Denomination Origins Organization Authority Special Rites Practice Ethics Doctrine Other Neo-Orthodoxy
Baptists In radical Reformation, objections to infant baptism, demands for church and state separation; John Smyth, English Separatist, in 1609; Roger Williams, 1638, Providence, RI. Congregational; each local church is autonomous. Scripture; some Baptists, particularly in the South, interpret the Bible literally. Baptism; usually early teen years or later, by total immersion; Lord's Supper Worship style varies from staid to evangelistic; extensive missionary activity. Usually opposed to alcohol and tobacco; some tendency toward a perfectionist ethical standard. No creed; true church is of believers only who are all equal. Believing no authority can stand between the believer an God, the Baptists are strong supporters of church and state separation. Once saved, always saved. Communion monthly. Baptism required for Church membership but not salvation.
Church of Christ (Disciples) Among evangelical Presbyterians in KY (1804) and PA (1809), in distress over Protestant factionalism and decline of fervor; organized in 1832 Congregational "Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent" Adult baptism; Lord's Supper weekly. Tries to avoid any rite not considered part of the 1st-century church; some congregations may reject instrumental music. Some tendency toward perfectionism; increasing interest in social action programs. Simple New Testament faith; avoids any elaboration not firmly based on Scripture. Highly tolerant in doctrinal and religious matters; strongly supportive of scholarly education. Liberal in all theology.
Episcopalians Henry VIII separated English Catholic Church from Rome, 1534, for political reasons; Protestant Episcopal Church in U.S. founded 1789. Diocesan bishops, in apostolic succession, are elected by parish representatives; the national Church is headed by General Convention and Presiding Bishop; part of the Anglican Communion Scripture as interpreted by tradition, especially 39 Articles (1563); not dogmatic; tri-annual convention of bishops, priests, and laypeople. Infant baptism, Eucharist, and other sacraments; sacrament taken to be symbolic, but  as having real spiritual effect. Formal, based on "Book of Common Prayer" updated 1979; services range from austerely simple to highly liturgical. Tolerant, sometimes permission; some social action programs. Scripture: the "historic creeds," which include the Apostles, Nicene, an Athanasian, and the "Book of Common Prayer:' ranges from Anglo-Catholic to low church, with Calvanist influences. Strongly ecumenical, holding talks with many branches of Christendom Active in homosexual rights, ordained gay ministers, married gay "couples".
Jehovah's Witnesses Founded in 1870 in PA by Charles Taze Russell; incorporated as Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of PA, 1884; name Jahovah's Witnesses adopted 1931. A governing body located in NY coordinates worldwide activities; each congregation cared for by  a body of elders; each Witness considered a minister. The Bible. Baptism by immersion; annual Lord's Meal ceremony. Meetings are held in Kingdom Halls and members' homes for study and worship; extensive door-to-door visitations. High moral code; stress on marital fidelity and family values; avoidance of tobacco and blood transfusions. God, by his first creation, Christ, will soon destroy all wickedness; 144,000 faithful ones will rule in heaven with Christ over others on paradise earth. Total allegiance proclaimed only to God's kingdom or heavenly government by Christ; main periodical The Watchtowers, is printed in 115 languages Only true church.  Faithful will be gods on other planets.
Latter-Day; Saints (Mormons) In a vision of the Father and the Son reported by Joseph Smith (1820s) in NY.  Smith also reported receiving new scripture on golden tablets; The Book of Mormon. Theocratic; 1st Presidency (church president, 2 counselors), 12 Apostles preside over International church.  Local congregations headed by lay priesthood leaders. Revelation to living prophet (church president).  The Bible, Book of Mormon, and other revelations to Smith and successors. Baptism at age 8; laying on of hands (which confers the gift of the Holy Ghost); Lord's Supper; temple rites; baptism for the dead, marriage for eternity. Simple service with prayers, hymns, sermon; private temple ceremonies may be more elaborate. Temperance; strict moral code; tithing; a strong work ethic and communal self-reliance; strong missionary activity; family emphasis. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Eternal Father.  Jesus' atonement saves all humans; those who are obedient to God's laws may become join-heirs with Christ in God's kingdom. Mormons believe theirs is the true church of Jesus Christ, restored by God through Joseph Smith. Official name: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. God was once a human.  Spirit marriage and spirit-children production in heaven.
