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There are two different definitions of the English word "Church", specifically as it relates to Christianity. The Church is considered the "body of Christ", which is to say the people who form a group (on a local level, or with formal organizations like the Catholic Church, a global level) that chooses to worship the same way under the same leadership. A church is also the building in which people belonging to said religion, meet to perform some of their rituals.
The term is most often associated with Christianity, but other religions which arose in English speaking countries have adapted the term "Church" for their organization or buildings, including the Church of Scientology.
In US politics, "Church" has come to mean inclusively, all religious organizations and concepts that are not part of the secular political system, as in "Separation of Church and State".
- See main article: Christianity
Formal Churches within the Christian religion include:
- The Roman Catholic Church which supposedly arises directly from Peter, and can be directly linked to the churches that Paul of Tarsus helped to found. They claim to be the One True Church. It is now led by an infallible person known as the Pope who lives in the Vatican.
- The Eastern Orthodox Church also claims to be the One True Church, and to have arisen directly out of Paul's churches. The Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Catholic Church split in 1054 largely due to irreconcilable differences.
- Protestantism is a product of Martin Luther's schism from the Roman Catholic Church. There is no one protestant Church, and over the years, many denominations have formed their own churches.
- Lastly, although Restorationism resembles Protestantism these churches cannot be traced directly from the Protestant Reformation. Rather they began as entirely new churches, most founded in the 19th and 20th centuries. They include the Church of Christ, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Pentecostalism, Christian Identity, Seventh-day Adventism and its offshoots (including the Branch Davidians and the Worldwide Church of God), Christadelphians, Plymouth Brethren, Joel's Army, and the Discipling and Shepherding and Local Church movements.
Church as a political term
- Religious right--conservative religious voters
- Jesusland--name for the 30 U.S. states which voted for George W. Bush in 2004, overly Christian population
- Faith-based initiative--federal government would give money to religious organizations in order that they would do the government's work in caring for the poor, endangered, and troubled
Consecration and desecration
In Catholicism the word desecration is commonly used in regard to churches, altars, chalices, etc. A church loses its consecration or blessing when the building is destroyed either wholly or in greater part, or when an addition is made to it of larger extent than the original edifice. It does not become desecrated: if a portion of the walls and roof falls in, provided the main portion stands, or if all the interior plastering becomes detached, or if all the crosses disappear, or if all the walls are gradually renewed, provided on each occasion the old part is greater than the new, or if converted for a while to profane uses, provided it is not polluted (cf. Many, De Locis Sacris). (2) An altar (fixed) loses its consecration: by a notable fracture of table or its support; as, for instance, if the table were broken into two large pieces, or if an anointed corner were broken off, or if the support were seriously impaired, or if one of the columns were displaced; (b) by removal of the table from its support, so as to disjoint them; (c) by displacing the relics, or cover of the sepulchre (cf. Schulte, Consecranda, p. 222). An altar-stone loses its consecration: (a) by removal of the relics; (b) by fracture or removal of the cover of the sepulchre; (c) by a notable fracture of the stone; (d) by breakage of the anointed corner of stone. (4) As to the chalice and paten, see Altar. under subtitle Loss of Consecration.  What exactly a greater part destroyed means isn't clear, but to be on God's safe side better just avoid all the churches being hastily repaired inside of a war zone just in case, that extra bit of holiness from consecration counts a lot.