Avestites started out as a group of religious terrorists, saved by the Church in the last moment before being blasted to smithereens by a coalition of angry nobles. Now, they hold most of the seats on the Inquisitorial Synod, and search the Known Worlds for signs of heresy, demonism, and any other threat to the faithful.
  • Naturally, the Cyberpapacy has such an organization in TORG.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade has The Sabbat, a vampire organisation which apes the practices of the Catholic Church, and has its 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.
  • Warhammer 40,000's Inquisition monitors for heresy and hunt those who break the Emperor's laws, though they usually leave conventional law enforcement in the hands of the Adeptus Arbites and local groups unless they suspect something more serious is afoot. The Ordo Hereticus is the branch that has this trope as their primary focus, but the Ordo Malleus and Ordo Xenos are also known to engage in interplanetary police work as part of their duties, most often by breaking up smuggling rings or arresting collectors who deal in illicit and dangerous artifacts.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Ashiyan appears to fulfill this role within the Dogmatika faith, as his artwork depicts him standing in front of a group of similarly dressed men. The artwork of Dogmatikacism depicts him attacking Ecclesia, ostensibly for betraying the Dogmatika faith by befriending Fallen of Albaz. Considering that his Japanese OCG name, Hashashiyan, is derived from the Order of Assassins, it remains to be seen if he is also a Professional Killer as well.

    Video Games 
  • Battleborn: The Silent Sisters being essentially the high priestess of Empress Lenore, maintained and enforced the religion and traditions revering the God Empress for millennia. After Rendain usurped Lenore, he repurposed the Silent Sisters to become more of a police order that did things such as overseeing Thrall troops. Naturally due to the abandonment of certain tenets, this didn't sit well for some of the more devoted Lenore followers such as Ambra.
  • In Dishonored, Warfare Overseers are the warrior-priests of the Abbey of the Everyman. Their powers mean they can be treated as interchangeable with the city watch at times.
  • 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 Seekers of Truth have gone rogue, It's Up to You to build a new Inquisition to bring back order in the third installment.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Morrowind:
      • The Tribunal Temple Ordinators 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. The Ordinators are solemn and take their jobs quite seriously, frequently resulting in them being a shining example of Knight Templar. There are also the Buoyant Armigers, elite special forces hand-picked by Tribunal deity Vivec himself, often decked out in high quality Glass armor, who primarily operate inside the Ghostfence. There's also the High Ordinators, who are under the rule of Almalexia, another Tribunal deity, and then the elites of those, known as the Hands of Almalexia: Six warriors with equipment enchanted by the goddess herself. Each of whom are said to be some of the most powerful warriors in Tamriel.
      • The Imperial Cult "Shrine Sergeants" are volunteers who take on some of the Cult's more action-oriented missions such as tracking down thieves who steal from the Cult or putting spirits responsible for hauntings to rest.
    • 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 ("Justicars") are allowed to wander Imperial territory and enforce this ban, imprisoning and executing any suspected Talos worshippers they find, as well as any others they deem as "dissidents" or "undesirables".
    • There are also the Vigilants of Stendarr, priests of the god of law and righteousness. They wander Tamriel on a fanatical, self-appointed mission to root out Daedra, the undead, and mages who consort with either.
  • The Warrior Monks in Final Fantasy X are nothing more than the personal 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.
  • Fira MUX: The True Temple of Zutiv has the Inquisitors, whose job it is to investigate citizens of the Hydra and Gold Dragon clans and ensure they are keeping up their religion properly.
  • GreedFall: Thélème's Ordo Luminis is this, and it's by far the most corrupt order of their government slash church. The first Inquisitor you meet strangles an islander in the town square while screaming at him to repent, then acts very rude towards you (eating a well-earned can of whoop-ass in the process should he make the rather...regrettable decision to try and kill you on the spot because he doesn't particularly like your beliefs). Then things go downhill and quests involving the Ordo Luminis reveal their involvement in kidnappings, torture, slavery, and even child molestation. Finally, Thélème's governor, the Mother Cardinal, has enough and disbands the entire order and its leaders are severely punished off-screen.
  • The civilian wing of the Inquisition in The Last Sovereign. Deals with both the internal security of the Church and with enforcing the Church's will on the general population, to the extent allowed by the secular authorities.
  • The Shrouded Isle: House Blackborn serves as your law and order in the village, enforcing the tenet of Obedience by looking into any rumours of misbehaviour or dissent.
  • The Knights of Ludd in Starsector. Their main role is to enforce the teachings of Ludd in the Church's territory.
  • In Tales of the Abyss, the Oracle Knights. Technically the standing military of the theocratic city-state of Daath, but Daath controls the religion followed by the entire world (centered around The Score, a prophecy which will bring the world universal prosperity), and officials of the Order of Lorelei priesthood who are able to read The Score operate in every major city worldwide. As such, the Oracle Knights can and do pursue threats to the Order of Lorelei internationally, and are allowed to do so because no one wants to cause an international incident with the church that controls access to The Score. Early in the game, it is shown that this occasionally causes conflict and resentment with local military forces.
  • In addition to the High Ordinators from the original game, Tamriel Rebuilt adds the Ordinators-in-Mourning, who guard the city of Necrom.
  • Hammerites in the Thief series enforce their dogmas on the general population in areas they control. Infiltrating a prison where they hold offenders is the point of the second mission in the first game.
  • Frostpunk: Midway through the Faith branch of Laws, you can instate Faith Keepers to keep the peace, which the Guard Stations early in the Order path do. Unfortunately, instating Faith Keepers is considered "Crossing the Line".

  • 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.
  • The Star Org in Last Res0rt are partially semi-official police (especially on Last Resort station) and partially the Church Militant of the Endless.

Alternative Title(s): The Inquisition