Lutherans Begun by Martin Luther in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517; objection to Catholic doctrine of salvation and sale of indulgences; break complete, 1519. Varies from congregational to Episcopal; in U.S. a combination of regional synods and congregational policies is most common. Scripture alone.  The Book of Concord (1580), which includes the three Ecumenical Creeds, is subscribed to as a correct exposition of Scripture. Infant baptism, Lord's Supper; Christ's true body and blood present 'in, with, and under the bread and wine". Relatively simple, formal liturgy with emphasis on the sermon. Generally conservative in personal and social ethics; doctrine of "2 kingdoms" worldly and holy supports conservatism in secular affairs. Salvation by grace alone through faith; Lutheranism has made major contributions to Protestant theology. Though still somewhat divided along ethnic lines (German, Swedish, etc.) main divisions are between fundamentalists and liberals. Gradually moving toward univeral liberalism.
Methodists Rev. John Wesley began movement in 1738; within Church of England; first U.S. denomination, Baltimore (1784) Conference and superintendent system; In United Methodist Church, general superintendents are bishops - not a priestly order, only an office - who are elected for life. Scripture as interpreted by tradition, reason and experience. Baptism of infants or adults; Lord's Supper commanded; other rites include marriage, ordination, solemnization of personal commitments. Worship style varies widely by denomination, local church , geography. Originally pietist and perfectionist; always strong social activist elements. No distinctive theological development; 25 Articles abridged from Church of England's 39, not binding. In 1968, The United Methodist Church was formed by the union of The Methodist Church an The Evangelical United Brethern Church. Liberal theology.
Orthodox Developed in original Christian proselytizing; broke with Rome in 1054, after centuries of doctrinal disputes and changing traditions. Synods of bishops in autonomous, usually rational, churches elect a patriarch, archbishop, or metropolitan; these men, as a group, are the heads of the Church. Scripture, tradition, an the first church councils up to Nicaea II in 787; bishop sin council have authority in doctrine and policy. Seven sacraments; infant baptism and anointing, Eucharist, ordination, penance and marriage Elaborate liturgy, usually in the vernacular, though extremely traditional; the liturgy is the essence of Orthodoxy; veneration of icons. Tolerant; little stress on social action; divorce remarriage permitted in some cases; bishops are celibate; priests need not be; Emphasis on Christ's resurrection, rather than crucifixion; the Holy Spirit proceeds from God the Father only. Orthodox Church in America originally under Patriarch of Moscow, was granted autonomy in 1970; Greek Orthodox do not recognize this autonomy. Icon worship (2d rather than 3d)
Pentecostal In Topeka, KS (1901) and Los Angeles (1906), in reaction to perceived loss of evangelical fervor among Methodists and others Originally a movement, not a formal organization, Pentecostalism now has a variety of organized forms and continues also as a movement. Scripture, individual charismatic leaders, the teachings of the Holy Spirit Spirit Baptism, especially as shown in "speaking in tongues"; healing and sometimes exorcism; adult baptism, Lord's Supper Loosely structured service with rousing hymns and sermons, cumulating in spirit baptism. Usually, emphasis on perfectionism, with varying degrees of tolerance. Simple traditional beliefs, usually Protestant, with emphasis on the immediate presence of God in the Holy Spirit Once confined to lower-class "holy rollers," Pentecostalism now appears in mainline churches and has established middle-class congregations. Misunderstanding and misapplication of sign gifts.
Presbyterians In 16th-cent. Calvinist Reformation; differed with Lutherans over sacraments, church government; John Knox founded Scotch Presbyterian church about 1560 Highly structured representational system of ministers and laypersons (presbyters) in local, regional, and national bodies (synods). Scripture Infant Baptism; Lord's Supper; bread and wine symbolize Christ's spiritual presence. A simple sober service in which the sermon is central. Traditionally a tendency towards strictness, with firm church and self discipline; otherwise tolerant. Emphasizes the sovereignty and justice of God; no longer dogmatic. Although traces of belief in predestination (that God has foreordained salvation for the "elect") remains, this idea is no longer a central element in Presbyterianism. Moving rapidly toward liberal theology.
