There are hundreds of denominations of Christianity. It would be easy to think that there are some stark differences between them, but in fact their basic beliefs are similar. The splits have been caused mainly by political differences rather than by disagreements over the faith itself.
The Roman Catholic Church is the largest Christian religion in the world. It considers itself a pre-denominational Church, or the original Christian church. Catholicism has some clear differences from other Christian denominations. These include the election of the pope as God's representative on Earth, and the ability of priests to absolve sin. The Virgin Mary and saints have a more central role in Catholicism than in other Christian faiths. It is a very traditional reigion, with a belief that faith must be backed up with charitable work.
Protestants rejected traditional Catholicism, and their religions could be seen as a stripped-down form of the Christian faith. The main difference is the belief in the Scripture alone and that anybody, not just priests and cardinals, can interpret the Bible. This means Protestants have no single representative of God comparable to the Pope. They have religious leaders, but their theological roles are very different.
Anglican and Episcopalian
The Anglican faith was founded in England under King Henry VIII, who split from Catholic Rome so he could divorce and remarry. The British Empire spread Anglicanism to many countries. This religion is very similar to the Roman Catholic Church in terms of the service, and it is often referred to as the middle way between Catholicism and Protestantism. In the United States, the Anglican Church is commonly called Episcopalian.
Baptists and Evangelicals
The Baptist and Evangelical faiths are the two largest denominations outside of the Catholic and Protestant faiths. They have such a foothold in the United States is because many of the pilgrims who sailed from England to America were Baptists escaping persecution. Baptists and Evangelicals follow a very similar doctrine, with no church head, leading the faith up to interpretation. Many people in these faiths strongly oppose gambling, alcohol, and certain music and movies, and they make up a large part of what is called the Christian right.
The Methodist denomination split from the Anglican faith in the 18th century. Methodism was another faith that was persecuted in Britain and made its way to America. It is much more traditional in nature than other Protestant faiths, with a strict belief in adherence to the Gospels.
The Pentecostal Church visibly different from other Christian denominations. Its services are a lot more charismatic, with more singing and movement. This is because of a belief in a personal experience of God through baptism and the Holy Spirit.
Presbyterianism is another branch of the Protestant faith that broke away because of what was seen as a breach of morality in other denominations. Like Methodists, Baptists and Evangelicals, Presbyterians place a strict adherence on the Gospel and minimize the roles of church leaders.
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