Faith community

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A denomination is an organization that aims to practice a religion together . Membership in a religious community is referred to as religious affiliation .


The Judaism has relatively closed communities that in the course of time by a strong diaspora have developed quite different. Nowadays, a distinction is usually made between orthodox Judaism and liberal Judaism in the main directions . The synagogue is the center of the spiritual community in Judaism .


The first Christian congregation arose in Jerusalem shortly after Jesus was crucified . It is based on belief in his resurrection . Followers of the Jesus movement established numerous Christian communities in Palestine and in areas of the Jewish diaspora in the 1st century AD ; the founders and preachers of the faith were called apostles . The community in Antioch was of particular importance for the spread of the new religion in the Greek-speaking Mediterranean region . Churches in Rome , Ephesus and other cities in Asia Minor , Phrygia , Bithynia and on the Black Sea are already recorded in the course of the 1st century , also in rural areas and outside the Roman Empire in eastern Syria. The earliest Christian communities in today's German-speaking countries existed in Mainz and Cologne as early as the end of the 2nd century .

Most Christian denominations are referred to as a church . Churches to which large parts of the population of a country belong are also called folk churches . The largest Christian denomination is the Roman Catholic Church . Until the Reformation it was the unified church of Western Europe and still in modern times it was a state church in some countries , in Monaco and the Vatican it is still today. In Greece , Orthodox Christianity is the state religion . The fastest growing group in the last 50 years is the Pentecostal movement , which today probably already accounts for a quarter of all Christians. The place of assembly of the religious communities is usually a church building .

The organization of the communities is very different. It ranges from strictly hierarchical systems - e.g. B. in the Roman Catholic Church - up to grassroots democratic structures.


The Islam is to Christianity today is the second largest world religion. In the course of time, numerous groups have emerged that differ from one another in their religious and political teachings. The strongest tendencies nowadays are the Sunnis and the Shiites . Islam is the state religion in numerous Arab countries. A special feature is Iran , which is ruled by Shiite clergy and is therefore considered a theocracy . The center of the religious community in Islam is the mosque .


Certain denominations are traditionally referred to as sects . The use of the term is often perceived as pejorative by members of these communities . The lack of appropriate delimitation criteria is also criticized. Especially for groups that emerged in the second half of the 20th century and were then called youth religions because they initially had many young members, the term “sect” was used as a fighting term. The term religious special community was introduced as a more neutral designation in Christian theology .

New religious movement

More recently, the concept of the new religious movement has established itself, although it is also used vaguely for currents that do not present themselves to the public as religious communities. A movement that is particularly well represented in English-speaking countries is Neopaganism . The English historian Ronald Hutton estimated the number of supporters of this movement in the UK in 1999 at 250,000 people. Wicca and related movements are the largest neo-pagan movement in Germany. By 1990, the number of Wiccans worldwide was estimated at 800,000. Traditional Wiccans usually join a convent or coven , with a limited number of members in each group.


Faith communities can finance themselves in different ways. In addition to voluntary donations or taxes by members, in some countries there is the model of church tax (in Germany and Austria ) or that of mandate tax (e.g. in Spain ).

Tension between the state and religious communities

Axel Freiherr von Campenhausen , a retired German university professor and canon lawyer, published a fundamental essay in 2008. Among other things, he wrote:

“The relationship between the state and religious communities is always a legal problem at all times and in all countries. The state is master of the secular legal order and sees itself as the guardian of peace. He claims his residents as citizens. Religious messages that also affect the actions of people in the world are addressed to the same people. The state and religious communities are therefore always in a relationship of conflict, demarcation and tension. The relationship between state and church (or religious communities) in the sense of an orderly confrontation between secular communities and legally independent religious associations is a peculiarity of the Christian-Western world, because Christianity in particular has brought about this distinction. "

This area of ​​tension is regulated in state church law (or: religious constitutional law). It is the part of the state constitutional law that regulates the state's relations with the churches and other religious communities.

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Religious community  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Michael Borgolte : The medieval church (= Encyclopedia of German History, 17). 2nd edition, Oldenbourg, Munich 2004, p. 3.
  2. ^ Constitution of the Hellenic Republic, Article 3, paragraph 1
  3. Dorothea Sattler: Church (s). Schöningh (UTB), Paderborn 2013, p. 56.
  4. Martin Kriele: Sect as a 'battle term' . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , April 6, 1994; Hansjörg Hemminger : What is a sect? Evangelical Church in Württemberg, accessed on October 4, 2015 (PDF; 49 kB)
  5. Ronald Hutton: The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft. Oxford University Press, New York 1999, ISBN 978-0-19-820744-3 .
  6. Remid Brief Information Wicca
  7. adherent statistic citations: membership and geography data for 4,300+ religions, churches, tribes, etc. In: Retrieved April 16, 2016 .
  8. Article in Humboldt Forum Recht (2008): State and Religion according to the Basic Law (PDF, 5 pages)