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United States, Religious History of the.

1. The purpose of this art. is to indicate in a gen. way the basic trends and movements in the hist. of Am. Christianity.

2. Fr. Huguenots* est. Ft. Caroline in what is now Florida, on the St. Johns R., near its mouth, 1564. Sp. RCs destroyed this colony (see also Martyr) and founded St. Augustine 1565. By 1609 RCs founded Santa Fe in what is now N. M. For early RC missions in what is now Calif. see Serra, Junípero. Fr. RCs est. missions in the Miss. Valley, e.g., in what is now Illinois at Cahokia 1699, Kaskaskia 1700; Detroit, in what is now Michigan, 1701; Vincennes, in what is now Indiana, 1702 (fortified 1732).

3. The 1st permanent Prot. settlement in what is now the US was at Jamestown, in what is now Virginia, 1607. See also Hunt, Robert; Pocahontas. Anglicanism was completely est. in Virginia soon after the colony became a royal province 1624. Est. of the Angl. Ch. in Maryland was approved in Eng. 1702 (see also 5).

4. Separatists founded Plymouth in what is now Massachusetts 1620 (see also United Church of Christ, I A 1). Puritans* est. Massachusetts Bay Colony when they settled at Salem 1628. T. Hooker* and S. Stone* helped est. a Puritan colony at Hartford, Connecticut, 1636. R. Williams* laid the foundations of the State of Rhode Is. and Providence Plantations 1636; here dissenters (e.g., Baps. and Quakers) enjoyed freedom of conscience.

5. Cecilius Calvert* (Lord Baltimore), a RC, received a charter 1632 to est. Maryland colony; first settlers arrived 1634; est. of the Angl. Ch. in Maryland was approved in Eng. 1702. On resurgence of RCm in Maryland toward the end of the 18th c. see Carroll, John; Roman Catholic Church, The, E 3–4. Under royal charter received 1681 W. Penn,* a Quaker (see Friends, Society of), est. Pennsylvania; its assurances of civil and religious freedom attracted many persecuted from the Brit. Isles and the Continent.

6. On the Dutch Ref. Ch. in New Amsterdam (later NYC) and New Neth. (renamed NT by the Eng. after they conquered the colony 1664) see Reformed Churches, 4 b. Dutch Luths. were in New Neth. at least as early as 1643. By the end of the 17th c. the Angl. Ch. was practically, if not officially, est. in NT See also Gutwasser, John Ernst; Fabritius, Jacob.

New Swed. (in present Delaware), est. 1638, included many Luths. from the outset; see also Torkillus, Reorus. There were 3 Luth. ministers, including L. C. Lock,* in the colony when it fell to the Duton 1655. See also Björk, Eric Tobias; Rudman, Anders.

Ger. sectarians (e.g., Quakers, Mennonites) and Luths. settled at Germantown, near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, beginning 1683 (see also Communistic Societies, 4; Falckner, Daniel, Jr.; Falckner, Justus; Köster, Heinrich Bernhard). Moravians settled in Pennsylvania and Georgia in the 1730s (see also Schwenkfelders, 2; Spangenberg, Augustus Gottlieb).

7. H. M. Mühlenberg* had to counteract the influence of N. L. v. Zinzendorf* before he could est. his own position as Luth. pastor in and around Philadelphia 1742. Ger. Ref. also settled in Pennsylvania For a time friendly relations existed bet. Luths., Ref., and Moravians.

8. Presbs. of Scotch-Irish origin came to the US beginning in the late 17th c., settled in all colonies by mid-18th c. See also Presbyterian Churches, 4 a.

9. Revivals under J. Edwards* the Elder and others ran ca. 1725-ca. 1750. Methodism (see Methodist Churches) came to the US

10. The spirit of Am. indep. accompanied a movement for religious freedom. A bill for establishing religious freedom was adopted by Virginia 1785. Separation of ch. and state in Virginia was complete 1840. Other states followed similar patterns, e.g., Congregationalism was disestablished in New Hampshire 1817, Connecticut 1818, Massachusetts 1833.

11. Denominationalism in the US arose as chs. began to develop an emerging Am. character. In the 19th c. many older chs. split over doctrinal and soc. issues. The 20th c. has seen movements toward union and reunion on the one hand, appearance of new groups on the other. Ecumenism came into ascendancy (see also Ecumenical Movement).

12. The influence of rationalism* and deism* led to decline in religious fervor in the last part of the 18th c., but by the 1790s revivals heralded the beginning of another awakening, e.g., at North Yarmouth, Maine, Lee, Massachusetts, and East Haddam and Lyme, Connecticut Yale Coll., New Haven, Connecticut, experienced a notable revival 1802.

13. The August 1801 Cane Ridge, Bourbon Co., Kentucky, camp meeting drew attendance est. at 20–25 thousand. It had been set up under Presb. auspices but came to include large participation by Meth. and Bap. preachers. Despite a Plan of Union as basis for cooperation bet. Presbs. and Congregationalists, religious life on the frontier was soon dominated by Meths. (esp. in the Midwest) and Baps. (esp. in the South).

14. Slavery and the Civil War split some chs. bet. North and South; some split along confessional lines.

15. Miss. work was carried on, usually by miss. socs., at home (see Immigrant and Emigrant Missions; Indians, American; Indians, Lutheran Missions to North American) and abroad. Many colleges and sems. were est..

16. After the Civil War immigration and soc. concern dominated religious life Cath. immigrants gravitated toward large urban centers, Luths. toward the northern Midwest. Soc. concerns (e.g., temperance) were reflected in a revival movement (see Revivals). The Social* Gospel came into prominence.

17. Liberal theol., with its optimistic view of man, went hand in hand with the Social Gospel but was opposed by Protestant Fundamentalism (see also Five Points of Fundamentalism), which survived far into the 20th c. and produced The Fundamentals (12 vols.). See also Evangelicals, 6.

Discouraging prospects for man after WW I and the Great Depression weakened liberal theol., which came to be replaced by neoorthodoxy.*

These and other theol. movements gen. crossed denominational lines and tended to divide denominations internally.

18. The Civil War helped est. separate Negro denominations, which came to be found in both North and South and survived far into the 20th c..

19. In the 20th c. many chs. organized highly and took over work of pub. educ., and for. missions previously carried on by societies.

20. The Federal* Council of the Chs. of Christ in Am., the National* Council of the Chs. of Christ in the USA, and the World* Council of Chs. were est. to help coordinate ch. work.

21. Many chs. are concerned about soc. responsibility and about the relationship bet. ch. and state; integration of mutual interests has taken place in institutional and military chaplaincies. Ch.-state relations in educ. continue to present difficulties. Many chs. look to ecumenism for the solution to many problems. JW

See also Religious Bodies (US), Bibliography of; bibliography of Statistics, Ecclesiastical; Union Movements, 5–7, 10–13.

C. E. Olmstead, History of Religion in the United States (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1960); H. S. Smith, R. T. Handy, and L. A. Loetscher, American Christianity, 2 vols. (New York, 1960–63); Religion in American Life, ed. J. W. Smith and A. L. Jamison, vols. 1, 2, and 4 (in 2) (Princeton, New Jersey, 1961).

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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