Protestantism is the largest grouping of Christians in the United States with its combined denominations collectively accounting for about half the country's population or 150 million people. Simultaneously, this corresponds to around 20% of the world's total Protestant population. America has the largest number of Protestants of any country in the world. Baptists account for about one third of American Protestants. The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest single Protestant denomination in the United States with one-tenth of American Protestants.
The country's history is often traced back to the Pilgrim Fathers whose Brownist beliefs motivated their move from England to the New World. These English dissenters, who also happened to be Puritans—and therefore—Calvinists, were first to settle in what was to become the Plymouth Colony. America's Calvinist heritage is often underlined by various experts, researchers and authors, prompting some to declare that the United States was "founded on Calvinism", while also underlining its exceptional foundation as a Protestant majority nation. American Protestantism has been diverse from the very beginning with large numbers of early immigrants being Anglican, various Reformed, Lutheran, and also Anabaptist. In the next centuries, it diversified even more with the Great Awakenings throughout the country. American Protestantism has a special vitality, offering a wide array of branches and being arguably more diverse than that in any other country.
Protestants are divided into many different denominations, which are generally classified as either "mainline" or "evangelical", although some may not fit easily into either category. Some historically African-American denominations are also classified as Black churches. Protestantism had undergone an unprecedented development on American soil, diversifying into multiple branches, denominations, several interdenominational and related movements, as well as many other developments. All have since expanded on a worldwide scale mainly through missionary work.
|Affiliation||% of U.S. population|
|Affiliation||% of U.S. population|
|Born-again or evangelical||30|
|Not born-again or evangelical||16.5|
|Affiliation||% of U.S. population|
|Affiliation||% of U.S. population|
|Southern Baptist Convention||5.3|
|United Methodist Church||3.6|
|American Baptist Churches USA||1.5|
|Churches of Christ||1.5|
|Evangelical Lutheran Church in America||1.4|
|National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.||1.4|
|Assemblies of God USA||1.4|
|Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod||1.1|
|Presbyterian Church (USA)||0.9|
|Church of God in Christ||0.6|
|Seventh-day Adventist Church||0.5|
|United Church of Christ||0.4|
|Presbyterian Church in America||0.4|
|Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee)||0.4|
Baptists are the largest Protestant grouping in the United States accounting for one-third of all American Protestants.
Prior to 1845, most white Baptist churches were loosely affiliated as the Triennial Convention. In that year, most southern congregations left to form a new Southern Baptist Convention, which is now the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., with 15.0 million members. The remaining members organized what is now American Baptist Churches USA and includes 1.1 million members and 5057 congregations.
African American Baptists, excluded from full participation in white Baptist organizations, have formed several denominations, of which the largest are the National Baptist Convention, with 7.5 million members and the more liberal Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC), with over 2000 churches and a total membership of 2.5 million.
There are numerous smaller bodies, some recently organized and others with long histories, such as the Calvinistic Baptists, General Baptists, Primitive Baptists, Old Regulars, Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists, independents, and Seventh Day Baptists.
Baptists have been present in the part of North America that is now the United States since the early 17th century. Both Roger Williams and John Clarke, his compatriot in working for religious freedom, are credited with founding the Baptist faith in North America. In 1639, Williams established a Baptist church in Providence, Rhode Island (First Baptist Church in America) and Clarke began a Baptist church in Newport, Rhode Island (First Baptist Church in Newport). According to a Baptist historian who has researched the matter, "There is much debate over the centuries as to whether the Providence or Newport church deserved the place of 'first' Baptist congregation in America. Exact records for both congregations are lacking."
The Handbook of Denominations in the United States identifies and describes 31 Baptist groups or conventions in the United States. A partial list follows. (Unless otherwise noted, statistics are taken from the Baptist World Alliance website, and reflect 2006 data.)
With 3.6 million members, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is the largest American Lutheran denomination, followed by the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) with 2.0 million members, and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) with 360,000 members. The differences between the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) largely arise from historical and cultural factors, although some are theological in character. The ELCA tends to be more involved in ecumenical endeavors than the LCMS.
