While piety is common among all strata of society, only a few are called to join the priestly ranks. Clerics are those individuals for whom religion isn’t restricted to holy days and times of trouble, but is instead a way of life. The piety of a cleric allows her to channel divine essence into blessings and abjurations. It’s not enough merely to contemplate the divine; a cleric must bring holiness to the world, often through evangelism, but sometimes by the sword.
Clerics are an ubiquitous element of life in Golarion (save a few notable exceptions). Any settlement worth noting has a shrine to the gods; a city likely hosts half a dozen or more temples. Although a score of major gods and countless minor deities enjoy popularity throughout the Inner Sea region, they are not worshiped equally across all borders. The popular gods of a region are often those with influence over the people’s livelihood and those whose philosophies match the common sentiment. Certain religions also gained popularity through cultural exchange, aggressive missionaries, and government mandates. Clerics of any good or neutral god are afforded respect, on account of their wisdom and magic, even in regions where their patron is not generally revered.
Most clerics serve a single community – often the one they grew up in – providing divine counsel to the faithful, blessing public endeavors, and dispensing healing and divination when necessary. Although these pastoral priests rarely hold positions of temporal authority, their sermons have the power to sway public opinion.
A few clerics become adventurers. These clerics are proactive in their religion: experiencing all their gods have to offer, retrieving forgotten relics, and promoting their religions by battling villainy on its home turf.
In non-evil countries, worship of evil gods and fiends is banned. Yet this does not stop some from accepting the Faustian gifts of dark powers. From vengeful peasants to decadent nobles, dark cultists lurk under the surface of even the most rigid society. In countries where evil gods are openly worshiped, as well as on the edges of civilization, evil clerics are especially dangerous.
Although their titles and doctrines vary, clerics are found almost everywhere sentient creatures dwell. It might be more useful to delineate where clerics aren’t. The country of Rahadoum bans all religion and religious trappings. Practically no clerics reside there – the rare native who finds religion leaves quickly to avoid persecution. In the theocracy of Razmiran, only the worship of Razmir is allowed. The false god has no power to grant spells: his priests are sorcerers and other spellcasters.
Perhaps the holiest site in Golarion is the Ascendant Court in Absalom, a place of reverence for all religions, but especially worshipers of the Ascended – the living gods Iomedae, Norgorber, and Caiden Cailean – for at the center of the court is enshrined the Starstone, an artifact that represent a doorway from the mortal to the divine.
Clerics who see themselves as holy warriors train the sword ans shield when they should be preparing the right prayer rituals instead. They do not gain domain powers, but they are as tough and able as fighters, swinging their weapons with divine fury on the battlefield.
Sources: Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting