Style guide for less-popular religions


Mark M. Hancock
© The Dallas Morning News
 

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

As a photojournalist, I often rely on The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual to ensure accuracy in cutlines and stories. If I am unsure about a particular religious matter, I will look in the Stylebook for the answer.
I found certain religious groups do not exist in the guide, even though the groups are frequently in the national news. Therefore, the following additions and corrections are presented for journalists about less-popular or traditionally-ignored religions.
New additions are noted with an asterisk (*), changes are underlined, and both are linked.
 
Mark M. Hancock
Staff Photojournalist
The Beaumont Enterprise
 

- A -

No addition or correction entries

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- B -

* Baha'i, Bahaism
* Beltane
* Bhagavad-Gita   See Veda.
* Burning Times

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- C -

* Christ, Christian, Christianity
* circle
* Council of the Magickal Arts
* coven
* Covenant of the Goddess
* Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans
* cult, culture, religion

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- D -

* Druid, druidism

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- E -

* Earth-centered religions
* elemental forces

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- F -

No addition or correction entries

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- G -

No addition or correction entries

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- H -

* Holocaust
* handfasting
* Heathen

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- I -

* Imbolc

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- J -

No addition or correction entries

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- K -

* Kabbalah

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- L -

* Lammas
* Litha

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- M -

* Mabon
* magic

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- N -

* New Age, New Ager

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- O -

* Ostara

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- P -

* Pagan, pagan
* pentagon, pentagram, pentacle
* Pentateuch   See Torah.

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- Q -

* quarters, crossquarters   See Wiccan holy days.

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- R -

* religion   See cult, culture, religion.
religious movements

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- S -

* Samhain
* Satanism, Satanic, Satanist
* Shaman, Shamanic, Shamism
* Sufi
* Sufism

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- T -

* Threefold Law
* Torah

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- U -

* Unitarian Universalist Association

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- V -

* Veda

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- W -

* Wicca, Wiccan
* Wiccan holy days
* Wiccan Rede
* witch, warlock
* witchcraft

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- X -

No addition or correction entries

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- Y -

* Yule, Yuletide

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- Z -

No addition or correction entries

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-- B --

* Baha'i, Bahaism
Baha'i is the religion founded in 1863 by Baha Ullah, known as the Promised One in the faith. The religion evolved from Babism and emphasizes spiritual unity of all mankind.
Baha'is believe God can be made known to man through prophets of diverse religions and at various stages of human progress.
Bahaism also advocates a single global form of religion, education and government. Other goals include service to mankind, equality, simplified lifestyles and world peace.
Headquarters is in Haifa, Israel. U.S. headquarters is in Wilmette, Ill.
 
* Beltane
The Pagan crossquarter festival celebrates the arrival of new growth.
Occurs on May 1. It is commonly known as May Day.
See Wiccan holy days.
 
* Bhagavad-Gita
See Veda.
 
* Burning Times
The Burning Times refers to the Papal Inquisition period that began in 1233 and ended in 1834, when The Spanish Inquisition was abolished.
Women, men and children were arrested and burned or hanged after being tortured into confessions of heresy and witchcraft by the Roman Catholic Church.
Some estimates state 9 million people were killed during this time; a more reliable conclusion puts the deaths in the hundreds of thousands. Primarily, followers of Pagan, Jewish and Muslim faiths were systematically murdered during the period.
 
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-- C --

* Christ, Christian, Christianity
Always capitalize Christ and words that are derived from the proper noun and still depend on it for their meaning. Christ refers to the Messiah as foretold in the Old Testament.
A Christian is a person professing belief in Jesus as Christ.
Christianity is the religion founded on the teachings and life of Jesus. It is a direct offshoot of Judaism, because Jesus and the apostles were Jewish. The religion was founded in Palestine by the Twelve Apostles. Until 313 A.D., it was a martyr's religion in most of the Middle East and southern Europe. It has since become the predominant religion in America and Europe and has been a powerful historical and cultural force.
Christianity has had two major schisms. The first occurred in 1054 when the Eastern Orthodox churches separated from the Roman Catholic Church.
The second split occurred in the 16th century as Protestantism began.
Within the various denominations of Christianity, there are different religious affiliations, movements, references and titles.
 
