Social Movements and Religion - By Date


The abolitionist movement (1680s-1860s) led a variety of Christians across denominations to denounce the evils of slavery occurring both within and outside their congregations.

Church Planting Movement

The United States has a rich history of church planting, notably in the 18th/19th centuries with the growth of the Methodists and Baptists.

Missionary Movement

Beginning in the early 18th century, the Protestant missionary movement sought to convert and aid unchurched peoples, both domestically and internationally.

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.

Memorial Movement

With early origins in the 1780s, the memorial movement highlights how Americans commonly commemorate the dead in visual and material forms.

The Second Great Awakening

The Second Great Awakening(s) (1790s-1840s) fueled the rise of an evangelical Protestant majority in antebellum America, giving birth to new denominations and social reform organizations.

Restoration Movement

The Restoration Movement (RM) formed in the early 1800s as a means to "restore" and unify the Christian church based on biblical principles.

Temperance Movement

Starting in the 1820s, the temperance movement aimed to curb and ultimately discontinue the consumption of alcohol. Many temperance leaders also were Christian leaders.


In 1836, transcendentalism took shape, as New England intellectuals pushed for the union between humans and nature through personal experience.

Holiness Movement

Beginning in the 1830s, the Holiness Movement spread across American Protestantism, promoting "entire sanctification" for Christian believers.

Millenarian Movement

Since William Miller predicted the return of Jesus Christ in the mid-1800s, Millenarian movements emerged and anticipated the end of the world.


In the mid-19th century, spiritualism arose in America, as individuals became captivated with mediums contacting spirits of the dead.

Landmark Movement

Beginning in the 1850s, the Landmark Movement claimed that only Baptists have a succession back to the time of Jesus Christ.

The Third Great Awakening

The Third Great Awakening (1850s-1920s) saw a resurgence of religious vigor, as Dwight Moody and Billy Sunday drew in crowds of religious seekers.

New Thought

Beginning in the mid-19th century, the New Thought movement extolled the power of the mind and God to influence everything from healing to personal success.

Woman's Missionary Movement

More than two million Protestant women joined the field of missions from the mid-19th century to the early 20th century.

Christian Modernism

Emerging in the late 19th century, Christian modernism sought to accommodate Christian faith to changes in modern society.

Social Gospel

From 1880 to 1925, the Social Gospel movement highlighted "social sins" present in society and sought Christian-based social justice initiatives.

Settlement House Movement

In the late 19th century, many Catholic and Protestant organizations established settlement houses to aid urban immigrants and poor American-born citizens.


Beginning in the late 19th century, Zionism gained attention as a political movement seeking the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland.

Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement

In 1901, Christians became filled with the Holy Spirit and spontaneously spoke in foreign languages, leading to the growth of the Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement.

Ecumenical Movement

Gaining prominence in the early 20th century, the modern ecumenical movement desired to unite various Christian groups divided by denominational boundaries.

Men and Religion Forward Movement

From September 1911 through April 1912, the Men and Religion Forward Movement attempted to reclaim a masculine version of Christianity.

Black Muslim Movement

In the early 20th century, the Black Muslim movement arose as a unique African American religious movement that promoted black nationalism and fought white supremacy.

Christian Fundamentalism

In the 1920s, Christian fundamentalism arose as a means to counter liberal interpretations of the Christian Bible and "secularizing" changes in society.

Liturgical Movement

In the early 1900s, the American liturgical movement emerged as Catholics and other groups became interested in renewing traditional liturgical practices.

Catholic Worker Movement

In 1933, Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin founded the Catholic Worker Movement, a group of Catholic communities promoting social justice and hospitality toward the poor.

Reconstructionist Judaism

Founded in the mid-1930s by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, Reconstructionist Judaism became the first uniquely American Jewish movement.

Secular Movement

Gaining prominence in the mid-20th century, the modern secular movement pushed for a society without religion.

Biblical Theology Movement

Between the mid-1940s and early 1960s, the biblical theology movement emerged to counter both liberal and fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible.

New Evangelicalism

After World War II, a movement of conservative, but socially engaged Protestants emerged. They are known as the "new evangelicals."

The Fourth Great Awakening

According to some scholars, a Fourth Great Awakening arose in the mid-20th century.


In the mid-1940s, Gerald Gardner and Doreen Valient helped revive pre-Christian nature religion (i.e., Neo-paganism) in the United States.

Civil Rights Movement

The Civil Rights Movement refers to specific events of political and social protest against racism in the 1950s and 1960s.

New Age Religion

Forming in the 1960s, the New Age Movement emphasizes personal fulfillment, spiritual unity, and experimental healing methods.

Christian Reconstructionism

Originating in the mid-1960s, Christian Reconstructionism is a fundamentalist movement promoting the application of biblical law on all aspects of society.

Pro-Life and Rescue Movements

Anti-abortion movements, like the pro-life movement (est. mid-1960s) and rescue movement (est. mid-1980s), garnered support from Catholics, evangelicals, and Christian fundamentalists.

Jesus People Movement

The Jesus People Movement emerged as an evangelical Christian response to the drug and hippie counterculture of the 1960s.

Anti-Cult Movement

In the 1960s and 1970s, the rise in new religious groups brought accusations of "brainwashing" from opposing groups, who became known as the anti-cult movement.

Latino Christian Movement

The Latino Christian Movement of the 1960s/1970s represents concerted efforts by Latino Catholics for greater visibility and equality.

Church Growth Movement

In the 1970s and 1980s, American evangelicals coupled their love for evangelism with new pragmatic marketing strategies known as the Church Growth Movement.

Home School Movement

The Home School Movement began in the 1970s and attracted evangelical Christians who feared the secular influences of public education.

Messianic Judaism

Forming in the 1960s-1970s, Messianic Jews grew as a movement of evangelical Christians who embraced Jewish customs, rituals, and identity.

Shepherding Movement

An offshoot of the Charismatic Movement, the Shepherding Movement garnered controversy in the early 1970s for its emphasis on personal submission to religious leaders.

Hymn Renaissance

In the 1960s-1970s, a diverse collection of new modern hymnals began circulating across the world. Scholars refer to this development as the Hymn Renaissance.

Religious Right

In the late 1970s, the religious right arose, as religious conservatives turned to politics to fight perceived moral and spiritual decline.

Missionary Member Care Movement

Beginning in 1980, the Missionary Member Care Movement sought to reduce missionary attrition and provide more holistic care to humanitarian workers.

Sanctuary Movement

The Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s helped to provide sanctuaries and safe havens for Central American refugees.

Convergence Movement

Emerging in the 1980s, the Convergence Movement sought Christian unity by creatively blending evangelical, charismatic, and liturgical worship styles.

Progressive Christian Movement

In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, a group of "progressive" Protestant Christians emerged and embraced theological diversity, eclectic spirituality, and social justice.

Missional Church Movement

Founded in 1998, the missional church movement arose and changed the focus of modern Christian missions.

Emergent Church

The Emergent (or "Emerging") Church Movement gained traction in the 1990s, as groups sought to make Christianity "relevant" to a postmodern world.

City (Gospel) Movements

The 2000s saw the emergence of City Gospel Movements, which encourage partnerships across churches and social service to local urban areas.

Christian Orphan Care/Adoption Movement

Arising in the early 21st century, the Christian Orphan Care Movement encourages Christians to adopt local and foreign children who are orphaned.

New Monasticism

Formally established in 2004, New Monastics reject Christian individualism and emphasize a communal lifestyle and spiritual discipline.

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