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Timeline: Faith in America
How religious ideas and spiritual experiences have shaped America's public life over the last 400 years
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+Puritan screen grab, hour 1Pilgrims arrive in Massachusetts in search of religious libertyConvinced that the Church of England is hopelessly corrupt, Protestant reformers known as Pilgrims break with the church, leave England and establish a colony in present-day Plymouth, Mass.
+Church of England "established" in Virginia; supported with public fundsIn 1624, King James officially charters Virginia as a royal colony. Its inhabitants are required by law to be members of the Anglican Church and to pay taxes to support the church. Other religions, termed "dissenting religions," do not have freedom of worship. By the time of the Revolutionary War, nine colonies have established state religions.
+Puritan screen grab, hour 1Puritans arrive in Massachusetts seeking religious freedom; do not tolerate dissent Like the Pilgrims, the English Puritans believe that the Church of England is corrupt. Unlike the Pilgrims, they do not break with the church, but remain a part of it. In Boston, they establish the Massachusetts Bay Colony and strive to create a model Christian commonwealth. While they come to the Nhuew World seeking freedom to worship as they choose, the Puritans do not tolerate dissent.
+Roger Williams establishes Rhode Island; guarantees liberty of conscienceBanished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Roger Williams establishes a colony he names "Providence" in present-day Rhode Island. Williams had quarreled with Puritan authorities over their theology, their decision to remain within the Church of England and their failure to pay Native Americans for their land. Williams' colony of Providence guarantees freedom of conscience and becomes a haven for religious dissidents.
+Anne HutchinsonAnne Hutchinson banished from Puritan MassachusettsOutspoken, opinionated and well versed in the Bible, Hutchinson accuses the ministers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony of teaching false doctrine and asserts that God has spoken to her directly -- a claim considered heresy in Puritan theology. Hutchinson's righteous insistence gets her in trouble with the religious and political authorities, including Governor John Winthrop. Charged with sedition, she is tried, banished and excommunicated.
+bloody hands with cross screen grab? hour 1Pueblos revolt against Franciscan friars in present-day New MexicoBy the early 1600s, Franciscan friars report that hundreds of Pueblos are converting to Catholicism, but they notice that many of the "converted" Pueblos continue to practice their own religion. They ban Native ceremonies, burn religious icons, destroy sacred places and demand the colony's soldiers enforce the one true faith. In 1675, 47 Pueblo leaders are imprisoned in Santa Fe for sorcery; three are publicly hanged. Tensions mount and on Aug. 10, 1680, 2,000 Pueblos rise up in what becomes known as the Pueblo Revolt. Hundreds from both sides die in the fighting; more than half of the Catholic priests are murdered. Ten days later, the Spanish flee New Mexico.
+William Penn begins "holy experiment" in PennsylvaniaThe son of a successful British admiral, William Penn is imprisoned six times for being a Quaker in Anglican England. He receives an immense tract of land west of the Delaware River from King Charles II (in repayment for a debt owed Penn's father) and establishes the "holy experiment" of Pennsylvania. The colony's founding documents include provisions for religious toleration, freedom of the press and statements of equality that include women, but not slaves. Over time Penn's colony attracts Quakers and Anglicans from England; Lutherans, Reformed, Mennonites, Amish and Dunkers from Germany; and Presbyterians from Scotland. Catholics and Jews are granted religious toleration in Pennsylvania but are not given the right to vote, a privilege extended only to Protestants.
+Freedom of worship law passed in England, extended to coloniesThe English Act of Toleration extends freedom of worship to dissenting religious groups, though with limitations and restrictions. Toleration gives civil authorities the power to decide whether to allow specific groups freedom to worship. Later advocates for religious freedom argue that religious liberty should be defined as a natural right rather than as a right afforded by a civil government.
+Jonathan EdwardsFirst Great Awakening undermines authority of established churchesThe first major mass movement in American history, the Great Awakening changes the way people experience God. Ministers such as George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards encourage individuals to make an immediate, intense and personal connection with the Divine. This emphasis on personal choice threatens to undermine the authority of ministers in established churches.
+Founding FathersDeclaration of Independence signedThe document formally severing ties with the British government enshrines the American idea that "liberty" and "freedom" are rights given by God. The idea of America as a land uniquely blessed by divine power will echo throughout American history.
+Baptist being arrestedVirginia Baptists petition for freedom to worshipVirginia law restricts where non-Anglicans can preach. As the Baptist faith gains popularity, Virginia authorities begin to crack down. Following his arrest for preaching without a license, Baptist Jeremiah Moore preaches to crowds through the bars of his jail cell. In October, he delivers a petition to the Virginia State Assembly -- signed by 10,000 dissidents -- demanding that Baptists be able to freely worship without fear of prosecution. Thomas Jefferson, then a Virginia state assemblyman, receives the petition and joins forces with the Baptists to propose the disestablishment of the Anglican Church in Virginia.
+Virginia disestablishes, ends state support for Anglican ChurchWritten by Thomas Jefferson and first submitted in 1779, the Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom proposes ending state support of the Anglican Church. The bill is opposed by many who believe religion is essential to the cultivation of a moral citizenry and that religion will wither away without state support. In 1784, Patrick Henry introduces a bill that would impose a tax to support churches but would allow citizens to designate the church their taxes would support; the following year James Madison writes "Memorial and Remonstrance," a widely circulated pamphlet that makes a strong case against state-supported religion. Henry's bill is defeated; Madison reintroduces Jefferson's bill, and it passes in 1786. The bill is listed on Jefferson's tombstone as one of his three most important accomplishments.
+Constitutional ConventionU.S. Constitution drafted; no guarantee of religious libertyThe Constitutional Convention submits a draft of the Constitution to the states for ratification. For the first time in Western history, religion and state government are decoupled. God and religion are scarcely mentioned in the document. Wanting to create "a more perfect union," some of the Constitution's framers fear that statements on religion would be divisive. The sixth state to ratify the document, Massachusetts is the first to suggest constitutional amendments guaranteeing individual rights, including religious liberty. The seven states that follow Massachusetts -- Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina and Rhode Island -- also recommend amendments.
+Establishment clauseBill of Rights ratifiedTen amendments protecting individual liberties are passed by the First Congress and three-fourths of state legislatures. The First Amendment, guaranteeing religious liberty and other rights, is drafted by James Madison. It reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." The first half becomes known as the Establishment Clause; the second is called the Free Exercise Clause.
resourcesThe Establishment Clause (The First Amendment Center)The Free Exercise Clause (The First Amendment Center)
+Adams signs Treaty of Tripoli; it says U.S. "not founded on the Christian religion"Passed to protect U.S. shipping interests from pirates off the Barbary Coast, the Treaty of Peace and Friendship assures the Muslim state of Tripoli that the U.S. will not pursue a religious war. It reads: "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries." The document is regularly cited in the ongoing debate over whether the Founding Fathers intended the United States to be a Christian nation.
resourcesTreaty of Tripoli
+Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson accused of being an atheist The presidential election of 1800 is one of the most bitter and bruising contests in American history. Attacked for his unorthodox religious views, Thomas Jefferson is accused of being an atheist by clergymen aligned with his Federalist opponents, who spread rumors that he will compel citizens to burn their Bibles. The personal attacks reinforce Jefferson's conviction that church and state must be kept separate.
+Thomas JeffersonJefferson invokes "wall of separation" in letter to BaptistsAt the time of Jefferson's election, only two states -- Connecticut and Massachusetts -- have an established church. Baptists from Danbury, Conn., send Jefferson a letter of congratulations on his election and express their hope that his views on religious liberty will soon extend to their home state. On Jan. 1, 1802, Baptist minister John Leland personally delivers a giant wheel of cheese to the White House to celebrate Jefferson's election as a victory for religious freedom. The same day, Jefferson writes a letter of response to the Danbury Baptists in which he invokes the metaphor of a "wall of separation" to describe his views on the ideal church-state relationship.
+James Madison recommends national day of prayerAs the nation faces the prospect of war with Great Britain, President James Madison recommends a national day of prayer, a practice his predecessor, Thomas Jefferson, refused to endorse. Madison later defends his action: "I was always careful to make the Proclamations absolutely indiscriminate, and merely recommendatory; or rather mere designations of a day, on which all who thought proper might unite in consecrating it to religious purposes, according to their own faith and forms." An annual day of prayer is not made official until the mid-20th century and continues to be controversial.
+New York Catholics win court battle for "confessional privilege"A Catholic priest in New York City is arrested for refusing to disclose the identity of a person who reported during confession that he stole and then returned jewelry. In the Court of General Sessions, Irish lawyer William Sampson argues that compelling the priest to break his vow of secrecy in the sacrament of the confessional would go against the new nation's basic principles. The district attorney offers to drop the charges, but the Irish community presses forward with the case to ensure that there is no doubt about their protection under the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause. People v. Philips is argued in the summer of 1813, and the New York State Court rules, "They are protected by the laws and Constitution of this country, in the full and free exercise of their religion, and this court can never countenance or authorize the application of insult to their faith, or of torture to their consciences."
+Connecticut disestablishes Congregational ChurchThough Connecticut had long allowed "sober dissenting" churches to operate legally in the state and collect tax money, the Congregational Church remains the official state church. Dissenting churches chafe under their authority. Connecticut disestablishes in 1818; in 1833, Massachusetts abolishes a law requiring citizens to belong to a church.
+Mormons retreat after violenceAttacks against MormonsAs the Mormon faith gains followers, its adherents experience contentious and sometimes violent confrontations with their neighbors. Three major communities are built and then abandoned in Ohio, Missouri and Illinois before the Mormons ultimately settle in Utah. In 1838, non-Mormons in Missouri try to prevent church members from voting, leading to a bloody melee. In the charged aftermath of the violence, Missouri Gov. Lilburn Boggs orders all Mormons to either be driven from the state or wiped out.
+Catholic convent burned in MassachusettsDays after Protestant preacher Lyman Beecher delivers a fiery sermon in downtown Boston about the threat posed by the rising tide of Catholic immigrants, the Ursuline Convent, a Catholic-run school attended largely by wealthy Protestant young women in Charlestown, Mass., is attacked by a mob and burned.
+John HughesArchbishop John Hughes leads Catholic challenge to New York public schoolsArchbishop John Hughes is born in Ireland, where he witnesses oppression of Catholics by the country's ruling Protestant minority. After emigrating to America, he is ordained in Philadelphia and then moves to New York, where parents have taken many of the city's 12,000 Catholic children out of the public school system. They see the schools as bigoted against Catholics and object to the use of the Protestant King James version of the Bible. Arguing that no religion should be favored above another, Hughes petitions the city council, demanding Catholics be given money to set up their own schools. After losing the vote, he turns to politics, urging Catholics to vote for his slate of candidates in the 1841 state elections. Nearly all of his candidates win, and in 1842 the state passes a bill ending religious instruction in public schools. Four days later, riots break out; bricks are thrown through Hughes' windows, and the doors of his house are kicked in.
+Catholics and Protestants clash in Philadelphia Bible riotsThe riots are precipitated by a letter from Philadelphia's Catholic bishop, who requests that Catholic children be allowed to read the Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible rather than the Protestants' King James Version. Catholic churches and homes are burned by Protestant nativists, soldiers are called in, and both rioters and soldiers are killed. Following the riots, the bishop ends his efforts to reform the public schools and encourages the establishment of separate Catholic schools.
+Supreme Court: First Amendment not applicable to individual statesA Catholic priest presiding over a funeral in New Orleans is charged with violating a local public health ordinance on the display of dead bodies. Citing his First Amendment rights, he appeals all the way to the Supreme Court, which rules in Permoli v. Municipality that the Bill of Rights applies only to the federal government, not the states.
+Fourteenth Amendment passed; ensures Bill of Rights applies to statesPassed in the wake of the Civil War, the 14th Amendment includes a Due Process Clause, which ensures that the protections enshrined in the Bill of Rights are guaranteed under state law. Section 1 of the amendment includes the following: "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
+Supreme Court rules polygamy not protected under First AmendmentConvicted of bigamy, George Reynolds, a Mormon living in Utah, argues that his religious duty requires him to marry more than one woman and that his rights are protected under the Free Exercise Clause. In Reynolds v. United States, the court makes a distinction between religious beliefs, which are protected, and religiously motivated actions, which can be regulated. Polygamy was outlawed in the U.S. in 1862. Reynolds marks the first time the Supreme Court addresses the issue of free exercise.
+Native American children forced to attend Protestant schoolsDespite increasing Catholic and Jewish immigration in the late 19th century, the United States remains an overwhelmingly Protestant nation, and the dominant Protestant ethos deeply influences the federal government's policy toward Native Americans. Convinced that "civilization and the gospel go hand in hand," the government authorizes religious institutions to establish boarding schools to assimilate Native American children. Between 1879 and 1918, approximately 12,000 schoolchildren from 140 tribes attend these schools.
+Battle of Wounded Knee; Native Americans seeking to exercise religious rights killedStraining under the heavy-handed policies of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, some Native Americans rally around the visions of a Paiute shaman, Wovoka, also known as Jack Wilson. Versed in Christianity as well as Native rituals, Wovoka prophesizes an end to white expansion and preaches clean and honest living. The core ritual of his religion is the Ghost Dance, which sweeps across the West and is picked up by Lakota Sioux. Concerned that the dance poses a potential threat, the Bureau of Indian Affairs orders it banned. At the Pine Ridge reservation in North Dakota, federal agents confront a group of Lakota Sioux who practice the dance. Shooting breaks out and in the ensuing massacre, both U.S. soldiers and unarmed Sioux men, women and children are killed.
+John ScopesScopes monkey trial: Biology teacher tried for teaching evolutionJohn Scopes, a young biology teacher, is arrested after defying a Tennessee law that bans the teaching of evolution in the classroom. The ensuing trial pits fundamentalist orator and three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan against trial attorney Clarence Darrow, a famous criminal lawyer and self-proclaimed agnostic. Dubbed "the trial of the century," and "the monkey trial," the proceedings are broadcast live on nationwide radio. Scopes is found guilty; the decision is later overruled on a technicality. Days after the trail Bryan dies. Reporter H. L. Mencken gloats, "We killed the son-of-a-bitch." The big city press portrays the trial as a defeat for the fundamentalists.
resourcesMonkey Trial (AMERICAN EXPERIENCE)
+Supreme Court ruling protects Jehovah's Witnesses' right to solicitationAfter handing out religious pamphlets door-to-door in a predominantly Catholic neighborhood in New Haven, Conn., Jehovah's Witness Newton Cantwell and his two sons are arrested for violating an ordinance requiring a permit for solicitation. They are also charged with breaching the peace by playing loud music hostile to the Catholic faith. In Cantwell v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court finds that local authorities cannot restrict solicitation based on religious beliefs and that the Cantwells' activities are protected under the First and 14th Amendments.
resourcesCantwell v. Connecticut (Oyez)
+Supreme Court ruling resurrects Jefferson's "wall of separation" between church and stateUnder New Jersey law, parents can be reimbursed for public transportation fares incurred in sending children to school; the law is challenged by a taxpayer because it includes parochial schools. In Everson v. Board of Education, Justice Hugo Black writes: "The establishment of religion clause means at least this: Neither a state nor the federal government may set up a church. Neither can pass laws that aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. ... In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation between church and state.'" Despite the ringing endorsement of Jefferson's metaphor, the court rules that reimbursement of Catholic parents does not violate the First Amendment.
