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Religion Through History

Churches and the people who led and attended them. Read more >>

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. ~ Dalai Lama XIV

Originally a colony of Great Britain and under the rule of King George III, the Founding Fathers of the United Sates were opposed to a state religion (King George III was the head of the Church of England as is Queen Elizabeth today). In fact, they even wrote it into the Constitution:

Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

And yet, many today say that the U.S. is "a Christian nation". Indeed, Christianity is the most populous religion - followed by Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism. Worldwide, Christianity is also the most followed (2.4 billion), closely followed by Islam (1.8 billion). Then comes Agnostic/Atheistic (1.2 billion), Hinduism (1.15 billion) and Buddhism (521 million). Fifteen other religions (for instance, Judaism - 14 million and Chinese traditional religions - 394 million) round out the rest of us. So religion is a way of life for billions of the people around the world.

Some facts about religion in the United States:
  • Hindus have the highest rates of education among religious communities - 48% of all Hindus have a post-graduate degree.
  • The number of Mormons in the U.S. today are equal to the number of Anglicans/Episcopalians - 1.7% .
  • Six of the Supreme Court justices are Catholic and three are Jewish - about half of the population identifies as Protestant.
  • Only 10 U.S. states have weekly church attendance above 50% - they’re all in the South. 11 states have weekly church attendance below 33% - and no, one of them is not California or New York!
  • The Southern Baptist Convention has twice as many churches as the Catholic Church, despite having 1/4th the membership.
  • The first Muslims in the U.S. were African slaves - about 10% of slaves were Muslim.
  • 40% of the U.S.’s 1.2 million Buddhists live in Southern California.
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the fifth largest religious organization - the Catholic Church (66 million), the Southern Baptism Convention (16.5 million), the United Methodist Church (8.4 million), and the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc. (8.2 million) are larger.

