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Autonomy is independence or freedom, and especially the right of self-government. Many countries have fought for autonomy from more powerful countries, most notably the United States against Britain in 1776-83.

The term is also used in religious circles, especially within denominations organized under a Congregationalist or cooperative structure (such as the Southern Baptist Convention), whereby each congregation is autonomous and independent of every other congregation, and further is so in respect to the denomination's governing body (and may associate with, or disassociate from, the denomination at will). This is in contrast to denominations such as the Roman Catholic Church or the Episcopal Church, where all congregations are subordinate to the hierarchy.

See also