What Is It and How Does It Work?

America’s Religion: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Religion of the United States : To speak of a single religion or of only some religions practiced in the United States would be misleading, since this is a country that is quite open to religious diversity, so we can find a bit of everything. If you want to know more about the religions that are practiced in the United States, continue reading this article carefully, you will surely love it and you can even learn a little about other cultures.

United States religion

Religion in the United States : To speak of religiosity in this country is to speak of diversity of cultures and beliefs, which, on the one hand, can be a very enriching experience due to diversity, however, this also supposes, to a great extent, the loss of the original doctrines of the Church Founded by Jesus.

The vast majority of US citizens say that religiosity in their lives is really important despite being a fairly developed country.

Many of the Americans, seventy-three percent (73%) to be more exact, identify with the Christian religion, while twenty percent (20%) do not identify with any type of cult.

However, the religion of the United States is extremely varied, since the constitution does not have a religion that can be declared official.

The United States Constitution clearly separates the State from the Church, that is, both are totally independent. In addition, there is great respect and freedom regarding the practice of worship without any restriction.

The first amendment to the US Constitution establishes the inalienable right

We can say that all religions around the world are freely practiced in the United States, so its citizens can decide whether or not to practice any of the religions that are professed.

Citizens are free to practice the religion that best suits their beliefs and most importantly, that this does not affect third parties or interfere with the civil and legal rights of other citizens or any law.

The religion of the United States is so rich and varied because it is a multicultural country, with a large number of immigrants with a desire to excel and the hope of achieving the “American dream”, so there are people with very different cultural, ethnic and religious origins. .

The United States has as much religious diversity as people, which is why it is considered one of the most diverse countries in the world, and also highly developed.

Since the United States was born as a nation, it has focused on the life of the American citizen and since the religion of the United States is so important, its inhabitants were given complete freedom to practice whatever they wish or not.

The main religions with the greatest presence worldwide are: Christianity, Islam and Judaism. We can say that these are the great religions that move the world, although there are many more that make life both in the United States and outside of it.

Among the immigrant population (of Latin or Hispanic origin), Roman Catholics and Protestant groups also stand out as the religion of the United States , of which the Catholic religion predominates.

The second religion of the United States is Islam, it has a great presence mainly in the south and center of the country and in more than twenty states. Other religions that are practiced and important within the United States:

Judaism: It has a great presence on the Atlantic coast, in addition to fifteen other states in the country.

Buddhism: One of the religious communities with the greatest presence in Alaska, Hawaii (about 9% of the population identifies with this cult) and the Pacific coast.

Hinduism: A highly practiced religion in Delaware and Arizona.

Bahá’í Faith: One of the religious faiths with the largest number of followers in South Carolina.

The religion of the United States is diverse, including many religions or cults have emerged from others, as well as many other religions or cults have been forgotten.

In this article we will develop, explain in detail, and even analyze the statistics of the most influential and practiced religions in the United States, in addition to giving a broad perspective of the influence of religion in the United States in the lives of its citizens.


Let’s start this history of America’s religion from the beginning: colonialism. When the German and British settlers headed for what is now known as the United States in search of just that religious freedom.

Several of the famous thirteen colonies were initially founded by these settlers who wanted to be able to practice their religion without any restrictions, signs or discrimination, among them, we can mention:

The Massachusetts Bay Colony: Founded by British Puritans (Congregationalists).

Pennsylvania: Founded by British Quakers.

Maryland: Founded by British Catholics.

Virginia: Founded by British Anglicans.

The United States is strongly influenced by the politics, religion, culture of the country and its life as a society, however, religiosity has played a historical role in the country, as well as throughout North America.

These first settlers and other immigrants in the United States were of English origin, they decided to migrate to this country not only for development and better living conditions but also because it offered greater opportunities and freedom of worship and belief.

Unlike many other countries, the United States is extremely open and respectful of all kinds of beliefs, on the contrary to others that seek to impose a thought or belief as unique and this does not work for several reasons, but the main one is undoubtedly the imposition .

As human beings, with reason, rights and freedom, we must enjoy the right and freedom to decide what we want to do consciously and assuming responsibility for our actions, especially in an issue such as religion.

