Religion Through History

Updated: July 11, 2024
Churches and the people who led and attended them.

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.

Religion has played a significant role in human history, shaping cultures and societies for thousands of years, with ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Greece, and Rome having complex systems of religious beliefs, and the influence of monotheistic religions like Judaism, Christianity, and Islam has been profound in shaping the world's political and social landscapes, inspiring countless works of art and literature, and providing a source of moral and ethical guidance for billions of people around the globe.

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.
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