[Tagging] Denominations vs religions organisations

Matthew Woehlke mwoehlke.floss at gmail.com
Mon Jan 18 13:28:46 UTC 2021

On 16/01/2021 19.35, Joseph Eisenberg wrote:
> The tag "denomination=" is mostly used to tag large categories within a
> particular religion. However, some mappers use this tag to put the specific
> name of a particular church organisation. I believe that is not the best
> idea, and that operator=* should be used for that instead.
> https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Key:denomination
> There is a mix of how denomination=* tag is used:
> 1) Most commonly, it is used for the sub-category ('denomination') of a
> religion. The top 20 tags are all like this.
> E.G>. the top religion=christian denominiations are: *catholic*,
> *roman_catholic*, *baptist*, *orthodox*, *lutheran*, *anglican*,
> *protestant*, *methodist*, *russian_orthodox*, *greek_orthodox*,
> *evangelical*, *presbyterian*, *pentecostal*, *jehovahs_witness*, *mormon*,
> *seventh_day_adventist*, *reformed*, etc.

Well... already I can see a number of issues in that list. "Lutheran" 
is, at least in the US, insufficiently specific (and *outside* the US, 
is often labeled "Evangelical", whereas "Evangelical" *in* the US means 
something completely different!), at least "Baptist" and "Orthodox" are 
similarly dodgy (the latter doubly so when the more appropriate 
Greek/Russian Orthodox are also in the list!), I'm not sure "Catholic" 
and "Roman Catholic" are actually different, and many Christians would 
argue whether Jehovah's Witnesses should even be labeled "Christian". 
(Mormons absolutely are not Christian any more than Muslims are; both 
have their own holy books that supersede the Christian Bible.)

This probably needs a page dedicated to spelling out what is an 
appropriate level of granularity for each denomination.

> The others are all protestant or marginal categories, not individual
> organisations

That's not entirely true; at least some of the (US) Lutheran Synods are 
definite, actual organizations, although the degree to which individual 
congregations actually *follow* the synod can vary.

Also, as Volker noted, I've personally attended churches where the 
building is used by multiple organizations. Complicating things, some 
churches have schools or day cares that also operate out of the same 


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