These are the photos of people practicing their religion in the past - the buildings, leaders, and congregants of the past two centuries. From weddings to baptisms to confirmations to funerals, most people have participated in at least one religious activity in their lives. << Read less
A photo of Blanche Laravie posing for her Solemn First Communion at St. Peter's Church
People in this photo:
Blanche Naomi (Laravie) Pombrio
Jun 2, 1907 - Feb 20, 1988
Plattsburgh, NY, United States
A photo of Valdimar Eylands
People in this photo:
Valdimar J. Eylands
Mar 3, 1901 - Apr 12, 1983
A photo of Priscilla Allen Scroggins and family. The lady to the right is Priscilla Allen Scroggins. The oldest Methodist in the world. She was born on March 9, 1777 in South Carolina to William Allen.This photo was taken in 1893 when she was 116 years old. The newspaper article attests to this fact. Effectively making her (at the time) the oldest Methodist in the world! Born before the methodist church was officially established. She has been a Methodist since age 14 in 1791. Her father William Allen died in Ga at age 112. He was born in 1726 and died in 1838.
People in this photo:
Priscilla (Allen) Scroggins
Mar 9, 1777 - Nov 17, 1893
A photo of a portrait of Really A. Rabbi Jacobs. This is one of our ancient ancestors who practiced Judaism with fervor, enthusiasm, delight, tenderness, and the urge to fry up some latkes for the entire family.
People in this photo:
A photo of Martha J Smigielski at Holy Communion
People in this photo:
Martha J Smigielski
Nov 11, 1912 - Feb 20, 2009
Long Beach, Ca
A photo of Hilary Andrew Leister at his Confirmation
People in this photo:
Hilary Andrew Leister
Jun 16, 1913 - Aug 16, 1994
Stoneboro, PA
Shared on Feb 10, 2015 by:
A photo of Kate (Cunningham) Pilcher
People in this photo:
Shared on Jan 24, 2015 by:
Rev. John Walker's Church 2nd Creek Baptist, Hazard, Ky
People in this photo:
John Walker
1867 - 1940
A photo of Maurilio Ponce and Lucia Reyes baptizing a baby.
People in this photo:
Lucia Reyes
Died: Oct 27, 1990
Shared on Jan 2, 2015 by:
A photo of Joseph H Myers Sr
People in this photo:
Confirmation of Thomas Tiletsky, circa 1940s This is my grandfather as a boy at his Confirmation, one of the Catholic Sacraments. My grandfather Thomas was raised in the Slavic neighborhoods of Fells Point and Patternson Park in Baltimore, MD. He was ethnically Polish and Lithuanian. His younger sister told me that he was quite the jokester as a child, and teachers couldn't get him out of their classrooms fast enough. The teachers would often give him money to go to the moviehouse instead.
People in this photo:
Thomas Tiletsky
Oct 15, 1932 - May 17, 1996
Parkville, MD
A photo of Steve Soresso with his foster mother on his First Communion
People in this photo:
Steve Soresso
Sep 7, 1927 - Nov 25, 1985
Maple Heights, OH, United States
Fr. Jerry Wade (tennis coach?!) found in the 1985 Bellarmine College Preparatory yearbook. Fr. Wade has been President of the San Jose, California high school numerous times.
People in this photo:
Fr. Jerry Wade
Born: Dec 12, 1937
A photo of Albert L Shimalonis
People in this photo:
Albert L Shimalonis
Sep 12, 1932 - Nov 30, 1996
Leadville, CO
This photo is of sister Marie Estelle (Barbara Kosick)
People in this photo:
Barbara Kosick
May 28, 1898 - Dec 26, 1992
Richfield, OH
A photo of the Interior of Reims Cathedral after German shelling. A commercially published mass produced tinted postcard, probably part of a series. Caption reads: "3. REIMS (1919). -- Interieur de la Cathédral (au fond, trou causé par un obus de 380)" Google Translate: "Interior of the Cathedral (basically, hole caused by a shell of 380)"
A photo of Joseph Anderson Pinkston Birth 17 MARCH 1900 • Lacoochee, Pasco, Florida, USA Death 29 MAY 1963 • Orlando, Orange, Florida, USA
People in this photo:
Joseph Anderson Pinkston
Mar 17, 1900 - May 29, 1963
Found in an antique store. Handwritten on the back: "Sister Martha Dohrmann Confirmed"
People in this photo:
A photo of the Presbyterian Church and Parsonage, Highland, NY. Earl Smith and Dorothy Van Kleeck were married here on June 12, 1930.
People in this photo:
Earl Edward Smith
May 1, 1900 - May 22, 1982
Kingston, NY, USA
This photo may be from the Horn family from Kuelsheim, Baden who came to NYC around 1848. We are hoping someone might recognize this.photo taken in Brooklyn - no date
A photo of Anastasia (Schneider) Lavallee
People in this photo:
Anastasia (Schneider) Lavallee
Feb 18, 1867 - January 1957
A photo of Rosemarie (Canavan) Noeldechen
People in this photo:
Rosemarie (Canavan) Noeldechen
Jun 10, 1893 - 1950
Photo found at Garage Sale Warehouse in Beaverton, Oregon, September 2018. Note in German which I will also post.
A photo of my First Communion - Debra Marie Valentine
People in this photo:
Debra Marie Valentine
Born: Nov 7, 1969
Mesa, AZ, United States
After the original Dalton M.E. Church burned down a new one was erected in its place in 1917.