+Vashti McCollum and her sonSupreme Court rules against school "release time" during religious instructionVashti McCollum, a self-described humanist from Champaign, Ill., challenges the practice of allowing students in public schools to attend voluntary religious instruction during school hours, on school property. When her son and other students chose not to attend the classes, they are left to study alone in an empty room. McCollum sues the local school board; her family is subjected to harassment and hate mail; the family cat is lynched. The case reaches the Supreme Court, which rules 8-1 in favor of McCollum, saying the practice of holding religious classes on tax-supported property violates the Establishment Clause. In a concurring opinion, Justice Felix Frankfurter argues the purpose of public schools is to promote unity; the release time program makes students aware of their religious differences.
+In God We Trust stamp"In God We Trust" becomes national mottoThough the phrase "In God We Trust" had appeared earlier in the nation's history, including on coins minted in the 19th century, the phrase officially becomes the national motto during the Cold War, when the nation confronts the threat of "godless communism." World War II veteran Congressman Charles Bennett (D-Fla.) introduces the bill, stating: "At the base of our freedom is our faith in God and the desire of Americans to live by His will and His guidance. As long as this country trusts in God, it will prevail."
+John F. Kennedy gives a speech in Houston about Catholic faithJFK gives speech about his Catholic faithJohn F. Kennedy's presidential candidacy reignites the struggle over separation of church and state. The prospect of a Catholic in the White House alarms supporters of Kennedy's opponent Richard Nixon, who is closely aligned with the Rev. Billy Graham. As the fall campaign begins, Graham writes Kennedy a letter assuring him that rumors Graham might raise the religious issue aren't true. In September, Kennedy confronts the issue in a speech delivered before 300 Protestant ministers. "I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute," he says, "where no Catholic prelate would tell the president -- should he be Catholic -- how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote."
resourcesRead Billy Graham's Letter to JFKText and Video of Kennedy's speech (JFK Library)John F. Kennedy (AMERICAN EXPERIENCE)
+Newspaper headline, School prayer ruled illegalSupreme Court rules school prayer unconstitutionalThe decisive battle over school prayer begins in a Long Island suburb after the state recommends an official nondenominational prayer for schoolchildren to recite: "Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon thee, and beg thy blessings upon us, our teachers, and our country." Five families sue the school district, and the case is appealed to the Supreme Court, which rules that the prayer violates the Establishment Clause. Writing for the majority, Justice Hugo Black argues, "It is no part of the business of government to compose official prayers for any group of the American people to recite as a part of a religious program carried on by government." According to legal scholar Sarah Barringer Gordon, "The school prayer decision was, in its day, the most unpopular decision the Supreme Court had ever made."
+Supreme CourtSupreme Court says Bible reading, reciting Lord's Prayer in schools unconstitutionalStudents in Pennsylvania public schools are required to read the Bible and recite the Lord's Prayer daily, although they can be excused from the practice with a note from their parents. In Abington School District v. Schempp, the Supreme Court rules the practices violate both the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. In the ruling, the court establishes a new and important test of the Establishment Clause: A law must have a "secular legislative purpose and a primary effect" that neither advances nor inhibits religion. The ruling provokes widespread public outrage; outspoken atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair, is involved in a case consolidated with Abington and becomes "the most hated woman in America."
resourcesAbington School District v. Schempp (Oyez)The Establishment Clause (The First Amendment Center)The Free Exercise Clause (The First Amendment Center)
+Court grants religious exemption to the military draftU.S. v. Seeger hinges on the interpretation of "religious training and belief," an acceptable reason for an exemption from the military draft. The definition of "religious training and belief" approved by Congress in 1948 is "an individual's belief in a relation to a supreme being ... but [not including] essentially political, sociological, or philosophical views or a merely personal moral code." Three individuals, including a Buddhist and a Hindu, request religious exemptions; since they do not believe in a supreme being the court has to decide whether they qualify. The court rules in their favor, holding that the religious test should determine whether individuals have "a sincere and meaningful belief occupying in the life of its possessor a place parallel to that filled by the God." In a concurring opinion, Justice William Douglas describes America as "a nation of Buddhists, Confucianists, and Taoists, as well as Christians."
+Ban on teaching evolution ruled unconstitutionalAn Arkansas biology teacher sues, seeking to nullify a state law banning the teaching of evolution; the law specifically prohibits instruction that human beings are descendants of a lower class of animals. The court rules the ban violates the Establishment Clause because the law is based solely on the beliefs of fundamentalist Christians.
+Three-part "Lemon test" established to determine First Amendment violations The landmark case Lemon v. Kurtzman strikes down Pennsylvania and Rhode Island laws that give direct financial assistance to private schools, including parochial schools. In the ruling, the court lays out a three-part test, which becomes known as the "Lemon test," to decide whether a statute violates the Establishment Clause: Does it have a secular purpose? Does it have the primary effect of promoting any religious beliefs? Does it "excessively entangle" religion with government? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, the law is unconstitutional.
+Amish children exempted from state education requirementsThree Amish parents in Wisconsin are prosecuted under a law requiring compulsory public school attendance for all children until age 16. In Wisconsin v. Yoder, the court unanimously rules that the Amish individuals' free exercise claim outweighs the state's interest. The court holds that "Only those interests of the highest order and those not otherwise served can overbalance legitimate claims to the free exercise of religion."
+Supreme Court sets new legal standard for religious messages in public displaysThe local chapter of the ACLU challenges the constitutionality of a Christmas display sponsored by the city of Pawtucket, R.I.; it includes assorted holiday figures -- carolers, Santa Claus' house, candy canes and reindeer -- alongside a Nativity scene. The court rules in Lynch v. Donnelly that the display celebrates the holiday season generally and does not violate the Establishment Clause. The decision establishes what becomes known as the "endorsement test": Does a government action appear to endorse or disapprove of religion? If so, it is unconstitutional.
+Supreme Court rules "moment of prayer" violates the Lemon test; is unconstitutionalAn Alabama statute provides for a "moment of silence" during school for "meditation or voluntary prayer." In Wallace v. Jaffree, the court rules that a neutral moment of silence could be constitutional, but that the Alabama law was motivated by a religious purpose and thus violated the "Lemon test" established in 1971.
+Supreme Court overturns Louisiana law banning teaching of evolution in public schoolsThe law passed by the Louisiana Legislature forbids the teaching of evolution unless the teaching is accompanied by instruction in the theory of creation science. The court rules 7-2 in Edwards v. Aguillard that the law is invalid because its purpose is religious, not secular, violating the first requirement of the 1971 "Lemon test."
+Peyote case tests Free Exercise ClauseClassified as an illegal drug in the United States, peyote is used in a number of Native American rituals. Federal law and 23 states make an exception allowing the drug to be used in religious ceremonies. In Employment Division [Oregon] v. Smith, the Supreme Court rules that the state of Oregon, which does not have an exemption, can deny an individual unemployment benefits if the state fires the person for using peyote in a religious ceremony. The Smith decision signals that while states have the power to make exemptions for religious exercises that involves otherwise illegal acts, they are not required to make those exceptions.
+Supreme Court rules against nondenominational graduation prayerA Rhode Island parent sues the Providence school district for inviting a rabbi to offer prayers at a middle school graduation ceremony. The court rules in Lee v. Wiseman that the action violates the Establishment Clause; because attendance at the graduation ceremony was compulsory, the prayer constitutes government endorsement of religion.
+Hare Krishnas denied exemption to solicitation banIn the case International Society for Krishna Consciousness v. Lee, members of the society argue that their First Amendment rights of free speech are violated by a rule banning solicitation in New York City airport terminals. The Krishnas argue that their religious beliefs require them to perform a ritual called sankirtan -- "going into public places, disseminating religious literature and soliciting funds to support the religion." The Supreme Court rules that airport terminals are not public spaces and therefore the Krishnas could be denied solicitation rights in the terminals.
+Supreme Court strikes down laws prohibiting animal sacrifice in religious worshipShortly after a Santeria church moves into the city of Hialeah, Fla., the city passes several ordinances prohibiting animal sacrifices. The Supreme Court rules unanimously that the statutes are unconstitutional because they were not justified by a compelling governmental interest and because they specifically targeted the Santeria practice.
+Congress passes bill to ensure protection of free exerciseIn the wake of the 1990 Employment Division v. Smith case, courts rule against religious groups and individuals in more than 50 free exercise cases. Religious and civil liberties organizations team up to support what becomes known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to provide more federal protection for religious exercise. RFRA runs into trouble when a Roman Catholic church in Texas wants to renovate and enlarge its facility and is denied a permit because it is in a historic preservation district. In Boerne v. Flores, the court rules that RFRA "substantially burdens" free exercise by overly restricting a state's ability to enforce its laws.
+Supreme Court: University discriminating by not funding evangelical publicationRon Rosenberger, editor of the evangelical publication Wide Awake, applies to the University of Virginia for funds that are routinely disbursed to student groups and publications. The university refuses his request because the publication "primarily promotes or manifests a particular belief in or about a deity or an ultimate reality." By a 5-4 majority, the Supreme Court rules that the university violated Rosenberger's free speech rights.
+Supreme Court rules state can deny scholarship funding to theology studentJoshua Davey, an undergraduate student at a local evangelical college, applies to the state of Washington's Promise Scholarship program. The state Constitution, however, prohibits the funding of religious instruction, and the scholarship fund specifically stipulates that the money cannot be used to obtain a degree in theology if the degree program is designed to cause belief. Davey, who is studying to be a minister, is denied the scholarship. In Locke v. Davey, the Supreme Court rejects Davey's claim that his First Amendment rights were violated because neither the scholarship program rules nor the state Constitution "suggests animus towards religion." The court also acknowledges that states have a "historic and substantial interest" in not using public funds for religious activities.
resourcesLocke v. Davey (Oyez)
+Supreme Court rules on two cases involving display of Ten CommandmentsOne suit demands the removal of a 6-foot-high monument of the Ten Commandments that had been on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol for 40 years. The other involves the prominent display of the commandments in two Kentucky courthouses. By a vote of 5-4, the court upholds the constitutionality of the display in the Texas case on the basis that the display serves to convey moral and historical messages, not to specifically advance religion. In the Kentucky case, however, the court rules 5-4 that the display violates the Constitution because it is mounted with the primary purpose of advancing religion.
+Federal court judge rules requirement to teach intelligent design unconstitutionalParents of children in the Dover, Pa., public school district sue over the district's requirement that schools teach intelligent design alongside evolution. In Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District, U.S. District Court Judge John E. Jones III rules the policy is unconstitutional, writing that intelligent design "cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents." As part of his decision, Judge Jones orders the Dover school board to pay legal fees and damages, which are eventually set at $1 million.
+VA allows Wiccan emblems on government-issued grave markers In 2006, Wicca followers successfully sue the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs over the VA's exclusion of the Wiccan emblem, a pentacle with points representing earth, air, fire, water and spirit, from being displayed on government-issue military grave markers. Prior to this ruling, the Department of Veterans Affairs approved 38 "emblems of faith" that military members or their families could choose from to display on government grave markers.
+New Mexico landscapeSpain seeks to spread Catholicism in modern-day New MexicoCatholic Spain sends Franciscan friars to modern-day New Mexico to establish missions along the Rio Grande. The original inhabitants of this land, the Pueblos, have their own religious rituals, beliefs and practices that are deeply embedded in their culture and way of life. Some Pueblos incorporate aspects of the Catholic religion into their own faith, while others reject Catholicism entirely.
+Anglican settlers arrive in VirginiaIn reaction to Spain and Spanish Catholicism's growing influence in the New World, England seeks to establish the English Crown and the English church, known as the Anglican Church, in the New World by sending settlers, who create the colony of Jamestown, Va. Among the missions laid out in King James' charter: "propagating of Christian religion to such People, as yet live in Darkness and miserable Ignorance of the true Knowledge and Worship of God."
resourcesThe First Charter of Virginia
+Dutch Reformed Church organizes in New NetherlandsWith a congregation of 50 members, the Dutch Reformed Church is organized with communicants from Holland in present-day New York City. The Dutch Reformed Church remains the established church in the Dutch colony of New Netherlands until the British capture the colony in 1664.
+Puritans in MassachusettsProtestant dissidents settle in MassachusettsProtestant reformers from England arrive in Massachusetts in two waves. In 1620, the Pilgrims break their ties with the Church of England and settle in present-day Plymouth. In 1630, the Puritans establish the Massachusetts Bay Colony in Boston. Unlike the Pilgrims, they retain their ties to the Church of England, but try to reform it by establishing a model Christian commonwealth under the leadership of John Winthrop.
+The Jesuit Relations describe encounters with Native AmericansFirst published in 1632, the Jesuit Relations are yearly reports written by French Catholic missionaries who ministered to the Native American population in what is today the Northeast United States. The Relations detail efforts to Christianize the Native population, who are believed to be "pagan savages." The reports, printed until 1673, offer a rare portrait of Native culture and daily life.
+Catholics settle in MarylandIn 1632, Lord Baltimore, a wealthy English Catholic, receives a charter from King Charles I to establish a colony in America. Baltimore wants to create a haven for persecuted Catholics; the king sees a practical political advantage in giving them refuge abroad. In 1634, Baltimore's son brings both Catholics and Protestants to present-day Maryland, where he hopes they will live amicably. But conflicts between Catholics and Protestants in England influence their relationship in the New World. When the Protestant monarchs William and Mary ascend to the English throne, Catholicism is once again made illegal in England. In 1692, Maryland becomes a royal colony, and Anglicanism becomes the established religion.
+Puritans exile Roger Williams; he founds Providence and guarantees liberty of conscienceBanished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony led by John Winthrop, Roger Williams founds Providence in present-day Rhode Island. Williams had quarreled with Puritan authorities over their theology, their decision to remain within the Church of England and their failure to pay Native Americans for their land. Williams' colony of Providence guarantees freedom of conscience and becomes a haven for religious dissidents.
