The Apostasy Gambit
The Adeptus Ministorum, more commonly known as the Ecclesiarchy, is the official state church of the Imperium of Man, which maintains and promotes the worship of the Emperor of Mankind as the one, true God of Humanity.
It is a massive organisation that guides the worship of billions of people on numberless worlds and across great divides of distance, language, and culture. The core of the Ecclesiarchy’s spiritual and temporal power is the Cult Imperialis, also known variously as the Imperial Creed or Imperial Cult.
The foundation of the Cult Imperialis is the belief in and worship of the Emperor as a divine being, the power of the Emperor to intercede in matters spiritual and temporal, the power of prayer to bring about a change in circumstances, and the divine right of Mankind to rule the stars. The Adeptus Ministorum also administers and spreads the Imperial Cult throughout the territory of the Imperium.
Though any Imperial religious cult or sect must ultimately adhere to the core theology of the Imperial Creed, the possibility for conflicting interpretation means that in practice the Cult Imperialis is an agglomeration of many differing schools of thought. Whilst agreeing in essence, cults and sects across the galaxy often differ on particular tenets of belief or modes of worship.
To many the Emperor is a God of War, to others a saviour and bringer of light, and to some a stern judge of the dead. Inevitably, simple differences of emphasis of faith can become points of hostility and even the cause of bloodshed. Many merciless and savage wars have resulted time and again over such fine points of theological doctrine. Although the interpretation of particular dogmas of the Imperial Creed varies across the many worlds of the Imperium, any extreme deviance from its strictures and theology is considered heresy and dealt with with great severity by the Ecclesiarchy or, in extreme cases, the Ordo Hereticus of the Imperial Inquisition.
The armed wing of the Ecclesiarchy is the Adeptus Sororitas, or Sisters of Battle.
The Adeptus Ministorum is based on Terra, its urban Ecclesiarchal Palace covering nearly all of the southernmost continent of Antarctica.
The Cult Mechanicus, whilst actually a very different religion from the Imperial Cult, is tolerated by the Ecclesiarchy under the terms of the ancient Treaty of Mars which allowed the Tech-priests of the Red Planet to maintain their faith in the face of the atheistic Imperial Truth.
After the Imperium was transformed into essentially a theocracy in the early 32nd Millennium, the Adeptus Mechanicus agreed to a theological compromise with the Ecclesiarchy which saw the Emperor as the Omnissiah or physical embodiment of their Machine God. However, rampant distrust between the adherents of both Imperial faiths continues to simmer just beneath the surface and the Ecclesiarchy and the Mechanicus often view each other as political rivals.
Adeptus Ministorum Hierarchy
The priests of the Adeptus Ministorum are members of a rigid ecclesiastical hierarchy which includes the following offices, from highest-ranking to lowest: