The 221 religions

V&A_-_Raphael,_St_Paul_Preaching_in_Athens_(1515)The United States military has nearly doubled its list of recognized religions to 221.

The list includes the various forms of neo-paganism, which is as sectarian as any other religion:  Druids, Heathens, Pagans, Shamans, Magick & Spiritualists, Wicca, Seax Wicca, Gardnerian Wicca, etc.   But Satanists did not make the list.

The new list includes the various kinds of unbelief:  Atheists, Agnostics, Humanists, Deists, No Religion.

The earlier list had the one category “Jewish,” but this one usefully breaks down that religion into its  “Reform,” “Conservative,” and “Orthodox” strains.  Hasidic Jews are not listed, but Messianic Jews are.

It lists “Islam” as one group, but ignores the distinction between “Shi’ite” and “Sunni,” despite the current conflict between those two sects, which would seem to be important for our military to be aware of.

The Lutheran list is all confused.  “Lutheran Church in America,” “American Lutheran Church,” and the “American Evangelical Lutheran Church” are listed, though they no longer exist, having merged into the “Evangelical Lutheran Church in America” (listed).  “The Lutheran Council in the USA”–never a church, just an organization of churches– is also defunct, having shut down in 1988.  More recent organizations are not listed.  Nor is the North American Lutheran Church, which broke away from the ELCA.

The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod is on the list, but not the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Church or the Evangelical Lutheran Synod.  And yet smaller Lutheran groups, such as the Free Lutherans and the American and the Independent Lutherans, are on the list.  There is a category for “Lutheran Churches, Other.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if other traditions are similarly garbled.  So the list falls short of being a comprehensive catalog of American religions.  But it’s interesting nonetheless.

How this list will be used is unclear.  Expect an initiative to provide religious support for all of these groups, and expect Christian chaplains to be pressured accordingly.  Read this article about the list and see our post on religion in the military.

Read the whole list after the jump.

For the complete list, click this:  Faith-and-Belief-Codes-for-Reporting-Personnel-Data-of-Service-Members

Illustration:  “St. Paul Preaching in Athens,” by Raphael [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.  [“Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you” (Acts 17:22-23).]

 

 

 

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