+Waves of immigration create religious diversityWhile the Puritans try to maintain control of the religious life of their colony in Massachusetts, waves of immigration are creating a rich tapestry of diversity elsewhere in America. Newcomers from Germany -- Mennonites, Amish, Anabaptists, Dunkers and Moravians -- join the Quakers arriving in Pennsylvania. Anglicans settle in the Southern colonies, and Baptists settle first in Pennsylvania before moving on to the unsettled frontiers of the Anglican colonies. Reformed Church and Jewish immigrants arrive in the Dutch colony of New Netherlands. The waves of immigration that begin in the 1650s continue until the American Revolution.
+First Jewish colony founded in New AmsterdamSephardic European Jews had found safe haven in the Dutch colony of Brazil following persecution during the Inquisition. But when the Portuguese take control of Brazil in 1654, the Jews flee potential persecution and arrive in the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam in present-day New York.
+Puritan translates Bible into the "Indian Language"To help Christianize the Native peoples living in communities around Massachusetts Bay, Puritan missionary John Eliot translates the Bible into an Algonquian dialect. The "Eliot Bible," as it comes to be known, is the first complete Bible printed in America. The Puritans also publish the first book in America, a book of hymns titled The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated Into English Metre.
resourcesView a page from the "Eliot Bible"
+William Penn establishes Pennsylvania; welcomes people of all faithsIn Pennsylvania's founding documents, William Penn, previously jailed in England for his Quaker faith, includes provisions for religious toleration, freedom of the press and statements of equality for women (though not slaves). Over the course of 50 years, Penn's "holy experiment" attracts Quakers and Anglicans from England; Lutherans, Reformed, Mennonites, Amish and Dunkers from Germany; and Presbyterians from Scotland. Catholics and Jews also come and are granted religious toleration, but are not given the right to vote, a privilege only extended to Protestants.
+Slave trade merges Christianity and West African religious traditionsAfricans who are enslaved and transported to America in the 17th and 18th centuries bring with them West African religious traditions. Wholly unfamiliar with these rituals and beliefs, many slaveholders suspect the Africans of practicing paganism or Islam. At first, owners and traders have little interest in converting slaves to Christianity -- nor do they encourage them to practice their own religion openly -- but with the founding of the Society of the Propagation of the Gospel in 1701, Anglican missionaries begin to actively promote the Gospel to slaves. Over time, enslaved Africans meld African worship with Christianity, creating new religious forms that eventually give rise to the black church.
resourcesThis Far by Faith (PBS)
+George WhitefieldFirst Great Awakening sweeps the colonies; divides denominationsThe first mass movement in American history, the Great Awakening is kindled in Western Massachusetts and catches fire when the Anglican priest George Whitefield draws crowds that number in the thousands to revivals. Ignoring parish boundaries and upsetting social hierarchies, Whitefield and his followers preach freely in fields, farms and town commons, encouraging people to make a direct and immediate connection to the Divine. In one 15-month span, it is estimated that as much as a quarter of the country hears Whitefield's message. The emotion and broad populist tone of the revivals -- which bring together adherents from across the Protestant spectrum -- stir heated controversy, dividing some denominations, including Congregationalists and Presbyterians. Whitefield's defenders include the minister Jonathan Edwards, known as the "theologian of the heart."
+Only two Huguenot congregations remain in AmericaBy 1700, as many as 2,500 Huguenots, French Protestants, flee their homeland to avoid persecution by the Catholic Church. But in America they quickly lose their cultural and religious autonomy in the expanding American marketplace. By the time of the American Revolution, the last two Huguenot congregations have folded. Other groups, like the Puritans, also begin to lose members in the competitive religious environment.
+BaptistsPennsylvania Baptists seek to evangelize VirginiaA large number of Baptists move from Pennsylvania to Anglican Virginia, where they join forces with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison to challenge the right of any government to compel citizens to adhere to one specific religion.
+Quran transcribed by Muslim slaveSome of the first Muslims in America were slaves taken from Africa. In 1768, a slave named Charno, who lives in South Carolina, transcribes four suras, or chapters, from the Quran in Arabic. Muslim slaves from Morocco petition the state of South Carolina for their freedom in 1790.
+Franciscan missionaries arrive in CaliforniaFranciscan missionaries establish 21 missions in California -- from present-day San Diego in the south to San Francisco in the north -- aiming to convert the Native Californian Indians from hunter-gatherers into novice Catholic farmers. The Native population, however, does not readily accept Catholicism, and when Mexico wins control of the California territory just over 40 years later, the missions are secularized.
+Congregational, Anglican churches lose market shareFor much of the 17th century, 90 percent of American congregations are Anglican or Congregational, but by the time of the Revolution, that percentage has shrunk to 35 percent. Anglican congregations are outnumbered by Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, and their numbers are matched by English and Welsh Baptists. Quakers, German Lutherans and German Reformed congregations are also on the rise.
+Declaration of Independence signingFreemasons among signers of the Declaration of IndependenceFreemasons, who had established 40 lodges in the colonies by the time of the Revolution, practice a "rational religion" that embraces the idea that there is one universal faith: "that religion in which all men agree." Influenced by deism and the Enlightenment, Freemasonry's basic tenets -- belief in the existence of a Creator God, an immortal soul and the importance of moral living and charity -- allow members to incorporate elements from the particular denominations in which they were raised without renouncing their religion entirely.
+Methodist Church in America establishedThe Methodist Episcopal Church, an outgrowth of the Anglican Church, arrives in America prior to the Revolutionary War and soon begins attracting converts. Founded by Francis Asbury and Thomas Coke, the Methodist Church in America offers a more democratic leadership than the hierarchical Anglican Church and quickly becomes the fastest growing denomination in the American religious marketplace.
+U.S. begins trading with China, IndiaThe initiation of trade with China and India exposes the American population to Asian religious traditions. In 1799, the Unitarian theologian Joseph Priestley publishes A Comparison of the Institutions of Moses With Those of the Hindoos and Other Ancient Nations. (Priestley also encourages Thomas Jefferson to continue his study of the life of Jesus; Jefferson's work eventually becomes known as the Jefferson Bible.)
+RevivalSecond Great Awakening leads to creation of new denominations, sectsVolatile, energetic, competitive and creative, the Second Great Awakening, a series of religious revivals across the new nation, transforms the country's religious landscape. Populist denominations, notably the Methodists and Baptists, race far ahead of the old established churches; utopian communities dot the landscape; millennial expectations fire the imaginations of thousands waiting or working for God's kingdom. The end of established state churches contributes to the upsurge, but the deeper cause is rooted within the nature of American society itself. Restless, freewheeling and robust, Americans are surging toward the new frontier, asserting their place in society, challenging convention and upending accepted traditions.
+Richard Allen and bishops of the AME Church Source: Library of CongressAfrican Methodist Episcopal Church forms in Philadelphia After leading a group of free blacks out of St. George's Methodist Church in Philadelphia, Methodist minister Richard Allen, himself a former slave, founds St. Bethel's African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Bethel retains ties to the Methodist Church until 1816, when the AME establishes itself as a distinct denomination. The AME Church becomes one of the largest black churches in the United States during the early 19th century, drawing in free blacks living in major cities across the Northeast. After the Civil War, AME evangelists disperse across the South, exhorting recently freed slaves to embrace Christ and the AME Church.
+Circuit riderMethodism becomes the fastest growing denomination in AmericaIn the years following the Revolutionary War, the denomination explodes, attracting tens of thousands of adherents. Promoting a "boiling hot religion," the Methodists employ circuit riders who travel hundreds of miles, preaching to scattered populations along the frontier. Unlike older, more established denominations, Methodists acknowledge the importance of supernatural phenomena -- signs, dreams, visions and ecstatic experiences. The faith focuses on religious discipline or methods, touching a nerve with a population looking for order in a newly forming society. Methodists also welcome women and blacks and encourage democratic participation. By 1812, one in every 36 Americans is a member of the Methodist Church. By 1850, the Methodist Church becomes the largest denomination in the country.
+Cane Ridge RevivalCane Ridge revival hosts Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist preachersThe revivals of the Second Great Awakening typically take the form of camp meetings -- extended outdoor meetings that draw people together for days of ecstatic worship. In 1801, the most famous camp meeting occurs at Cane Ridge in Bourbon County, Ky. Preachers from many denominations exhort to a mixed crowd estimated at between 10,000 and 20,000 -- black and white, free and slave, poor and well-to-do. Most come hoping to experience intense, emotional and heartfelt worship; some come just to watch. One young attendee, James Finley, pledges he will not be swept away by the religious fervor, but he undergoes a conversion experience and later becomes a Methodist preacher and social reformer.
+The first Universalist ministers preach in AmericaRejecting the idea that only a small number of individuals are chosen for salvation, Universalists split from Baptist and Congregational denominations. Another movement, Unitarianism, splits from the Puritans in New England, but becomes more popular in the 19th century. Unitarians reject the idea of the Holy Trinity (God as Father, Son and Holy Ghost) in favor of a unitary God and seek to open Christian doctrines to rational inspection and inquiry. The two traditions merge in 1961.
+Baptists form national denominationAt the inaugural Triennial Convention, 33 delegates from various Baptist churches meet in Philadelphia to expand missionary operations, using their collective strength and wealth to finance foreign evangelism. The meeting signifies increasing solidarity among Baptist denominations and churches that traditionally had operated autonomously. The Baptists become the second fastest growing denomination after the Methodists.
+Connecticut disestablishes the Congregational ChurchCongregational minister Lyman Beecher adamantly opposes disestablishment, but in a famous about-face he changes his mind, writing: "For several days I suffered what no tongue can tell for the best thing that ever happened to the State of Connecticut. It cut the churches loose from dependence on state support. It threw them wholly on their own resources and on God." Beecher comes to believe that the voluntarism encouraged by disestablishment creates a new religious vibrancy in America. When Massachusetts, the last state with an established church, contemplates disestablishment in 1833, Beecher is one of the most outspoken proponents.
+Joseph Smith founds MormonismFourteen-year-old Joseph Smith experiences the first in a series of revelations while asking God for help in choosing the "right" religion from the scores of Protestant sects available to him. Seven years later, guided by an angel who appears to him in a vision, Smith claims to unearth a set of golden tablets that contain the seed of a new religion: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, popularly known as Mormonism. Mormonism becomes the most successful homegrown religion in the United States.
resourcesMormonism Origins, History, Beliefs (Patheos)The Mormons (AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and FRONTLINE)
+Wagon TrailProtestant society founded to promote Christianity in the American WestBelieving "that the religious and political destiny of our nation is to be decided in the West," several Protestant denominations unite to form the American Home Missionary Society. They hope to transform the West from a wild frontier into a "Garden of the Lord," filled with churches and schools to provide for the West's moral, spiritual and civic health. In an 1835 speech "A Plea for the West," Congregationalist minister Lyman Beecher calls for the creation of "permanent, powerful literary and moral institutions, which, like great orbs of attraction and light, shall send forth at once their power and their illumination."
+America sends Protestant missionaries to ChinaAmerican missionaries had traveled to Burma and India 20 years earlier, and reports sent back to the United States from these and the Chinese missions provide Americans back home with context to understand Asian religious traditions.
+Children reading the BibleEvangelicals take advantage of advances in print technologyIn the first half of the 19th century, advances in print technology and the creation of a unified postal service enable evangelical Christian organizations to regularly reach a wide audience in the expanding nation with pamphlets, tracts and magazines. Between 1816 and 1820 -- the first four years of its existence -- the American Bible Society prints nearly 100,000 Bibles; by 1830, the society prints as many as 1 million Bibles per year. By 1830, the American Tract Society distributes 6 million Christian tracts annually.
+New intellectual currents: Swedenborgianism & TranscendentalismAs individuals seek ways to reconcile religious mysticism with advances in science, two intellectual currents begin to attract followers. The first, a religion based on the vision of Emanuel Swedenborg, a Swedish philosopher, scientist and "religious genius," influences the second current, Transcendentalism. John Humphrey Noyes, minister and founder of the utopian Oneida Community, wrote: "The Bible and revivals had made men hungry for something more than social reconstruction. Swedenborg's offer of a new heaven as well as a new earth, met the demand magnificently. ... [T]he scientific were charmed, because he was primarily a man of science, and seemed to reduce the world to scientific order. The mystics were charmed because he led them boldly into all the mysteries of intuition and invisible worlds."
+Utopian and millennial sects multiplyHoping to bring about the Second Coming, visionaries create Christian communities based on different principles. The Shakers believe that sex is the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden and that their communal abstention from intercourse will bring about the millennium. The Oneida Community believes they must live as if they are already in the millennial kingdom; they create a communal structure in which all men are married to all women -- an arrangement they call complex marriage and others call free sex. The Community of True Inspiration, or Amana, roots itself in self-denial and simple piety. Of the roughly 120 social experiments embarked upon in this time period, only a small number achieve temporary successes; most wither away.
+SlavesSlave worship curtailedConvinced that he is a prophet, a slave named Nat Turner leads a rebellion in which he and his followers kill dozens of white men, women and children in Southampton County, Va. In the aftermath, slave owners curtail slaves' Christian worship, convinced that Christian teachings encourage disobedience and foment resistance. In the coming years, slave owners, abolitionists and the black church all point to the Bible to justify their conflicting positions on slavery.
+The Disciples of Christ is foundedFollowers of Presbyterians Alexander Campbell from Kentucky and Barton Stone from Pennsylvania realize they have much in common: belief in the ability of ordinary men and women to make religious decisions for themselves; a frustration with denominational divisions; and a desire to return to the authenticity of the early church. In 1832, the Campbellites and the Stonites informally unite and grow to more than a half million by the end of the century. Despite hopes of unity, this group, too, splits and forms multiple new denominations.
+Transcendentalist movement takes shapeEx-Unitarian minister Ralph Waldo Emerson scandalizes clergy in Boston in what becomes known as the "Divinity School Address," delivered at a Harvard Divinity School commencement. He argues that Christianity is no longer a "doctrine of the soul, but an exaggeration of the personal, the positive, the ritual. It has dwelt, it dwells, with noxious exaggeration about the person of Jesus." He chastises contemporary Christianity for preaching a message that God's works were finished in the past, as if God were not present here and now. Emerson comes to represent the American-born Transcendentalist movement, which stresses the importance of the personal religious quest. Though influenced by Swedenborgianism, Transcendentalism de-emphasizes the most mystical elements of Swedenborg's philosophy.
