GrammarPhile Blog

Words Religious

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Oct 9, 2014 5:00:00 AM

angelPeople have said that the best advice is to never discuss religion and politics. Well, maybe. Today's post is not about religion itself, but about words having to do with "religion."

What to capitalize. Names of religions, denominations, communions, and sects are capitalized, as are their adherents and adjectives derived from them.

[Some] Major religions

  • Christianity; Christian; Christendom
  • Judaism; Jew; Jewry; Jewish
  • Hinduism; Hindu
  • Islam; Islamic; Muslim
  • Buddhism; Buddhist
  • Confucianism; Confucian
  • Shinto; Shintoism; Shintoist
  • Mormonism; Mormon
  • atheism
  • agnosticism

[Some] Denominations, sects, orders, and religious movements

  • the Amish; Amish communities
  • Anglicanism; the Anglican Communion; the Episcopal Church
  • Baptists; a Baptist church; the Southern Baptist Convention
  • the Church of England (but an Anglican church)
  • the Church of Ireland
  • Conservative Judaism; a Conservative Jew
  • Eastern Orthodox churches; the Eastern Church (but an Eastern Orthodox church)
  • the Episcopal Church; an Episcopal church; an Episcopalian (not an Episcopal!)
  • the Episcopal Church of Scotland
  • Methodism; the United Methodist Church; Wesleyan
  • Jesuit(s); the Society of Jesus; jesuitic(al)(lowercased when used pejoratively)
  • Protestantism; Protestant
  • Roman Catholicism; the Roman Catholic Church (but a Roman Catholic church)
  • Shiism; Shia; Shiite
  • Sunnism; Sunni; Sunnite
  • Zen; Zen Buddhism

[Some] scriptures and other terms. Names of scriptures and other highly revered works, in various forms, are capitalized but not italicized.

  • the Bible; biblical
  • the Hebrew Bible
  • the Book of Common Prayer
  • the Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Qur'an; Qur'anic (or Koran, Koranic)
  • Triptaka
  • the Authorized Version or the King James Version of the Bible
  • the Holy Bible
  • the New Revised Standard Version
  • the New International Version
  • the Psalter (but a psalter)
  • the Septuagint
  • the Vulgate
  • scripture(s); scriptural


Source: The Chicago Manual of Style.

Topics: capitalization, religious words

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