Prominent American Religious - Events By Name
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9/11
On September 11, 2001 ("9/11"), al-Qaeda terrorists crashed two planes into the Twin Towers and one into the Pentagon. More than 3,000 people died.
Abington School District v. Schempp
In 1963, the Supreme Court ruled that required Bible readings and recitation of the Lord's Prayer in the public schools was unconstitutional.
African Methodist Episcopal Church
In 1816, the African Methodist Episcopal Church formed after years of unequal treatment with white Methodists. It is the oldest African-American denomination in the U.S.
Al Smith Presidential Campaign
Alfred E. "Al" Smith became the first Catholic nominee for president when he ran as a Democrat in 1928 against Herbert Hoover.
Allegheny County v. ACLU
This 1989 case dealt with religious holiday symbols on government property and found that a combination of religious symbols does not violate the Establishment Clause.
American Revolution
When the first shots were fired in 1775, the Colonies didn’t even have a military. Eight years later, the United States had defeated England.
Assemblies of God Founded
The Assemblies of God started with a handful of Pentecostal ministers in Hot Springs, Arkansas in April 1914, but would grow into a global phenomenon.
Billy Graham's Los Angeles Crusade
Billy Graham's Los Angeles Crusade (1949) catapulted the southern evangelist into the national spotlight for the first time.
Cane Ridge Camp Meeting
Barton Stone organized the Cane Ridge camp meeting (1801), the largest and most famous religious revival of the Second Great Awakening.
Catholic Church Abuse Scandal
The Catholic Church has recently been the subject of a widespread scandal involving Catholic officials accused of sexual abuse and cover-ups.
Charles Finney's Rochester Revival
Charles Finney's Rochester revival (1830-1831) played a foundational role for the more widespread revivalism and conversions of the 1830s and 1840s.
Church of God (Cleveland, TN)
The Church of God (Cleveland, TN) was founded in 1886 and is the oldest Pentecostal denomination in the United States.
Church of God in Christ
The Church of God in Christ was formed in 1897 in Mississippi. It is the oldest and largest black Pentecostal body in the United States.
City of Boerne v. Flores
In this 1997 case, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress had overstepped its constitutional powers in enacting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.
Civil War
The Civil War (1861-1865) was fought between the U.S. government and 11 southern states. The Union prevailed, slaves were freed, and nearly 700,000 people died.
Cold War
The antagonistic relations between the United States and the Soviet Union, known as the Cold War (1947-1991), lasted for nearly half a century.
Colonial Period
Colonial America took root in Virginia in 1607 and gained momentum when the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts. By 1760, there were two million settlers.
Death of Joseph Smith
An angry mob broke into Joseph Smith’s jail cell and killed him on June 27, 1844. Smith became a martyr at the age of 38.
Dennis Bennett's Charismatic Outpouring
In 1960, Dennis Bennett’s public announcement of his baptism by the Holy Spirit led to the Second Wave of Charismatic Christianity in America.
Election of Jimmy Carter
In 1976, Jimmy Carter was the first self-proclaimed "born again" Christian elected president of the United States.
Election of John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy became the first Catholic President of the United States when he defeated Richard Nixon in the 1960 election.
Employment Division v. Smith
This 1990 case determined that citizens could not be exempt from generally applicable and religiously neutral laws because those laws burdened their exercise of religion.
Everson v. Board of Education
In this 1947 case, the Supreme Court first applied the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment (i.e. no law establishing religion) to the states.
First LDS Temple (Kirtland)
Joseph Smith founded the first Latter-day Saints temple in Kirtland, Ohio, on March 27, 1836.
First Salvation Army Meeting in America
The Salvation Army conducted its first formal meeting in the United States in New York City in 1880.
First Wave of Feminism
The 72-year struggle to grant women the right to vote evolved as the central theme of the first wave of American feminism (1848-1920).
Founding Period
With independence won, the United States of America began creating a new government during the Founding Period (1783-1791), including the selection of the first president.
George Whitefield's First American Preaching Tour
George Whitefield's preaching tour (1739-1740) helped propel his career as the preeminent revivalist of the First Great Awakening.
Great Depression
The Great Depression (1929-1939) brought the biggest economic upheaval in U.S. history. Millions of people were unemployed, banks/businesses failed, and there was sweeping poverty.
Jerry Falwell Helps Found the Moral Majority
With the help of Baptist preacher Jerry Falwell in 1979, the founding of the Moral Majority would later influence Ronald Reagan's election in 1980.
Jim Crow Laws
Abolition freed the slaves, but blacks were kept segregated from whites in the South through local and state regulations known as Jim Crow laws (1890-1965).
Joint Catholic-Orthodox Declaration
The Joint Catholic-Orthodox Declaration of 1965 revoked the mutual excommunications of 1054 that led to the Great Schism.
Jonathan Edwards preaches 'Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God'
Jonathan Edwards's sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" (1741) was one of the foundational texts of the First Great Awakening.
King Philip's War
For 14 months (1675-1676), Indians raided settlements and colonialists launched counterattacks. It ended after King Philip, the chief of the Wampanoag Indian tribe, was assassinated.
Lemon v. Kurtzman
This 1971 ruling established an influential precedent (the "Lemon test") for whether a law violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Marjorie Matthews elected bishop
Marjorie Matthews was elected bishop in the United Methodist church in 1980. She was the first female elected bishop of any mainline Christian church.
