Our country was founded on religion.
Our forefathers came to this country seeking religious freddom from persecution in their homelands. Throughout American history, it has been the home to countless religious groups and sects – from the Pilgrims to the Protestants. And it is throughout our American history that times have been tough for some, leading to a series of religious revivals. In the 1730’s and 40’s, religious unrest was at its peak – the Puritan experiment was in decline, King Philip’s war was going on overseas, and fires and crop failures were common occurances.The Great Awakening was born out of these unfortunate circumstances. The Great Awakening created several positive changes in the early American society. The First Amendment was fomed out of the need to seperate Church and state, and religious communication became a focus.
Newspapers, pamphlets, and other prints became widely availabel and used to exchange ideas. New forms of preaching also arose out of the Great Awakening – one of spontaneous persuasive sermons and rhetoric. Finally, it brought a sense of democracy to the people; the idea that all could be saved, and elimanated the barrier between pastors and followers.This Great Awakening was able to stabilize the religious country only temporarily. Again, in the 1790’s and through the 1840’s, a second religious revival occurred.
This time it was mostly because of the increase in liberalism in religion that the people resented, as well as the knowledge of a rowdy, wild life on the frontier, filled with alcohol, abuse and unwanted pregnancies. This became the focus of the Second Great Awakening, which was composed of three “theaters”, or parts, in order to tackle these problems. After these 50 years intensified organized religion, things began to fall apart.And, once again, things would change. Though that was the last of the “Great Revivals”, many other unnamed ones would would occur when aspects of life became unpleasant for people. Later on in the 19th and 20th centuries it came in the form of apocolyptism, which surfaced again in the 1950’s, during the Middle East crisis, adn later still with the arrival of the new millenium. Apocolytism led to a string of debates about whether Jesus would return before or after the Millenial Kingdon was achieved (these are the ideas of pre- adn post-millennialism).This in itslef yielded a revival of religious debate.
The whole controversy was fueled by the civil unrest of the people at the time- the American Civil War, increased immigration, the growth of the cities, industrialization, and the wide-spreading, new ideas of Charles Darwin. this apparent lack of religion, faith adn morality gave way to a re-assessment of the current religious practices, which consequently became stricter. Apocolyptism can still be seen with the popularity of the “Left Behind” series by Tim LeHaye.Religous education, in my opinion, has always been a response to the lack of religion of the people. Early on, Sunday schools became reigiously orientated, followed by a long list of colleges of the same nature. The Protestants, particularly, have been a reformist group for well over a century. In the 19th century, urbanization was rapid and wide-spread, an influx of non-Protestant immigrants, and a shift twords industrial life was occuring.This distressed the Protestants, who saw the increasing lack of religion as a bad omen.
hey believed in social reform adn evangicalization, adn soon organized their efforts to create Sunday schools and visited the homes of those they wished to convert. In 1857, there was economic panic in the air, as well. All of these factors stirred the hopes of religious revival once again. This period became known as the Urban Awakening.
It is during this time that such organizations are formed like the YMCA adn YWCA, and the Salvation Army. Both men and women participated in the evangicalization of the cities, in fact, the Salvation Army was mostly run by women.According to Diane Winston, in her book Red Hot and Righteous, the United States branch of the Salvation army was actually started by a woman (Winston, 34). The time of major urbanization appears to be a period of great revival for religions, in general. It is also during this time that Protestantism became a wide spread religion in this country. Without doubt, as crises come and go inour country, religion will be found by many people. Revivals will occur.
The recent Apocolpysse scare that we all lived through in 2000 should be enough proof that revivals still occur in the present, and will in the future.