How Many Religions Are Practiced In America – Protestantism shaped the opinion of the vast majority of Americans in earlier years. The influence of religion only intensified in the decades before the Civil War, as religious camp meetings spread the word that people could bring about their own salvation. This wave of religious fervor became known as the Second Great Awakening. (The first Great Awakening in evangelical Protestantism occurred in the 1730s and 1740s, mainly in Great Britain, but also in its American colonies).

Before diving into the details of the Second Great Awakening, it will first be helpful to review the history of religion in America. Click on the following slides to review the details of the Protestant Reformation and to better understand the development of the many religions that became popular in America. Test yourself on the final slide to see if you can tell the difference between the 12 major religious denominations.

How Many Religions Are Practiced In America

How Many Religions Are Practiced In America

Figure 2. This 1819 engraving by Jacques Gerard shows a Methodist camp meeting. Revival camp meetings held by itinerant Protestant ministers became a feature of nineteenth-century American life.

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The Second Great Awakening emphasized an emotional religious style in which sinners wrestled with their unworthy nature before concluding that they had been “born again,” that is, turned from their sinful past and devoted themselves to living a righteous, Christ-centered life. This emphasis on personal salvation, and its rejection of predestination (the Calvinist concept that God chose only the elect for salvation), was the religious achievement of the Jacksonian era’s celebration of the individual. Itinerant ministers preached the revival message to hundreds of listeners in outdoor revival meetings. They hoped to gain converts, who in turn hoped to achieve their own salvation by living a life of Christian morality and fervent faith.

The explosion of religious enthusiasm that began in Kentucky and Tennessee in the 1790s and early 1800s among Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians owed much to the uniqueness of the first decades of the new United States. These years saw rapid population growth, great westward expansion, and the rise of participatory democracy. The Second Great Awakening occurred strictly in the United States and did not spread back to Europe, partially because of the unique changes that had occurred in America since the Revolutionary War. These political and social changes made many anxious, and the egalitarian, individualistic religious practices of the Second Great Awakening provided relief and comfort to Americans. The awakening soon spread to the East Coast, where it had a profound impact on Congregationalism and Presbyterianism. Thousands of people who participated in the movement believed in the possibility of creating a better world than the one they grew up in, especially now that America had emerged from European political, cultural and religious values ​​almost entirely.

The Second Great Awakening was seen as a sort of American Reformation, where American morality and values ​​were infused into the dominant religious culture of Christianity, creating a new kind of doctrine and practice that emphasized morality, individualism, and evangelicalism. Many churches adopted millenarianism, the fervent belief that the Kingdom of God would be established on earth and that God would rule on earth for a thousand years, characterized by harmony and Christian morality. Those attracted to the message of the Second Great Awakening longed for stability, decency, and goodness in the turbulent new American republic.

Missionaries and circuit riders carried the message of revival across the United States, including into the lives of enslaved people. At that time, the enslaved people also came to believe that if the enslaved people learned the “right” (ie White) form of Christianity, then they would become more obedient and work hard. . They even set a biblical precedent for slavery, arguing that a curse placed by Noah on his son Ham in Genesis 9:20-27 called for all of Ham’s descendants to become servants of Noah’s other descendants. his men. Using other Bible verses that refer to Egypt as “the land of Ham,”[1] the slavers claimed that Africans were descendants of Ham who were cursed with black skin for their sins and that Noah’s curse allowed them to be justified slaves. not the Christians. Allowing slaves access to Christianity also served to ease the conscience of Christian slaves, who felt that they would save the souls of their enslaved people by exposing them to the Christian message.

In U.s., Decline Of Christianity Continues At Rapid Pace

Step into this exercise to learn more about the spread of Christianity among slaves and then the development of the largest African-American Methodist denomination, the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.

Many of the slaves brought from Africa had already been exposed to Christianity through the Jesuit missionaries who had been operating there since the 16th century (see African Christianity box below), although some tribes or kingdoms in West Africa adopted it. Since the slave trade in the British colonies began to flourish in the middle of the 18th century, European Christianity has been in Africa for about 200 years and Orthodox Christianity since the 4th century. However, exposing enslaved people to particular American brands, evangelical Christianity resulted in the creation of African-American churches such as the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Christianity first came to Egypt and North Africa during the 1st century AD and spread quickly to the Mediterranean area. As early as 324 AD, the small East African kingdom became one of the first to adopt Christianity as their official state religion, even before the Roman Empire did, and the New Testament Book of Acts records the first baptism of an Ethiopian. (Work 8). :26-27). The Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Churches are two sub-Saharan African churches that split from the Roman Catholic Church in 451 AD over theological differences and have developed separately ever since. Along with the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria (in Egypt) and several other churches, they are known as the Oriental Orthodox Churches and are still very active today. Between the 7th-8th century AD, Christianity was mostly pushed out of North Africa by the spread of Islam, although it remained strong in East Africa, but did not move further south or west.

How Many Religions Are Practiced In America

Only in the middle of the 16th century, European missionaries brought Christianity to areas such as modern Zimbabwe, Angola, Congo, and Mozambique. The first Protestant missionaries did not arrive in Africa in force until the late 18th and early 19th centuries when the Baptist Missionary Society (originally called the “Particular Baptist Society for the Propagation of the Gospel Among the Heathens”) was established. In 1652, the first recorded Protestants in Africa settled on the Cape of Good Hope, but they were there to facilitate trade between the Dutch East Indies and Europe, not as missionaries. Still, Protestantism took hold in West, South, and Central Africa, and many churches were established by Africans, combining aspects of indigenous African religion and mythology with Christianity. Today, about 49% of people in Africa are Christians, and Africa is home to more Christians than any other continent.[2]

Visualizing The World’s Most Popular Religions

But the Christian religion was not the only denomination in America. Let’s take a moment to consider some other faith traditions in American history.

Before the arrival of European settlers, indigenous religions in North America varied greatly from tribe to tribe. Each group had their own mythology, deities, spirits, and practices. Some general themes in North American indigenous religions are a spiritual relationship with nature and natural phenomena, ancestor worship, and the anthropomorphization of animals and other natural features.

The first Christians to arrive in North America were Catholics who came to Florida around 1513 and began building missions in modern Texas in the early 1500s. By 1700, there were about 3,000 Catholics living in present-day Maryland, but their presence remained mostly in the Spanish and French colonies due to the persecution of New England Protestants. Catholic relations with Native Americans were, on the surface, better than the Protestant one. Plymouth Colony was initially friendly with the local tribes, forming the famous treaty with Chief Massasoit and the Wampanoag tribe in 1621.

However, relations between settlers and Native Americans would not remain peaceful for long. Aside from the conflicts between different groups of settlers involving tribal allies, there were battles between Native Americans and settlers who hoped to spread the gospel to them. In 1646, Massachusetts passed a bill called the Act for the Propagation of the Gospel Among the Indians, which allowed them to get money to build schools for Native American children where they would be taught English and Christianity. A Puritan missionary, Reverend John Eliot, made an effort to learn the language of the Massachusetts tribe in order to preach to them and many Native Americans were voluntarily converted. The settlers built “Praying Towns” so that they could live the so-called “Praying Indians”, where they tried to assimilate their tribes into the society of the white settlers.

Americans Are Becoming Less Involved In Organized Religion

Relations between settlers and Native Americans worsened in 1675 due to the religious conversion activities of the Puritans, eventually leading to King Philip’s War, after which many prayer towns were destroyed or placed under colonial government control.

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