* circle
A circle is an area of sacred space temporarily erected by one or more Pagans to act as a temple for worship or divination.
 
* Council of the Magickal Arts, Inc.
Note the k in Magickal. CMA is acceptable on second reference. The Pagan group was founded in 1980 and incorporated in 1993. It also publishes Accord Magazine.
Headquarters is in Austin, Texas.
 
* coven
The coven serves as a form of autonomous government for Wiccans and witches within the group. It is incorrect to apply the term church to any Wiccan unit. Each new coven is formed as needed by a high priestess or high priest. However, a coven may contain several high clergy members. There is no requirement for high clergy to begin new covens.
A typical coven contains three to 25 members. Coven members handle educational, administrative and judicial functions of the unit. Coven members may exclude or ban an individual for unethical or immoral behavior.
See the Wicca, Wiccan, Pagan, pagan, witch, warlock and witchcraft entries.
 
* Covenant of the Goddess
CoG is acceptable on second reference. The Pagan group was founded and incorporated in 1975.
Headquarters is in Berkeley, Calif.
See Wicca, Wiccan.
 
* Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans
CUUPS is acceptable on second reference. The group became an independent, nonprofit affiliate of the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1987.
Headquarters is in Cincinnati, Ohio.
See Unitarian Universalist Association.
 
* cult, culture, religion
A cult is a loosely organized and transient religious organization that includes religious beliefs and practices that are considered novel and at odds with a society's religious traditions.
Cults are typically lead by a charismatic person or group. Without this leadership, the cult will dissolve.
A culture is the learned set of beliefs, values, practices and rules for proper conduct as well as material objects shared or duplicated by members of a society.
A religion is a system of socially shared symbols, beliefs and rituals directed toward a sacred, supernatural realm. It also addresses the ultimate meaning of human existence.
 
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-- D --

* Druid, druidism
Druidism is the Celtic, Pagan religion that emphasizes scholarly research into the original judicial class of the ancient Celts known as Druids.
See Pagan, pagan.
 
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-- E --

* Earth-centered religions
Earth-centered religions are any of an array of pagan religions which study the changes of the Earth cycles and correlate the changes into personal symbolic meaning. The objective of the religion is to enable people to make contact with the sacred and experience a deeper, more profound reality and address the ultimate meaning of existence.
These rituals and experiences can be done singularly, through solitary practice and shamanism, or in groups.
Most incorporate Earth or low magic and elemental forces into their sacred rituals.
See the Pagan, pagan, magic, Shaman, Shamanic, Shamanism, and elemental forces entries.
 
* elemental forces
The elemental forces are earth, fire, air and water. Some Pagan religions include spirit or divine power(s) as a fifth element.
Additionally, each elemental force may be assigned a compass direction and a guardian deity or angel.
Lowercase the name of the elemental force in all occurrences: the elemental of air.
Capitalize the proper name of the guardian deity of the elemental force. For deities and Pagan gods, set the elemental force off from the proper name by commas as a job description: She called upon Michael, the guardian of earth.

 
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-- H --

* Holocaust
The Holocaust is the period of persecution and extermination of European Jews by National Socialists, or Nazis, in Germany. It began with Adolf Hitler's rise to power in 1933 and continued through the end of World War II.
More than 6 million Jews were systematically murdered during the period.
 
* handfasting
A handfasting is a Pagan marriage ceremony. The rite often involves two separate ceremonies.
During the initial ceremony, the couple's hands are bound together with a cord. The first ceremony is similar to an engagement, however the couple begins life as spouses. If both participants are willing, the second ceremony occurs one year and one day later. During the second ceremony a knot is tied in the cord to consider the union permanent.
 
* Heathen
Many Norse and Germanic pagans prefer to be called Heathen rather than Pagan.
See the Pagan, pagan and Earth-centered religions entries.
 
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-- I --

* Imbolc
The Pagan crossquarter feast celebrates winter supply and the lengthening of daylight.
Occurs on Feb. 2. It is commonly known as Groundhog Day.
See Wiccan holy days.
 