Massachusetts Bay Colony
In 1630, a group of Puritans, led by John Winthrop, established the Massachusetts Bay Colony after fleeing religious persecution in England.
Methodist Episcopal Church, South
In 1845, the contentious issue of American slavery divided the Methodist Episcopal Church into Northern and Southern denominations.
Million Man March
The Million Man March in 1995, organized by the Nation of Islam's Louis Farrakhan, was the largest gathering of African Americans in U.S. history.
Mitt Romney's Presidential Campaign
Mitt Romney became the first Mormon nominee for president when he ran as a Republican in 2012 against Barack Obama.
Nat Turner's Rebellion
Nat Turner’s rebellion (1831) is the most famous slave revolt in American history.
Nation of Islam Founded
On July 4, 1930, W.D. Fard founded the Nation of Islam, one of the most radical and militant religious movements of the 20th century.
National Association of Evangelicals Founded
The National Association of Evangelicals was founded in 1942 to provide representation for evangelicals in Washington, D.C., and with the broadcasting industry.
Plymouth Plantation
Plymouth Plantation was a North American colony settled in 1620 by English Separatists, later known as Pilgrims, who desired to practice their own religion freely.
Prohibition
The 18th amendment made the manufacture, distribution, and sale of alcohol illegal in the United States for 13 years (1920-1933).
Publication of Encyclical Rerum Novarum
Rerum Novarum, an 1891 encyclical by Pope Leo XIII on protecting the working class, is a foundational text in modern Catholic social thought.
Publication of Scofield Reference Bible
The Scofield Reference Bible, first published by Oxford University Press in 1909, would sell two million copies by the end of World War II.
Reconstruction and Industrialization
During the Reconstruction and Industrialization period (1865-1890), the South struggled to recover after the Civil War. Meanwhile, United States was emerging as an industrial giant.
Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 allowed the "compelling state interest" test to apply to federal level, not just the state level.
Rhode Island Royal Charter
In 1663, the Rhode Island Royal Charter made a unified government in the colony possible, acknowledged American Indian land rights, and declared religious toleration.
Rise of Equal Rights Movements
The social justice movements of the 1960s were infectious, giving rise to women, racial minorities, and LGBT groups seeking equal rights in the United States.
Roger Williams Founds Providence, Rhode Island
In 1636, Roger Williams founded Rhode Island, which became known for its religious tolerance and deregulation of religious behavior.
Salem Witch Trials
During the Salem Witch Trials (1692-1693), citizens accused one another of witchcraft, leading to mass hysteria and the imprisonment/death of approximately 170 community members.
Scopes Trial
The Scopes Trial (1925) highlighted the tension between literal interpretations of creation accounts in the Bible and evolutionary theory in the 20th century.
Second Vatican Council (Vatican II)
The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) was a Catholic ecumenical council that attempted to reconcile Catholicism with the challenges of modernity.
Sherbert v. Verner
This 1963 case introduced the "Sherbert test"; the government must show that burdening the individual’s practice of religion is based on a compelling state interest.
Sojourners Magazine
Sojourners magazine, founded in 1971, promoted a greater prominence of liberal Christian views on social issues within the evangelical community.
Southern Baptist Convention Founded
The Southern Baptist Convention (1845) resulted from a split between Northern and Southern Baptists over slavery. It is now the largest Protestant denomination in America.
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Founded in 1957, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) believed that racial equality was a Christian imperative and utilized non-violent protests to combat racism.
The First Great Awakening
The First Great Awakening (1730s-1770s) was a series of religious revivals that propelled the expansion of evangelical denominations in the colonies.
The Second Great Awakening
The Second Great Awakening(s) (1790s-1840s) fueled the rise of an evangelical Protestant majority in antebellum America, giving rise to new denominations and social reform organizations.
Thomas Jefferson's Letter to the Danbury Baptists
In 1802, Thomas Jefferson's letter contained the phrase "a wall of separation between Church and State," important in later legal interpretations of the first amendment.
Utah
In 1847, Brigham Young led the Mormons into Utah after facing persecution at home. The land was considered a Mormon "Zion."
Vietnam War
America’s two-decade involvement in the Vietnam War (1955-1975) was costly and divisive. It claimed more than 58,000 U.S. lives and cost 140 billion dollars.
Virginia's Religious Disestablishment
In 1786, the Virginia legislature passed a bill by Thomas Jefferson ending the Anglican Church’s formal establishment as the state religion.
War of 1812
The War of 1812 (1812-1815) is often called the second American Revolutionary War, because it again pitted America against Britain.
Westward and Southern Expansion
The United States of America began pushing beyond the boundaries of its original 13 states, until its holdings spanned from sea to sea (1790-1848).
William Seymour and Azusa Street Revival
The Azusa Street Revival (1906-1915) was a defining event for early Pentecostalism and functioned as the catalyst to the growth of American Pentecostalism.
World War I
World War I (1914-1919) began in Europe, but grew into an unprecedented global conflict with 65 million troops. It was called the Great War.
World War II
With the rise of Adolf Hitler, Germany began annexing neighboring countries, leading to the second World War (1939-1945) and the deadliest conflict in world history.

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