Only we should have the freedom to decide whether or not we want to believe any of the religions that are practiced in the United States. Nothing that is imposed can turn out well.

The freedom of religion in the United States has made this country a land where we can express ourselves without being discriminated against or forced to follow a Catholic or Roman Catholic current, which generates an evident discomfort at the individual and collective level.

The founders of the United States were convinced that it is important to separate the State from the Church to avoid impositions of any kind, although mainly regarding the religion of the United States and to keep these institutions independent from each other.

The guarantee of this religious freedom is included in the constitution of the United States, specifically, the first amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of any religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridged freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of persons to peacefully assemble and to petition the government the reparation of grievances” (text quote).

As we can see, this is a law that offers free practice of religious beliefs or cults, as well as respect for those who decide not to believe or identify with any religion in the United States .

This amendment expresses to us that nothing can and should not exist that restricts the freedom to express ourselves, as citizens or as the press, or that people can meet and peacefully demand that the government satisfy their needs and respect their rights, beliefs. and freedoms in all the extension of the word.

The first amendment of the constitution guarantees all its citizens (and will continue to do so) the right to decide to follow and identify with a cult or religion of the United States or not, and even freely practice these according to their beliefs.

In this brief history of the United States, Christianity has gone through various divisions or ramifications, adapting itself according to the beliefs of many people with different cultures, which has generated more than nine hundred versions, so to speak, of the same faith.

Obviously, the source of all religion is the same, it has the same purpose, it includes a supreme being, almighty, with characteristics such as omnipotence and omnipresence that offers hope, faith, strength and blessings to all its believers.

Religion, especially the diversity of worship and religion in the United States, is a kind of force that moves the masses, generating thousands of emotions and unfulfilled promises that keep its believers hopeful.

Just as food is necessary for the body, faith is necessary for the soul, especially for the American population.

The United States is considered the first Western country founded mostly by Protestants and not by Roman Catholics like most other countries in the world, which indirectly tells us that America has a fairly open mind and is willing to continue experimenting with new ideas, traditions, and even, in their culture.

The history of what has been the religion of the United States also includes what is known as religious fanaticism, chimerical experiments, as well as the acceptance and inclusion of other religions of foreign origin and much more exotic.

Religions such as: Islam, Taoism, Hinduism or Buddhism have had their ups and downs in what has been the evolution of religion in the United States and the acceptance of the diversity of cultures and beliefs that completely break many patterns and traditions .

Native Americans and religion

One of the first religions practiced and known on the North American continent, specifically, in the United States, has been that professed by the Native Americans.

Throughout the United States there is a diversity of indigenous tribes such as: Algonquians, Iroquois or Siriux, who believed in the rewards offered by the “Great Spirit”. According to their beliefs, this “Great Spirit” could inhabit both men and animals, and even inanimate idols.

In these tribes, much more elaborate rituals were celebrated, which also included dances such as the dance to the sun, the round, the crow or the ghost. These rituals and dances were supervised and introduced by the leaders of each of the tribes.

Some of the leaders of important indigenous tribes during the history and evolution of the religion of the United States have been: Sitting Bull, Bigfoot, Black Elk and Wovonka.

Over time, the settlers who had arrived in the country forced these indigenous tribes to profess and share their beliefs, most of these settlers belonged to some group of Christian missionaries, however, the practices and fervor of these native tribes was such that they could not influence their own beliefs and traditions.

Even the devotion and faith of these natives was so rooted in each one of them, in their cultures and traditions that these practices, dances and rituals continued to grow and expand. In fact, in these modern times, these tribes continue to exist and their traditions and culture remain intact.

Religious Fragmentation in America

King Henry VIII of England, realizing that there were strong disagreements between the Catholic authority of the time, decided to organize a Church in England which he baptized with the name “Anglican Church”.

With the passage of time, other Churches began to be born, among them, the European Free Church or the Presbyterian-Reformed Church.

These Churches were born as an attempt to get rid of many of the norms and principles imposed by the State Church. We could say that it was an act that sought to break paradigms or generate its own principles and standards.

As a result of these Protestant denominations, a great wave of Christian movements born or developed from Christianity quickly came to light, one of the most named and practiced was Puritanism.