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-- K --

* Kabbalah
A Jewish esoteric system of Scripture interpretation. The system of high magic is based on the belief that each word, letter, number and accent related to sacred Scriptures contains interpretable mysteries. The system appears to have developed in 11th century France. However, some claim its origin to an oral tradition handed down from Abraham.
It is considered the most influential system in the development of the Western magical traditions.
See Torah and witch, warlock entries.
 
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-- L --

* Lammas
The Pagan crossquarter festival celebrates first harvest.
Also called Lugnassad.Occurs on Aug. 1.
See Wiccan holy days.
 
* Litha
The Pagan summer solstice festival celebrates growth and fruition.
Occurs on within two days of June 20.
See Wiccan holy days.
 
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-- M --

* Mabon
The Pagan fall equinox feast celebrates the second harvest of grains.
Occurs within two days of Sept. 22.
See Wiccan holy days.
 
* magic
In religious references, magic is a ritual attempt to compel supernatural beings or forces to influence events in the natural world. It operates mostly at the margins of science and religion as a supplement to both.
Most ritual magic is performed by an individual to accomplish a short-term goal.
When used without a modifying adjective, the term magic is understood to mean theatrical magic or sleight of hand.

 
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-- N --

* New Age, New Ager
New Age is a blend of ritual magic and religion, ancient and futuristic beliefs and utilitarian and mystical ethics and philosophies.
New Agers believe in the New Age movement toward the betterment of mankind and the Earth. They are affluent, entrepreneurial, middle-class. They are often young, single and upwardly-mobile urban adults. As such, they can spread the New Age message without a central authority through networks, seminars and fairs.
 
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-- O --

* Ostara
The Pagan spring equinox festival celebrates the rebirth of Earth and fertility.
Occurs within two days of March 20.
See Wiccan holy days.
 
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-- P --

* Pagan, pagan
A person who is not of the Christian, Jewish or Muslim faiths is a pagan (lowercase).
A Pagan (capitalized) is a person who believes in or adheres to the Earth-centered religions or those spiritual practices.
See the Earth-centered religions; Heathen; Shaman, Shamanic, Shamanism; and Wicca, Wiccan entries.
 
* pentagon, pentagram, pentacle
A pentagon is a polygon of five angles and five sides.
A pentagram is a five-pointed star formed by five straight lines connecting the vertices of a pentagon and enclosing an inverted pentagon.
A pentacle is a open-structured pentagram contained within a circle. When one point of the star faces upward, it is also the religious symbol of Wiccans and other Pagans. Four points represent the elemental forces of air, water, fire and earth, while the upward point represents spirit.
 
* Pentateuch
See Torah.
 
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-- Q --

* quarters, crossquarters
See Wiccan holy days.
 
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-- R --

* religion
See cult, culture, religion.
 
religious movements
holism The term applies to those who share a belief in mankind's latent unity of a "universal self." The mind and body of all individuals and natural elements are interrelated and dependant upon each other.
The following is mildly evangelical to facilitate an understanding of the individual's spiritual quest to a higher state of consciousness through interaction with one's spirit group. Many holistic followers adhere to New Age activities.

 
neopaganism This sociological description applies to a movement that has developed since the Spanish Inquisition was abolished in 1834. It is a collection of diverse contemporary religions rooted or inspired from indigenous traditions. This following is characterized by a belief in the interconnection of all life, personal autonomy and immanent divinities. It is often nature-centered, supportive of gender equity and inclined toward ritual magic.
 
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-- S --

* Samhain
The Pagan crossquarter festival celebrates deceased ancestors, final harvest and the beginning of a new year.
Occurs on Oct. 31. It is commonly known as Halloween.
See Wiccan holy days.
 
