Churches here have a highly visible protruding cross (which is an Idol) on the roof and at many places all over the structure, does that mean the church itself becomes an Idol, i.e a large Idol, also passerby Christians make gestures of worship showing a gesture of kissing the church in air, paying reverence and devotion to the church, so does such a church as a whole be seen as an Idol?


2 Answers 2


Rambam AZ 8:4

בית שבנה אותו הגוי מתחילה שיהא הבית עצמו נעבד, וכן המשתחווה לבית בנוי--הרי זה אסור בהנאה. היה בנוי, וסיידו וכיירו לשם עבודה זרה עד שנתחדש--נוטל מה שחידש, והחידוש אסור בהנאה, מפני שעשהו לעובדו; ושאר הבית, מותר. הכניס עבודה זרה לתוך הבית--כל זמן שהיא שם, הבית אסור בהנאה; הוציאה, הותר הבית.‏

When a gentile constructs a building with the intention that the building itself be worshiped, and, similarly, when a person bows down to a building that has already been constructed, they become forbidden.

When a [building] which had already been constructed, was plastered and embellished for the sake of worship to the extent that it is considered to be a new entity, one must remove all the new additions, and it is forbidden to benefit from them, since they were made with the intention of being worshiped. It is, however, permitted to benefit from the remainder of the building. (Translation from Chabad.org)

So if the building is designed to be an idol and is worshiped then it is forbidden. But don't confuse worshiping an idol attached to a building with worshiping a building itself. You'd have to evaluate every building individually.

  • See Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 145:3 for more and the same
    – sam
    May 8, 2014 at 17:05
  • It is a tashmish avodah zarah if the actual building is not worshipped
    – sam
    May 8, 2014 at 17:07
  • @sam Ok. A tashmish is not an idol though
    – Double AA
    May 8, 2014 at 17:17
  • Exactly my point
    – sam
    May 8, 2014 at 17:48
  • ,see seif 2 0f siman 150 hebrewbooks.org/…
    – sam
    Jul 7, 2014 at 2:29

As has been discussed previously here -- no.

Even something like a plain cross (let's assume no one is on it) is often treated in Halacha as a symbol of the religion, but not an "idol" per se.

A building constructed specifically to house/protect idols would be considered "something used for idolatry" and therefore prohibited from use. Not because the building is an idol, but because we go so far as to prohibit using things that service idols. Hence, if a building was built from the ground up as -- let's say a Hindu temple or a Greek Orthodox church [we'll assume for now that the statues in each qualify as 'idols'] -- then a Jew could not buy that building and use it as an office, house, synagogue, or anything else. However, a responsum from over a hundred years ago (there's a Rabbi Frand tape about it) allowed Jews to buy a Welsh-Scottish Methodist church and convert it into a synagogue, as there are no "idols" inside.

Let me stress once again -- if something is an idol, that means you are prohibited from deriving any benefit from it. It does not give you any right to damage any person or property.

  • but here the problem is that the whole of the building is worshipped as a large Idol too due their own internal exaggerations, the building itself achieve sacramental status for them.
    – user5316
    May 8, 2014 at 8:11
  • also your last statement is pure unqualified transgression , as the torah specifically and unambiguously asks to demolish idolatory at least in the land of Israel.
    – user5316
    May 8, 2014 at 8:14
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    @Adel: Halachah and mesorah have established the duty to uphold the laws of a civil society. Hence, even in Israel, the mitzvah to destroy the Canaanite idols does not grant any right or immunity to destroy the statuary or symbology of other faiths. May 8, 2014 at 14:42
  • @CodeswithHammer Halachah itself is law and civil society laws are rather adversaries to it.
    – user5316
    May 8, 2014 at 14:50
  • @CodeswithHammer There is no unique status about Canaanite idols. All idols have the same rule.
    – Double AA
    May 8, 2014 at 14:59

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