In the American Revolution, religion was separate from the state. The very first amendments to the American constitution separated the church and the state. This was a direct opposition to the mixer of politics and religion. The fact that churches were free from state domination and control meant that churches could depend on their resources and God. As Lyman Beecher confessed, the separation of religion and state was the best decision in that the churches found a renewed vigor. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, the churches using their resources embarked on voluntary services such as preaching, helping those in need, and attacking social vices. However, many challenges arose such as immigration and the French revolution. There arose a challenge since none of the voluntary associations could meet the challenges. This gave rise to agencies and organizations. Through the founding of schools and academies through new recruitment techniques, many people converted to Christianity. The Protestants religions started a great force to counter the indifferences and hostilities. When the nativist organization tried to harass the immigrants, the religious groups came to their aid and asserted authority and.
Unions such as the American Sunday school Union and the Bible Society all sprung up in the early ninetieth century. Most of these unions and agencies were trying to convert the people. Camp meetings rose up which led to extraordinary people convert through new styles of participation and preaching. The second awakening marked a significant transition in the religious life of the Americans. Most of the early religious groups emphasized on depravity and believed that only the grace of God could save humans. However, the new evangelical movements emphasized much on free will. They stressed that humans had the free will to make their situations better by choosing to be saved. The new movements suggested that salvation was open to all people. In addition, education became the new confidence. Schools and academies operated under the influence of the different denominations. When the state tried to control some of the colleges and universities, the Supreme Court diminished such efforts. A good example is the case of New Hampshire State. When the state tried to take control of the Dartmouth College in which was the control of a religious congregation, the Supreme Court upheld the rights and freedoms of the private trustees and religious Gropius to continue controlling schools. The decision encouraged the religious groups to launch new colleges.
In the center of the new salvation, there were those people who advocated for saving themselves first before saving others. When the shakers arrived from England, they multiplied in number and settled in different cities. The Utopian system arose where the society controlled things such as marriage. The idea was to bring the best specimens together to give birth to superior humans that would ensure that spiritual revolution occurred. Other people based believe on visions about the coming of Christ. There were great expectations, which brought about great disappointments. In the nineteenth century, the religion on the south dramatically presented a new face. Dominated for so long by the Anglican denomination, it transformed to some religions including Presbyterians, Baptists, and the Methodists. Denomination differences did not disappear rather they were absorbed by a larger cultural evangelicalism. Though women had no ministerial ranks, they were active in preaching through testifying their faith. The theology from England also came in existence with its values of Unitarianism. It questioned the existing theology in America. Many others believe, and ideologies arose in this century with the differences being the Protestant desire for evangelical empire and the prophecies of all-out religious democracy.
Redeeming the West
The American West repelled and attracted in the early Nineteenth century. However, different people presented different reports about the state of affairs in the West. While some people thought the west dominated by anarchy and idleness, others viewed the west as the fulfiller of the American rich promises. When the United States decided to purchase Louisiana, the Missionary Society of Massachusetts sent people on the west as observers to report about the religious and morals state of the unknown area. The observers reported that the state of society was deplorable. The people had no believed of divine things, and all they knew was attending catholic mass and counting beads. Some years later, another missionary tour displayed a little improvement I the state of society in the west. There were no Bibles or Protestant clergies in the area. The solution as proposed was to apply the instruments of the second awakening. This included sending missionaries, Bibles, and tracts to teach people how to write and read. Volunteers were used as the missionaries to instill a sense of responsibility and duty to the people.
Among the denominations, moving to the west was the Roman Catholic. The West already had a taste of the Catholic missionary. By 1850, the Roman Catholic was the largest denomination in the country. This was a status never held by any other church. However, the status was due to the potato famine in Ireland and people immigrated to America. The Nativist organizations, however, questioned the legality of Catholics settling in America. This ignited a massive war on the Catholics. Burning of convents and churches in all cities was common, and the Protestants published phonographic fantasies involving nuns and priests. Voluntary organizations trying to combat Catholicism became the most vocal organizations in the period. The Catholics though involved in combating the suspicions and hostilities by Americans, they were also concerned about the ethnic diversity of the Catholic Church in America. The German priests had problems when placed under the supervision of Irish brothers while the Irish Catholics were unhappy with the French priests who had little knowledge of the Irish feasts. Some Catholic Laity also decided that just like the Protestants, they should have the power to employ and fire their priest. Most of these difficulties though manifested on the east had parallel difficulties in the west.