* Satanism, Satanic, Satanist
Always capitalize Satan and words that are derived from the proper noun and still depend on it for their meaning.
Satanism has existed in various forms since the 12th century. Most information about Satanists comes from non-Satanists.
Individuals and groups claiming Satanism have risen and fallen through the years. Some promote outright worship of the fallen archangel Satan as God's adversary.
One of the most infamous cults was Anton Szandor LeVey and his Church of Satan, established in San Francisco in 1966.
LeVey spent years dedicated to the investigation and application of the black arts. His book, The Satanic Bible, was published in 1969. According to LeVey’s teachings, Satanists dismiss and reject all forms of worship and denounce the recognition of all deities as repulsive. It is a religion of the flesh, not of the spirit, practicing ceremonial black magic by way of ritual and fantasy.
Satanists believe in man’s intellectual independence from the natural order.
The majority of Satanists are individuals or groups that are not connected, but interpret and practice Satanism independent of other individuals or groups.
Most Satanists have adopted the symbol of Baphomet, representing the Powers of Darkness. This symbol is often incorrectly confused with the Pagan and Wiccan pentacle which is also a five-pointed star. The Satanic symbol is an upside-down pentagram, with three points inverted to indicate spirituality denied. Carnal instincts are represented by the remaining two points directed upward to accommodate the horns of a goat’s head, which indicates fertility.
The terms anti-Christ and Antichrist are not properly applied to Satan, however followers of the religion may be.
 
* Scientology
Trademark owned by the nonprofit organization Religious Technology Center. Headquarters is in Los Angeles,Calif.
 
* Shaman, Shamanic, Shamanism
A pagan religion practiced independently and solitarily by people of native, primarily Earth-centered, cultures throughout the world and history. Shamans gain information for the community through mystery and journeys to the spirit realm.
See the Earth-centered religions and Pagan, pagan entries.
 
* Sufi
A follower of Sufism. See Sufism.
 
* Sufism
Sufism is a mystical movement within Islam. Sufism features herbal healing, trance-inducing dance and music rituals for intuition and living in the presence, as well as direct ritual magic and mysticism.
The religion emerged among the Shiites in the late 10th century and borrows ideas from Neoplatonism, Buddhism and Christianity.
Practitioners vary in belief from monastic to an Islamic pantheism. All members emphasize personal union with the divine.
Modern dervish orders are particularly known to follow Sufism.
 
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-- T --

* Threefold Law
Note the capitalization. It is, Whatever good or evil you send into the world returns threefold.
 
* Torah
The Torah is the first five books of the Old Testament.
It is more specifically the Pentateuch or the parchment or leather scroll on which it is written. The Pentateuch has the first five books of the Bible written upon it and is used in a synagogue during services. It contains Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
Capitalize, without quotation marks, when referring to the Scriptures. Capitalize also related terms such as the Scriptures, the Holy Scriptures.
Lowercase torah as a non-religious term or when referring to the body of Jewish literature and oral tradition as a whole, containing the laws, teachings and divine knowledge of the religion.
Do not abbreviate individual books of the Torah.
See Kabbalah entry.
 
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-- U --

* Unitarian Universalist Association
UUA is acceptable on second reference.
The association's headquarters is in Boston, Mass. A Unitarian is a monotheist who rejects the doctrine of the Trinity and emphasizes freedom and tolerance in religious belief and the autonomy of each congregation. A Universalist is a person who believes that salvation is extended to all mankind.
The association originated in 1961 when Universalists merged with Unitarians. The resulting religion has more than 1,000 autonomous congregations in the United States, Canada and overseas. Its roots are Jewish-Christian and has grown to accept teachings from all religions. The association has no creed.
The UUA affirms the worth of human beings, advocates freedom of belief and the search for advancing truth and tries to provide a warm, open, supportive community for people who believe that ethical living is the supreme witness of religion.
 
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-- V --

* Veda Capitalize, without quotation marks, when referring to the oldest sacred writings of Hinduism, including the psalms, incantations, hymns and formulas of worship incorporated in the four collections.
Lowercase veda as a non-religious term: My dictionary is my veda.
Do not abbreviate individual books of the Veda.
The books of the Veda are: the Rig-Veda, the Yajur-Veda, the Sama-Veda and the Atharva-Veda.
The Veda is followed by two sacred Hindu epic poems, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana of the ancient Sanskrit language.
The Bhagavad-Gita is also a sacred Hindu poem in the form of a philosophical dialogue of self-realization between Lord Sri Krishna, the supreme Hindu personality of Godhead and Arjuna, the Lord's friend and devotee.
 
