Religious denomination

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A religious denomination is a subgroup within a religion that operates under a common name, tradition, and identity.

Major denominations and religions of the world
Religious Denomination in 2020
Other Christians
Sunni Islam
Shia Islam
Other Hinduism
Folk religion
Other religions

The term refers to the various Christian denominations (for example, Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, and the many varieties of Protestantism). It is also used to describe the five major branches of Judaism (Karaite Judaism, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist). Within Islam, it can refer to the branches or sects (such as Sunni, Shia),[1][2] as well as their various subdivisions such as sub-sects,[3] schools of jurisprudence,[4] schools of theology[5] and religious movements.[6][7]

The world's largest religious denomination is Sunni Islam.[8][9][10][11]


A Christian denomination is a generic term for a distinct religious body identified by traits such as a common name, structure, leadership and doctrine. Individual bodies, however, may use alternative terms to describe themselves, such as church or fellowship. Divisions between one group and another are defined by doctrine and church authority; issues such as the nature of Jesus, the authority of apostolic succession, eschatology, and papal primacy often separate one denomination from another. Groups of denominations often sharing broadly similar beliefs, practices and historical ties are known as branches of Christianity.


In Hinduism, the major deity or philosophical belief identifies a denomination, which also typically has distinct cultural and religious practices. The major denominations include Shaivism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism and Smartism.


A bottom-up report by Pew Research Center suggests that 25% of Muslims surveyed globally self-identified as non-denominational Muslims.[12] Historically, Islam was divided into three major sects well known as Sunni, Khawarij and Shī‘ah. Nowadays, Sunnis constitute about 90% of the overall Muslim population while the Shi'as are around 10%.[13] Today, many of the Shia sects are extinct. The major surviving Imamah-Muslim Sects are Usulism (with nearly more than 8.5%), Nizari Ismailism (with nearly more than 1%), Alevism (with slightly more than 0.5%[14] but less than 1%[15]). The other existing groups include Zaydi Shi'a of Yemen whose population is nearly more than 0.5% of the world's Muslim population, Musta’li Ismaili (with nearly 0.1%[16] whose Taiyabi adherents reside in Gujarat state in India and Karachi city in Pakistan. There are also significant diaspora populations in Europe, North America, the Far East and East Africa[17]), and Ibadis from the Kharijites whose population has diminished to a level below 0.15%. On the other hand, new Muslim sects like African American Muslims, Ahmadi Muslims[18] (with nearly around 1%[19]), non-denominational Muslims, Quranist Muslims and Wahhabis (with nearly around 0.5%[20] of the world's total Muslim population) were later independently developed.


Jewish religious movements, sometimes called "denominations" or "branches", include different groups which have developed among Jews from ancient times. Today, the main division is between the Orthodox, Reform and Conservative lines, with several smaller movements alongside them. This threefold denominational structure is mainly present in the United States, while in Israel the fault lines are between the religious Orthodox and the non-religious.

The movements differ in their views on various issues. These issues include the level of observance, the methodology for interpreting and understanding Jewish law, biblical authorship, textual criticism and the nature or role of the messiah (or messianic age). Across these movements there are marked differences in liturgy, especially in the language in which services are conducted, with the more traditional movements emphasizing Hebrew. The sharpest theological division occurs between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews who adhere to other denominations, such that the non-Orthodox movements are sometimes referred to collectively as the "liberal denominations" or "progressive streams."


The term "multi-denominational" may describe (for example) a religious event that includes several religious denominations from sometimes unrelated religious groups. Many civic events include religious portions led by representatives from several religious denominations to be as inclusive or representational as possible of the expected population or audience. For example: the Sunday thanksgiving mass at Campamento Esperanza (English: Camp Hope) in Chile, where services were led by both a Roman Catholic priest and by an Evangelical preacher during the Chilean 2010 Copiapó mining accident.[21][22]

Chaplains - frequently ordained clergy of any religion - are often assigned[by whom?] to secular organizations to provide spiritual support to its members who may belong to any of many different religions or denominations. Many of these chaplains, particularly those serving with the military or other large secular organizations, are specifically trained to minister to members of many different faiths, even faiths with opposing religious ideology from that of the chaplain's own faith.[23]

