An ecclesia is a professionally trained religious organization governed by a hierarchy of leaders that claims everyone in a society as a member. Membership is not voluntary; it is the law. Consequently, considerable political alignment exists between church and state officials, so that the ecclesia represents the official church of the state. Ecclesiae formerly existed in England (the Church of England) which remains the official state church), France (the Roman Catholic Church), and Sweden (the Church of Sweden [Lutheran]). The Afghan constitution signed in 2004 declares the country to be an Islamic republic, makes Islam the official religion, and announces, "no law can be contrary to the sacred religion of Islam." The Afghan government, however, guarantees non-Muslims the right to "perform their religious ceremonies within the limits of the provisions of law". Individuals are born into ecclesiae, newcomers to a society are converted, and dissenters are often persecuted. Those who do not accept the official religious view tend to emigrate or to occupy a marginal status. The ecclesia claims to be the one true faith and often does not recognize other religions as valid. In its most extreme form, it directly controls all facets of life.
In contrast to an ecclesia, a denomination is one of many religious organizations in society. For the most part, denominations tolerate other religious organizations; they may even collaborate with other such organizations to solve problems in society. Although membership is considered to be voluntary, most people who belong to denominations did not choose to join them. Rather, they were born to parents who were members. an established religious group, which has usually been in existence for many years and has geographically widespread membership. It typically unites a group of individual congregations into a single administrative body. Denominations differ greatly in the sharing of power between...
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