Letter about the Religious History of America

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25 March 2012
First Portfolio Essay Assignment
Hey Diana, I am writing this letter today with hopes to inform you about a religions course I am taking. I know you are a history guy so I thought it would be interesting to write about the religious history of America. The United States happens to be one of very few major nations in history to be founded and established on principles of separation of church and state. This book I am reading, “The Religious History of America”, by Edwin Gaustad and Leigh Schmidt, gives a great overview of the different strand of religious development in the United States. They are divided into four fundamental time periods: the Colonial times; the Revolutionary War to the Civil War; Post Civil War to World War II; and World War II to present day.

“The Religious History of America” was originally written by Edwin Scott Gaustad in 1966 and was later revised by one of Gaustad’s students, Leigh Schmidt. The authors opening line was of my interest, “I’m tired of all these pilgrims, these puritans, these thieves. So sings the pop artist Jewel on her compact disc sprit” (Gaustad& Schmidt 3). The authors are very clear from the beginning; they referenced a pop song, by which they mean the beginnings of Americas religious history is a New England/Puritan event biased at best. Outside the thirteen colonies, there was an older non Protestant settlement in Florida, St. Augustine. The authors provide the reader with an overview of the time period prior to the era of colonization, a state of Native American religions as well the different Mediterranean expeditions such as the Spanish and some Portuguese into the Americas. The Church of England settlements in the thirteen colonies included the Anglicans and the English. Each colony took a different religious point of view; some colonies even had official religions. The authorities had no control over the enforcement of uniformity of practice even when considering the smaller...
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