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History of religion in the United States

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World Education Research Yearbook Andrea A. Knowing and Learning in Interaction. They settled the Mormon Corridor. The United States acquired permanent control of this area in and rejected the Mormons' State of Deseret proposal for self-governance, and instead established the Utah Territory in Conflicts between Mormons and territorial federal appointees flared, included the Runaway Officials of ; this eventually led to the small-scale Utah War of —, after which Utah remained occupied by Federal troops until Congress passed the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act of to curb the Mormon practice of polygamy in the territory, but President Abraham Lincoln did not enforce this law; instead Lincoln gave Brigham Young tacit permission to ignore the act in exchange for not becoming involved with the American Civil War.

Postwar efforts to enforce polygamy restrictions were limited until the Edmunds Act , which allowed for convictions of unlawful cohabitation, which was much easier to prosecute. This law also revoked polygamists' right to vote, made them ineligible for jury service, and prohibited them from holding political office. It also: required an anti-polygamy oath for prospective voters, jurors and public officials; mandated civil marriage licenses; disallowed spousal privilege to not testify in polygamy cases; disenfranchised women; replaced local judges with federally appointed judges; and removed local control of schools.

After a Supreme Court ruling found the Edmunds—Tucker Act constitutional, and with most church leadership either in hiding or imprisoned, the church released the Manifesto which advised church members against entering legally prohibited marriages. Dissenters moved to Canada or Mormon colonies in Mexico , or into hiding in remote areas. With the polygamy issue resolved, church leaders were pardoned or had their sentences reduced, assets were restored to the church, and Utah was eventually granted statehood in After the Reed Smoot hearings began in , a Second Manifesto was issued which specified that anyone entering into or solemnizing polygamous marriages would be excommunicated, and clarified that polygamy restrictions applied everywhere, and not just in the United States.

Thanks to worldwide missionary work , the church grew from 7. Jehovah's Witnesses comprise a fast-growing denomination that has kept itself separate from other Christian denominations. It began in with Charles Taze Russell , but experienced a major schism in as Joseph Franklin Rutherford began his presidency. Rutherford gave new direction to the movement and renamed the movement "Jehovah's witnesses" in The period from to saw many significant changes in doctrine.

Attendance at their yearly Memorial dropped from a high of 90, in to 63, in Since growth has been very rapid. During the World War II, Jehovah's Witnesses experienced mob attacks in America and were temporarily banned in Canada and Australia because of their lack of support for the war effort. They won significant Supreme Court victories involving the rights of free speech and religion that have had a great impact on legal interpretation of these rights for others.

Barnette that school children of Jehovah's Witnesses could not be compelled to salute the flag. The Church of Christ, Scientist was founded in , in Boston by Mary Baker Eddy , the author of its central book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures , which offers a unique interpretation of Christian faith.

History of religion in the United States - Wikipedia

Accounts of miraculous healing are common within the church, and adherents often refuse traditional medical treatments. Legal troubles sometimes result when they forbid medical treatment of their children. The Church is unique among American denominations in several ways. It is highly centralized, with all the local churches merely branches of the mother church in Boston. There are no ministers, but there are practitioners who are integral to the movement.

The practitioners operate local businesses that help members heal their illnesses by the power of the mind. They depend for their clientele on the approval of the Church. Starting in the late 19th century the Church has rapidly lost membership, although it does not publish statistics. Its flagship newspaper Christian Science Monitor lost most of its subscribers and dropped its paper version to become an online source. Benevolent societies were an extremely new and conspicuous feature of the American landscape during the first half of the 19th century. Originally devoted to the salvation of souls, they eventually focused on the eradication of every kind of social ill.

Benevolent societies were the direct result of the extraordinary energies generated by the evangelical movement—specifically, by the "activism" resulting from conversion. The evangelical establishment used this powerful network of voluntary, ecumenical benevolent societies to Christianize the nation. The earliest and most important of these organizations focused their efforts on the conversion of sinners to the new birth or to the creation of conditions such as sobriety sought by temperance societies in which conversions could occur.

Most denominations operated missions abroad and some to Indians and Asians in the US. Hutchinson argues that the American desire to reform and rehabilitate the secular world was greatly stimulated by the zeal of evangelical Christians. Starting in the colonial era, most of the Protestant denominations operated missions to the Native Americans.

After the Civil War, the programs were expanded and the major Western reservations were put under the control of religious denominations, largely to avoid the financial scandals and ugly relationships that had previously prevailed. Grant was determined to divide Native American post appointments "up among the religious churches"; by , 73 Indian agencies were divided among religious denominations.

In , of the 73 agencies assigned, the Methodists received 14 reservations; the Orthodox Quakers ten; the Presbyterians nine; the Episcopalians eight; the Catholics seven; the Hicksite Quakers six; the Baptists five; the Dutch Reformed five; the Congregationalists three; the Disciples two; Unitarians two; American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions one; and Lutherans one.