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-- W --

* Wicca, Wiccan
The Wicca denomination of Pagan belief began when Gerald Gardner published information about a European, pre-Christian, Pagan religion when the Anti-Witchcraft Laws of England were repealed. The religion he described was Earth-centered, honoring and respecting the earth and its cycles, polytheistic and pantheistic.
In the United States, Wicca was brought to New York by Raymond Buckland in the late 1950's and has spread and formed into several traditions. Other Wiccans use particular ancient religious structures on which to frame their sacred cycle of mythology and teaching. Some work within a specific Celtic or English framework, which are both called Celtic.
The word Wicca came into use later when some practitioners objected to the negative connotations of the word witch, which was often interpreted to mean evil sorcerer. Since most modern practitioners oppose doing any harm, they sought a term that would avoid the automatic response from others.
Wicca celebrates eight seasonal Sabbaths each year. In addition to these Sabbaths, Wiccans normally celebrate on full moons and some also celebrate new moons.
See the Wiccan holy days entry.
 
BELIEFS: Pagan polytheism recognizes divinity in all things and sees the gods, which are not the same as the monotheist God that many Wiccans also accept, either as aspects of a person's emotional and mental makeup, part of a collective consciousness or aspects of an ultimate duality, a God and Goddess, who are further part of a single being.
 
ORGANIZATION: The religion's principal organizational units are covens and solitary practitioners.
The coven serves as a form of autonomous government for its members. See coven.
Individuals, who study Wicca independently are called solitary practitioners. The solitary may participate in seasonal gatherings called circles, which are held on Wiccan holy days. A solitary cannot become clergy. See the circle and Wiccan holy days entries.
 
Wicca has no central authority. The largest national organizations are the Covenant of the Goddess, the Church of All Worlds and Circle Sanctuary. None of these organizations exercise authority over local groups, although they may exclude or ban a local group or a person for unethical or immoral behavior.
 
CLERGY: Covens are started by a high priest or high priestess, who accepts the responsibility of new coven members. When accepted to the coven, the members, called priests or priestesses, handle unit functions as equals.
When a coven member achieves the rank of high clergy, the member is qualified to begin a new coven. In practice, a coven may contain several high clergy members, there is no requirement to begin a new coven.
 
NAMES AND TITLES: Many Wiccan practitioners prefer to be known by a magical name rather than a legal name. As long as the person's identity is clear, use the preference.
All members of the Wiccan clergy may be referred to as priests or priestess. High priestess or high priest applies to a coven leader and other members who have attained the rank.
On first reference, use the Rev. before the name of a clergyman or clergywoman. On second reference, use only the last or magical name of a man; use Miss, Mrs., Ms. or no title before the last name or magical name of a woman depending on her preference. See Pagan, pagan entry.
 
* Wiccan holy days
See separate listings for Samhain, Yule,Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lammas and Mabon.
Wiccans and many Pagans celebrate eight holy days, which are determined by solar position. The two solstices and two equinoxes are known as quarters and the other holy days are crossquarters.
 
* Wiccan Rede
Note the capitalization and spelling. The code of conduct for practicioners of the Wiccan religion.
 
* witch, warlock
A witch is a person who employs witchcraft. Use witch for men and women.
A warlock is a banned or shunned witch who has behaved unethically or immorally. Do not use the term warlock unless it is part of a quotation that is essential to the story.
See the witchcraft,Wicca, Wiccan and Pagan, pagan entries.
 
* witchcraft
Witchcraft is the practice of ritual magic, psychic healing, astrology and self-improvement. Although some witches prefer to view witchcraft as a religion, it is best noted as a system of beliefs and rituals that span many religions.
Most modern witches have nothing to do with black magic, voodoo or Satanism.
See the witch, warlock, Wicca,Wiccan and Pagan, pagan entries.
 
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-- Y --

Yule, Yuletide
The Pagan winter solstice feast celebrates the end of darkness and the birth of the sun.
Usually occurs within two days of Dec. 21.

See Wiccan holy days.
 
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