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History of Religion in America Introduction The issue of religious freedom has played a significant role in the history of the United States and the remainder of North America.
Europeans came to America to escape religious oppression and forced beliefs by such state-affiliated Christian churches as the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England.
Its history includes the emergence of utopian experimentsreligious fanaticism, and opening the door to such exotic religions as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Taoism. Such has been the winding road of religious evolution in America. The role of religion among American Indians For untold generations before Europeans came to America, native peoples celebrated the bounty given to them by the Great Spirit.
Across America, such Indian tribes as the Algonquiansthe IroquoisSiouxand the Seminoles worshiped the Great Spirit, who could be found in animals as well as inanimate objects. As white colonists drove Indians onto reservations, the fervency of their religious practices increased, even as Christian missionaries made inroads that influenced their spirituality.
Colonial religious splintering Religious persecution and iron-fisted rule by state-affiliated Christianity in Europe began to loosen its hold in the 16th century when, for the sake of debate, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany.
In later attempts to free themselves from the tie of the state governmental system imposed by the Church of England Anglican Churchsuch denominations as the Reformed-Presbyterian churches and the European Free Church were formed.
Those religious parents gave birth to the next wave of Christian denominations. Reforms were brought by the Puritans to the American colonies.
As later cries for reform and renewal took place, further splintering occurred among the MethodistsPentecostals, Fundamentalists and Adventists, each bearing a diminished resemblance to their original parents.
Evangelical movement roots and branches Evangelism has played an integral part in the history of religion in America, from colonial times to the present, while its methods of dissemination have changed dramatically.
During the Great Awakening of the s, white Protestant evangelists proselytized to black Americans. During the 19th century, Methodists held camp meetings in the frontier states. Evangelism turned to elaborate crusades in the 20th century when such preachers as Billy Sunday attempted to convince nonbelievers that they should "jump ship" from their ancestral Christian denominations.
Tent revivals, broadcast by radio and television, were dynamic with charismatic preachers who captured the attention of millions of people.
While they were relegated to cable TV networks, evangelistic websites slowly began to crop up on the Internet during the early s. Because of the anonymous nature of that interactive communication tool, people felt more comfortable sharing their personal beliefs and faith over the Internet with a large audience, or with one unknown person.
Media evangelists incorporated multimedia presentations with sound, the written word, movies and video technologies. To prevent a return to a centralized, overbearing government, the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution, without which ratification by Virginia and New York would not have occurred.
To fully understand the impact of the spread of Christian denominations in America, it is important to look at them and their origins individually. Listed below is a brief summary of those denominations, beginning with a proto-denomination, the Puritans.
Puritans The Puritans came to the New England colonies to escape religious persecution.
Despite these commonalities, however, each of the countries that attempted to colonize North America in the 16th and 17th centuries—Spain, France, England, the Netherlands, and Sweden—had particular goals, methods, and geographic interests that played an . Native American religions, religious beliefs and sacramental practices of the indigenous peoples of North and South America. Until the s it was commonly assumed that the religions of the surviving Native Americans were little more than curious anachronisms, dying remnants of humankind’s childhood. Its history includes the emergence of utopian experiments, religious fanaticism, and opening the door to such exotic religions as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Taoism. Such has been the winding road of religious evolution in America.
The Puritans later gave birth to the Baptists and the Congregationalists. Using the New Testament as their model, they believed that each congregation and each person individually was responsible to God. Their belief that their destiny was predetermined, their self-imposed isolation, and religious exclusivity, would later lead to witch hunts beginning in The Puritans also were responsible for the first free schooling in America and established the first American college, Harvard Collegein Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Congregationalists Based on the Calvinist Reformed tradition and strictly opposed to external authorities, Congregationalists came to New England and established the Plymouth Colony in As part of the Separatist movement, Congregationalists broke from the Anglican Church and established independent congregations in which God was the absolute authority.
Prone to splintering, those congregations experienced a great number of local schisms during the first Great Awakening in the s. During the s, membership declined as their Methodist and Baptist cousins continued to gain strength.
Unitarianism developed as an offshoot of COngregationalism, initially due to disagreement over the reality of the Trinity. Over the years, their resistance to dependence and external secular and clerical authority has lessened. Many Congregationalist churches have subsequently merged with other churches from the Reformed tradition.
Today their membership in the U. Methodists The tap root of Methodism was a group of Oxford University students, amongst whom were its founders, John and Charles Wesley.Tecumseh was the Shawnee leader of Tecumseh's War who attempted to organize an alliance of Native American tribes throughout North America.
 U.S. government authorities entered into numerous treaties during this period but later violated many for various reasons. Native Religions of North America reflects this rich tradition as it admirably distills a complex subject in a practical and engaging manner. Through concise expression and careful choice of examples, Hultkrantz identifies the diversity and continuities in American Indian spirituality.5/5(1).
The history of Native Americans in the United States began in ancient times tens of thousands of years ago with the settlement of the Americas by the Paleo-Indians. Anthropologists and archeologists have identified and studied a wide variety of cultures that existed during this era.
Despite these commonalities, however, each of the countries that attempted to colonize North America in the 16th and 17th centuries—Spain, France, England, the Netherlands, and Sweden—had particular goals, methods, and geographic interests that played an .
Religion in the United States is characterized by a diversity of religious beliefs and practices. Various religious faiths have flourished within the United States. The membership of Native American religions in the 21st century comprises about 9, people.
Neopaganism Modern Druidism arrived in North America first in the form of. Native American: Native American, member of any of the aboriginal peoples of the Western Hemisphere, although the term often connotes only those groups whose original territories were in present-day Canada and the United States.
Learn more about the history and culture of Native Americans in this article.