Originally used to refer to a representative of the Christian Church, the word “clergy” is now often used to refer to professional leaders in all religious traditions. It is reminiscent of the Middle Ages when literacy was mainly the church domain and had a shared origin with the word “clerk.”
It is a generic term for ordained clergy that comes from the Latin word “clericus,” which refers to a clerk in holy orders (bishop, priest, or deacon). Ordination confers a position in the Christian tradition but not necessarily a job or “career.” In contrast to other professions, it has recently become professional, notwithstanding the gap between (high) status and (poor) remuneration.
Deacons, elders, priests, pastors, presbyters, bishops, preachers, and the pope are just a few official and informal clergy positions in Christianity. Specific titles and functions also vary by denomination.
In Islam, a religious figure is often called a qadi, mufti, imam, caliph, mullah, muezzin, or ayatollah, either officially or informally.
In the Jewish faith, a rabbi (teacher) or hazzan is often a religious figurehead (cantor).
Hindu temple priests known as “Pujaris” are among the leaders of the religion. A “Purohit” is often associated with a specific family or, initially, dynasty and carries out responsibilities comparable to those of a priest in Christian society. Monks, nuns, astrologers, and preachers are also included among the clergy of Hinduism.