+Spiritual healing finds new disciplesMaine clockmaker Phineas Quimby hears a lecture on mesmerism and comes to believe that a thinking mind can heal spiritual as well as physical maladies. One of Quimby's disciples, Mary Baker Eddy, founds the First Church of Christ, Scientist after reading the Bible and focusing her thoughts to heal her body after a fall. Another product of Quimby's healing, Warren Felt Evans, founds a movement known as New Thought.
+Catholic population increases with Irish, German immigrantsIn the 18th century, the Catholic population is small and concentrated in Maryland and Pennsylvania. But in the 1830s and 1840s, the numbers swell with waves of immigrants from Germany and Ireland. In 1846, these waves turn into a flood as the Irish potato famine forces hundreds of thousands of Irish to flee their homeland. Suffering from poverty and weakened by malnourishment, the Irish are subject to disease, especially typhus. Most immigrants settle in major urban areas, where their growing presence fans long-smoldering anti-Catholicism.
+Spiritualism captures the American imaginationLike Swedenborgianism and Transcendentalism, Spiritualism becomes popular because of its potential to reconcile religion and science. It emerges at a time of growing discontent with existing religious establishments, particularly female discontent with the limitations on their prescribed roles within existing religious organizations. Newer denominations, such as Methodists, seek to include women, but Spiritualism becomes the most popular option available. Spiritualism's central mode of worship -- the séance, a gathering aimed at communicating with spirits -- attracts seekers demanding a more intense and full religious experience.
+The Seventh-day Adventist Church grows out of millennial predictionsA New York farmer, William Miller, uses numerical codes found in the Bible to calculate the imminent Second Coming of Christ, first dating it to March 21, 1843, then to Oct. 22, 1844. When the millennium fails to arrive, the date becomes known as "the great disappointment," and most of his followers, known as "Millerites," drift away. Some organize into new denominations like the Seventh-day Adventists, who believe the Second Coming is imminent but do not calculate a specific date for the event.
resourcesAdventist Origins, History, Beliefs (Patheos)Prophetic Belief in the United States: Apocalypse! (FRONTLINE)
+James Osgood AndrewMethodists split over slaveryThe split is triggered by a vote at the church's national meeting on the future of Bishop James Osgood Andrew, who had inherited a slave. As long as he remains a slaveholder, many Northern Methodists argue that he must resign as bishop. After two weeks of impassioned debate, the vote is split along regional lines; 68 Southerners defend Andrew, but 110 Northerners demand his resignation. A year later, Southern Methodists break away and form the Methodist Episcopal Church South.
+Joseph Smith killed by angry mobSoon after publishing The Book of Mormon in 1830, Joseph Smith leaves his home in Palmyra, N.Y., with several dozen followers. Persecuted by neighbors, the Mormons found and abandon three religious communities in Ohio, Missouri and Illinois. In 1839, Joseph Smith buys 18,000 acres in Illinois and builds a settlement he names Nauvoo. By 1844, the city's population has swelled to 12,000, rivaling the size of Chicago, and Smith consolidates his power, running the city, the courts and a militia. But after a newspaper exposes his secret practice of polygamy and criticizes the way the city is being run, Smith is imprisoned on charges of treason. Though the governor of Illinois promises protection, the jail is rushed by a mob of 200 non-Mormon men, who kill Smith.
+Baptists split over slaveryFollowing the Methodists' split, the Baptists, the second largest denomination in America, also split. Southerners break away to form the Southern Baptist Convention, which is today the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.
+The Holiness movement stresses spiritual growth Phoebe Palmer becomes the foremost proponent of the Holiness movement, which stresses the importance of spiritual growth over doctrine. Although she is never formally licensed to preach, Palmer becomes famous for the meetings held in her home. She lectures widely in the United States, Canada and Great Britain, and is a proficient writer, publishing a monthly magazine, Guide to Holiness, and authoring a steady stream of articles and 10 books, including The Way of Holiness. During the mid-19th century, Palmer encourages hundreds of thousands of men and women to pursue spiritual growth; today Holiness theology remains influential among Methodists and Pentecostals.
+Hispanic Catholicism takes root in CaliforniaHeavily influenced by Hispanic culture, the Catholicism practiced in the Western United States differs greatly from that practiced on the East Coast, which is dominated by the Irish, Italian and French. Although Catholics on the East Coast are by no means monolithic in their worship, they share more in common with each other than they do with the Hispanic Catholics in the West. For example, Guadalupe stands as both patron saint and national symbol for Hispanic Catholics; lay healers, or curanderos/curanderas, play an important role in Hispanic Catholicism. There are no such corresponding figures in the more European style of Catholicism practiced in the Eastern U.S.
+Chinese immigrants arrive in large numbers in San Francisco, bring new traditionsTaoist temples become focal points of the burgeoning immigrant community. The first significant numbers of Chinese to arrive in the United States come in 1848, at the beginning of the California Gold Rush. These immigrants, often wealthy merchants and skilled artisans, are welcomed to the United States. But in 1852, crop failure in China creates a new flood of Chinese immigrants, this time largely poor, unskilled laborers. The Kong Chow Temple, one of the first Taoist temples in the nation, plays a significant role in the welfare of the increasing number of Chinese immigrants to California.
+Presbyterians split over slaveryIn 1837, the Presbyterian Church splits over theological differences into two denominations, which become known as the "Old School" and the "New School." In 1857, the New School splits again over the issue of slavery; the Old School follows suit in 1861, creating four distinct Presbyterian denominations. The Northern and Southern branches of the Old and New Schools will reunite many years after the Civil War.
+Revivalism sweeps Northeastern citiesAs three major denominations split over slavery, revivalism sweeps cities in the Northeast. In Boston and New York, businessmen organize noonday prayer meetings. Evangelist Charles G. Finney observes: "It became almost universal throughout the Northern states. A divine influence seemed to pervade the whole land. Slavery seemed to shut it out from the South." The Great Revival further exposes the rift between those who believe the purpose of a revival is to save souls through conversion and those who believe that a revival must save society as well, especially regarding slavery, through moral reform.
+Heny McNeal Turner, nation's first black military chaplain, appointed by LincolnHenry McNeal Turner, a minister in the African Methodist Episcopalian Church, is appointed as chaplain to Company B of the 1st United States Colored Troops. One of 14 black chaplains to serve in the Union Army, Turner organizes prayer meetings, tends to the sick and wounded, and uses the Bible to teach black soldiers how to read. A prolific writer, Turner sends a stream of dispatches to The Christian Recorder, the newspaper of the AME Church. Elected bishop in 1880, Turner denounces white images of God and proclaims that God is black: "We have every right to believe that God is a Negro."
+Frederick Douglass Source: Library of Congress"Religious liberty ... flourishes best amid the clash ... of rival religious creeds"In a speech defending the rights of Chinese Americans in the face of anti-Chinese sentiment in the nation, Frederick Douglass expresses hope for a nation in which some level of religious mixture will improve each religion: "Shall we send missionaries to the heathen and yet deny the heathen the right to come to us? I think a few honest believers in the teachings of Confucius would be well employed in expounding his doctrines among us."
+Muslim immigrants arrive in New YorkIn search of prosperity and opportunity, a small number of Arab Muslims emigrate from the Ottoman Empire (predominantly from Syria, Lebanon and Palestine) and settle in New York. The new immigrants are primarily single men who work as merchants and laborers.
+Isaac Mayer WiseIsaac Mayer Wise brings Reform Judaism to AmericaBorn in Bohemia, Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise settles in Albany, N.Y., in 1846. Before leaving Germany, Wise hears scholars call for the need to reform Judaism to fit a modern world. He comes to believe that if Jews keep to the core tenets of their faith -- fearing God, loving man and observing the Sabbath -- the traditional laws governing everyday life -- how to pray and dress, what to eat -- are negotiable. Fired from his Albany synagogue, Wise travels the East Coast to raise money and spread his vision of an American Reform Judaism. In 1875, he founds the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. By 1880, 90 percent of America's synagogues have adopted Reform Judaism.
+James Healy becomes first black American Catholic bishopThe sons of a white Georgia plantation owner and a slave, James Healy and two of his brothers become three of the first black Catholic priests in America. The brothers, however, who were brought North by their father, do not identify themselves as black. James Healy becomes the first black bishop in 1875 when he is ordained in Portland, Maine.
+Mary Baker Eddy founds Church of Christ, ScientistPlagued with health problems, Mary Baker Eddy (then Patterson) recuperates following a fall by reading Scripture and becomes convinced of the power of the Bible, not medicine, to heal. "Sin, sickness and death," she believes, are controlled by the mind. Her book Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures sells more than 400,000 copies by 1900 and is a key component of every Christian Science service. The Church of Christ, Scientist is an outgrowth of the metaphysical movement that began in the 1830s as a way to reconcile faith and science.
+African Methodist Episcopal Church swells to 800,000 membersLess than 100 years after its founding, the AME Church has grown from one dissenting Philadelphia congregation into an influential national black church.
+Agnosticism takes root in AmericaIn the late 19th century, religion remains a dominant force, but for a small group of Americans, scientific progress, Darwinian theories and new technologies begin to edge out religion as the leading authority on "truth." A small minority of people known as "free thinkers" abandon their belief in God. The foremost proponent of this worldview is Robert Ingersoll, a lawyer and popular lecturer known as the "Great Agnostic." Ingersoll becomes the doubter Americans love to hate and is excoriated by newspaper editors and church leaders across the country.
+Controversy erupts at dinner celebrating graduation of first Reform Judaism rabbisRabbi Isaac Mayer Wise presides over the ordination of the first class of rabbis from Hebrew Union College. Following the ceremony, he hosts a dinner at Highland House, Cincinnati's most exclusive restaurant, for 200 guests, including distinguished rabbis and scholars from across the country. Observant Jews are shocked by the menu, which includes shellfish, beef in a cream sauce and other courses that are prohibited under Jewish dietary law. Wise refuses to apologize for the dinner, which comes to be known as the "trefa banquet" after the Yiddish word for "unkosher." Following the banquet, the split within American Judaism between traditionalists and reformers widens.
resourcesReform Judaism Origins, History, Beliefs (Patheos)Conservative Judaism Origins, History, Beliefs (Patheos)Orthodox Judaism Origins, History, Beliefs (Patheos)
+Catholicism becomes America's largest denominationWith 7.3 million members, the Catholic Church surpasses the Methodist Church (7.1 million members) to become the largest single denomination in America, largely through immigration. Protestants, however, still dominate the American religious marketplace.
+Mormons give up plural marriage to gain statehood for UtahFollowing Joseph Smith's death, Brigham Young leads a large migration of Mormons to their new home in the valley of the Great Salt Lake, then in Mexican territory. In 1850, Utah becomes a U.S. territory, and Young is appointed its governor. Congress rejects the Utah Territory's application for statehood four times, until Mormon President Wilford Woodruff announces in a document known as "The Manifesto" that the church will renounce the practice of polygamy. Utah becomes a state in 1896.
+Newspaper headline, Origin of speciesLiberal and Conservative Protestants divide over the inerrancy of ScriptureThe theories of Charles Darwin and biblical criticism challenge traditional understanding of the Bible. In German universities, scholars interpret biblical texts as the product of the times place and culture in which they were composed. Intoxicated by these new teachings, a young Presbyterian minister from New York, Charles Briggs, becomes persuaded that the Bible is divinely inspired but contains errors. Appointed to a chair at Union Theological Seminary in New York, Briggs delivers an inaugural lecture that incenses more conservative Protestants. They argue that the Bible is inerrant; that is, the "original autograph" of the Bible is free from error. In the Presbyterian Church, Briggs' opponents charge him with heresy. He is eventually convincted, loses his job and later became an Episcopal priest. Briggs' trial is one of a series of upheavals in American denominations -- Episcopalians and Methodists also convict ministers of heresy -- but the trials increase interest in the new ideas.
+Chicago World's Fair hosts World Parliament of ReligionsIn the first interfaith gathering of its kind, delegates from around the world -- a Confucian scholar, a Shinto priest, a Buddhist from Ceylon, a Hindu from India and a follower of Zoroaster -- gather together to present lectures on their faiths. Hindu Swami Vivekananda, a follower of the Indian holy man Ramakrishna, delivers a message of religious unity and emerges as the star of the Parliament. Mohammed Alexander Russell Webb, known as the first white American convert to Islam, lectures. Hindu and Buddhist presentations leave some Americans with a new appreciation and curiosity about Eastern religions as valid religious alternatives to Christianity and Judaism.
+Pope Leo XIII condemns American calls to reform CatholicismIn a papal encyclical, Pope Leo XIII condemns the growing call to liberalize the American Roman Catholic Church. "The underlying principle of these new opinions is that, in order to more easily attract those who differ from her, the church should shape her teachings more in accord with the spirit of the age and relax some of her ancient severity and make some concessions to new opinions," he writes, concluding that "it would give rise to the suspicion that there are among you some who conceive and would have the church in America to be different from what it is in the rest of the world."
+Los Angeles revival marks beginning of Pentecostal movementMarked by personal and ecstatic experiences, including speaking in tongues, the Pentecostal tradition takes root in Kansas and the South Central United States, but is propelled onto the national stage by the Azusa Street revival in Los Angeles. The revival lasts until 1909 and brings together worshippers of different races, ethnicities and socioeconomic classes. One participant, Charles H. Mason, founder of the Church of God in Christ, receives the gift of tongues at the revival. "When I opened my mouth to say Glory, a flame touched my tongue which ran down me," he later testifies. "My language changed and no word could I speak in my own tongue. Oh! I was filled with the Glory of the Lord. My soul was then satisfied." The Church of God in Christ becomes the largest predominantly black Pentecostal denomination in the country, with more than 200,000 members by 1933 and an estimated 5 million members by 1991.
+First Hindu temple in America is erected in San FranciscoThe first Hindu temples in America follow the message of unity and oneness presented by Swami Vivekananda at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. His message, which emphasizes being, awareness and spiritual development, shares principles with the Transcendentalism promoted by thinkers such as Emerson and Thoreau. Hindu temples that emphasize deity worship do not take root in the United States until after the Immigration Act of 1965 and the subsequent influx of Hindu Indian immigrants.
resourcesHinduism Origins, History, Beliefs
+Chinese, Japanese, Asian Indians immigrate to the American West, HawaiiBy 1908, 62 Chinese temples and 141 shrines have been built in 12 states. Three thousand Asian Indians, mostly Sikhs, arrive in the Western United States, and Korean Buddhists come to Hawaii to work on sugar plantations. Indian immigration exceeds 1,000 individuals, and a riot protesting "ragheads," as some Americans refer to Indians who wear turbans, takes place in Washington state.
