Religion in America


Religion is best understood as a system of symbols (creed, code, cultus) by means of which a people (community) orient themselves in the world with reference to both ordinary and extraordinary values, powers and meanings.


a condition or state of being that surpasses physical existence and in one form is also independent of it.


implies the omnipresence of a divine entity or essence. It is related to issues such as omnipotence and omniscience, but not all faiths consider the divine to be an 'actor' or a 'knower'.


God's loving present made visible and tangible in a persons life (here and now)


To communicate a message (a prophecy) to others usually from god, jesus or a psychic (involves divine inspiration).


having an import not apparent to the senses nor obvious to the intelligence

Origin of Religion

The origin of religion can generally be traced to the ancient Near East and classified in three basic categories: polytheistic, pantheistic and monotheistic. Atheism is really a modern belief that resulted from the "Enlightenment" period of the 18th century.


a new religious movement that branches off of an existing religious community. counter cultural

Cult" and/or New Religious Movement

an original religious movement. counter cultural


Synonomous with culture


Group of people who wanted to "purify" the Church of England. They established the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630


doctrine of John Calvin that adhered to the idea that each person's fate is predetermined by god


principle doctrines of Calvanism: Total depravity, Unconditional election; Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, Perseverance of the saints


a religious movement of the 16th century that began as an attempt to reform the Roman Catholic Church and resulted in the creation of Protestant churches


One of the three major branches of Christianity (together with the Eastern Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church). Following the widespread societal changes in Europe starting in the 1300s CD, many adherents to the Roman Catholic Church began to question the role of religion in their lives and opened the door to the Protestant Reformation wherein John Huss, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others challenged many of the fundamental teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

Martin Luther

German theologian and leader of the Reformation. His opposition to the wealth and corruption of the papacy and his belief that salvation would be granted on the basis of faith alone rather than by works caused his excommunication from the Catholic Church (1521). Luther confirmed the Augsburg Confession in 1530, effectively establishing the Lutheran Church.

John Calvin

This French theologian was the leading French Protestant Reformer and very important to the second generation of the Christian Reformation. He deeply influenced Protestantism elsewhere in Europe and in North America. The Calvinist form of Protestantism is has had a great impact on the development of the modern world, and included the Hugeunots. One thing he specifically believed was that God knows before a person is born whether they are going to heaven or hell.

New Israel

The Puritans who disembarked in Massachusetts in 1620 believed they were establishing the New Israel. Indeed, the whole colonial enterprise was believed to have been guided by God.


(Bible) an agreement between God and his people in which God makes certain promises and requires certain behavior from them in return

Foundational Myth of America

The Myth of a New Israel

Great Awakening

A revival of religious importance in the 17th century. It undermined older clergy, created schisms, increased compositeness of churches, and encouraged missionary work, led to the founding new schools. It was first spontaneous movement of the American people (broke sectional boundaries and denominational lines).

Jonathan Edwards

An outstanding preacher of the Great Awakening. He was a New England Congregationalist and preached in Northampton, MA, he attacked the new doctrines of easy salvation for all. He preached anew the traditional ideas of Puritanism related to sovereignty of God, predestination, and salvation by God's grace alone. He had vivid descriptions of Hell that terrified listeners.

George Whitefield

Rockstar: part of the Great Awakening. He was a young English minister who's reputation as a spellbinding evangelist preceded him to the colonies. His objective was to resort eh fires of religious fervor to American congregations. He enthralled his audiences with his unparalleled eloquence. He had the idea of 'newbirth.'

Ben Franklin

Scientist and inventor. Invented bifocals, odometer, and elecrtricity experiments.Most popular publication was Poor Richard's Almanack. Published clever quotes. Example of Enlightenment spirit.

Thomas Jefferson

A prominent statesman, Thomas Jefferson became George Washington's first secretary of state. Along with James Madison, Jefferson took up the cause of strict constructionists and the Republican Party, advocating limited federal government. As the nation's third president from 1801 to 1809, Jefferson organized the national government by Thomas Jefferson Republican ideals, doubled the size of the nation, and struggled to maintain American neutrality

Jefferson Bible

Jefferson's effort to extract the doctrine of Jesus by removing sections of the New Testament containing supernatural aspects as well as perceived misinterpretations he believed had been added by the Four Evangelists.[1][2]


a movement in the 18th century that advocated the use of reason in the reappraisal of accepted ideas and social institutions


The religion of the Enlightenment (1700s). Followers believed that God existed and had created the world, but that afterwards He left it to run by its own natural laws. Denied that God communicated to man or in any way influenced his life.


Ppl choose. Voluntary. Diversity.


Anglican, MBC, Purtains. Con't Congress in favor

Episcopal Model

Roman Catholic, Anglican

Congregational Model

Community of all believers, each church governs themselves. Baptists.

Presbyterian Model

Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, choose representatives

Society of Friends

Quakers, began in England in the late 1640s, in a context of social upheaval which included increasing dissatisfaction with the established church, the execution of the king, and the rise of Nonconformist movements.

Anne Hutchinson

She preached the idea that God communicated directly to individuals instead of through the church elders. She was forced to leave Massachusetts in 1637. Her followers (the Antinomianists) founded the colony of New Hampshire in 1639.

Roger Williams

He founded Rhode Island for separation of Church and State. He believed that the Puritans were too powerful and was ordered to leave the Massachusetts Bay Colony for his religious beliefs.

Public Universal Friend

Jemimiah Wilkinson, had a vision of arc angles coming to her and saying she was God incarnate. Called herself Public Universal Friend, her followers founded Universal Friend which was a sect of the Society of Friends.


much of religious enthusiasm of the time was based on the widespread belief that the world was about to end with the second coming of Christ; preacher William Miller gained tens of thousands of followers by predicting a specific date when the second coming would occur (didn't happen-Millerites will become Seventh Day Adventists)