Religion 304W

History of Christianity in America

Fall 2000

MW 2:15pm to 4:05pm
320 Chapman Hall

Office Hours: MW 10-11am
Tues. & Thurs. 2:30-3:30pm


David R. Bains
Religion and Philosophy
319 Chapman Hall
phone: 726-2879

This course provides an overview of the history of Christianity in the United States and the colonies that preceded it. Special attention will be given the relationship between Christianity and culture, the American nation, and other religious groups.

By the conclusion of this course students will be able to:

Required Texts:

The following items are available for purchase in the Samford University Book Store.

Butler, Jon, and Harry S. Stout. Religion in American History: A Reader. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-19-509776-9

Brekus, Catherine A. Strangers and Pilgrims: Female Preaching in America: 1740-1845. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998. ISBN 0-8078-4745-5

Williams, Peter W. America's Religions: Traditions and Cultures. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998. ISBN 0-252-06697-9

Other required reading assignments will be on reserve, distributed in class, or accessible over the internet. Many of the additional readings are drawn from these two collections of primary sources, both of which are on reserve for this course.

Gaustad, Edwin S. A Documentary History of Religion in America. 2 vols. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993.

Smith, H. Shelton, Robert T. Handy, and Lefferts A. Loetscher, eds. American Christianity: An Historical Interpretation with Representative Documents. 2 vols. New York: Scribner's, 1963.

Course Requirements

Mid Term and Final Exam 40% Exams will consist of identifications (paragraph-long explanations of the terms significance), quote identification (identification of the source, explication of the argument and significance), and essays. The mid term is scheduled for Oct. 9 and the final for Dec. 14 at 1pm.

Paper 10-12 pages: Due Dec 4. 20% There are three options for this assignment:
A.) A critical comparative book review. You will read two historical monographs which both treat a similar subject in American religion. Your book review will identify the approach of each work and assess their strengths and weaknesses. This option is recommended for most students.
B.) A paper presenting original research on a topic in American religion. Students who wish to exercise this option should meet with the instructor to discuss possibilities and refine their project early in the term.
C.) As a variation on option B students may study one or more novels with strongly religious themes and drawing on existing studies of these literary works, discuss their content, context, and significance to the development of American religion.

More guidelines for this assignment will be distributed later in the semester. Topics for this paper are due on October 18. Rough drafts of at least 5 pages will be due a week and a half before the final due date. Students are urged to begin work early in order to secure necessary books from Davis Library, Inter Library Loan, or other sources in a timely fashion.

Short Essays and Class Participation: 40% At least four essays of not more than five pages each will be assigned over the course of the term. These will be closely linked to assigned readings. Any quizzes or in class writing assignments will also count toward this part of the grade.

Attendance and Grading / Department of Religion and Philosophy:

The attendance policy of the Department of Religion and Philosophy will be enforced.

Roll will be taken each day. In a MW class a student may miss four classes without penalty. After the fifth absence your final grade will be reduced one letter grade. After the sixth absence the student will receive an FA for the course.

Three tardies count as one absence. If you come in after your name is called, you will need to notify your professor at the end of the class period, or else the tardy will become an absence

A = 95-100%

C+ = 78-81%

A- = 92-94%

C = 74-77%

B+ = 88-91%

C- = 70-73%

B = 85-87%

D+ = 66-69%

B- = 82-84%

D = 62-65%

D- = 60-62%

Papers that are turned in after the set due date will be penalized one full letter grade for each week that they are late.

Students with disabilities who seek accommodations must make their request through the Advisor for Students with Disabilities located in Counseling Services on the lower level of Pittman Hall, or calling 726-4078 or 726-2105. A faculty member will only grant reasonable accommodations upon notification from the Advisor for Students with Disabilities. Samford University complies with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Academic Integrity:

Students are expected to observe high standards of intellectual integrity. (See page 96 in the Student Handbook.) While study groups are only not permitted but encouraged, all work submitted in this class must be your own. Suspected lapses in academic integrity will be investigated and adjudicated in accordance with the university's values policy.

In all essays and papers you must follow a recognized system for citation of quotes and ideas. Since religion is an interdisciplinary field you may follow whatever system you prefer (e.g., MLA, Chicago, etc.) Footnotes, however, are preferred by historians. For short papers in this class, you do not need to provide full bibliographic information for the assigned books, but you do need to cite the page numbers, or book, chapter, and verse of the Bible.