Roman Catholics Traditionally, founded by Jesus who names St. Peter the 1st vicar; developed in early Christian proselytizing, especially after the conversion of imperial Rome in the 4th cent. Hierarchy with supreme power vested in pope elected by cardinals; councils of bishops advise on matters of doctrine and policy. The pope when speaking for the whole church in matters of faith and morals; and tradition which is partly recorded in Scripture and expressed in church councils. Mass; 7 sacraments: baptism, reconciliation, Eucharist, confirmation, marriage, ordination and anointing of the sick (unction). Relatively elaborate ritual centered on the Mass; also rosary recitation, novenas, etc. Traditionally strict but increasingly tolerant in practice; divorce an remarriage is accept, but annulments sometimes granted; celibate clergy, except in Eastern rite. Highly elaborated; salvation by merit gained through grace; dogmatic; special veneration of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Relatively rapid change followed Vatican Council II; Mass now in vernacular more stress on social action, tolerance, ecumenism. Pope head of the church instead of Christ. Mary: perpetual virginity, immaculate conception, ascention into heaven, co-redemptrix, intercessor. Salvation by works. Purgatory, saints, relics, indulgences, communion, mass
United Church of Christ By ecumenical union, in 1957, of Congregationalists and Evangelical & Reformed, representing both Calvinist and Lutheran traditions. Congregational; a General Synod, representative of al congregations, sets general policy. Scripture Infant baptism, Lord's Supper". Usually simple services with emphasis on the sermon. Tolerant; some social action emphasis Standard Protestant: "Statement of Faith" (1959) is not binding. The 2 main churches in the 1957 union represented earlier unions with small groups of almost every Protestant denomination. Too many "Church of Christ"
World Religions
Christians 1,943,038,000 Jews 14,111,000
  Rom.Catholics 1,026,501,000 Spiritistst 11,785,000
  Protestants 316,445,000 Baha'is 6,764,000
  Orthodox 213,743,000 Confucianists 6,241,000
  Anglicans 63,748,000 Jains 3,922,000
Muslims 1,164,622,000 Shintoists 2,789,000
Hindus 761,689,000 Other 1,001,001
NonReligious 759,655,000 Zoroastrians 274,000
Chinese Folk 379,162,000 Mandeans 38,000
Buddhists 353,794,000
Ethnic 248,565,000
Atheists 149,913,000
New-Religionists 100,144,000
Sikhs 22,332,000
Denominations in  the U.S. Rank
Adventist 857,513 Roman Catholic 61,207,914
Am. Catholic 25,000 Episcopal Church 2,339,113 Baptist 33,064,343
Am Rescue Workers 10,000 Grace Gospel Fellowship 60,000 Methodist 13,463,552
Apostolic 12,538 Hindu 1,285,000 Pentecostal 9,494,449
Bahai Faith 133,000 Ind.Fun 69,857 Lutheran 8,312,036
Baptist 33,064,343 Islam 5,500,000 Islam 5,500,000
Bretheren 379,883 Jehovah's Witnesses 974,719 LDS 5,171,623
Buddhist 15,750 Jewish Organizations 4,750,000 Orthodox 5,000,000
(Disciples of Christ) 879,436 Latter-day Saints 5,171,623 Jewish 4,750,000
Christian Congregation, Inc. 115,881 Lutheran Churches 8,312,036 Presbyterian 3,983,923
Christian and Missionary Alliance 328,078 Mennonite 358,000 Ch.of Christ 1,800,000
Church of Christ Scientist 2200 Churches Methodist 13,463,552 Hindu 1,285,000
Church of the United Brethren in Christ 23,585 Pentecostal 9,494,449 Jehovah's Witnesses 974,719
Churches of Christ 1,800,000 Presbyterian 3,983,923 (Disciples of Christ) 879,436
Churches of God 285,234 Reformed 2,200,000 Adventist 857,513
Church of the Nazerene 619,576 Roman Catholic Church 61,207,914 Church of the Nazerene 619,576
Community Churches, Intl Council 250,000 Salvation Army 453,150 Salvation Army 453,150
Congreg. Christian Chs. Nat'l Assoc. 68,510 Unitarian Universalist Assn. 214,000 Mennonite 358,000
Easter Orthodox 5,000,000