When Lutherans came to North America, they started church bodies that reflected, to some degree, the churches left behind. Many maintained their immigrant languages until the early 20th century. They sought pastors from the "old country" until patterns for the education of clergy could be developed in America. Eventually, seminaries and church colleges were established in many places to serve the Lutheran churches in North America and, initially, especially to prepare pastors to serve congregations.
The LCMS sprang from German immigrants fleeing the forced Prussian Union, who settled in the St. Louis area and has a continuous history since it was established in 1847. The LCMS is the second largest Lutheran church body in North America (2.0 million). It identifies itself as a church with an emphasis on biblical doctrine and faithful adherence to the historic Lutheran confessions. Insistence by some LCMS leaders on a strict reading of all passages of Scripture led to a rupture in the mid-1970s, which in turn resulted in the formation of the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, now part of the ELCA.
Although its strongly conservative views on theology and ethics might seem to make the LCMS politically compatible with other Evangelicals in the U.S., the LCMS as an organization largely eschews political activity, partly out of its strict understanding of the Lutheran distinction between the Two Kingdoms. It does, however, encourage its members to be politically active, and LCMS members are often involved in political organizations such as Lutherans for Life.
The earliest predecessor synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was constituted on August 25, 1748, in Philadelphia. It was known as the Ministerium of Pennsylvania and Adjacent States. The ELCA is the product of a series of mergers and represents the largest (3.6 million members) Lutheran church body in North America. The ELCA was created in 1988 by the uniting of the 2.85-million-member Lutheran Church in America, 2.25-million-member American Lutheran Church, and the 100,000-member Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches. The ALC and LCA had come into being in the early 1960s, as a result of mergers of eight smaller ethnically-based Lutheran bodies.
The ELCA, through predecessor church bodies, is a founding member of the Lutheran World Federation, World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches USA. The LCMS, maintaining its position as a confessional church body emphasizing the importance of full agreement in the teachings of the Bible, does not belong to any of these. However, it is a member of the International Lutheran Council, made up of over 30 Lutheran Churches worldwide that support the confessional doctrines of the Bible and the Book of Concord. The WELS, along with the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS), are part of the international Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference (CELC).
Pentecostalism is a renewalist religious movement within Protestantism, that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The term Pentecostal is derived from Pentecost, a Greek term describing the Jewish Feast of Weeks. For Christians, this event commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit and Pentecostals tend to see their movement as reflecting the same kind of spiritual power, worship styles and teachings that were found in the early church.
Pentecostalism is an umbrella term that includes a wide range of different theological and organizational perspectives. As a result, there is no single central organization or church that directs the movement. Most Pentecostals consider themselves to be part of broader Christian groups; for example, most Pentecostals identify as Protestants. Many embrace the term Evangelical, while others prefer Restorationist. Pentecostalism is theologically and historically close to the Charismatic Movement, as it significantly influenced that movement; some Pentecostals use the two terms interchangeably.
Within classical Pentecostalism there are three major orientations: Wesleyan-Holiness, Higher Life, and Oneness. Examples of Wesleyan-Holiness denominations include the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) and the International Pentecostal Holiness Church (IPHC). The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel is an example of the Higher Life branch, while the Assemblies of God (AG) was influenced by both groups. Some Oneness Pentecostal (Nontrinitarian) churches include the United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI) and Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (PAW). Many Pentecostal sects are affiliated with the Pentecostal World Conference.
In typical usage, the term mainline is contrasted with evangelical. The distinction between the two can be due as much to sociopolitical attitude as theological doctrine, although doctrinal differences may exist as well. Theologically conservative critics accuse the mainline churches of "the substitution of leftist social action for Christian evangelizing, and the disappearance of biblical theology," and maintain that "All the Mainline churches have become essentially the same church: their histories, their theologies, and even much of their practice lost to a uniform vision of social progress."
The Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) counts 26,344,933 members of mainline churches versus 39,930,869 members of evangelical Protestant churches. There is evidence that there has been a shift in membership from mainline denominations to evangelical churches.
