Heresy is any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs, in particular the accepted beliefs of a church or religious organization.[1] The term is usually used in reference to violations of important religious teachings, but is also used of views strongly opposed to any generally accepted ideas.[2] A heretic is a proponent of heresy.[1]

The Gospel (allegory) triumphs over Heresia and the Serpent. Gustaf Vasa Church, Stockholm, Sweden, sculpture by Burchard Precht
A statue in Vienna portraying Saint Ignatius of Loyola trampling on a heretic
The burning of the pantheistic Amalrician heretics in 1210, in the presence of King Philip II Augustus. In the background is the Gibbet of Montfaucon and, anachronistically, the Grosse Tour of the Temple. Illumination from the Grandes Chroniques de France, c.AD 1455–1460.

The term is used particularly in reference to Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.[3] In certain historical Christian, Muslim, and Jewish cultures, among others, espousing ideas deemed heretical has been (and in some cases still is) met with censure ranging from excommunication to the death penalty.

Heresy is distinct from apostasy, which is the explicit renunciation of one's religion, principles or cause;[4] and from blasphemy, which is an impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things.[5] Heresiology is the study of heresy.

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