The selection criteria were vague and some critics saw the Peace Policy as violating Native American freedom of religion. Catholics wanted a bigger role and set up the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions in The Peace Policy remained in force until By , American Protestant churches were supporting about overseas missionaries, and their wives. Women's organizations based in local churches were especially active in motivating volunteers and raising funds Inspired by the Social Gospel movement to increased activism, young people on college campuses and urban centers such as the YMCA , a great surge brought the total to by Preliminary training at first focus on a deep understanding of the Bible; only later was it appreciated that effective missionaries had to understand the language and the culture.

Speer —; the chief Presbysterian organizer; and Sherwood Eddy — In —31, he was secretary for Asia for the International Committee, splitting his enormous energy between evangelistic campaigns in Asia and fund-raising in North America. Its educational and sports programs proved highly attractive everywhere, But the response to religious proselytizing was tepid. Mott explained about China in With wide attention focused on the anti-Western Boxer Rebellion — , American Protestants made missions to China a high priority.

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They supported missionaries in , more than in , and in By they opened 16 universities in China, six medical schools, and four theology schools, together with middle schools and a large number of elementary schools. The number of converts was not large, but the educational influence was dramatic and long-lasting. The First World War reduced the enthusiasm for missions.

Mission leaders had strongly endorsed the war; the younger generation was dismayed amid growing doubts about the wisdom of cultural imperialism in dealing with foreign peoples. Their missionaries had been at work in Asia for a century but now were experiencing falling donations and nationalistic resistance. It generated fierce debate.

Commission members traveled to Asian cities to meet missionaries and local people. While in China, Hocking consulted with the famous writer Pearl S. Buck , who was developing a similar critique of missions and who threw her support behind the Commission's report. A recommended related goal was the transition of local leadership and institutions. The Commission also recommended reorganization in the US to coordinate and focus missionary efforts by creating a single organization for Protestant missions.

Catholicism first came with the Spanish explorers. In the Thirteen colonies, Catholicism was introduced with the settling of Maryland in ; this colony offered a rare example of religious toleration in a fairly intolerant age. Maryland law remained a major center, as exemplified by the pre-eminence of the Archdiocese of Baltimore in Catholic circles. However, at the time of the American Revolution , Catholics formed less than one percent of the white population of the thirteen states.

Ritualism was important, and focused on daily prayers, Sunday Mass, and observance of two dozen holy days. The main source of Catholics in the United States was the huge numbers of European immigrants of the 19th and 20th centuries, especially from Germany, Ireland, Italy, and Poland. Recently, most Catholic immigrants come from Latin America , especially from Mexico. The Irish came to dominate the church, providing most of the bishops, college presidents and lay leaders. They strongly supported the " ultramontane " position favoring the authority of the pope. In the latter half of the 19th century, the first attempt at standardizing discipline in the church occurred with the convocation of the Plenary Councils of Baltimore.

In the s the church went through dramatic changes, especially in the liturgy and the use of the language of the people instead of Latin. The number of priests and nuns declined sharply as few entered and many left their vocations. Since scandals involving the coverup by bishops of priests who sexually abused young men has led to massive financial payments across the country—and indeed in Europe as well. The spreading of the Orthodox faith went along with the Russian colonization of the Americas during the 18th and 19th centuries.

From there, it spread to the continental United States with the influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe. The history of the Jews in the United States comprises a theological dimension, with a three-way division into Orthodox, Conservative and Reform. In social terms the Jewish ethnic community began with small groups of merchants in colonial ports such as New York City and Charleston. In the mid- and lateth century well-educated German Jews arrived and settled in towns and cities across the United States, especially as dry goods merchants. From to large numbers of Yiddish-speaking Jews arrived from Eastern Europe , settling in New York City and other large cities.

After numbers came as refugees from Europe; after many came from the Soviet Union , and there has been a flow from Israel. By the year the 1. Early immigrants to the American colonies were motivated largely by the desire to worship freely in their own fashion, particularly after the English Civil War , but also religious wars and disputes in France and Germany. Despite a common background, the groups' views on broader religious toleration were mixed. While some notable examples such as Roger Williams of Rhode Island and William Penn ensured the protection of religious minorities within their colonies, others such as the Plymouth Colony and Massachusetts Bay Colony had established churches.

The Dutch colony of the New Netherlands had also established the Dutch Reformed Church and outlawed all other worship, although enforcement by the Dutch West India Company in the last years of the colony was sparse. Part of the reason for establishment was financial: the established Church was responsible for poor relief , and dissenting churches would therefore have a significant advantage.

There were also opponents to the support of any established church even at the state level. In , Isaac Backus , a prominent Baptist minister in New England , observed that when "church and state are separate, the effects are happy, and they do not at all interfere with each other: but where they have been confounded together, no tongue nor pen can fully describe the mischiefs that have ensued. Most Anglican ministers, and many Anglicans outside the South, were Loyalists.

The Anglican Church was disestablished during the Revolution, and following the separation from Britain was reorganized as the independent Episcopal Church. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Though "separation of church and state" does not appear in the Constitution, it has since been quoted in several opinions handed down by the United States Supreme Court.

Robert N. Bellah has argued in his writings that although the separation of church and state is grounded firmly in the constitution of the United States, this does not mean that there is no religious dimension in the political society of the United States. He used the term Civil Religion to describe the specific relation between politics and religion in the United States.