As shown in the table below, some denominations with similar names and historical ties to evangelical groups are considered mainline. For example, while the American Baptist Churches, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Presbyterian Church (USA) are mainline, the Southern Baptist Convention, Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, and the Presbyterian Church in America are grouped as evangelical.
|Mainline vs. Evangelical (2001)|
|Baptist||38,662,005||25.3%||Southern Baptist Convention||Evangelical|
|American Baptist Churches U.S.A.||Mainline|
|Pentecostal||13,673,149||8.9%||Assemblies of God||Evangelical|
|Lutheran||7,860,683||5.1%||Evangelical Lutheran Church in America||Mainline|
|Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod||Evangelical|
|5,844,855||3.8%||Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)||Mainline|
|Presbyterian Church in America||Evangelical|
|Methodist||5,473,129||3.6%||United Methodist Church||Mainline|
|African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church||Evangelical|
|Anglican Church in North America||Evangelical|
|Adventist||2,203,600||1.4%||Seventh-day Adventist Church||Evangelical|
|Holiness||2,135,602||1.4%||Church of the Nazarene||Evangelical|
|Other Groups||1,366,678||0.9%||Church of the Brethren||Evangelical|
|Friends General Conference||Mainline|
The mainline or mainline Protestant Christian denominations are those Protestant denominations that were brought to the United States by its historic immigrant groups; for this reason they are sometimes referred to as heritage churches. The largest are the Episcopal (English), Presbyterian (Scottish), Methodist (English and Welsh), and Lutheran (German and Scandinavian) churches.
Many mainline denominations teach that the Bible is God's word in function, but tend to be open to new ideas and societal changes. They have been increasingly open to the ordination of women. Mainline churches tend to belong to organizations such as the National Council of Churches and World Council of Churches.
Mainline Protestant denominations, such as the Episcopal Church (76%), the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (64%), and the United Church of Christ (46%), have the highest number of graduate and post-graduate degrees per capita of any other Christian denomination in the United States, as well as the most high-income earners.
Episcopalians and Presbyterian tend to be considerably wealthier and better educated than most other religious groups in Americans, and are disproportionately represented in the upper reaches of American business, law and politics, especially the Republican Party. Numbers of the most wealthy and affluent American families as the Vanderbilts and Astors, Rockefeller, Du Pont, Roosevelt, Forbes, Whitneys, Morgans and Harrimans are Mainline Protestantism families.
Evangelicalism is a Protestant Christian movement in which adherents consider its key characteristics to be a belief in the need for personal conversion (or being "born again"), some expression of the gospel in effort, a high regard for Biblical authority and an emphasis on the death and resurrection of Jesus. David Bebbington has termed these four distinctive aspects "conversionism", "activism", "biblicism", and "crucicentrism", saying, "Together they form a quadrilateral of priorities that is the basis of Evangelicalism."
Note that the term "evangelical" does not equal Christian fundamentalism, although the latter is sometimes regarded simply as the most theologically conservative subset of the former. The major differences largely hinge upon views of how to regard and approach scripture ("Theology of Scripture"), as well as construing its broader world-view implications. While most conservative evangelicals believe the label has broadened too much beyond its more limiting traditional distinctives, this trend is nonetheless strong enough to create significant ambiguity in the term. As a result, the dichotomy between "evangelical" vs. "mainline" denominations is increasingly complex (particularly with such innovations as the "emergent church" movement).
The contemporary North American usage of the term is influenced by the evangelical/fundamentalist controversy of the early 20th century. Evangelicalism may sometimes be perceived as the middle ground between the theological liberalism of the mainline denominations and the cultural separatism of fundamentalist Christianity. Evangelicalism has therefore been described as "the third of the leading strands in American Protestantism, straddl[ing] the divide between fundamentalists and liberals." While the North American perception is important to understand the usage of the term, it by no means dominates a wider global view, where the fundamentalist debate was not so influential.
Evangelicals held the view that the modernist and liberal parties in the Protestant churches had surrendered their heritage as evangelicals by accommodating the views and values of the world. At the same time, they criticized their fellow fundamentalists for their separatism and their rejection of the Social Gospel as it had been developed by Protestant activists of the previous century. They charged the modernists with having lost their identity as evangelicals and the fundamentalists with having lost the Christ-like heart of evangelicalism. They argued that the Gospel needed to be reasserted to distinguish it from the innovations of the liberals and the fundamentalists.