+Christian evangelists dominate early commercial radio programmingThe new medium of radio changes the way Americans experience religion. Popular evangelists Billy Sunday, a fundamentalist, and "Sister Aimee" McPherson, a Pentecostal, use radio to reach larger audiences. In the 1930s, a Catholic priest, Father Charles Coughlin, uses his weekly radio program to criticize Franklin Roosevelt and promote virulent anti-Semitism. He becomes an embarrassment to the church and is eventually silenced.
resourcesSister Aimee (AMERICAN EXPERIENCE)
+American Jewish population reaches 2 millionEscaping European anti-Semitism, Jews immigrate to the United States in large numbers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. By 1924, the United States has become home to the largest Jewish population in the world.
+First African American mainstream Islamic community founded in New YorkShaykh Daoud Ahmed Faisal, who was born in Morocco and came to the United States from Grenada, establishes the Islamic Mission of America, a Sunni Muslim multiracial community also known as the State Street Mosque in New York City. Shaykh Daoud and the African American mainstream Islamic societies are shaped by the teachings of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, a missionary society from India that provides the first translation of the Quran used by African Americans. Mainstream Islam becomes a popular option for African Americans after the Immigration Act of 1965 brings more Sunni immigrants to the United States and Malcolm X famously leaves the Nation of Islam for Sunni Islam.
+Immigration act implements quotas; stems growth of religious diversityPassed in response to rising xenophobia and the Red Scare of 1919, the Johnson-Reed Immigration Act implements a strict system in which immigration quotas are based on 2 percent of the population already living in the U.S. (as recorded in the 1890 census). The act also curtails all immigration from Asia.
+Sign for trial of John ScopesScopes trial; evangelical and fundamentalist Christians retreat from public sphereThough they technically "win" when Tennessee biology teacher John Scopes is found guilty of defying a state law banning the teaching of Darwin in the classroom, fundamentalists are wounded by their portrayal in the big city press. Fundamentalist orator and three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, who argued for the prosecution during the trial, plans a speaking tour to continue the national crusade against evolution and the threat posed by science. But Bryan dies less than a week after the trial ends. With their national spokesman gone, fundamentalists retreat from the public limelight.
resourcesMonkey Trial (AMERICAN EXPERIENCE)
+Jesus redefined in the book The Man Nobody KnowsAuthor and advertising executive Bruce Barton describes Jesus as "the world's greatest business executive" who "forged twelve men from the bottom ranks of business into an organization that conquered the world." The best-selling book emphasizes Jesus' masculine traits, as opposed to the meek "Sunday School Jesus" -- a thread that will be picked up again by the late-20th-century emergence of the Christian men's ministry the Promise Keepers and Christian fight clubs.
+Catholic Al Smith runs for presidentFour-term governor of New York Al Smith wins the Democratic nomination in the 1928 presidential election. Nativists vehemently oppose his campaign, claiming that Smith will be loyal to the pope, not the Constitution, and attributing Smith's opposition to prohibition to his Catholicism. One campaign flyer warns that "The real issue in this campaign is PROTESTANT AMERICANISM VERSUS RUM AND ROMANISM." Reluctant to publicly discuss his religion, Smith loses to Herbert Hoover in a landslide.
+Great Depression transforms religious landscapeThe Great Depression's effect on the religious and cultural landscape of America is profound. In a time of national despair, fundamentalist, Pentecostal and Holiness traditions experience an awakening. The Assemblies of God church, for example, sees its membership almost triple. At the same time, large mainstream denominations lose their financial base and their members. With a renewed sense of the need for reform in the face of large-scale poverty, the Social Gospel experiences a revival. The National Council of Methodist Youth goes so far as to endorse socialism, circulating a pledge: "I surrender my life to Christ. I renounce the Capitalist system."
+Wallace D. Fard founds Nation of Islam Fard claims that blacks are the descendents of Moors or Arabs and that the Quran, not the Bible, is their true Scripture. After Fard disappears in 1934, his most devoted follower, Elijah Muhammad, assumes leadership of the movement, declares himself a "messenger of Allah," and builds a following among African Americans. While he identifies with Islam, Muhammad's teachings depart from traditional Sunni and Shi'a understandings of the religion. Incarcerated in a Boston prison, petty thief and street hustler Malcolm Little learns about Muhammad's teachings. Little soon changes his name to Malcolm X and becomes the Nation of Islam's leading spokesman.
+Religious radio programming regulatedIn response to contentious religious radio programs -- most notably with Father Charles Coughlin, whose political views had turned radical and fascist -- the National Association of Broadcasters sets out rules regarding how religion can be portrayed on NAB stations: "Radio ... may not be used to convey attacks upon another's race or religion. Rather it should be the purpose of the religious broadcast to promote the spiritual harmony and understanding of mankind and to administer broadly to the varied religious needs of the community."
+The National Association of Evangelicals foundedThe NAE seeks to unify the voices of evangelical Americans; one of the first issues to galvanize the group is access to radio. The Federal Council of Churches recommends that national radio stations allot free airtime to "recognized" faith communities; because evangelical churches are largely unorganized, they are not considered "recognized" churches. The NAE fights the distinction and persuades the networks to change their policies.
+Buddhist organization, practices transformed after Pearl Harbor Originally founded as the Buddhist Mission of North America, Japanese Buddhists change the name of their organization in 1944, hoping to allay American suspicions in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. The Buddhist Brotherhood of America distributes nonsectarian Buddhist literature to Japanese held in U.S. internment camps during the war. In an attempt to be more palatable to American sensibilities, a worship manual printed in English organizes the Buddhist ritual into a form recognizable to Christians, with hymns, responsive readings and creeds.
+Postwar America undergoes religious resurgence; nonbelievers viewed as anti-AmericanIn the postwar era, Americans flock to church in record numbers, swelling the growth of traditional denominations -- Methodists, Baptists, Disciples of Christ, Lutherans and Presbyterians. Church building booms; Bible sales skyrocket. Amid the prosperity, the United States and the Soviet Union face off in the Cold War, a spiritual struggle that pits Christian America against "godless communism." In 1952, President-elect Dwight Eisenhower famously says, "Our form of government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious faith, and I don't care what it is." This statement is taken as an admission that the nonreligious, be they atheist or socialist, are fundamentally anti-American. Because of the anti-communist views espoused by the church, Catholics gain greater acceptance in American society.
+Billy Graham with a bibleBilly Graham leads Los Angeles revivalTaking the stage in a series of revivals in Los Angeles, Billy Graham becomes one of the leaders of a new evangelicalism that departs from the strictures of fundamentalism and embraces new media, technology and institution building, bringing evangelicalism to national prominence. Fundamentalists criticize Graham for his willingness to work with liberal Protestants and politicians. The depth of this split is evident years later as Billy Graham schedules breakfast meetings with U.S. presidents, while fundamentalist leader Jerry Falwell preaches that political involvement is a sin.
+Evangelicals and fundamentalists split over response to "godless communism"As new evangelicals begin to shape a response to the threat of nonbelief -- namely "godless communism" -- in the post-World War II world, fissures between evangelicals and fundamentalists begin to show. Evangelicals argue that in the face of nonbelief, Christians must engage and participate in the outside culture in order to set the world right. Fundamentalists insist on remaining separate from popular culture and take a stridently adversarial position against the larger, secular society. Fuller Theological Seminary becomes a center for evangelicals, while schools like Bob Jones University remain solidly fundamentalist.
+The Power of Positive Thinking publishedNorman Vincent Peale's book sells more than 30 million copies and becomes one of the most widely read books in modern America. A Methodist and then Dutch Reformed pastor, Peale preaches on stage, in church, on the radio, on television and most famously in print. His message is of the individual's ability to take control of his or her inner spiritual life in order to achieve specific personal gains. Peale's message strikes a chord with Americans and shares aspects of the New Thought and later New Age religions. But Christian critics denounce Peale's version of Christianity and object to his overreliance on self-help.
+Radio evangelists successfully move to televisionPentecostal minister Rex Humbard becomes the first evangelist to host a weekly television show, Cathedral of Tomorrow. Widely broadcast, the program ushers in a new era in evangelism. Healing evangelists, such as Oral Roberts, soon follow Humbard to television and reach millions of viewers. These charismatic televangelists help move Pentecostalism into the mainstream.
+U.S. redefined as Judeo-Christian nationCollege professor Will Herberg publishes the influential book Protestant, Catholic, Jew: An Essay in American Religious Sociology. Herberg posits a "triple melting pot" in which Protestantism, Catholicism and Judaism form the branches of a shared national faith opposed to "godless communism."
+Life magazine profiles growth of Christian "fringe sects"In an article titled "The Third Force in Christendom," Life magazine heralds the explosive growth of "groups sometimes called 'fringe sects' -- those marked, in the extreme, by shouting revivalists, puritanical preachers of doomsday, faith healers, jazzy gospel singers." These groups include Pentecostals, Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses and the Churches of Christ. According to the article, membership in these churches has grown 600 percent in the 50 preceding years.
+FCC changes regulations; evangelical programming surgesAfter 1960, radio networks are no longer required to provide free airtime for religious programming. Mainline Christian programs wither, while evangelical programming surges in the newly competitive broadcast marketplace.
+Charismatic movement edges into mainline ProtestantismDennis J. Bennett, an Episcopal rector, receives the baptism of the Holy Spirit and begins to speak in tongues. He chooses to remain within the Episcopal Church and takes over a struggling parish in Seattle, turning it into a thriving Episcopal charismatic outpost. The charismatic movement takes root in other Protestant denominations, including the American Lutheran Church, the American Baptist Church, the United Methodist Church and the United Presbyterian Church (USA). By 1967, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal begins in the Roman Catholic Church.
+Neopaganism attracts growing followingIntroduced to the United States in the 1950s, Neopaganism includes a variety of traditions that share a rejection of institutional religion and a reverence for nature. Neopagans often believe in the mind's ability to influence life events and in the interconnected nature of life. Neopaganism's popularity in the 1960s and 1970s corresponds with movements for ecological and social justice, as well as trends toward more individual and private spirituality. Usually polytheistic, Neopagan traditions emphasize the diversity of individual experience and reject the idea of one truth for all people. As Wiccan priestess and journalist Margot Adler writes, "The spiritual world needs diversity to thrive. … Your own spiritual path is not necessarily mine."
+young Pat RobertsonPat Robertson begins broadcasting on televisionA young Southern Baptist minister, Pat Robertson purchases a defunct television station in Norfolk, Va., and begins his career in religious broadcasting. In 1966, Robertson names his main program The 700 Club and models its combination of talk and entertainment on the popular late-night program The Tonight Show. More than 40 years later, The 700 Club is still in production.
resourcesThe 700 Club
+San Francisco Zen Center establishedZen master Shunryu Suzuki arrives in San Francisco in 1959 with the goal of extending his teachings beyond the community of Japanese immigrants. Groups like the beatniks take the opportunity to attend Suzuki's classes. American interest in Zen Buddhism continues to grow with the 1965 publication of The Three Pillars of Zen.
resourcesBuddhism Origins, History, Beliefs
+Vatican II transforms American CatholicismLater heralded as one of the "most important events in church history" by Christianity Today, Vatican II, as the council is commonly known, brings the Catholic Church to a new level of openness and interaction with modernity, reversing Pope Leo XIII's 1899 papal directive against "Americanism" (his label for calls to liberalize the church). The Second Vatican Council returns the Catholic Church to its more ecumenical roots, stresses the necessity of repairing divisions within Christianity, and addresses the need to overcome anti-Semitism. At the council, bishops offer solutions for the church to overcome issues stemming from modernity, rather than avoiding them altogether. They also embrace the idea that "inalienable rights of conscience" should govern church-state relations, thus rejecting the historic Catholic stance that the church should enjoy a special relationship with government.
+Madalyn Murray O'Hair founds American AtheistsFounder of the American Atheists and the Society of Separationists, Madalyn Murray O'Hair promotes total separation of church and state. In the late 1950s, she begins to pursue a ban on prayer in public schools in the case Murray v. Curlett. Her case begins: "Your petitioners are Atheists, and they define their lifestyle as follows. An Atheist loves himself and his fellow man instead of a god. An Atheist accepts that heaven is something for which we should work now -- here on earth -- for all men together to enjoy. An Atheist accepts that he can get no help through prayer, but that he must find in himself the inner conviction and strength to meet life, to grapple with it, to subdue it and to enjoy it." Her case is consolidated with Abington School District v. Schempp, and in 1963, the Supreme Court rules mandatory public school prayer unconstitutional.
+Malcolm X converts to Sunni IslamAfter undertaking a pilgrimage, or hajj, to Mecca, Malcolm X leaves the Nation of Islam and converts to Sunni Islam. His conversion and establishment of the Muslim Mosque Inc. in New York leads to a new chapter in the African American Muslim experience: Sunni Islam becomes a more popular option than the Nation of Islam, the nontraditional sect that had dominated the African American Islamic landscape for decades.
+Muhammad Ali joins Nation of Islam; brings Islamic faith into popular cultureBorn Cassius Clay, boxer Muhammad Ali changes his name when he joins the Nation of Islam in 1964 after winning his first heavyweight championship. He converts to Sunni Islam in 1975, when W. Deen Mohammed transforms the NOI to the more traditional Islamic faith.
+Buddhist, Hindu GodsImmigration Act fundamentally reshapes America's religious landscapeThe Immigration Act of 1965, also known as the Hart-Celler Act, begins an era of "new immigration," opening the doors to people from nations with historically limited or prohibited immigration to America. Although Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Muslims had been living in the United States for more than a century, these religious communities experience unprecedented growth in the decades following the Immigration Act. Throughout the country, immigrants build communities complete with mosques, temples and gurdwaras, religious structures that had been nonexistent or hidden in America in the past.
+Time magazine asks: "Is God Dead?"The stark cover of the April 8, 1966 issue of Time magazine simply reads "Is God Dead?" in red letters on a black background. Stirring controversy, the cover is better remembered than the accompanying article, a discussion about the difficulties contemporary religion faces in making God relevant and necessary to modern life. Although the article itself does not assert that God is dead, it is often cited as a wildly inaccurate assessment of religious life in America at the time.
+First Mexican American Catholic bishopThough the roots of Hispanic Catholicism in the United States reach back more than 500 years, Patricio Flores becomes the first Hispanic bishop in 1970.
