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Baptist facts for kids

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Baptist church 2 Vauxhall Saint Helier
Entrance to a Baptist church on St. Helier

Baptist is a word describing a tradition within Christianity and may also refer to individuals belonging to a Baptist church or a Baptist denomination. The tradition takes its name from the belief that followers of Jesus Christ should be placed in water to show their faith. Baptists do not practice infant baptism.

In 1639, Roger Williams began a Baptist church in Providence, Rhode Island and John Clarke began a Baptist church in Newport, Rhode Island. It is not clear which church opened first. Records for both churches are missing information.

Baptist beliefs and principles

Baptist churches do not have a central principal authority. Therefore, beliefs are not the same from one Baptist church to another, mainly beliefs that may be considered minor. However, on major issues, most are held in common among almost all Baptist churches.

Baptists share so-called "orthodox" Christian beliefs with most other moderate or conservative Christian denominations. Some of them are beliefs about one God; Jesus' death, burial, and bodily resurrection; the Trinity (the divinity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, together with God the Father); the need for salvation; grace; and evangelism and missions.

Beliefs that vary among Baptists

KJV 1611 Rice Baptist Church New Market Alabama 2012-06-13
Church sign indicating that the congregation uses the Authorized King James Version of the Bible of 1611

Since there is no hierarchical authority and each Baptist church is autonomous, there is no official set of Baptist theological beliefs. These differences exist both among associations, and even among churches within the associations.

Some doctrinal issues on which there is widespread difference among Baptists are:

  • Eschatology
  • How the Bible should be interpreted (hermeneutics)
  • The extent to which missionary boards should be used to support missionaries
  • The extent to which non-members may participate in the Lord's Supper services
  • Which translation of Scripture to use (see King-James-Only movement in the English-speaking world)
  • The role of women in marriage.
  • The ordination of women as deacons or pastors.
  • The role of repentance in salvation (Lordship salvation controversy).

Excommunication may be used as a last resort by some denominations and churches for members who do not want to repent of beliefs or behavior at odds with the confession of faith of the community. When an entire congregation is excluded, it is often called disfellowship.


Auto de Páscoa - IgrejaDaCidade (crop)
Show on the life of Jesus at Igreja da Cidade in São José dos Campos, affiliated to the Brazilian Baptist Convention, 2017
Chumukedima Ao Baptist Church
Chümoukedima Ao Baptist Church building in Chümoukedima, affiliated with the Nagaland Baptist Church Council (India)

In Baptist churches, worship service is part of the life of the Church and includes praise, worship, of prayers to God, a sermon based on the Bible, offering, and periodically the Lord's Supper. Some churches have services with traditional Christian music, others with contemporary Christian music, and some offer both in separate services. In many churches, there are services adapted for children, even teenagers. Prayer meetings are also held during the week.


There are over 90 million Baptists in the world in nearly 300,000 churches. There are about 47 million members in the United States. Other large populations of Baptists also exist in Asia, Africa and Latin America. There are 2.4 million Baptists in India, 2.3 million in Nigeria, 1.9 million in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and 1.5 million in Brazil.

In a poll in the 1990s, about 20% of Americans said they are Baptist.

Places of worship

The architecture is sober and the Latin cross is one of the only spiritual symbols that can usually be seen on the building of a Baptist church and that identifies the place where it belongs.


Baptist churches established elementary and secondary schools, Bible colleges, colleges and universities as early as the 1680s in England, before continuing in various countries. In 2006, the International Association of Baptist Colleges and Universities was founded in the United States. In 2023, it had 42 member universities.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Iglesias bautistas para niños

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