Recently, there has been a trend of non-capitalizing some religious words, which many people find disrespectful. For instance, an American author recently published a book that wrote ‘christian’ instead of using the capitalized term Christian. Many Christians found it rude, and an argument started whether one can write Christian or other religious terms in non-capitalized words.
Many people often confuse themselves when writing religious terms. Is capitalization essential when writing religious words, or are there instances where capitalization is unnecessary? Do people need only to capitalize when writing these terms in a religious context, or is it true for every context of English writing? Let’s find out.
When to Capitalize Christian and Other Religious Words
Yes, it is a common grammar rule to always capitalize religions. When you use any religion’s name in a sentence like Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, etc., you should capitalize these terms. Proper nouns are written with a capital letter at the start, and in the case of religions, they are also proper nouns and should therefore begin with a capital letter. When talking about different religious sects like Protestantism, Catholicism, Sunni Islam, etc., you need to capitalize these terms too since these terms relate to the proper nouns of the religions.
An example of it would be: One should always write, “Christianity and Islam are two of the world’s leading religions.” Instead of “Christianity and islam are two of the world’s leading religions.” Here, you can see the word Christianity is capitalized in both instances since it is the first word of the sentence, but the word ‘Islam’ is capitalized in the first, which is the correct way to write it.
Should You Capitalize When Writing Holy Texts?
Since religious books like the Holy Bible, Koran, and Torah are proper nouns, you should always capitalize their names. Nonetheless, you may mention a “fisherman’s bible” in lowercase to illustrate how the Bible can be used as a normal noun. When addressing a specific religious text, you should uppercase it in particular.
Biblical is one word that isn’t capitalized. It has dropped its capitalization over the years, even though it is an adjective that defines a proper noun. This is because it is rarely used to refer to the Bible itself. Rather, terms like “biblical dimensions” relate to a grandeur reminiscent of the Bible but are no longer limited to it.
For example, one should always write, “Christians should read the Bible regularly.” Instead of “Christians should read the bible regularly.” In this case, the word ‘Bible’ should always be capitalized. An example of the term ‘biblical’ would be, “The Bible describes that in biblical times, women were stoned to death due to adultery.” Here, you can see the word ‘Bible’ is still capitalized, but the term ‘biblical times’ refers to a history; hence it is not capitalized.
Should You Capitalize Religious Holidays?
Since religious festivals are also proper nouns, they must always be capitalized. Capitalize the full word or phrase when mentioning festivals like Christmas, Easter, Yom Kippur, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Diwali, or Eid Al-Fitr. All words should be capitalized when wishing someone a happy holiday (e.g., Happy Easter, Eid Mubarak, Happy Diwali, Happy Hanukkah, etc.). Because the whole phrase is part of the holiday term in this situation, you should uppercase both the religious holiday name and the greeting, whether you add it at the end or start.
For example, one should always write religious terms in a sentence like, “The President wished Muslims a Happy Ramadan.” Instead of “The President wished Muslims a happy Ramadan.” Here, you can see the phrase to greet Muslims on Ramadan is capitalized as “Happy Ramadan.” The same is true in the case of Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, etc.
When To Capitalize Religious Terms?
Knowing when to capitalize Christian or a religious term could be a tough ask for some. English grammar has some rules to follow on capitalization. But these rules can be altered when talking in a particular context about any religion or religious term. Following are some common rules regarding capitalization when referring to religious terms.
- One should always capitalize religious entities when using them as proper nouns. An example would be always writing Jesus Christ in capitalized words.
- As discussed above, religions and religious movements should also be written using capital letters. For instance, always write Islam, Christianity, Islamic movement, etc., when referring to religions.
- Religious titles should also be capitalized when they are used with a particular name. For instance, when writing about prophets, we use the non-capitalized version of the term. But when discussing a specific prophet, like Prophet Abraham, it should be capitalized.
- When writing the term God, there’s always some confusion about whether to write it in capitalized form or not. The rule is pretty simple, always write the word God in capitalized form when referring to the God of Christians, Muslims, or Jews. Monotheistic religions believe that there is only one God. Hence, it is a proper noun and should be written in capitalized form. Although when referring to Roman or Greek gods, you can use the term gods and goddesses since they believed in more than one god.
Our Final Thoughts
Understanding grammar in the era where people use short words for their convenience in chatting has become difficult. Grammatical mistakes have become common these days. The same can be said when using religious terms. Many people have a problem understanding when to capitalize Christian. Many authors and people are using Christians for their convenience, but grammatically it is wrong to write it with non-capitalize words. Hence, one should observe the relevant rules while writing these religious terms.