AP Style Religious References

Below is a summation of AP Style rules for religious references.


Capitalize the proper names of monotheistic deities. For example,

  • God
  • Allah
  • the Father
  • the Son
  • Jesus Christ
  • the Son of God
  • the Redeemer
  • the Holy Spirit

Lowercase pronouns referring to the deity, “he,” “him,” “him,” “thee,” “thou,” “who,” “whose,” “thy,” etc.

Lowercase “gods” in referring to the deities of polytheistic religions.

Capitalize the proper names of pagan and mythological gods and goddesses. For example,

  • Neptune
  • Thor
  • Venus

Lowercase such words as “god-awful,” “goddamn,” “godlike,” “godliness,” “godsend,” etc.

Life of Christ

Capitalize the names of major events in the life of Jesus Christ in references that do not use his name. For example,

  • The doctrines of the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, and the Ascension are central to the Christian faith.

But, use lowercase when the words are used with his name. For example,

  • The ascension of Jesus into heaven took place 40 days after his resurrection from the dead.

Apply the principle also to event in the life of his mother. For example,

  • He cited the doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption.


  • She referred to the assumption of Mary into heaven.


Capitalize proper names for rites that commemorate the Last Supper or signify a belief in Christ’s presence. For example,

  • the Lord’s Supper
  • Holy Communion
  • Holy Eucharist

Lowercase the names of other sacraments. See AP Style sacraments page.

Capitalize “Benediction” and the “Mass.” But, “a high Mass,” “a low Mass,” “a requiem Mass.”

Holy Days

Capitalize the names of holy days. See page on AP Style holidays and holy days.

Other Words

Lowercase “heaven,” “hell,” “devil,” “angel,” “cherub,” “an apostle,” “a priest,” etc.

Capitalize “Hades,” and “Satan.”

For additional details, see AP Style Bible for frequently used religious terms. For major denominations see AP Style religious movements and AP Style religious titles.

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