Judaism though smaller in membership managed to operate over borders along the Atlantic coast. Before the civil war, Judaism was of modest size. However, after the civil war, the Jewish immigrated in large numbers, and millions of East European Jews settled in America. Differences regarding what was necessary to live in America arose and the Jews were confronted with loyalty challenges. They had to confront the new society with new beliefs and practices. The American West presented with many different religions and dominations fighting to take control of the newly discovered region. The region had Jewish, Catholics, and the Russian Orthodox. It was an experimental region of some kind. However, most of the country never experienced the Asian religions until the late nineteenth century; the California had encountered with Chinese immigrants before the civil war. The west thus had a rich variety of religions that gave rise to religious characters different from other regions in America. While the Protestants set out to extend the second awakening ideologies and systems, their redemption plan was met with resistance and appropriations.
A Divided House
In the half of the nineteenth century, the second awakening volunteer energies combined with diplomatic successes of America brought about a sense of destiny and assurance to the American people. Neither progress nor reforms could be stopped. Slavery was the only moral danger in the nation. Slavery was a dark cloud that increased in size and magnitude. The churches in both the south and north condemned slavery. With time, it was clear that slavery was there to stay. While some people called for the release of the slaves, others concentrated on moral issues and property rights. By the year 1831, the anti-slavery voices grew louder with the foundation of the Liberator newspaper. The New England Anti-slavery association was formed and was followed by American Anti-slavery Society two years later. The abolitionists called for the immediate release of the slaves arguing that it was immoral and tragically wrong. Popular abolitionists arose to air the right and freedoms of the black people. Lovejoy who several printing presses published sentiments about the moral wrongs of slavery. However, the sentiments were unpopular in the north and south and one after another of his press saw destruction.
The African Americans with time raised their voice about the slavery issue. Several black abolitionists became famous in the era. Among the most famous was Frederick Douglas. He spoke about slavery in not only America but also in other nations all over the world. Douglas attacked not only the slavery but also the Christianity, which allowed the slavery to continue. Many abolitionists both white and black called for the sudden end of slavery. Addresses and public rallies were organized. Revival meetings turned to abolitionists crusades. With time, the religious leaders joined in condemning the practice. However, other religious leaders justified the practice on biblical facts; the Catholic Bishop in South Carolina argued that God approved slavery. He argued that natural law does not prohibit slavery. Though all men are equal in pure nature, slaves surrendered their freedom for care and protection. Some of those who apologized for slavery argued that the abolitionists had abandoned their religions and picked foreign philosophies. While some churches tried to avoid division, the largest churches in the south could not evade division. In 1844, the Methodist church suffered schism. Churches started to split based on views and beliefs about slavery.
Though revivalism had proved to be powerful in healing differences, could it solve the challenges of the United States? In 1858, revivalism ignited from one city to the other creating anticipation for another awakening. However, the revivalism failed to unite the south and the north. Violence continued between the two regions, which later turned into a war. The war later ended in 1864, but the ruins in both spirit and body were unimaginable. President Lincoln asked the nation to bind up the nation’s wound, which was many since the president was assassinated on 1865. Many historians term Lincoln as the spiritual center of history in America. He grew up in a Baptist family. He was spiritual and believed in Gods purposes. He saw spiritualism as a medium through which the humans communicated with the dead. He was open to the experimentation of religions that characterized the nineteenth century. However, what became the most characteristic of his journey was his view about slavery and the civil war. In his second inaugural speech, he argued that the civil in the south and north was atonement for the sins of slavery. He failed to support either of the regions and instead let the war go on for as long as it lasted.
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