A photo of the M.E. Church in Dalton Kansas built in 1903
A photo of Osvaldo Mion with sister Ines at niece Maria’s baptism.
People in this photo:
Osvaldo Mion
1921 - Sep 15, 1993
MI, United States
The alter at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in 1908. The church was built in about 1866. The second oldest Catholic Church in Hamilton, Ohio.
A photo of Rosemarie (Canavan) Noeldechen
People in this photo:
Rosemarie (Canavan) Noeldechen
Jun 10, 1893 - 1950
I’ve “rescued” an old photograph of Rev. W. R. DILL which was taken at the Lawson’s Studio in Troy, OH. The photograph appears to have been taken in the 1880’s with Rev. DILL likely in his 30’s or 40’s at the time the photograph was taken. Rev. DILL signs the back of the photograph with the sentiment “Christian Compliments” and notes that the photograph was a gift to E. M. THAYER. I’m hoping to locate someone from this DILL Family so that the photograph can be returned to the care of family. If you are a member of this family, or you know someone who might be, please contact me. Thanks, Shelley
People in this photo:
A photo of Elizabeth Mercy Kerwen's priest Fr. Robert Ecker who also spoke at Graduation Exercises for Bay Ridge High School where she taught speech.
People in this photo:
A photo of Elizabeth Mercy Kerwen's Catholic Church, Our Lady of Angels.
People in this photo:
Elizabeth Mercy Kerwen
Nov 10, 1913 - Dec 1, 2002
Brooklyn, NY
This is a view of St. Mary's Catholic Church, Abbottstown, PA taken on Sept. 2, 1934 by my father, Norman A. Mort.
This is a picture of two Catholic priests--Father Murray on the left and Father Burke on the right. The location is unknown. The year on the side of the photo looks to be 1934, but maybe could be told better by the cars in the background.
This is Father Hayden, a Catholic priest, standing on the steps of the Our Lady of Refuge Catholic Church in Doylesburg, PA in 1935, according to the year at the side of the photo.
This church has been tore down in 2010 outside of Odin, Watonwan, Minnesota Many of my family are buried in the Cemetery outside of the church
A photo of the SWEET HOME SOUTHERN BAPTIST CHURCH, BELTON ARKANSAS Merrell Cemetery Hempstead County Arkansas
A photo of the Bethesda Lutheran Church Class of 1944!
People in this photo:
Suzanne Mercedes (Harper) Pinkley
Sep 12, 1929 - October 2010
I've "rescued" an old photograph of Father Thomas C. MOORE which was taken at the Thomson Studio in Kansas City, MO on 7 Dec 1886. Father MOORE appears to be in his 40's or 50's at the time the photograph was taken. Based on limited research I was able to locate the following details regarding the priest: Rev. Thomas Corydon MOORE was b. 1840 in Ireland and died 28 Dec 1904 in Las Vegas, NM and is buried in the Calvary Cemetery in Plattsburg, MO. Census records provide the following details: 1880 census of Georgetown, KY: - boarding in the home of Pat MCCULLOUGH Thomas C. MOORE, age 40, a Catholic Priest, born Ireland, parents born Ireland 1900 census of Kansas City, MO (First Ward - First Street): Thomas MOORE, age 60, born Apr 1840, born Ireland, parents born Ireland, to USA 1852, a Catholic Priest + 1 Housekeeper I am hoping to locate someone from his family so that the photograph can be returned to their care. If you are a member of this family, or you know someone who might be, please contact me. Thanks, Shelley
People in this photo:
Thomas Corydon Moore
1840 - Dec 28, 1904
A photo of a Sunday School Class in Dalton, Kansas, in 1913.
A photo of Lindenwald Baptist Church members in about 1962 in Hamilton (Lindenwald), Butler County, Ohio with Rev. R. H Van Nortwick.
People in this photo:
A photo of Pauline E Tibbetts and family
People in this photo:
Pauline E Tibbetts
May 11, 1926 - Feb 28, 2005
Medford, MA, Usa
A photo of Columba Devlin (1922-81), President of Saint Francis College
People in this photo:
Columba Devlin
1922 - 1981
A photo of Ivor Raymond Trower-Foyan
People in this photo:
Ivor Raymond Trower-Foyan
Died: Sep 14, 1943
A photo of Albert Payson Terhune's Father: Rev. Edward Payson Terhune. He wrote a book about his father.
People in this photo:
A photo of an unknown girl. I am thinking this might be her first communion in the Catholic Church photo. From the family album, identity unknown.
This is a photo of the church and carillion spire at Mercersburg Academy, Mercersburg, PA. No date, but probably in the 1920's or 1930's.
This is an unmailed undated postcard, with the notation on the front--"Interior, St. Mary's Church, Paradise. PA". Possible date in the 1920's.
This is an undated postcard view of St. Mary's Our Lady of Refuge Church before it was burnt and remodeled.
A photo of James Smith Bush, great-grandfather of George H. W. Bush. He was an Episcopal priest, religious writer, and attorney.
People in this photo:
James Smith Bush
1825 - 1889
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