They sought allies in denominational churches and liturgical traditions, disregarding views of eschatology and other "non-essentials," and joined also with Trinitarian varieties of Pentecostalism. They believed that in doing so, they were simply re-acquainting Protestantism with its own recent tradition. The movement's aim at the outset was to reclaim the evangelical heritage in their respective churches, not to begin something new; and for this reason, following their separation from fundamentalists, the same movement has been better known merely as "Evangelicalism." By the end of the 20th century, this was the most influential development in American Protestant Christianity.
The National Association of Evangelicals is a U.S. agency which coordinates cooperative ministry for its member denominations.
According of Scientific Elite: Nobel Laureates in the United States by Harriet Zuckerman, a review of American Nobel prizes winners awarded between 1901 and 1972, 72% of American Nobel Prize Laureates have identified from Protestant background. Overall, 84.2% of all the Nobel Prizes awarded to Americans in Chemistry, 60% in Medicine, and 58.6% in Physics between 1901 and 1972 were won by Protestants.
Some of the first colleges and universities in America, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, Dartmouth, Williams, Bowdoin, Middlebury, and Amherst, all were founded by Protestants, as were later Carleton, Duke, Oberlin, Beloit, Pomona, Rollins and Colorado College.
Duke University has historical, formal, on-going, and symbolic ties with Methodism, but is an independent and non-sectarian institution ... Duke would not be the institution it is today without its ties to the Methodist Church. However, the Methodist Church does not own or direct the University. Duke is and has developed as a private non-profit corporation which is owned and governed by an autonomous and self-perpetuating Board of Trustees.
The American Rescue Workers is a Christian denomination and charity in the United States. The organization was founded in 1882 by Thomas E. Moore as a splinter group from The Salvation Army in response to financial disagreements between Moore and Salvation Army founder William Booth. In 1885 the organization officially adopted a charter as the Salvation Army of America, but in 1913 it was renamed American Rescue Workers and has functioned under this name since that time. Its quasi-military organization suggests that the charity retains similarities to the Salvation Army as with the Volunteers of America. The charity operates shelters for the homeless, workshops for the disabled, and halfway houses for the chemically dependent, in addition to engaging in evangelism. American Rescue Workers publishes a quarterly periodical, The Rescue Herald.The Church has a membership of 2700, and is headquartered in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.Benevolent Empire
The Benevolent Empire was part of a 19th-century religious movement in the United States. Various protestant denominations developed missionary organizations in order to Christianize citizens of the United States and the world, and to create a Christian nation. The movement included a commitment to social reform by wealthy and middle-class urbanites.Bereans
In ancient times, the Bereans were the inhabitants of the city of Berea, also known in the Bible as Beroea, and now known as Veria in what is today Greek Macedonia, northern Greece. The name has been taken up by certain Protestant groups.Christian fundamentalism
Christian fundamentalism began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries among British and American Protestants as a reaction to theological liberalism and cultural modernism. Fundamentalists argued that 19th-century modernist theologians had misinterpreted or rejected certain doctrines, especially biblical inerrancy, that they viewed as the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Fundamentalists are almost always described as having a literal interpretation of the Bible. A few scholars label Catholics who reject modern theology in favor of more traditional doctrines as fundamentalists. Scholars debate how much the terms "evangelical" and "fundamentalist" are synonymous. In keeping with traditional Christian doctrines concerning biblical interpretation, the role Jesus plays in the Bible, and the role of the church in society, fundamentalists usually believe in a core of Christian beliefs that include the historical accuracy of the Bible and all its events as well as the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.Interpretations of Christian fundamentalism have changed over time. Fundamentalism as a movement manifested in various denominations with various theologies, rather than a single denomination or systematic theology. It became active in the 1910s after the release of The Fundamentals, a twelve-volume set of essays, apologetic and polemic, written by conservative Protestant theologians to defend what they saw as Protestant orthodoxy. The movement became more organized in the 1920s within U.S. Protestant churches, especially Baptist and Presbyterian ones.
