Knowing when to capitalize religious terms can be hell. Or should that be Hell? And there we get to the crux of the matter. Are words from religions always capitalized? Is it only when you use these terms in a religious context? Or should you just say \u201cto heck with it\u201d and stop caring?\nWell, before you do that, check out our guide to capitalizing religious terms.\n\nWhen to Capitalize Religious Terms\nAs a guideline, you should usually capitalize the first letter of religious terms when they are used as a proper noun. This is a noun that names a unique entity, such as \u201cBarbra Streisand\u201d or \u201cDonald Duck.\u201d\nIn a religious context, proper nouns may include:\n\n\n \tReligions and religious movements (e.g., Judaism, Methodism)\n \tReligious figures and deities (e.g., Jesus, Zeus)\n \tHoly texts (e.g., Bible, Quran)\n \tReligious holidays (e.g., Easter, Diwali)\n \tTitles when used with a name (e.g., Reverend Green)\n\nHowever, there are some cases where the correct capitalization depends on how you\u2019re using a term. We will look at a few of these below.\n\nGod, Gods, Goddesses and Proper Nouns\nAs mentioned above, you should always capitalize the first letter in a proper noun. If you were referring to the Christian deity, for instance, you would need to capitalize the \u201cG\u201d in \u201cGod\u201d:\nI am here only by the grace of God.\nBut some words, like \u201cgod,\u201d can be either proper or common nouns depending on how we use them. So if you were referring to gods and goddesses in general, or any god or goddess where \u201cgod\u201d is not part of their name, you would need to use a lower case \u201cg\u201d instead:\nPrior to Christianization, the Anglo Saxons worshipped the Germanic gods and goddesses, including \u0112ostre, the goddess of the dawn and spring.\nNotice that we do, however, capitalize \u0112ostre in the example above, even though we use a lower case \u201cg\u201d for \u201cgoddess.\u201d This is because \u0112ostre is the name of a goddess, so it is a proper noun.\n\nOther Inconsistent Capitalization\n\u201cGod\u201d is the most prominent example of something we only capitalize in certain cases. However, there are many religious terms that have second meanings. And you should only capitalize these words if you use them in a religious context, not when they\u2019re used elsewhere.\nFor instance, we would capitalize \u201cCatholic\u201d in \u201cthe Catholic Church.\u201d But \u201ccatholic\u201d can also mean \u201call-embracing.\u201d And we would not use a capital \u201cC\u201d to write about someone with interests in a range of seemingly unrelated things (i.e., someone with \u201ccatholic tastes\u201d).\n\n\n[caption id="attachment_12879" align="aligncenter" width="405"] "Catholic" tastes \u2260 A liking for Gothic architecture and stained glass.[\/caption]\nLikewise, we would capitalize the \u201cM\u201d in \u201cMass\u201d if we were talking about the religious ceremony. But we would not usually capitalize the same word when using it as an adjective in \u201cmass market\u201d or \u201cmass transit.\u201d It pays, then, to double check whether religious terms have other uses.\n\nHoly Pronouns\nIn the past, it was common to capitalize the first letters of pronouns when referring to religious figures. This is known as reverential capitalization. For instance, if we used \u201chis\u201d to refer to God, we might capitalize the \u201cH\u201d:\nOur hearts shall rejoice in God and His holy name!\nThis is quite unusual in modern writing. However, if you do use reverential capitalization, there are two key rules to follow:\n\n\n \tOnly apply it to pronouns that refer to deities and divine beings.\n \tApply it consistently throughout your writing.\n\nYou can apply reverential capitalization in other situations as well, but it is most common with pronouns.\nTo ensure consistency, you may also want to have your writing proofread. But if you do, let your editor know which terms you\u2019ve chosen to capitalize.\n\nHeaven and Hell\nFinally, we have heaven and hell. As a rule, you do not need to capitalize these terms. This is true even when referring to the Christian concepts of \u201cheaven\u201d and \u201chell.\u201d Take Matthew 5:18 from the NIV Bible, for instance:\nFor truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.\nHowever, some religious institutions do prefer to capitalize the words \u201cHeaven\u201d and \u201cHell.\u201d And you should always capitalize \u2018Heaven\u2019 when referring to the famous gay nightclub in London.\n\n\n[caption id="attachment_12877" align="aligncenter" width="350"] Is this what Belinda Carlisle was singing about?(Photo: Nick Cooper\/wikimedia)[\/caption]\nThe capitalization of \u201cHeaven\u201d is, in fact, one of the few areas where evangelical Christians and the LGBT+ community truly see eye to eye. And that, at least, should be celebrated.