Learn English – Should “brother” be capitalized in a letter salutation


John Smith, a member of my congregation, would be addressed as brother in face-to-face conversation. If I write a letter to him, should I capitalize this word? For example, as in:

Dear Brother Smith,

Best Answer

This supports @tchrist's analysis, but I thought I'd share the source material with you.

Here is a fairly straightforward explanation of the punctuation of the word "brother" used in religious communication from an online religion style book...

brother: A man who has taken vows in a Christian religious, particularly Catholic or Anglican, order but is not ordained. Also, a monk or friar who is in seminary preparing for priesthood is called brother if he has taken his vows. In many traditions, especially evangelical, brother is used as a generic, friendly title. Capitalize before a name but not otherwise. On first reference, generally identify the religious community, for example Franciscan Brother John Smith. On second reference, use the first name if the person is known that way, such as Brother John. Otherwise, use only the last name on second reference.

The "capitalize before a name but not otherwise" clause answers your question.