Tags: Religion | christian history | impacted | america | democracy

Christian History: Top 5 Religious Movements That Impacted Democracy in America

By    |   Thursday, 07 May 2015 09:20 PM

A separation of church and state has been a fundamental principle in the United States government since the days of the Founding Fathers.

This marked a unique development in Christian history as all other nations had permitted state-supported churches before America's independence from England. That doesn't mean Christians have not had an impact on American government.

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Several religious movements have impacted democracy in America since it became an independent nation. They influenced everything from new laws to changes in the social order.

1. First Great Awakening

A religious revival laid the groundwork for ideas that would eventually lead to the Revolutionary War. During the First Great Awakening in the 1740s, revivalist preachers invited people to make a personal connection with God and focused on an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

The First Great Awakening laid the roots for Evangelicalism. It offered the idea of spiritual equality which, in turn, bred the notion that liberty and equality could also be had in other areas such as government.

2. Temperance Movement

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, consumption of alcohol became increasingly seen as a source of other evils such as abuse of spouses and children and chronic unemployment.

Both Catholic and Protestant leaders encouraged temperance or moderation in drinking alcohol. Temperance societies sprang up throughout the country.

Prohibition became a widespread goal for the movement after the Civil War, according to the History Channel, and it eventually led to ratification of the 18th Amendment — prohibiting the manufacture, sale and transportation of alcohol — in 1917.

3. Social Gospel

The Social Gospel movement applied Christian ethics to social problems. Many figures in the movement worked to eliminate problems like poverty, crime, unsafe labor practices, and other social justice issues.

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Social Gospel ideas helped inspire the Progressive movement during the early 20th century — leading to important reforms in everything from labor practices to unemployment.

4. Black Church Movement

Ideas of fighting for equality against racial discrimination found their birth at the pulpits of several Black churches in the South. These churches originally formed as a means for free blacks and slaves to worship separately from whites.

The Black churches later became an incubator for civil rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy — both Baptist pastors who used Christian principles in their successful push for laws that protected individual civil rights for all minorities.

5. Christian Fundamentalism

Fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible and core Protestant doctrines arose in the 20th century in response to liberal theology in some mainline Protestant denominations.

Many fundamentalists led the fight against teaching evolution in public schools in the 1920s. They arose as a political force several decades later, supporting Republican candidates who embraced a conservative agenda.

More than 30 million U.S. Christians self-identify as fundamentalists, according to a University of Virginia study

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A separation of church and state has been a fundamental principle in the United States government since the days of the Founding Fathers. This marked a unique development in Christian history as all other nations had permitted state-supported churches before America's independence from England.
christian history, impacted, america, democracy
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2015-20-07
Thursday, 07 May 2015 09:20 PM
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