Many such churches adopted a "fighting style" and combined Princeton theology with Dispensationalism. Since 1930, many fundamentalist churches have been represented by the Independent Fundamental Churches of America (renamed IFCA International in 1996), which holds to biblical inerrancy.Christian privilege
Christian privilege is any of several advantages bestowed upon Christians in some societies. This arises out of the presumption that Christian belief is a social norm, that leads to the marginalization of the nonreligious and members of other religions through institutional religious discrimination or religious persecution. Christian privilege can also lead to the neglect of outsiders' cultural heritage and religious practices.Community Church movement
The Community Church movement aims to bring together and support local community churches.
Community churches have existed in the United States since the early nineteenth century. Small communities did not always have the population or finances to sustain churches of all Christian denominations, so community leaders would cross denominational lines and pool their resources to support a single church. By the early twentieth century, with the ecumenical movement in full swing, community churches were ready to cut formal ties with denominations and to demonstrate Christian unity through diversity. Community churches began to understand themselves as post-Protestant and postdenominational.Congregationalism in the United States
Congregationalism in the United States consists of Protestant churches in the Reformed tradition that have a congregational form of church government and trace their origins mainly to Puritan settlers of colonial New England. Congregational churches in other parts of the world are often related to these in the United States due to American missionary activities.
Congregational churches have had an important impact on the religious, political and cultural history of the United States. Congregational practices concerning church governance influenced the early development of democratic institutions in New England, and many of the nation's oldest educational institutions, such as Harvard and Yale University, were founded to train Congregational clergy. Congregational churches and ministers influenced the First and Second Great Awakenings and were early promoters of the missionary movement of the 19th century. The Congregational tradition has shaped both mainline and evangelical Protestantism in the United States. It also influenced the development of American Unitarianism and Unitarian Universalism.
In the 20th century, the Congregational tradition in America fragmented into three different denominations. The largest of these is the United Church of Christ, which resulted from a 1957 merger with the Evangelical and Reformed Church. Congregationalists who chose not to join the United Church of Christ founded two alternative denominations: the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches and the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference.Conservatism in North America
Conservatism in North America is a political philosophy that varies in form, depending on the country and the region, but that has similar themes and goals. Academic study into the differences and similarities between conservatism in North American countries has been undertaken on numerous occasions. Reginald Bibby has asserted that the primary reason that conservatism has been so strong and enduring throughout North America is because of the propagation of religious values from generation to generation. This connection is strongest in mainstream Protestantism in the United States and both Protestantism and Roman Catholicism in Canada.According to Louis Hartz, nations that developed from settler colonies were European "fragments" that froze the class structure and underlying ideology prevalent in the mother country at the time of their foundation. He considered Latin America and French Canada to be fragments of feudal Europe, and the United States and English Canada as liberal fragments. However Gad Horowitz, writing that Hartz had acknowledged a Tory influence in English Canada, claimed a conservative tradition had developed there as well. American conservatism is different from European conservatism, with its combination of traditionalism and libertarianism, and has its roots in American traditions and classical liberalism of the 18th and 19th centuries, although Canada also developed an American-style conservatism that competed with the older Tory conservatism. A right-wing conservatism, or "Latin conservatism", developed in Latin America and Quebec. Today, conservative and conservative liberal parties in North America cooperate through the International Democrat Union.Episcopal Church (United States)
The Episcopal Church (TEC) is a member church of the worldwide Anglican Communion based in the United States with dioceses elsewhere. It is a mainline Christian denomination divided into nine provinces. The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church is Michael Bruce Curry, the first African-American bishop to serve in that position.
In 2017, the Episcopal Church had 1,871,581 baptized members, of whom 1,712,563 were in the United States. In 2011, it was the nation's 14th largest denomination. In 2015, Pew Research estimated that 1.2 percent of the adult population in the United States, or 3 million people, self-identify as mainline Episcopalians.The church was organized after the American Revolution, when it became separate from the Church of England, whose clergy are required to swear allegiance to the British monarch as Supreme Governor of the Church of England. The Episcopal Church describes itself as "Protestant, yet Catholic". The Episcopal Church claims apostolic succession, tracing its bishops back to the apostles via holy orders. The Book of Common Prayer, a collection of traditional rites, blessings, liturgies, and prayers used throughout the Anglican Communion, is central to Episcopal worship.
