There are more denominations than you can shake a stick at. They differ over points of ritual and interpretation of the Gospels but often there’s precious little difference.
The Catholic Church is to be found in all the Latin countries of Spain, Italy and all of South and Central America. It also crept North through much of France and into Ireland, Scotland and there’s a big community in the States too. Catholics follow the dictates of the Pope in Rome whom they believe to be in pretty good contact with God.
Okay, there was some dodgy reception when they threatened to torture Galileo if he didn’t stop with that nonsense about the world going around the sun… but mostly the Pope’s Nokia works fine. Oh, okay maybe signing a pact with Hitler wasn’t the smartest of moves but ah, you bless your genocidal dictator, you takes your choice.
The Catholics are into lots of ceremony and lavish churches. Wine, confession boxes and elaborate head dresses are the order of the day. All good Catholics should confess their sins once in a while to the local priest – hence the culture of the guilt complex that can be found all over the Catholic World.
Many people consider themselves Catholics more as a matter of tradition than anything else. Catholics are big on the saints and Mother Mary which allows for a very personal bond with the divine. Let it be, Paulie.
The Protestants are on the whole a pretty stern bunch. They invented things like the work ethic and a joyless life of the poor sinner. There is far less ceremony involved and the vicars can marry and live normal lives. These days many of these denominations are more tolerant and less absolute than the Catholics. Sex before marriage is no big deal and other faiths are supposed to also be valid. Sort of.
Then you have the crazies. The born-again Christians are amongst the most obnoxious. With all the zeal and blindness of new converts they read the entire New Testament as absolute literal truth. Thus the bones of dinosaurs were put there to test out faith etc. They believe that anyone with a sense of logic (ie everyone else) will go to a fiery hell for eternity. Don’t ever try to argue with these people because they are brainwashed bigots.
The Mormons are a lot of fun. Christianity being a bit too, well, Middle Eastern for them, they came up with their own American prophet, Joseph Smith. He added his own verses to the Bible and declared that Jesus had even been to America during the height of a great civilisation that mysteriously disappeared before the Native Americans got there. Check out http://www.ex-mormon.org to see how crazy they get.
Then we have the beloved Jehovah’s witnesses. Excuse me would you let me into your house for a minute so I can talk to you about God? But not your god, only theirs. For the Witnesses no other Christians will be saved and only 144,000 of the four million of them will make it through Heaven’s doors.
They’re inclined to change their minds a lot though. Since it’s foundation in 1879 they prophesied that 1914 would be the end of the world. When 1914 came and went without Armageddon they tried 1915. Once again God didn’t make an appearance and they tried for 1925, 1940 and then again in 1975. Well, if at first you don’t succeed…