What Churches Practice Speaking in Tongues?

by Kristy Robinson

There are two types of speaking in tongues that are currently practiced throughout the world in churches and religious groups. Speaking in tongues applies to when a person begins speaking a language they did not previously know. Glossolalia is when the language is thought to be of an other-worldy origin and xenoglossia, or xenolalia, is when it is a known world language that is being spoken.

Protestant Denominations

Speaking in tongues is most commonly associated with Protestant denominations, however, most do not practice the task any longer. The Protestant denominations which still believe in this gift are Assemblies of God, United Pentecostal Church International, Church of God (Cleveland), The Salvation Army, and the Greek Orthodox Church. However, not all individual churches in each of the denominations still promote or recognize speaking in tongues as part of their individual church practices.

Asian Religious Groups

In Japan, on the Hokkaido and Honshu islands, tongues are still spoken during seances of the Ainu people. The primary religions in Japan are Shinto and Buddhism. Both religions mention speaking in tongues as possible when in a ritual trance state. In Hinduism, the practice is called "kundalini" and is the act of releasing the power of the inner serpent.

Major World Religions

Muslims believe in speaking in tongues, and there are reports that even the prophet Mohammed spoke in tongues during his ministry. Both The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Community of Christ -- formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ Christ of Latter Day Saints -- believe in and practice speaking in tongues as part of their doctrine, though in some instances its practice is limited.

Lesser World Religions

Tribal religious groups in East Africa are reported to speak English and Swahili, referring to when neither language was known to the speaker, during the performance of rituals. In Britain, North Borneo priestesses chant incantations to a Gusi in a language of the spirit world. In Micronesia and the Solomon Islands, priests and priestesses open themselves to having spirits speak through them in the language of the spirit world, thus an occurrence of glossolalia. Many small religions and religious cults, such as the Genji Yanagide of Moji City and the Zar cult in Ethiopia, practice speaking in tongues.

Other Groups

Shamans throughout the world chant in unknown languages as part of their healing practices and during communications with the spirit world. Though they are not their own religion, shamans are almost always linked to a religion through their individual culture. Like shamans, practitioners of voodoo speak in tongues during their rituals. The Quillancinga and Pasto groups of the Andes tribes recite prayers in unknown languages during healing as well.

About the Author

Based in southern Virginia, Kristy Robinson has been writing for various websites since 2008. Her work focuses on tutorials and self-help articles. Robinson holds a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice from American InterContinental University.

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