The Episcopal Church was active in the Social Gospel movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Since the 1960s and 1970s, the church has pursued a decidedly more liberal course. It has opposed the death penalty and supported the civil rights movement and affirmative action. Some of its leaders and priests are known for marching with influential civil rights demonstrators such as Martin Luther King Jr. The church calls for the full legal equality of LGBT people. In 2015, the church's 78th triennial General Convention passed resolutions allowing the blessing of same-sex marriages and approved two official liturgies to bless such unions.The Episcopal Church ordains women and LGBT people to the priesthood, the diaconate, and the episcopate, despite opposition from a number of other member churches of the Anglican Communion. In 2003, Gene Robinson became the first openly gay person ordained as a bishop.First Christian Church (Pella, Iowa)
First Christian Church (also known as Maasdam's Christian Church) is a historic church at 824 Franklin Street in Pella, Iowa.
It is a small, one-story brick church, was built between 1858 and 1862. As of 1869, it was named the Soul Sleepers Church. During the 1880s it held the Pella Y.M.C.A. AS of 2006 it was the site of an independent bookstore, Pella Books.
Its significance includes that, according to its NRHP nomination:"...it calls attention to religion and social history among the Pella Dutch. During the 19th century, attempts to unite the various stripes of Dutch Protestantism in the United States, evolving since the 17th century, failed and resulted in schism and the formation of two separate denominations. This national schism exacerbated a religious volatility already simmering in Pella. First Christian Church calls attention to this strife within the otherwise homogeneous Dutch-American community, as religion became the focus of local controversy during the 1850s and 1860s. These controversies centered on Domine Henry P. Scholte, the pastor of the original flock of Dutch Reformed settlers in Pella, and divergent forms of worship then emerging among some of the settlers. Elder Jacob Maasdam, a charismatic layman, led one of these latter groups. His adherents built the First Christian Church, where they worshipped until circa 1869, splitting Scholte's flock, which built another church.
It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.Forward Movement
Forward Movement is the name taken by a number of Christian Protestant movements in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and other countries.God the Sustainer
God the Sustainer is the conception of God who sustains and upholds everything in existence.
Al Qayyum, sometimes rendered "The Sustainer" is one of the 99 Names of God in Islam.
"Creater, Sustainer, Redeemer" is reportedly a "common phrase" in Protestantism in the United States, specifically in Baptist liturgy.History of Protestantism in the United States
Christianity was introduced with the first European settlers beginning in the 16th and 17th centuries. Colonists from Northern Europe introduced Protestantism in its Anglican and Reformed forms to Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts Bay Colony, New Netherland, Virginia Colony, and Carolina Colony. The first arrivals were adherents to Anglicanism, Congregationalism, Presbyterianism, Lutheranism, Quakerism, Anabaptism and the Moravian Church from British, German, Dutch, and Nordic stock. America emerged as a Protestant majority nation, with significant minorities of Roman Catholics and Jews.
Altogether, Protestants comprised the majority of the population until 2012 when the Protestant share of U.S. population dropped to 48%, thus ending its status as religion of the majority. The decline is attributed mainly to the dropping membership of the Mainline Protestant churches, while Evangelical Protestant and Black churches are stable or continue to grow. Today, 46.5% of the United States population is either Mainline Protestant, Evangelical Protestant, or a Black church attendee.Mainline Protestant
The mainline Protestant churches (also called mainstream Protestant and sometimes oldline Protestant) are a group of Protestant denominations in the United States that contrast in history and practice with evangelical, fundamentalist, and charismatic Protestant denominations. Some make a distinction between "mainline" and "oldline", with the former referring only to denominational ties and the latter referring to church lineage, prestige and influence. However, this distinction has largely been lost to history and the terms are now nearly synonymous. These terms are also increasingly used in other countries for the same purpose of distinguishing between the so-called oldline and neo-Protestants.