+Campus Crusade for Christ hosts "Great Jesus Rally"Founded in 1951, Campus Crusade for Christ focuses on evangelizing to college students and grows to become the largest evangelistic organization in the world. Nicknamed "Godstock," Explo '72, held at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, draws 80,000 conference attendees, who are joined by an additional 100,000 people for a Christian music festival later called "The Christian Woodstock." Life magazine features a cover article titled "The Great Jesus Rally in Dallas."
resourcesCampus Crusade for Christ
+The Nation of Islam dividesW. Deen Mohammed becomes the supreme minister of the Nation of Islam after his father, Elijah Muhammad, dies in 1975. Mohammed enacts what he calls the "Second Resurrection" of African Americans, working to align his Islamic community with mainstream Islam. He renames the Nation of Islam the Muslim American Community and moves the group toward Sunni Islam, stressing racial unity and making changes such as renaming the NOI temples "mosques" or "masajid" and ministers "imams." In 1978, Louis Farrakhan takes the older name and revives the NOI and its message of racial separation.
+Fall of Saigon brings Vietnamese Buddhists, Catholics to U.S.Just before the 1975 fall of Saigon, 125,000 Vietnamese refugees arrive in the United States. In 1980 and 1981, more than 180,000 Vietnamese follow in a second wave of immigration. Orange County, Calif., becomes home to the largest Vietnamese Buddhist community outside of Southeast Asia; Vietnamese Catholics settle in places like Carthage, Mo.
+Newsweek proclaims 1976 the "Year of the Evangelical"Just 10 years after Time magazine's controversial "Is God Dead?" article, Newsweek calls 1976 "The Year of the Evangelical." The article points to evidence of the rise of Holiness, Pentecostal, nondenominational and independent churches and the steady decline of mainline denominations.
+Hindu temples consecratedWith increased immigration from India, Hindu temples begin to dot the American landscape. Unlike earlier temples, these are often dedicated to the worship of one or more deities to respond to the religious needs of a diverse American Hindu population. The Maha Vallabha Ganapati Devasthanam temple in Flushing, N.Y., is referred to as the Ganesha Temple for its dedication to Ganesha, a widely worshipped elephant-headed deity. In a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pa., the Sri Venkateswara Temple is dedicated to Venkateswara, a reincarnated form of the god Vishnu, and receives up to 100,000 pilgrims each year.
+FalwellMoral Majority founded Jerry Falwell, a popular Baptist minister, organizes the conservative Christian lobbying movement. Setting aside his earlier aversion to mixing religion and politics, Falwell leads the organization into the political arena, where evangelical voters become a major force who transform both the religious and political landscape of the country, beginning with the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan.
+Council for Secular Humanism publishes declarationIn reaction to the growth of religious fundamentalism worldwide and "the reappearance of dogmatic authoritarian religions," the Council for Secular Humanism publishes "A Secular Humanist Declaration to promote a world "based upon the methods of reason and the principles of tolerance, compromise and the negotiations of difference." The council defines secular humanism's 10 key values -- including free inquiry, the separation of church and state, moral education and religious skepticism -- and argues for its potential to be "an impetus for humans to solve their problems with intelligence and perseverance, to conquer geographic and social frontiers, and to extend the range of human exploration and adventure." In 2009, Greg Epstein, the humanist chaplain at Harvard University, builds upon these ideas in his book Good Without God.
+Falwell on TVTelevangelists reach millions of Americans weekly; raise millions of dollarsBy the 1980s, the airwaves feature preachers including Jimmy Swaggart, Oral Roberts and Jerry Falwell. Observers call the era the age of the electronic church. The on-air appeal of televangelists attracts millions of viewers and brings in millions of dollars. A series of scandals later damages the reputations of several television preachers.
+First Shinto shrine established in CaliforniaShinto, a foundational element of Japanese culture, had been the state religion in Japan from the late 1860s until the Japanese Constitution disestablished the religion after World War II. The religion, which has no written scripture, relies on transmission from generation to generation, limiting its growth in America and also its appeal beyond Japanese American followers.
+U.S. Asian population doubles; reaches 7.2 millionThe rapidly growing population includes 650,000 Hindus, 100,000 Sikhs or Jains, and nearly 1 million Buddhists. According to scholars Thomas Tweed and Stephen Prothero, "In the 1990s there were more Buddhists than Quakers, more Muslims than Episcopalians, more Hindus than Disciples of Christ." But there are more members of the single Christian denomination of Assemblies of God than there are Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims combined.
+"Religious practices that are not widely engaged in" at a "disadvantage"Two Native Americans, dismissed from their jobs as counselors at a private drug rehabilitation clinic for ingesting peyote during religious ceremonies, are then denied unemployment benefits from the state. They sue, and their case reaches the Supreme Court, which rules 6-3 that the dismissals did not violate the employees' rights. Justice Antonin Scalia delivers the majority opinion, which acknowledges that religious minorities may be at a disadvantage in their ability to freely exercise their religion: "It may fairly be said that leaving accommodation to the political process will place at a relative disadvantage those religious practices that are not widely engaged in; but that unavoidable consequence of democratic government must be preferred to a system in which each conscience is a law unto itself or in which judges weigh the social importance of all laws against the centrality of all religious beliefs."
resourcesEmployment Division v. Smith (Oyez)
+The National Catholic Council for Hispanic Ministry formedSeeking to overcome tensions between various Hispanic groups, the NCCHM unites more than 60 Hispanic Catholic organizations with the intent to create for the first time "a national umbrella organization independent of the bishops and seeking to serve as a bridge among 'secular' Hispanic leadership and the church-based leaders."
+First Muslim prayer reading in the U.S. SenateBy the 1990s, the number of American-born Muslims increases significantly as the children of immigrants who arrived after passage of the Immigration Act of 1965 begin to have children of their own. As the Muslim population grows, Islam becomes more visible in American mainstream culture. Muslim religious leaders are included in religious debates and forums; Imam W. Deen Mohammed delivers the first Muslim invocation in the U.S. Senate, and the U.S. Army and Navy install their first Muslim chaplains.
+White House celebration of end of RamadanIn 1996, President Clinton hosts the first White House celebration of Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim holiday marking the end of the Islamic month-long fasting period known as Ramadan. The holiday has been celebrated at the White House each year since.
+yogaRise in "spiritual, but not religious"In the first study of religious life in America since 1950, sociologist Robert Wuthnow concludes that "habitation spirituality," which he defines as taking place within formal religious institutions, has given way to the personal freedom allowed in a new environment of spiritual seeking. Wuthnow writes, "Despite evidence that churches and synagogues are, on the surface, faring well, the deeper meaning of spirituality seems to be moving in a new direction in response to changes in U.S. culture … [leaving] many Americans struggling to invent new languages to describe their faith." In his book Restless Souls, scholar Leigh Schmidt argues that the current trend in spirituality has deep historical antecedents, "a search for a religious world larger than the British Protestant inheritance."
+U.S. House session opens with Hindu prayersOn Sept. 14, Shri Venkatachalapathi Samudrala, a Hindu priest from Ohio, opens a U.S. House of Representatives session with the prayer for the day in Hindi and English and closes with a Sanskrit hymn.
+The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference formedThe National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference is formed to unify the Hispanic evangelical church.
+9/11 attacks; Muslims fight to redefine America as "Judeo-Christian-Muslim" nationFollowing the terrorists attacks of 9/11, American Muslims assert that they are true American citizens and argue for the redefinition of America as a "Judeo-Christian-Muslim" nation. In his speech to Congress following the attacks, President George W. Bush states: "I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It's practiced freely by many millions of Americans and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful, and those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah."
+"New atheism" manifestos climb best-seller listIn the immediate aftermath of 9/11, a self-proclaimed atheist, Sam Harris, writes The End of Faith, a book that quickly becomes a best seller. Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens publish their own books arguing for atheism and against religion. Prior to 9/11, atheists in America had tended to tolerate religion, but the religiously motivated terrorist attacks lead this new generation of atheist leaders to publicly criticize and challenge religion, which they see as irrational, superstitious, divisive and ultimately dangerous.
+30,000 attend church service at Los Angeles' Angels StadiumPastor Rick Warren starts the Saddleback Church community in 1980 with a handful of members and a mission to get back to the basics of religion, including meeting outside or in small homes. He holds the church's 25th-anniversary celebration in Angel Stadium. The rise of the megachurch, defined as a church with an average of more than 2,000 persons in attendance at weekly services, has changed the American religious landscape. According to Warren, the megachurch is "a purpose-driven church, rather than a personality-driven church," and indicates a move away from a large, centralized denominational structure toward a more localized and personal faith community.
resourcesSaddleback ChurchMyths of the Modern Megachurch (Pew Forum)Who Goes to Megachurches? (Hartford Institute for Religion Research)
+First Muslim, Buddhist representatives elected to CongressKeith Ellison of Minnesota becomes the first Muslim in Congress, while Hank Johnson of Georgia and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii become the first Buddhists. Controversy erupts over the oath-taking ceremony when a reporter asks Ellison if he will place his hand on a Bible. The controversy largely neglects the fact that all members of Congress are sworn in together in an ecumenical ceremony in which there is no Bible or other religious text officially present. The representative can then choose to re-enact the swearing-in ceremony for a photo opportunity with a religious text. Ellison uses a Quran that belonged to Thomas Jefferson for his photo. Citing tradition, Johnson says he will use a Bible. Hirono has no plans to use any religious text for the photo.
+Latino worshipLatinos transform American religionA 2007 survey finds that Latino churchgoers tend to embrace religious expression common to charismatic movements and the Pentecostal tradition. Even Latino Catholics -- 68 percent of Latino churchgoers -- embrace the more personal and spirit-filled traditions, and many Latino evangelicals report leaving Catholicism because they are seeking a more personal experience of God.
+Protests at first Hindu prayer before a U.S. Senate sessionRajan Zed, a Hindu chaplain from Nevada, is invited to give the prayer to open the July 12 session. Christian activists disrupt and attempt to shout down Zed as he begins the prayer. The activists ask God's forgiveness for allowing a Hindu prayer.
+Mormon presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivers speech on his faithMitt Romney delivers a speech about his Mormonism reminiscent of John F. Kennedy's 1960 speech about his Catholic faith. "I do not define my candidacy by my religion," Romney says. "A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith. Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs, within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin." Romney stresses the centrality of his faith in shaping his worldview, but also seeks to reassure skeptics that the commonalities between his faith and mainline Christianity will translate into a shared moral conviction about the future of the nation.
+Lakewood becomes nation's largest megachurchLed by Pastor Joel Osteen, Lakewood Church hosts roughly 43,500 people in its five weekly services in the Compaq Center in Houston, former home to the Houston Rockets; an additional 7 million people tune in on television. The nation's second largest megachurch in 2008, Second Baptist, is located five miles away.
+Pew Survey illustrates the dynamism of American religious marketplaceA survey released by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life shows that religion in America is "both diverse and fluid." It concludes, "Constant movement characterizes the American religious marketplace, as every major religious group is simultaneously gaining and losing adherents." According to the survey, the Catholic Church is experiencing the greatest net loss of membership and that Protestant denominations claim barely 51 percent of the population. The group with the largest increase in number -- 16 percent of American adults -- describes itself as "unaffiliated" with any religious denomination.
+Obama inaugural, hour 6President Obama acknowledges nonbelievers in his inaugural addressPresident Obama references America's religious diversity, and for the first time, a president acknowledges nonbelievers in an inaugural address: "For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers." In a Huffington Post blog, Beliefnet founder Steve Waldman comments: "Nonbelievers are one of the largest political constituencies that politicians rarely want to acknowledge. A recent Pew Center paper reports that while 16.1 percent of Americans say they're religiously unaffiliated, not a single member of Congress identifies that way."
+United States ConstitutionCompromise over slavery in the ConstitutionThe delegates to the Constitutional Convention do not consider women, slaves or freed slaves as full and equal citizens of the United States. After debating how the institution of slavery should be addressed in the Constitution, the delegates come to an agreement that maintains the status quo. Both opponents and defenders of slavery believe God favors their cause and find rationales for their views in the Bible. Pro-slavery arguments are simple and powerful: The patriarch Abraham owned slaves. The law of Moses governed slavery. In the New Testament, Jesus did not condemn slavery, although it was widespread in Roman antiquity. And the apostle Paul urged slaves to obey their masters. Abolitionists appeal to the spirit, not the letter, of the Bible, arguing that the moral principles set forth in the Old and New Testaments stand in contradiction to the idea that one person could own another as property.
+Richard AllenFormer slave starts African Methodist Episcopal Church in PhiladelphiaAfter leading a group of free blacks out of St. George's Methodist Church in Philadelphia, Methodist minister Richard Allen, -- himself a former slave -- founds St. Bethel's African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, which formally severs ties to white Methodist congregations in 1816. During the early 19th century, the AME Church becomes one of the largest black churches in the United States, finding adherents among free blacks living in major cities across the Northeast. After the Civil War, AME evangelists disperse across the South, exhorting recently freed slaves to embrace Christ. Within the AME Church there are debates over its primary mission -- to build American institutions to support and uplift black communities or to support recolonization efforts in Africa. By 1880, the AME Church has grown from one dissenting Philadelphia congregation into an influential national church with 400,000 members.
+James FinleySocial reform becomes a hallmark of evangelical ProtestantismDuring the 19th century, the Second Great Awakening brings thousands of Americans into the evangelical fold. New converts to rapidly growing denominations such as Methodism are encouraged to change their hearts, their homes and their towns. James Finley, one such convert, advocates rights for Native Americans, temperance, prison reform and abolition. Fired by religious zeal, evangelical Protestants form voluntary associations dedicated to causes such as reforming prisons, running orphanages, feeding the poor and encouraging education and literacy. At a time when federal and state institutions are relatively weak, these organizations perform many services later taken on by the government.
+National organization for American missionaries abroadThe creation of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) signals the beginning of a missionary movement that continues today. The ABCFM draws missionaries from a variety of denominations, but groups take different views over the missions' basic purpose. Some fundamentalist Protestants argue that their ultimate goal is to save individual souls. Others say saving souls isn't enough and insist that missionaries should work to effect institutional changes to provide a moral and just society.
+Presbyterian Church declares slave trade "inconsistent with the Gospel"By 1815, the major Protestant denominations -- the largest institutions in the nation -- stake out positions on the issue of slavery. The terms of the debate broaden to include constitutional equality as well as religion and morality.
