Christianity

To early Americans the Old Testament and its scenes, even its speech and names, were as familiar as their own backyard

For a sense of the continuity of the of the terrorist tradition in America, consider this actual sequence of events: The FBI smashes a dead-serious plot to overthrow the federal government and reveals that for more than a year the right-wing militias involved Read more >>

The foremost student of a belief held by nearly half of all Americans traces its history from Darwin’s bombshell through the storms of the Scopes trial to today’s “scientific creationists”—who find William Jennings Bryan too liberal

The year 1963 brought the death of George McCready Price, whom the science writer Martin Gardner described as “the last and greatest of the anti-evolutionists.” The greatest perhaps, but certainly not the last. That year also witnessed the birth of the Creation Research Society and—more generally—the age of scientific creationism. By the end of the decade battles were being waged over including creationism in public school curricula; the fight culminated in the 1981 court challenge to the Arkansas creationist law. If the proceedings lacked the carnival atmosphere of the 1925 Scopes trial, they compensated by attracting an impressive list of expert witnesses from the ranks of scientists, philosophers, and theologians. Unfavorable court decisions have settled for the moment the issue of equal-time state laws, but creation science as a movement has hardly slowed. Several creation research institutes continue seeking evidence to confute evolution, and the theory’s proponents have evolved new tactics for including special creation in public school curricula. The phenomenon of scientific creationism has evoked a cottage industry of analysts: journalists, sociologists, philosophers of science, theologians, and particularly scientists, who believe they have the most to lose from a theory that denies Darwin. The call to arms that went out among various scientific groups characterized creationists almost uniformly as dangerous quacks who were gulling the public with a specious science. Read more >>

A chance meeting in a raucous hotel lobby nearly one hundred years ago led two drummers to make a spiritual mark on hostelries worldwide

Whatever other surprises might erupt on a trip across the country, one thing you can pretty much count on is the presence of a King James Bible in your hotel or motel room, put there by an organization called the Gideon Association. That’s as much as most of us know. Read more >>

He was a capitalist. He was an urban reformer. He was a country boy. He was “Comrade Jesus,” a hardworking socialist. He was the world’s first ad man. For a century and a half, novelists have been trying to recapture the “real” Jesus.

The two most popular novels in nineteenth-century America were Lew Wallace’s Ben Hur (1880) and Charles Sheldon’s In His Steps (1896). Read more >>

No city has more energetically obliterated the remnants of its past. And yet no city has a greater sense of its history.

On the edge of a pond a few blocks from my home, there is a knee-high chunk of granite with a bronze plate on one side, marking the spot where a band of Spanish soldiers commanded by a captain named Juan Bautista de Anza pitched camp on a March afternoon in 1 Read more >>

In early Georgia, the founders of Methodism got off to a terrible start

THE SUCCESS OF John and Charles Wesley in founding Methodism is well documented, but what is seldom mentioned is that they started their ecclesiastical careers with a period of unrelieved bungling. Read more >>

In the shadow of Bunker Hill, bigots perpetrated an atrocity that showed a shocked nation that the fires of the Reformation still burned in the New World

On a sweltering Monday afternoon in July, 1834, Edward Cutter of Charlestown, Massachusetts, was startled by the sudden appearance of a woman in his house. Read more >>

He could build castles at his whim, but the ancient home of a small band of monks defeated him

During the early summer of the year 1213 Saint Martin of Finojosa was an old man and not in the best of health. Read more >>

To mark the birthdays of our two great Presidents, a new look at the legends that surround their memory …
An admiring re-appraisal of the Cherry Tree Fable and its author, by Garry Wills , together with the
Curious Story of Abraham Lincoln’s Lost Love Letters, by Don E. Fehrenbacher

In founding Groton, Endicott Peabody was sure that muscular Christianity would protect
boys from the perils of loaferism

One of the most illustrious of these benevolent despots was the Reverend Endicott Peabody, who founded Groton School in 1884 and served it with all his might and main for over half a century. Read more >>

The Shakers as a Nineteenth-Century Tourist Attraction

While touring the United States in 1842, Charles Dickens visited the Shakers at New Lebanon, New York. It was not one of his happier experiences. Read more >>

Unschooled and uncompromising, she founded her own faith

Mary Baker Eddy was, against all odds, one of the most influential women of her age. Born into unpromising circumstances, she never mastered the limited education that was available to her. She lacked literary talent and any real vocation for family life. Read more >>

Maligned and misunderstood throughout much of their history, the Penitentes of the American Southwest have nevertheless given their people a sense of community and spiritual security. But for how much longer?

The quietly compelling legend of America’s gentlest pioneer

“There is in the western country a very extraordinary missionary of the New Jerusalem. A man has appeared who seems to be almost independent of corporal wants and sufferings. Read more >>

The mysterious diseases that nearly wiped out the Indians of New England were the work of the Christian God-or so both Pilgrims and Indians believed

In December of 1620, a group of English dissenters who “knew they were pilgrimes,” in the words of William Bradford, stepped ashore on the southern coast of Massachusetts at the site of the Wampanoag Indian village of Pawtuxet. Read more >>
The place is the fledgling community of Windsor, Connecticut: I the time, an autumn day in the year 1651. A group of local I militiamen has assembled for training exercises. They drill in their usual manner through the morning, then pause for rest and refreshment. Read more >>
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.… Read more >>
“We are a religious people.…” The United States Supreme Court likes to quote this dictum by Justice William O. Douglas, who coined the phrase to accompany a decision in 1952. Read more >>

From Poverty and Persecution to Prosperity and Power

In the month of February, 1846, when conditions for travel were as unpropitious as possible, the Mormons began moving out of their newly built city of Nauvoo, Illinois, in order to cross the ice-strewn Mississippi, on the first leg of a long and uncertain journey. Read more >>

“Your body is a temple,” our ancestors told their pubescent youngsters. ‘Now go take a cold bath”

Standards of propriety were lofty indeed Read more >>

Anthony Comstock spent a lifetime on a crusade to clean the nation’ Augean stables of smut, vice, and nudity. Sometimes it seems as if he pried in vain

Anthony Comslock made it his life’s work to purify this nation, to protect the young from such sights as might lead them into paths that would corrupt their souls and eventually lead them into the yawning pit. Read more >>

Three Centuries of Divorce, American Style

Appearances may be deceiving, but marriage in the United States looks as if it is in trouble. Read more >>
The Pacific Ocean is vast and lonely. Read more >>

THE EARNEST QUAKER JOHN WOOLMAN PREACHED AND ACTUALLY PRACTICED THE BROTHERHOOD OF MAN

On October 19, 1720, was born one of the few saints and prophets this country has produced. Read more >>

Shocking, exuberant, exalted, the camp meeting answered the pioneers' demand for religion and helped shape the character of the West.