Note This is subject to change

Considerable class time will be devoted to the discussion and study of the assigned readings from Brekus, Butler and Stout, and other primary sources. All students are expected to have read these assignments carefully before coming to class.

Aug. 28 Introduction

Aug. 30 Colonial America I: Puritans and Anglicans
---Shepard, Thomas. Thomas Shepard Confessions.ed. George Selement and Bruce C. Woolley. (Boston: Colonial Society of Massachusetts, 1981): 60-80
---"Cambridge Platform" (1648) in American Christianity, I:128-138
Williams, 74-87, 93-107

Sept. 4 Colonial America II: Puritan America?
---Perry Miller, "Errand into the Wilderness" in B&S, 27-41
---John Winthrop, "A Model of Christian Charity," in American Christianity, 1:97-102 also online at
++++For Further Reading: Roger Williams's Plea for Religious Freedom

Sept. 6 Colonial America III: Religious Pluralism
---Edmund S. Morgan, "The World and William Penn," in B&S, 42-72
---Williams, 13-17, 107-122, 140-149
Essay A due

Sept. 11 Great Awakening I
---Jonathan Edwards, "A Treatise Concerning the Religious Affections," in American Christianity, I:339-349
---Brekus, intro. and chapter 1, 1-67
---Williams, 122-135

Sept. 13 Great Awakening II
---Stout and Butler--Debate, 88-128

Sept. 18 Revolution and Enlightenment I: Church and State
---James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance, in Gaustad I:262-267 or
---Issac Backus on Religious Liberty in Gaustad I:267-270
---Thomas Jefferson, Note on the State of Virginia, selection from Query XIV and all of Queries XVII to XIX ed. William Peden (New York: Norton, 1954) pp. 137-149 and pp. 157-165
---Williams, 144-149, 159-165

Sept. 20 Revolution and Enlightenment II: Faith and Churches
---William Ellery Channing. "Baltimore Sermon," in American Christianity, I:493-502
---Thomas Campbell, "Declaration and Address," in American Christianity, I:578-586
---Brekus, chap. 2, 68-113
---Williams, 204-209
++++For Further Reading: Hambrick-Stowe. "The Spiritual Pilgrimage of Sarah Osborn," in B&S 129-142.
Essay B due

Sept. 25 Second Great Awakening I: Methodism, Women, and Structure
---Brekus, chap. 3, 117-161
---Williams, 166-174

Sept. 27 Second Great Awakening II
---Brekus, chap. 4-5, 162-231

Oct. 2 Revivals and women continued: Confessionalism and Domesticity
---Brekus, ch 7, 267-306
---Welter, "The Feminization of American Religion," in B&S,157-178
---Williams, 183-191

Oct. 4 Radical movements from the awakening: Millerites, Shakers, Mormonism
---Brekus chapter 8 and Epilogue, 307-341
---Gordon Wood, "Evangelical American and Early Mormonism," in B&S, 179-197
---Williams, 210-225


Oct. 11 African American Religion I: Under Slavery
---Thomas Bacon, "A Sermon to Maryland Slaves," in B&J 73-87
---Peter Randolph, "Plantation Churches: Visible and Invisible" in Milton C. Sernett, ed., Afro American Religious History: A Documentary Witness (Durham: Duke University Press, 1985), 63-68
---Sister Kelly, "Proud of That 'Ole Time' Relgion" in Sernett, 69-75
---Williams 13-17, 199-203
+++For Further Reading: Thomes Wentworth Higginson, "Slave Songs and Spirituals," in Sernett 110-134.