+Jarena LeeJarena Lee becomes first female AME preacherAt a time when women are not allowed to preach, Jarena Lee, an African American in Philadelphia, challenges gender barriers, saying: "For as unseemly as it may appear nowadays for a woman to preach, it should be remembered that nothing is impossible, with God. And why should it be thought impossible, heterodox, or improper for a woman to preach? Seeing as the Saviour died for the woman as well as for the man." AME Church founder Richard Allen eventually grants Lee the right to become an itinerant preacher, and she speaks to mixed groups of blacks and whites, men and women. Lee becomes one of a number of prominent agitators to equate the struggle of blacks and the struggle of women, and she fights for both.
+Sunday School classAmerican Sunday School Union brings literacy to the frontierIn the early 19th century, local philanthropic groups organized by Protestant churches take on the responsibility for educating children, especially on the frontier, where government infrastructures are not yet developed. Sunday schools teach children to read and write, and the American Sunday School Union develops primers that teach both reading and Christian morals. Another set of widely used and popular schoolbooks are McGuffey Readers, developed by a Presbyterian minister.
+list of associationsAmerican Tract Society formedFirst organized in New England, the American Tract Society becomes a national organization and a major publishing house in 1825. By 1830, the society is printing 6 million tracts a year, a bimonthly magazine, a Christian almanac and a series of children's books. Often disseminated by traveling evangelical preachers, the tracts deal with issues such as the dangers of excessive drinking and teach lessons based on a generalized Protestant Christian morality.
+Evangelical Protestants found American Temperance SocietyCongregationalist ministers Lyman Beecher and Justin Edwards organize the American Temperance Society to battle what they see as a cultural acceptance of overindulgence in alcoholic drinks. The consumption of alcohol is a serious problem in the 19th century: The average American then drank three times the amount the average American drinks today. Cider is a substitute for water in areas with poor water quality, and a typical workday includes the ringing of two bells, one at 11 a.m. and one at 3 p.m., signaling workers that they could break for a drink. Most alarming to church communities are the moral issues of alcoholism, which include domestic abuse. By the mid-1830s, more than 200,000 people belong to the society, and more than a million will join by the mid-19th century.
+screen grab, the Liberator, hour 3Quakers, free blacks and evangelical Protestants found the American Anti-Slavery SocietyTwo years later, in the first issue of the anti-slavery publication The Liberator, founder William Lloyd Garrison proclaims: "I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. … I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- AND I WILL BE HEARD."
+Angelina Grimké publishes an "Appeal to the Christian Women of the South"As women begin to play an increasingly vocal role in the fight to end slavery, Angelina Grimké publishes a tract laying out biblical reasoning to support the need for Christian women, especially in the South, to join the abolitionist cause. Grimké and other reformers aim their appeals at mothers -- slave mothers, poor mothers or mothers of alcohol abusers -- who are seen as responsible for maintaining the nation's moral foundations. The reformers also call upon women to steer their husbands toward morally correct Christian decision making in the public sphere. Nearly a century later, Grimké's niece, the African American playwright Angelina Wald Grimké, will find fame during the Harlem Renaissance for her works against lynching and racial violence.
+slaves screen grab (should be some to choose from), hour 3Slaves embrace Christianity in "hush harbors"According to documented oral tradition, gatherings in secluded areas called "hush harbors" offer slaves the opportunity to congregate out of their masters' sight and hearing to practice their religion. Susan Rhodes, a former slave, recalls: "We used to steal off to the woods and have church, like the Spirit moved us -- sing and pray to our own liking and soul satisfaction. … We had them Spirit-filled meetings at night on the bank of the river, and God met us there." Incorporating African dance and music with Protestant Christianity, these faith traditions instill hope and the promise of eternal salvation. Slave owners discourage this religious practice, preferring their slaves to attend services where themes of obedience and deference are preached.
+Free schools founded by evangelical Protestant reformers come under fireIn the early 19th century, before universal education, schools known as "common" or free schools are run by private Protestant societies and funded by public money. The schools teach Protestant values under the guise of "American values." As prominent preacher Henry Ward Beecher observes: "The common schools are the stomachs of the country in which all people that come to us are assimilated within a generation. When a lion eats an ox, the lion does not become an ox, but the ox becomes a lion." But the schools will come under fire -- particularly from Catholics -- as immigration increases religious diversity in the U.S.
+Joseph Smith organizes the Female Relief SocietyWhile building a Mormon community in Nauvoo, Ill., Joseph Smith, leader of the LDS Church, forms the Female Relief Society, which provides a social safety net for poor female converts to the church; it remains a reform effort today. At the society's inception, its first president, Joseph Smith's wife Emma, says, "We are going to do something extraordinary -- when a boat is struck on the rapids, with a multitude ... on board, we shall consider that a loud call for relief -- we expect extraordinary occasions and pressing calls."
+Newspaper headline of three denominations splittingThree Protestant denominations split over slaveryThe schisms in the three largest denominations are seen as a harbinger for a divided nation. A Southerner in New England writes: "The Methodist Church will be divided into two great parties, with mutual jealousies and antagonistic measures. The Presbyterians are in danger of the same evil. And if the Baptists, unmindful of their duty to Christ and their country, shall bite and devour one another, and array themselves into two great parties, the Northern and the Southern, what conservative principles, what salt of the earth will be left to restrain and modulate the madness of political strife and ambition save from ruin our Republic?" The Methodist Church splits in 1844 after the Methodist Conference is unable to reconcile differences between Northern and Southern members. The Baptists split in 1845, and the Presbyterians split partially in 1837 and completely in 1857.
resourcesMethodist Origins, History, Beliefs (Patheos)Baptist Origins, History, Beliefs (Patheos)Presbyterian Origins, History, Beliefs (Patheos)
+Frederick Douglass screen grab, hour 3"The church and the slave prison stand next to each other" -- Frederick DouglassA freed slave, Frederick Douglass converts to Methodism when he hears the Bible's powerful message of freedom. He becomes a staunch abolitionist and condemns American Christianity for accepting slavery and ignoring the teachings of Jesus Christ. In his Narrative, written in 1845, he challenges American Christians to question churches that defend slavery as a biblical institution.
+Mormons arrive in Utah to create a perfect societyThree years after founder Joseph Smith's murder, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) migrate West with the goal of creating an ideal society far from the corrupting influence of the larger society, and away from the harassment by neighbors and the U.S. government. The early Mormon community functions almost as a theocracy; practices such as polygamy are instituted as ordained by God. In 1857, President Buchanan sends American troops to Utah in response to news that Brigham Young has established a theocratic society within the boundaries of the United States.
+"All men and women are created equal"Elizabeth Cady Stanton rejects a Christianity that relegates women to second-class citizenry. She rewrites the Declaration of Independence in a document she calls the Declaration of Sentiments, changing "all men are created equal" to "all men and women are created equal." For Stanton, progress on women's rights requires revising Christianity, and she assembles an international committee to reinterpret the Bible's message. Stanton joins forces with Lucretia Mott, a Quaker whose religion has long taught the equality of the sexes. The Seneca Falls Convention organized by Stanton and Mott begins the united women's movement in America.
resourcesThe Declaration of Sentiments
+Harriet Tubman is made an official "conductor" in the Underground RailroadRelying on her faith in God, Harriet Tubman uses the Underground Railroad, an informal network of abolitionists and former slaves, to take her to freedom in the North. Signs and visions she receives from God persuade her to return to the South and lead an estimated 70 people to safety. Her courage and determination earn her the nickname "Moses."
+"Ain't I a Woman?"Women are traditionally excluded from both the pulpit and politics, but when women like Sojourner Truth begin to insist that God is speaking directly to them, it becomes harder for men to deny them the right to speak publicly. A black Methodist abolitionist and women's rights advocate, Truth is a descendant of reformers like Angelina Grimké, a white Northern abolitionist who spoke to crowds of men and women in the 1830s. Truth speaks so powerfully that at one gathering men accuse her of being a man. She responds by baring her breasts, shaming the men for their accusation. In her speech "Ain't I a Woman," Truth furthers the argument that women have a moral role in religion and society: "I can't read, but I can hear. I have heard the Bible and have learned that Eve caused man to sin. Well, if woman upset the world, do give her a chance to set it right side up again."
resources"Ain't I a Woman?"
+People turn to politics to effect social reform in the wake of the Great RevivalAs three major denominations split over slavery, revivalism sweeps cities in the Northeast. In Boston and New York, businessmen organize noonday prayer meetings. Evangelist Charles G. Finney observes: "It became almost universal throughout the Northern states. A divine influence seemed to pervade the whole land. Slavery seemed to shut it out from the South." The Great Revival further exposes the rift between those who believe a revival's purpose is to save souls through conversion and those who believe that a revival must save society as well, especially regarding slavery, through moral reform. Never reaching a consensus on the slavery question, evangelicals who had stood outside of politics turn to it to effect change in causes including abolition, temperance and anti-Catholicism.
+John Brown's raid on Harpers FerryOn Oct. 16, ardent abolitionist John Brown leads a raid on the federal armory in Harpers Ferry, Va. He hopes to capture weapons and ignite a slave uprising, but his raid fails, and Brown is captured. Brown maintains that Jesus Christ will return to the United States, and the hoped-for slave uprising will help to fulfill God's plan for America. Awaiting execution, Brown compares himself to the apostle Paul: "He knew that if they killed them, he would greatly advance the cause of Christ." Brown's willingness to die for his beliefs helps fuel the abolitionist cause.
+soldiersCivil War beginsAs North and South lurch toward war, each side turns to the Bible to support its cause. The war begins on April 12.
resourcesThe Civil War (PBS)
+Lincoln screen grab, hour 3"God has decided this question in favor of the slaves"Before the war, Abraham Lincoln is not particularly religious. Struggling to make sense of the conflict and of the untimely death of his 11-year-old son, Willie, however, he begins to re-examine his relationship with God. He becomes convinced that if Southern troops are driven from Northern soil, God has sent a signal in favor of emancipation. In September, the battle of Antietam gives him this sign. Meeting with his Cabinet, Lincoln announces, "God has decided this question in favor of the slaves." On New Year's Day 1863, he signs the Emancipation Proclamation into law.
resourcesEmancipation Proclamation (Africans in America/PBS)The Time of the Lincolns (AMERICAN EXPERIENCE)The Civil War (PBS)
+Lincoln screen grab, hour 3"This nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom"The devastating losses at the battle of Gettysburg are commemorated in a cemetery for Confederate and Union troops. Harvard University President Edward Everett delivers the main oration. Lincoln speaks next, delivering a speech that consists of a mere 272 words. He does not mention Gettysburg, nor does he mention the Emancipation Proclamation. He does not blame the Confederacy for the continuing hostilities. Instead, Lincoln seeks to find the spiritual meaning in the struggle that has torn the nation in two. He calls upon the living to finish the great cause for which the dead have fought: "We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that the government of the people by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
+Lincoln screen grab, hour 3Lincoln assassinated on Good FridayFive days after the Confederacy surrenders at Appomattox Court House, President Lincoln is assassinated on Good Friday. Frederick Douglass sees Lincoln's death as a kind of martyrdom: "It may be that the blood of our beloved martyred President will be the salvation of our country. ... Though Abraham Lincoln dies, the Republic lives." Eulogizing the president on Easter Sunday, a preacher in Hartford, Conn. says, "Jesus Christ died for the world, Abraham Lincoln died for his country." In the absence of Lincoln's strong leadership, the Reconstruction efforts he envisioned for mending race relations and society are not realized.
+13th Amendment abolishing slavery adopted after Lincoln's deathAfter committing himself to a vision of the United States that neither condones nor sanctions slavery, Lincoln begins to address the challenge of reintegrating the Southern states into the Union politically and socially. He lobbies for the passage of three major constitutional amendments -- the Reconstruction Amendments -- that outlaw slavery, assure civil equality and guarantee voting rights to all Americans regardless of color. The amendments are passed after Lincoln's assassination. Reconstruction governments and policies are shaped and put into place within a few years of the Civil War's end, but it will be more than 100 years until African Americans are integrated into American society.
+Reformers organize the Woman's Christian Temperance UnionThe WCTU is a broad-based, nondenominational movement that galvanizes evangelical Protestant women around an issue that is wreaking havoc in so many families: excessive alcohol consumption. Under the leadership of Frances Willard, the WCTU becomes the largest American women's organization, with chapters in every state, major city and thousands of local communities. While suffrage remains a divisive issue, the cause of temperance unites women across class and race.
resourcesWoman's Christian Temperance Union
+Reconstruction endsReconstruction policies meet strong opposition, and by 1877, federal intervention in the South comes to an end. Despite the constitutional guarantees, free blacks are systematically denied civil and voting rights. W.E.B. Du Bois later writes that the hope kindled by the Civil War and Reconstruction had dramatically dimmed: "The slave went free; stood a brief moment in the sun; then moved back again toward slavery."
+Native American children taught Protestant and Catholic values in boarding schoolsConvinced that "civilization and the Gospel go hand in hand," the government gives authority to religious institutions -- both Protestant and Catholic -- to establish boarding schools intended to assimilate Native American children. The Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pa., emerges as the flagship institution. Here Native Americans are turned into "proper" Americans -- Christian Americans -- who will value the prevailing ethic of work, thrift and ambition. Between 1879 and 1918, approximately 12,000 schoolchildren from 140 tribes attend such schools.
+Catholic Church lays the theological foundation for workers' rightsIn the papal encyclical Rerum Novarum, Pope Leo XIII offers the church as the solution to problems of inequality and labor unrest: "The efficacy of Christian institutions is marvelous and manifold. First of all, there is no intermediary more powerful than religion (whereof the Church is the interpreter and guardian) in drawing the rich and the working class together, by reminding each of its duties to the other, and especially of the obligations of justice." The encyclical lays out a theological basis for workers' rights, including limits on hours worked, wage protections and rights to unionize, citing Ecclesiastes 4:9-10: "It is better that two should be together than one; for they have the advantage of their society. If one falls he shall be supported by the other. Woe to him that is alone, for when he falleth he hath none to lift him up."