Military organizations that do not have large numbers of members from several individual smaller but related denominations will routinely hold multi-denominational religious services, often generically called "Protestant" Sunday services, so minority Protestant denominations are not left out or unserved.[24][25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Aaron W. Hughes (2013). Muslim Identities: An Introduction to Islam. Columbia University Press. p. 62. ISBN 9780231531924.
  2. ^ Theodore Gabriel, Rabiha Hannan (2011). Islam and the Veil: Theoretical and Regional Contexts. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 58. ISBN 9781441161376.
  3. ^ Aaron W. Hughes (2013). Muslim Identities: An Introduction to Islam. Columbia University Press. p. 129. ISBN 9780231531924.
  4. ^ Muzaffar Husain Syed, Syed Saud Akhtar, B D Usmani (2011). Concise History of Islam. Vij Books India. p. 73. ISBN 9789382573470.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Ali Paya (2013). The Misty Land of Ideas and The Light of Dialogue: An Anthology of Comparative Philosophy: Western & Islamic. ICAS Press. p. 23. ISBN 9781904063575.
  6. ^ Joseph Kostiner (2009). Conflict and Cooperation in the Gulf Region. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 212. ISBN 9783531913377.
  7. ^ Muhammad Moj (2015). The Deoband Madrassah Movement: Countercultural Trends and Tendencies. Anthem Press. p. 13. ISBN 9781783084463.
  8. ^ "Number of Muslims ahead of Catholics, says Vatican | Religion | The Guardian". Retrieved 2021-08-26.
  9. ^ Bialik, Carl (2008-04-09). "Muslims May Have Overtaken Catholics a While Ago". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2021-08-26.
  10. ^ CARL BIALIK (9 Apr 2008). "Muslims May Have Overtaken Catholics a While Ago". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
  11. ^ Connie R. Green, Sandra Brenneman Oldendorf, Religious Diversity and Children's Literature: Strategies and Resources, Information Age Publishing, 2011, p. 156.
  12. ^ "Preface". 9 August 2012.
  13. ^ "Mapping the Global Muslim Population". 7 October 2009. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  14. ^ According to David Shankland, 15% of Turkey's population. in Structure and Function in Turkish Society. Isis Press, 2006, p. 81.
  15. ^ According to Krisztina Kehl-Bodrogi, Syncretistic Religious Communities in the Near East edited by her, B. Kellner-Heinkele, & A. Otter-Beaujean. Leiden: Brill, 1997.
  16. ^ "Tehelka - India's Independent Weekly News Magazine".
  17. ^ Paul, Eva (2006). Die Dawoodi Bohras – eine indische Gemeinschaft in Ostafrika (PDF). Beiträge zur 1. Kölner Afrikawissenschaftlichen Nachwuchstagung.
  18. ^ Simon Ross Valentine (2008-10-06). Islam and the Ahmadiyya Jamaʻat: History, Belief, Practice. Columbia University Press. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-231-70094-8.
  19. ^ Larry DeVries; Don Baker & Dan Overmyer (January 2011). Asian Religions in British Columbia. University of Columbia Press. ISBN 978-0-7748-1662-5. Retrieved March 29, 2014. The community currently numbers around 15 million spread around the world
  20. ^ Destined Encounters - Page 203, Sury Pullat - 2014
  21. ^ Chile mine: Rescued men attend service of thanks, BBC News, 17 October 2010
  22. ^ Raphael, Angie (18 October 2010). "Freed miners return to Chile's Camp Hope". Herald Sun. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  23. ^ Christmas in Prison - A Quiet One, Independent News, New Zealand, Press Release: Department Of Corrections, 13 December 2007
  24. ^ Obamas Make Rare Trip to Church While in Hawaii, ABC News (US), MARK NIESSE 26 December 2010
  25. ^ New chapel heralds more North Fort Hood construction, First U.S. Army, Sgt. 1st Class Gail Braymen, 19 July 2010