Puritanism was primarily a religious doctrine, a radical faction of Calvinist Protestantism that was born and developed during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

This movement arose during the 12th century, the era of English reformism, and sought to “purify” the rituals, doctrines, and practices of the Catholic Church and defend tooth and nail an extremist evangelical morality.

The Puritans, or rather, the movement as such, over the years would end up dividing between Congregationalists (a movement of the Protestant Church) and Baptists (an evangelical movement).

Later, other denominations would arise as a result of the ramifications that had initially emerged from the original Anglican Church, among them, we can mention:

Adventists: Those who identify with this branch fervently believe that God has chosen them to share his word, preach and evangelize his people around the world.

Pentecostalism: It is an evangelical movement of churches and other Christian organizations that profess the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, everything that it offers us, gifts, blessings, among others.

Fundamentalist: An ideological current (or religious current) that motivates its believers to interpret and accept their sacred books in a literal way, without questioning of any kind. It is usually an extremely strict doctrine, not to say extremist.

Methodism: Better known as the Methodist movement, it is a branch of Protestantism. It is a movement born in the mid-eighteenth century in the United Kingdom. Inspired by the teachings and life of John Wesley and has great influence and presence in the North American territory.

Each of these new denominations moved further and further away from what was the original doctrine of Christianity, and obviously, other movements and cults began to be born and grow, with their own beliefs, traditions and idols.

The origins and ramification of the Evangelical Movement

Throughout the long history of America’s religion and its history as a nation, evangelism has played an extremely important role for its citizens.

From colonial times to the present day, the Puritans have tried with all their might to spread the “Good News” through texts titled by that same name and printed in the first printing press in Boston in the year 1683.

During the 1740s a movement called “The Great Awakening” flourished, in which (white) Protestant evangelists took on the task of preaching the word to American citizens of color or African Americans.

We can say that one of the movements that achieved the greatest success in evangelizing these citizens were those that belonged to the Methodist movement (explained above).

Part of their charm and inspiration to others was that they spoke of God not as a supreme being and distant from men, but rather a superior being who, although he was God, was always close, so there was no impediment in being human beings because we could still have a close and intimate connection with him.

The Methodists also professed self-help and the power to be forgiven and freed from our sins through conversion.

This message, in addition to having a repetitive character, was spread and expanded through various campaigns that aimed to revive the spirit of men through preaching, sermons and songs of praise to God.

All of this developed during the 19th century. Also, they expanded their message to border states with celebrations and meetings for all those who were in those areas.

Protestant Denominations in the New America

More than Christianity, Protestantism began to spread throughout the entire continent of the United States, including, its growth was so fast that in just six months after this movement was born, hundreds of Protestant denominations were born.

During all these years, some movements or cults have continued to thrive, grow and expand, while others are but a memory in the history of the American nation.

Next, we will share some of the most important and main Protestant denominations in the history of the religion of the United States , in addition to offering a short description of each of these:

Puritanism: The Puritans, as people belonging to this movement are known in an attempt to escape religious slaughter and persecution, came to the famous colonies of New England, hoping to find a refuge and simply express their faith freely.

The Puritan faith is based on the New Testament and the teachings of John Calvin. The impact of this movement has been so great that in the eighteenth century alone it added more than one hundred thousand new believers.

Part of his contributions was to create the first university in the United States: Harvard, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Methodism: The roots of the faith of the believers belonging to this movement arise from a group of young students from the University of Oxford, which, at that time, was directed by the Wesley brothers, Carlos and Juan.

By 1771, Methodism only had 1,200 followers, but this changed significantly when the evangelist Francis Asbury arrived in American territory and began to promote an idea that was quite new for the time and for those who were seeking God.

Asbury proposed holding religious revivals throughout the United States, and this turned out to be a resounding success.

The influence of these celebrations was so great that after his death, in the year 1816, the number of members belonging to the Methodist movement had increased considerably to two hundred and fourteen thousand followers.

Lutheranism: It was the only Christian denomination that had an ethnic origin in the entire North American continent, which also played a very important role, although it turned out to be somewhat exclusive.

This Lutheran movement accepted only and exclusively immigrants from Norway, Finland, Germany, Denmark and Sweden, who began to settle in the Midwest and the East Coast. The cults of these immigrants were expressed in their native languages.