Oct. 18 African American Religion II: Slavery and Freedom
---Douglass and Armstrong "debate", in B&S 222-238
---Williams, 174-183
Topic for Research Paper Due

Oct. 23 African American Religion III: Development of the Black Church After Emancipation
---Montgomery, "The Preachers," in B&S 293-313
---Williams, 265-275, 302-307
Essay C due

Oct. 25 Native Americans: An Alternative Vision
---DeMallie, "The Lakota Ghost Dance: an Ethnohistorical Account" in B&S, 255-271
---Joel W. Martin, "Indians, Contact, and Colonialism in the Deep South: Themes for a Postcolonial History of American Religion," in Retelling U.S. Religious History, ed. Thomas A. Tweed (Berkeley: University of California, 1997), 154-180, notes 267-275.
---Williams, 2-12, 296-301

Oct. 30 Roman Catholics: Foundations and Immigration
---Selection of documents on Roman Catholicism in Gaustad, II: 39-49
---Williams 44-63, 275-288

Nov. 1 (All Saints' Day) Roman Catholics and Nativism
---Josiah Strong, Our Country (1885), Chapters 4,5, and 13, 30-59. 159-180

Nov. 6 Religious Outsiders and the Making of Americans
---R. Laurence Moore, "Insiders and Outsiders in American Historical Narrative and American History," in B&S, 198-221

Nov. 8 The "Gilded Age": Protestantism and Culture
Architecture lecture
---Williams, 230-252
---Leigh Eric Schmidt, "The Easter Parade: Piety, Fashion, and Display," in B&S, 345-370
David R. Bains, "Churchly Architecture: The Gothic Revival and the Divided Chancel in Twentieth-Century Mainline Protestantism"
+++For Further Reading: Bryan Wilson, "Secularization: The Inherited Model," in B&S, 336-344
Jeanne Halgern Kilde, "Architecture and Urban Revivalism in Nineteenth-Century America," in Perspectives on American Religion and Culture, ed. Peter W. Williams (Oxford: Blackwell, 1999), 171-186.
Essay D due

Nov. 13 "Fundamentalism"
---George Marsden, "Fundamentalism as an American Phenomenon," in B&S 314-332
---Charles A. Briggs, The Authority of Holy Scripture (1891) selection in American Christianity II: 275-279
---Jesus Christ, "Religious Ultimate," (1903) in American Christianity II: 279-282
---J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism selection in American Christianity II:345-349
---Williams, 252-265

Nov. 15 "Fundamentalism" II
---Carpenter, "Fundamentalist Institutions and the Rise of Evangelical Protestantism, 1929-1942," in B&S, 384-396
---C. Kirk Hadaway and Penny Long Marler, "The Politics of Elite Disunity in the Southern Baptist Convention, 1946-1992," Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion 6 (1994): 53-102 focus on 65-97.
---Williams, 321-361
+++For Further Reading: Handy, "The American Religious Depression, 1925-1935." in B&S 370-383

Nov. 20 Holiness and Pentecostal Traditions


Nov. 27 Judaism and Christianity
---Dinnerstein, "Antisemitism in the Depression Era (1933-1939)," in B&S 412-440
---Williams, 288-295, 361-374
+++For Further Reading: Sarna, "Seating and the American Synagogue," in B&S 397-411

Nov. 29 Twentieth Century Transformations of Catholicism
---Orsi, "'He Keeps me Going,': Women's Devotion to Saint Jude Thaddeus," in B&S 441-467
---Williams, 374-391

Dec. 4 Vatican II and Civil Rights
---Spillers, "Martin Luther King and the Style of the Black Sermon," in B&S, 468-485
---Williams 391-398
Book Review / Research Paper Due

Dec. 6 Religion and American Public Life: Late-twentieth-century
---B&S, 486-511

Resources You Should Know About

Ahlstrom, Sydney E. A Religious History of the American People. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1972. (on reserve)

Albanese, Catherine. America, Religions and Religion. 2nd ed. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth, 1992. (on reserve)

Lippy, Charles H., and Peter W. Williams. Encyclopedia of the American Religious Experience: Studies of Traditions and Movements. 3 vols. New York: Scribner, 1988. (Theology Reference section: BL2525 E53 198)

Smith, H. Shelton, Robert T. Handy, and Lefferts A. Loetscher, eds. American Christianity: An Historical Interpretation with Representative Documents. 2 vols. New York: Scribner's, 1963. (on reserve)


American Religious Experience Online articles and photographs and lots of links to subjects in American religion. Perhaps the best starting place on the web for this subject.

The Material History of American Religion A project on the material culture, the "things" of religion in America. Bowling Alleys, Credit Cards, Coffee Bars, and church fans, family Bibles and more.

Wabash Center Guide to Internet Resources An annotated guide to all sorts of Religion Sources on the Web.

ATLA Religion Database, an index of periodical articles (in Research Resources on the Samford Library Home Page