+The Woman's Bible publishedElizabeth Cady Stanton writes The Woman's Bible to present a feminist understanding of Scripture and to challenge traditional Christianity's interpretation of the subservient role of women. The publication shocks the nation; some members of the women's movement think that Stanton is too radical. Susan B. Anthony urges fellow leaders of the women's movement to avoid division. A savvy politician, Anthony believes that women should welcome many points of view: "What you should say to outsiders is that a Christian has neither more nor less rights in our association than an atheist. When our platform becomes too narrow for people of all creeds and of no creeds, I myself cannot stand upon it. ... Who can tell now whether these commentaries may not prove a great help to woman's emancipation from old superstitions which have barred its way?"
resourcesThe Woman's Bible
+immigrantsThe Social Gospel movement emergesIn the late 19th century, immigrants flock to U.S. soil, lured by hopes of economic success. But many end up in urban slums, where they toil in sweatshops and suffer from poverty, disease and overcrowding. Christians respond to these social ills in two ways: Some follow revivalist Dwight Moody, who preaches a message of personal sin and redemption. But others join the Social Gospel movement, determined to put their religious beliefs into practice and right society's wrongs. Its foremost proponent is Walter Rauschenbusch, a seventh-generation minister of a tiny church on the edge of New York City's Hell's Kitchen. In 1907, he publishes Christianity and the Social Crisis. "God is acting, and Christ is here now," he proclaims. But, he says, it is up to men and women to act on Christ's message and realize the kingdom of God on earth.
resourcesThe Social Gospel Tradition (Bill Moyers Journal/PBS)Fundamentalism & the Social Gospel: Monkey Trial (AMER. EXPERIENCE)
+The FundamentalsConservative Protestants publish a series of pamphlets, The FundamentalsFunded by a wealthy oil tycoon, British and American scholars and preachers publish a series of pamphlets that set forth the core beliefs, or "fundamentals," of conservative Protestants who resist the influence of modernity, including biblical criticism. These beliefs include the inerrancy of the Bible, the virgin birth of Jesus and his bodily resurrection. Three million copies of the pamphlets are distributed. Fundamentalists later take their name from the title of these pamphlets.
+Leo Frank's death spurs the founding of the Anti-Defamation LeagueA Jewish superintendent of an Atlanta factory, Leo Frank is accused of raping and murdering a 13-year-old girl. After a trial filled with racial stereotypes, he is convicted and sentenced to death. He appeals to John Slaton, Georgia's outgoing governor, who concludes Frank had received an unfair trial and commutes his sentence to life in prison. Frank is then dragged from prison and lynched by a mob. No one is prosecuted for the lynching. The incident provides a major impetus for both the founding of the Anti-Defamation League by the Jewish B'nai B'rith Organization and the re-emergence of the Ku Klux Klan, which expands its targets to include Jews and Catholics.
resourcesThe People v. Leo Frank (PBS)
+Prohibition takes effectThe culmination of the temperance movement championed by many evangelical Protestant reformers, the 18th Amendment prohibits the sale, manufacture and transport of alcohol. An exception to the law is made for the sacramental use of wine. Supporters of Prohibition argue that the ills of drunkenness, particularly abusive family situations, require government intervention. Opponents believe that government should have no part in enforcing morality.
+Suffrage MeetingWomen gain the right to voteDespite the fact that women are regarded as the keepers of the nation's morality, they are relegated to dominion over private life and excluded from exerting their influence in national elections. Addressing a group of suffragists in 1915, Methodist minister Anna Howard Shaw argues, "Just as the home is not without the man, so the state is not without the woman, and you can no more build up homes without men than you can build up the state without women."
+Court during trial of John ScopesConservative Christians disengage from politics following the Scopes trialAt the trial, reporter H.L. Mencken and other members of the national press ridicule fundamentalists for their conservative interpretation of Scripture. Despite their legal victory, many conservative Protestants retreat from the public sphere, while many fundamentalist churches remove themselves from instutions and national politics altogether. Liberal Christians dominate national politics and denominational institutions, until key court decisions -- Green v. Connally and Roe v. Wade -- galvanize them to re-engage in wider culture.
+Widely seen as a failure, Prohibition is repealedWhen Prohibition passed 13 years earlier, evangelist Billy Sunday opined: "The slums will soon be only a memory. We will turn our prisons into factories and our jails into storehouses and corncribs." But his vision did not transpire. By the late 1920s, many of those who had fought for Prohibition change their minds as they see binge drinking increase, crime spiral and an underground network of criminals and corruption feed the illicit speakeasies that had replaced licensed saloons. Pauline Sabine, a Prohibition advocate, testifies in Congress that repeal is more likely to protect children. "A saloon-keeper's license was revoked if he was caught selling liquor to minors," she says. "Today in any speakeasy in the United States you can find boys and girls in their teens drinking liquor, and this situation has become so acute that the mothers of the country feel something must be done to protect their children."
+Billy GrahamRev. Billy Graham desegregates Chattanooga, Tenn., revivalBarnstorming the country during the 1950s, Billy Graham preaches a straightforward message of sin and salvation. In Chattanooga, Tenn., Graham breaks the color barrier when he disregards the ropes that separated white and blacks attending the meeting. "When God looks at you, He doesn't look on the outward appearance; the Bible says He looks upon the heart," Graham says. Years later, President Bill Clinton describes one of Billy Graham's revivals as a turning point in the history of the American South: "So here we were with neighborhood after neighborhood after neighborhood in my state on the verge of violence, and yet tens of thousands of black and white Christians were there together in a football stadium. And when he issued the call at the end of this message, thousands came down holding hands, arm in arm crying. It was the beginning of the end of the Old South in my home state. I will never forget it."
+Rosa Parks"Woke Up This Morning With My Mind Stayed on Freedom"Churches and religious organizations play a central role in the civil rights movement, which mobilizes after the arrest of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Gospel music, such as "Woke Up This Morning With My Mind Stayed on Freedom," provides the movement's soundtrack. Religious themes reflect the movement's aspirations, and preachers like Martin Luther King Jr. emerge as leaders. Churches in Montgomery lead the call for a boycott and frame the protest in religious terms, based in Scripture: Walking rather than riding the bus is likened to walking with God; God is on the side of the protesters.
resourcesFreedom Songs (The Smithsonian)Montgomery Bus Boycott: Eyes on the Prize (AMER. EXPERIENCE)Citizen King (AMERICAN EXPERIENCE)
+Civil RightsCivil rights movement launches the Freedom RidesIn the summer of 1961, black and white civil rights workers embark on Freedom Rides, riding buses across state lines, breaking Southern states' segregation laws. They are repeatedly met with violence. John Lewis, now a congressman, recalls: "Without religion -- without the example of Christ, who sacrificed for others -- as the foundation of the movement, it would have been impossible for us to endure the setbacks, and to hope, and to go on. … It was religion that got us on the buses for the Freedom Rides."
+March on Washington"Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"On Aug. 28, civil rights supporters march on the Mall in Washington, D.C. In a speech that resonates with the language and rhythms of the Bible, Martin Luther King Jr. invokes the call of the Hebrew prophets and the pledge of the Founding Fathers to honor the principles of equality and social justice: "When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, 'Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!'"
resources"I Have a Dream" Speech (YouTube)The March on Washington: Eyes on the Prize (AMERICAN EXPERIENCE)Citizen King (AMERICAN EXPERIENCE)
+"I don't see any American dream; I see an American nightmare"In a speech titled "The Ballot or the Bullet," Malcolm X challenges the direction and pace of the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King's dream for America. Malcolm X emerges as the spokesman for the Nation of Islam and pushes for a more radical approach to civil rights, including violence if necessary. Later in 1964, Malcolm X converts to Sunni Islam and leaves the more militant, less traditional Nation of Islam. He does not stop his campaign for social justice, but both he and Martin Luther King Jr. begin to rethink their positions on race, moving closer together in their vision of race relations in 1965.
+LBJ & MLKCivil Rights Act passesFor those who had long fought for equality, the Civil Rights Act validates their struggle. After President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the bill, the Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth exclaims, "Negroes have forever left the Egypt of discrimination and inequality, and have set their sights upon the promised freedoms of Canaan." In his statement on signing the act, President Johnson says: "Let us close the springs of racial poison. Let us pray for wise and understanding hearts. Let us lay aside irrelevant differences and make our nation whole. Let us hasten that day when our unmeasured strength and our unbounded spirit will be free to do the great works ordained for this nation by the just and wise God who is the father of us all."
+United Farm Workers march under Virgin of Guadalupe bannerInfluenced by St. Francis and Gandhi, Cesar Chavez leads a nonviolent resistance in California to agitate for the rights of farm workers. He forms the United Farm Workers and leads California grape growers on a 340-mile march from Delano to Sacramento. The marchers carry a banner featuring the Virgin of Guadalupe, who symbolizes "faith, hope and leadership," according to Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the UFW. Upon his death in 1993, Chavez is eulogized as "a special prophet for the world's farm workers."
resourcesThe Fight in the Fields (PBS)
+Albert Cleage publishes The Black MessiahLike Malcolm X, minister Albert Cleage is critical of the civil rights movement for not being radical enough. He launches the Black Christian National Movement in the late 1960s, pushing for a reinterpretation of Jesus' teachings to meet the needs of the black population. A year after he unveils a dramatic 18-foot-tall painting of a black Madonna, Cleage publishes this book, which depicts Jesus as a black revolutionary leader.
+Catholic priests burn draft files to protest Vietnam WarLed by two priests -- brothers Daniel and Philip Berrigan -- nine Catholic activists, known as the Catonsville Nine, enter a draft office and burn the files of potential Vietnam draftees to protest the war. The activism and increasing visibility of Catholic clergy and nuns in the civil rights movement and Vietnam War protests cause a rift between liberal and conservative Catholics over whether clergymen should be involved in political activity.
+Equal Rights Amendment passes in Congress; is sent to the statesWorried that the ERA will destroy American society by distorting the "God-given roles" of men and women, fundamentalist Jerry Falwell becomes an outspoken critic. In a speech called "Listen, America!," Falwell says: "I believe that at the foundation of the women's liberation movement there is a minority core of women who were once bored with life, whose real problems are spiritual problems. Many women have never accepted their God-given roles. They live in disobedience to God's laws and have promoted their godless philosophy throughout our society. ... ERA is not merely a political issue, but a moral issue as well. A definite violation of Holy Scripture, ERA defies the mandate that 'the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church.'" In 1982, the amendment expires after failing to obtain the necessary 38 states for ratification.
+pro-life protestorsRoe v. Wade galvanizes Catholics and evangelicalsIn a controversial decision, the Supreme Court rules that the 14th Amendment's right to privacy guarantees women the right to have an abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy. Catholics are the first to protest the decision. Encouraged by Francis Schaeffer, a maverick evangelical thinker and writer, Protestant evangelicals set aside their differences with Catholics and join them in protest. The decision becomes a rallying cry to mobilize social and religious conservatives.
+Ruling against Bob Jones University draws conservative Christians back into politicsAlong with Roe v. Wade, many conservative activists cite the case Green v. Connally as an impetus to re-engage in politics. Decided in D.C. Circuit Court in 1972, Green v. Connally holds that segregated institutions cannot be considered charitable institutions and therefore cannot be tax-exempt. The application of this ruling to Bob Jones University -- a fundamentalist Christian school that comes under fire from the IRS for its ban on interracial dating -- threatens other evangelical and fundamentalist schools and organizations and leads to the creation of what becomes known as "the religious right."
+FalwellJerry Falwell founds Moral MajorityFundamentalist minister Jerry Falwell had advocated the separation of religion and politics, famously saying, "Preachers are not called upon to be politicians," when Martin Luther King Jr. assumed leadership of the civil rights movement. But by 1979, Falwell changes his mind. At the urging of conservative operatives from the Republican Party, he launches a new advocacy group, the Moral Majority, which seeks to mobilize fundamentalist and evangelical voters around moral issues. In one year, the Moral Majority organizes in 47 states, trying to turn out an extra 10 million voters in the 1980 presidential election. At its peak, the Moral Majority relies on 400,000 "hard-core" supporters and claims to communicate regularly with the 4 million members -- among them evangelical Protestants, Catholics and Jews -- on its mailing list.
+Reagan & supporters with pro-life signsEvangelicals credited with electing Ronald ReaganDuring the campaign, Reagan asks to speak at an evangelical convention and makes a dramatic gesture for their support. "I know this is a nonpartisan gathering," he says. "And so I know that you can't endorse me, but I only brought that up because I want you to know that I endorse you and what you're doing." Evangelicals believe Reagan is ready to put their social agenda into action: He supports constitutional amendments to ban abortion and reinstate prayer in public schools during his first term. But by the end of his second term, many feel let down, believing Reagan never used his full political clout to push through their agenda. In the wake of the Reagan years, Jerry Falwell disbands the Moral Majority.
resourcesReagan (AMERICAN EXPERIENCE)
+Pat RobertsonChristian Coalition foundedFounded by Pat Robertson, the Christian Coalition picks up the torch of evangelical political action from the Moral Majority. But rather than focusing on presidential politics, the coalition's mission is organizing evangelicals at the grassroots level. The leader of the organization is Ralph Reed, a young political operative.
resourcesThe Christian Coalition of America
+George W. BushGeorge W. Bush takes office; establishes Office of Faith-Based InitiativesAn evangelical Methodist, George W. Bush is the presidential candidate many evangelical voters have been waiting for. He speaks freely of his faith and promises a new "compassionate conservatism." In office, he enacts policies advocated by evangelicals -- speaking out against the genocide in Darfur and proposing funding to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa -- and signs bills forbidding late-term abortions and restricting embryonic stem cell research. Bush also establishes the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives in the first few weeks of his presidency. "When we see social needs in America, my administration will look first to faith-based programs and community groups, which have proven their power to save and change lives," he says. "We will not fund the religious activities of any group, but when people of faith provide social services, we will not discriminate against them."
resourcesThe Jesus Factor (FRONTLINE)
+GWB with MuslimsAfter 9/11 attacks, President Bush makes public plea for toleranceIn the 2000 election, a majority of Muslims vote for George W. Bush. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the president reciprocates that support, inviting Imam Muzammil Siddiqi to offer a prayer at the memorial service at the National Cathedral and making a public plea for tolerance of Muslims and the Islamic faith. "The face of terror is not the truth faith of Islam," he says. "That is not what Islam is about. Islam is peace."
+George W. Bush Source: National Park ServiceBush re-elected with evangelical supportAs the Bush presidency gets bogged down in two wars -- in Iraq and Afghanistan -- evangelicals realize his administration will fail to push through key parts of their agenda -- constitutional amendments banning abortion and gay marriage -- and become disillusioned with national politics. Bush also fails to deliver reforms on another key issue -- immigration -- with which he had courted Latino voters, particularly Latino evangelicals. Following John Kerry's 2004 defeat, the Democrats have their own epiphany and begin to embrace religious voters.
+ObamaPresident Obama takes office; continues support of faith-based organizationsPresident Obama continues the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, though he renames it the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives and Neighborhood Partnerships. At a February National Prayer Breakfast, he emphasizes the unifying principles of faith: "Instead of driving us apart, our varied beliefs can bring us together to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the afflicted; to make peace where there is strife and rebuild what has broken; to lift up those who have fallen on hard times. This is not only our call as people of faith, but our duty as citizens of America and our duty as citizens of the world."
Published October 11, 2010