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An ecclesia is one of the four members of the most common sociological typology of religious groups -- the other three are the denomination, the sect and the cult. An ecclesia is a religious group which is strongly integrated with the dominant social and political culture. Often ecclesias are state churches, though they need not be: a state church by definition has official legal recognition of its role in the society, while an ecclesia might not.

The ecclesia or ekklesia was also a part of the democracy of ancient Athens. It was the popular assembly, opened to all male citizens over the age of 18 by Solon in 594 BC. In the 5th century BC this amounted to about 43 000 people, but only those wealthy enough to spend much of their time away from home would have been able to participate. The assembly was responsible for declaring war, military strategy, and electing strategoi and other officials. It originally met once every month, but later it met three or four times per month. The agenda for the ekklesia was established by the Boule, the popular council, and votes were taken by a show of hands.