Mainline Protestants were a majority of Protestants in the United States until the mid-20th century, but along with most other Christian denominations, they have experienced a decline in membership.Mainline churches include the so-called "Seven Sisters of American Protestantism"—the United Methodist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Episcopal Church, the American Baptist Churches, the United Church of Christ, and the Disciples of Christ—as well as the Quakers, Reformed Church in America, African Methodist Episcopal church and other churches. The term 'mainline' has also been applied to Canadian Protestant churches that share common origins with their US counterparts. In Mexico, the Anglican Church is historically tied to and formed from the US Episcopal Church. The term is also occasionally used to refer to historic Protestant churches in Europe, Latin America, and South Africa.Mainline churches share an active approach to social issues that often leads to cooperation in organizations such as the National Council of Churches. Because of their involvement with the ecumenical movement, mainline churches are sometimes (especially outside the United States) given the alternative label of ecumenical Protestantism. These churches played a leading role in the Social Gospel movement and were active in social causes such as the civil rights movement and women's movement. As a group, the mainline churches have maintained religious doctrine that stresses social justice and personal salvation. Members of mainline denominations have played leadership roles in politics, business, science, the arts, and education. They were involved in the founding of leading institutes of higher education. Marsden argues that in the 1950s, "Mainline Protestant leaders were part of the liberal-moderate cultural mainstream, and their leading spokespersons were respected participants in the national conversation."Some mainline Protestant denominations have the highest proportion of graduate and post-graduate degrees of any other denomination in the United States. Some also include the highest proportion of those with some college education, such as the Episcopal Church (76%), the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (64%), and the United Church of Christ (46%), as well as the most of the American upper class. compared with the nationwide average of 50%. Episcopalians and Presbyterians also tend to be considerably wealthier and better educated than most other religious groups, and they were disproportionately represented in the upper reaches of US business and law until the 1950s.The US Supreme Court was two-thirds Catholic and one-third Jewish between August 2010 and April 2017 with the retirements of four Mainline Protestants (Sandra Day O'Connor, John Paul Stevens, William Rehnquist and David Souter and replacement with Justices who adhere to Catholicism (Samuel Alito, John Roberts, and Sonia Sotomayor) and Judaism (Elena Kagan). The second most junior associate justice, Neil Gorsuch, was raised and educated as a Catholic and affiliates with a parish that is part of The Episcopal Church.From 1854 until at least 1964, Mainline Protestants and their descendants were heavily Republican. In recent decades, Republicans slightly outnumber Democrats.From 1965 to 1988, mainline church membership declined from 31 million to 25 million, then fell to 21 million in 2005. While in 1970 the mainline churches claimed most Protestants and more than 30 percent of the population as members, today they are a minority among Protestants; in 2009, only 15 percent of Americans were adherents. A Pew Forum statistic revealed the same share in 2014.National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.
The National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., more commonly known as the National Baptist Convention (NBC USA or NBC), is the largest predominantly African-American Christian denomination in the United States. It is headquartered at the Baptist World Center in Nashville, Tennessee and affiliated with the Baptist World Alliance. The denomination claims approximately 31,000 congregations and reports having an estimated 7.5 million members.St. Dunstan's Episcopal High School
St. Dunstan’s Episcopal High School was a K-12 on St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands. St. Dunstan's was founded as a K-12 in 1959 by a committee of parishioners from St. John's Episcopal Church. Among them a church layreader Dr. Richard Marshall Bond and his wife Edith Gereau Bond. Dr. Richard Bond suggested the name chosen for the school. As a result of competition with other private and parochial schools St. Dunstan's folded about thirty five years later.
The school was also championed by prominent educator Mrs. Elena L. Christian who also served on the board through the early 1980s while also a member of the clergy at St.John's Episcopal Church, Christiansted, St.Croix, USVI.Waldensians
The Waldensians (also known as Waldenses (), Vallenses, Valdesi or Vaudois) are an ascetic movement within Christianity, reputedly founded by Peter Waldo in Lyon around 1173.The Waldensian movement first appeared in Lyon in the late 1170s and quickly spread to the Cottian Alps in what is today France and Italy. True to its historic roots, the Waldensian movement today is centred on Piedmont in Northern Italy, and small communities are also found in Southern Italy, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, the United States, and Uruguay. Today the two biggest Waldensian congregations are the Union of Waldensian and Methodist Churches and the Evangelical Waldensian Church of Río de la Plata.The movement originated in the late twelfth century as the Poor Men of Lyon, a band organized by Peter Waldo, a wealthy merchant who gave away his property around 1173, preaching apostolic poverty as the way to perfection. Waldensian teachings quickly came into conflict with the Catholic Church. By 1215, the Waldensians were declared heretical and subject to intense persecution; the group was nearly annihilated in the 17th century and was confronted with organised and general discrimination in the centuries that followed. In the era of the Reformation, the Waldensians influenced early Swiss reformer Heinrich Bullinger. Upon finding the ideas of other reformers similar to their own, they quickly merged into the larger Protestant movement. With the Resolutions of Chanforan on 12 September 1532, they formally became a part of the Calvinist tradition.