During the 19th century, the process of conversion and Americanization began to break down language barriers, thus allowing their exclusive rules to relax a bit and there was no longer any differentiation or anything that kept them excluded from the rest of the citizens.

In 1988, various groups belonging to other Lutheran movements decided to unite and form what is known as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, which currently represents more than half of the members in North American territory.

Presbyterianism: Most of its rituals were related more to the Roman Catholic Church and not to the liturgy. This movement shares the teachings of the 16th century Swiss Reformation and John Calvin.

This movement is based on a kind of leadership with a fairly active representation and influence of both its members and its ministers inside and outside the Church.

Their beliefs come from the Bible and from God, however, those who have the last word is the elder rabbit, who are known as “presbyters”. This is a branch of Protestant Christianity today.

The Quakers: Founded in 1647 by an English preacher named George Fox. God is their base, their root, the center of all their beliefs. William Penn wrote numerous texts on freedom of conscience while he was a prisoner in England, which came to have a great influence on Quakers worldwide.

Some Christian denominations such as the Eastern Orthodoxy and the Roman Catholic Church also had great influence and left an important mark on the history of the religion of the United States, including, they allowed to better shape the American society.

Breakdown of religious denominations in the United States

According to a survey carried out and analyzed by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the statistics on religious denominations in the United States show the following results:

Protestantism: 51.3% of which, in turn, arise:

  • Evangelical Churches: 26.3%
  • Major Churches: 18.1%
  • Historic Black Churches: 6.9%

Catholicism: 23.9%

Mormonism: 1.7%

Jehovah’s Witnesses: 0.7%

Orthodox: 0.6%

Also, in these Christian denominations, we must include non-Christian religions, which would be broken down as follows:

Others (non-Christian religions): 4.7% (total) of which are included:

  • Jewish: 1.7%
  • Buddhist: 0.7%
  • Muslim: 0.6%
  • Hindu: 0.4%

Other religions: 1.2% (total) of which are included and would be broken down as follows:

  • Unitary: 0.7%
  • New Age: 0,4%
  • Native American: 0.3%

No affiliation (or religion): 16.1% (total) of which are included and would be broken down as follows:

  • Atheists: 1.6%
  • Agnostics: 2.6%
  • Nothing in particular: 12.1%
  • Does not know or does not answer: 0.8%

As we can clearly see in these statistics, the Christian religion exceeds any other religion, belief or any type of belief by a fairly high percentage.

Political Influence

Many important figures or characters in religion are also political activists, which obviously generates greater influence at the time of an election. For his voters, the religion that the candidate practices is important.

All the Presidents of the United States have seemed to have certain characteristics in common: being Protestant and white, the only exceptions so far have been Barack Obama, who is African-American, John F. Kennedy who was Catholic, and Thomas Jefferson, who was a deist.

Religious self-identification in the US adult population between 1990 and 2015

 Next, we will present an analysis of the growth or decrease of the influence in the religion of the United States , which would be expressed as follows:

Christians (total) year 1990: 88.3% and for the year 2015: 79.8%.

Christians (total) year 1990: 61.4% and for the year 2015: 54%.

Other religions (total) for the year 1990: 3.5% and for the year 2015: 5.2%.

Without religion/atheists/agnostics (total) year 1990: 8.4% and for the year 2015: 15%.

Once again we see how the Christian religion is predominant before any other religion in the United States .

Religious trends in the United States

According to some more recent statistics, it can be said that more than twenty-five percent (25%) of the population of adult citizens of the United States have decided to stop professing that faith that was instilled in them in childhood, either for personal reasons or of another nature. Even today, many of them do not identify with any religion.

On the other hand, many of this adult population have decided to change their beliefs, whether from being an atheist to a Protestant believer or simply a practitioner of another religion and have converted to the Protestant religion, of this group there are 44 percent (44 %).

And of course, there is a group of people who have never identified with any religion, which is represented by sixteen point one percent (16.1%) of the adult US population.

The religion of the United States has much more competition every day, however, like any cult, group or movement, some believers add and others subtract, it is a natural part of life, as well as of the religion of this and any other country.

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