His article analyzes the inaugural speech of John F.

Routledge Revivals: In the Active Voice (Routledge Revivals) by Mary Douglas (2011, Hardcover)

Kennedy : "Considering the separation of church and state, how is a president justified in using the word 'God' at all? The answer is that the separation of church and state has not denied the political realm a religious dimension. This is not only the subject of a sociological discussion, but can also be an issue for atheists in America. There are allegations of discrimination against atheists in the United States. The phrase a "hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world" was first used by Baptist theologian Roger Williams , the founder of the colony of Rhode Island.

Jefferson's and Madison's conceptions of separation have long been debated. Jefferson refused to issue Proclamations of Thanksgiving sent to him by Congress during his presidency, though he did issue a Thanksgiving and Prayer proclamation as Governor of Virginia and vetoed two bills on the grounds they violated the first amendment. After retiring from the presidency, Madison argued in his detached memoranda [] for a stronger separation of church and state, opposing the very presidential issuing of religious proclamations he himself had done, and also opposing the appointment of chaplains to Congress.

Jefferson's opponents said his position meant the rejection of Christianity, but this was a caricature. In setting up the University of Virginia, Jefferson encouraged all the separate sects to have preachers of their own, though there was a constitutional ban on the State supporting a Professorship of Divinity, arising from his own Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. The absence of an establishment of religion did not necessarily imply that all men were free to hold office. Most colonies had a Test Act , and several states retained them for a short time.


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This stood in contrast to the Federal Constitution, which explicitly prohibits the employment of any religious test for Federal office, and which through the Fourteenth Amendment later extended this prohibition to the States. Prior to the inclusion of the Bill of Rights, this was the only mention of religious freedom in the Constitution. The first amendment to the US Constitution states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" The two parts, known as the "establishment clause" and the "free exercise clause" respectively, form the textual basis for the Supreme Court's interpretations of the "separation of church and state" doctrine.

On August 15, Madison said, "he apprehended the meaning of the words to be, that Congress should not establish a religion, and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any manner contrary to their conscience All states disestablished religion by ; Massachusetts was the last state. This ended the practice of allocating taxes to churches. The phrase "separation of church and state" became a definitive part of Establishment Clause jurisprudence in Everson v.

Board of Education , U. While the ruling upheld the state law allowing taxpayer funding of transportation to religious schools as constitutional, Everson was also the first case to hold the Establishment Clause applicable to the state legislatures as well as Congress, based upon the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In Bible reading was a part of routine in the public schools of at least thirty-seven states. In twelve of these states, Bible reading was legally required by state laws; 11 states passed these laws after In , 42 per cent of school districts nationwide tolerated or required Bible reading, and 50 per cent reported some form of homeroom daily devotional exercise.

Since , the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that prayers organized by public school officials schools are unconstitutional. Students are allowed to pray privately, and to join religious clubs after school hours. Colleges, universities, and private schools are not affected by the Supreme Court rulings. Reactions to Engel and Abington were widely negative, with over constitutional amendments submitted to reverse the policy.

None passed Congress. The Supreme Court has also ruled that so-called "voluntary" school prayers are also unconstitutional, because they force some students to be outsiders to the main group, and because they subject dissenters to intense peer group pressure. In Lee v. Weisman The Supreme Court held in In , the Supreme Court extended this analysis to the issue of prayer in public schools.

In Engel v. Vitale U. As such, any teacher, faculty, or student can pray in school, in accordance with their own religion. However, they may not lead such prayers in class, or in other "official" school settings such as assemblies or programs. Currently, the Supreme Court applies a three-pronged test to determine whether legislation comports with the Establishment Clause, known as the " Lemon Test ". First, the legislature must have adopted the law with a neutral or non-religious purpose.

Second, the statute's principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion. Third, the statute must not result in an excessive entanglement of government with religion. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Part of a series on the. Prehistory Pre-colonial Colonial period — — — — — — — — — — present. By ethnicity. By topic. Main article: Native American religion.

Further information: History of the Jews in Colonial America. See also: Deism in the United States. Main article: First Great Awakening. Main article: Episcopal Church United States. Main articles: Revivalism and Evangelicalism. Main article: Second Great Awakening. See also: Camp meeting and Revival meeting. Main article: Third Great Awakening. Further information: Union American Civil War.

Further information: Confederate States of America. Main article: Religion in Black America. Main article: Restorationism Christian primitivism. See also: Dispensationalism and Restoration Movement. Main article: History of the Latter Day Saint movement. Main article: History of Jehovah's Witnesses. Main article: Church of Christ, Scientist. This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. July Main article: History of the Jews in the United States. Main article: No religious test clause. Schultz, p.

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Rosenblum, Princeton University Press, — , p. August 27, Retrieved August 27, The Calvinist Roots of the Modern Era. Retrieved August 27, — via Google Books. May 1, The Faiths of the Founding Fathers. Oxford University Press. January 20, Retrieved September 18, Archived from the original on Retrieved Rutgers U. October 9, Gallup, Inc. The Religions of the American Indians. University of California Press. Berkhofer, Jr. Press of Mississippi. Eerdmans Publishing Co,