In the 16th century, Waldensian leaders embraced the Protestant Reformation and joined various local Protestant regional entities. As early as 1631, Protestant scholars and Waldensian theologians themselves began to regard the Waldensians as early forerunners of the Reformation, who had maintained the apostolic faith in the face of Catholic oppression. Modern Waldensians share core tenets with Calvinists, including the priesthood of all believers, congregational polity and a "low" view of certain sacraments such as Communion and Baptism. They are members of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe and its affiliates worldwide.
The main denomination within the movement was the Waldensian Evangelical Church, the original church in Italy. In 1975, it merged with the Methodist Evangelical Church to form the Union of Methodist and Waldensian Churches—a majority Waldensian church, with a minority of Methodists.Congregations continue to be active in Europe, South America, and North America. Organizations such as the American Waldensian Society maintain the history of this movement and declare they take as their mission "proclaiming the Christian Gospel, serving the marginalized, promoting social justice, fostering inter-religious work, and advocating respect for religious diversity and freedom of conscience."Wesleyanism
Wesleyanism, also known as Wesleyan theology or Wesleyan-Arminian theology, is a theological tradition in Protestant Christianity that emphasizes the "methods" of the eighteenth-century evangelical reformers John Wesley and his brother Charles Wesley. More broadly, it refers to the theological system inferred from the various sermons, theological treatises, letters, journals, diaries, hymns, and other spiritual writings of the Wesleys and their contemporary coadjutors such as John William Fletcher.
Wesleyan-Arminian theology, manifest today in Methodist and Holiness churches, is named for its founders, the Wesleys, as well as for Jacob Arminius, since it is a subset of Arminian theology. In 1736, these two brothers traveled to the Georgia colony in America as missionaries for the Church of England; they left rather disheartened at what they saw. Both of them subsequently had "religious experiences," especially John in 1738, being greatly influenced by the Moravian Christians. They began to organize a renewal movement within the Church of England to focus on personal faith and holiness. John Wesley took Protestant churches to task over the nature of sanctification, the process by which a believer is conformed to the image of Christ, emphasizing New Testament teachings regarding the work of God and the believer in sanctification. The movement did well within the Church of England in Britain, but when the movement crossed the ocean into America, it took on a form of its own, finally being established as the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1784. The Wesleyan churches are similar to Anglicanism (in Church government and liturgical practices), yet have added a strong emphasis on personal faith and personal experience.
At its heart, the theology of John Wesley stressed the life of Christian holiness: to love God with all one’s heart, mind, soul and strength and to love one’s neighbour as oneself. See also Ministry of Jesus. Wesley’s teaching also stressed experiential religion and moral responsibility.White Anglo-Saxon Protestant
White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs) are a social group—of typically wealthy and well-connected white Protestants, usually of British descent—in the United States. The group dominated American society, culture, and the leadership of the Republican party until the World War II era. They are well placed in major financial, business, legal, and academic institutions, and had, in the past, close to a monopoly on elite society due to intermarriage and nepotism.During the latter half of the twentieth century, outsider ethnic and racial groups grew in influence and WASP dominance gave way. Americans increasingly criticized the WASP hegemony and disparaging WASPs as the epitome of "the Establishment". The 1998 Random House Unabridged Dictionary says the term is "Sometimes Disparaging and Offensive".Sociologists sometimes use the term very broadly to include all Protestant Americans of Northern European or Northwestern European ancestry regardless of their class or power. The term is also used in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada for similar elites.