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·ACLU: Religion and Belief
· American Religious Experience
· American Religious History: a bibliographic essay
· Diversisty at Worship (
· Encyclopedia of Religion and Society
· Faith Communities in the U.S. Today
· Freedom of Religion

· From Many, One: The Religious Origins of American Identity
· Informationen zur politischen Bildung: USA - Religionszugehörigkeiten
· Islam in America: the Beginning in Massachussetts
· Megachurches
· National Council of Churches USA
· The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life
· The Pluralism Project
· Portrait of America: Separating Church and State 
· Portrait of America: Trennung von Kirche und Staat
· Public Opinion on Religion
· Religion and Public Schools
· Religion in America
· Religious Freedom as a Human Right
· Religious Freedom Page
· The Religious Landscape of the United States
· Religious Liberty in the Modern Era 
· Religious Movements Page
· The Roots of Religious Liberty
Original Documents
· Address of Senator John F. Kennedy to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association on Religious Faith, September 1960 [audio]
· Presidential Proclamation--Religious Freedom Day 2010
· Religious Liberty Archive
· Thomas Jefferson on Religious Liberty: A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom in Virginia, 1786
· U.S. Constitution. First Amendment
· Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, 1786
Witchcraft in Salem Village

Trees filled with brilliant fall foliage frame the First Congregational Church in South Woodbury, Vermont,. Many such churches, some dating from the late 17th century, dot the New England countryside.
(© AP Images)

Early in their history, Americans rejected the concept of the established or government-favored religion that had dominated -- and divided -- so many European countries. Separation of church and state was ordained by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which provides in part that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...."

One of the first permanent settlements in what became the North American colonies was founded by English Puritans, Calvinists who had been outsiders in their homeland, where the Church of England was established. So Protestants were the dominant religion in the early days. Today America is one of the most diverse religious societies in the world.

In 2005 Protestants of all denominations numbered more than 100 million; Catholics, 67 million; and Jews, 6 million. The Islamic faith also has about 6 million U.S. adherents, many of whom are African-American converts. It is estimated that the number of mosques in the United States -- today, about 2,000 -- has more than doubled in the last 15 years. Buddhism and Hinduism are growing with the arrival of immigrants from countries where these are the majority religions.

America has also been a fertile ground for new religions. The Mormon and Christian Science Churches are perhaps the best-known of the faiths that have sprung up on American soil. Because of its tradition of noninterference in religious matters, the United States has also provided a comfortable home for many small sects from overseas. The Amish, for example, descendants of German immigrants who reside mostly in Pennsylvania and neighboring states, have lived simple lives, wearing plain clothes and shunning modern technology, for generations. Some small groups are considered to be religious cults because they profess extremist beliefs and tend to glorify a founding figure. As long as cults and their members abide by the law, they are generally left alone. Religious prejudice is rare in America, and interfaith meetings and cooperation are commonplace.

See also:
About the USA > American Holidays > Ethnic & Religious Observances


· American Religion Data Archive
· American Religious Identification Survey
· Info Please Almanac: Religion
· Muslims in America - a Statistical Portrait
· Religion Statistics
· Statistical Abstracts: Religious Bodies/Religious Identification of Adult Population 
· U.S. Religious Landscape Survey

Exhibits - Digital Images
· From Haven to Home: 350 Years of Jewish Life in America
· A Multicultural Ramadan
· National Museum of American Jewish History
· Photo Gallery: America's Religious Landscape
· Photo Gallery: Islam in America
· Photo Gallery: Young Muslim Americans
· Religion and the Founding of the American Republic

For High School Students
· KidsClick: Religion & Mythology
· How Cults Work
· Religion (World Almanac for Kids)
· Understanding Islam


Teacher Resources
· An Approach to Teaching Religious Tolerance
· Course Syllabi on Religion
· Divining America: Religion and National Culture
· Religion in the South
· Religious Convictions. Exploring Current Debates Involving the Separation of Church and State.
· Religious Life in the United States
· Syllabi in American Religious History
· Teaching with Historic Places: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: A Moravian Settlement in Colonial America
· Teaching with Historic Places : San Antonio Missions
· Teacher's Guide to Religion in Public Schools

Link Lists
· American Religion Links
· American Studies Web: Religion and Religious Cultural Studies
· Online Resources for the Study of Religion
· Religion & Philosophy Topics
· Religion Gateway
· Religion in American in the 21st Century
· Virtual Religion Index
· Yahoo! Religion and Spirituality: Faith and Practices

Texts are abridged from U.S. State Department IIP publications and other U.S. government materials.
Feature Articles

Protecting Religious Freedom without Limiting Free Speech
(, December 30, 2009)

Being Muslim in America illustrates in word and image that practicing the Muslim faith is fully compatible with being American, and that Muslim Americans are endowed by right with the same freedoms, privileges, and responsibilities as other Americans.
(, March 2009)

Freedom of Faith. eJournal, August 2008
The principle of religious freedom is a cherished right in the United States, one that has historical roots older than the formation of the nation itself. In the 21st century, the United States pulses with a unique cultural chemistry brought on by a wave of immigration which has brought followers of more diverse faiths to many communities. This edition of eJournal USA examines how the nation adjusts to these demographic changes to remain true to the principles of freedom of faith.

One New York City Neighborhood Is a World of Religious Diversity
By Carrie Lowenthal., August 1, 2008.
The street blocks in Flushing, New York, may seem long to walk on a hot summer day, but they make the distance between the world's many religions seem short. There are over 200 places of worship in Flushing, and many festivals like the annual Ganesh Chaturthi parade...

Amish Free to Maintain Religious Traditions in Modern World
Driving through Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, a traveler might find a line of cars creeping along the pastoral countryside. Somewhere ahead, an ambling, horse-drawn wagon likely carries members of the steadfast Amish community rooted there... (, August 1, 2008.)

U.S. Megachurches Thrive in Climate of Faith, Tolerance, Bigness. By Ralph Dannheisser., August 1, 2008.
The United States is fertile ground for questing, experimental religious congregations. In recent decades, one of the most striking trends has been the emergence of so-called megachurches that serve the needs of an increasingly suburban culture. These new-style churches offer their members a broad range of religious and social services. They also provide a sense of community and fellowship -- not to mention parking, child care and, often, some high-tech entertainment...

Survey Finds Americans Are Religious, Tolerant, Nondogmatic.
The typical American believes in God (92 percent), believes in absolute standards of right and wrong (78 percent), prays at least weekly (75 percent), believes in life after death (74 percent) and believes in sacred scripture as the word of God (63 percent). But that typical American is also tolerant of other peoples' beliefs and strikingly nondogmatic in the sense of not believing his or her own religion to be the only path to salvation or to have a monopoly on truth. These findings emerge from a new study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life... (, June 27, 2008.)

The Roots of Religious Liberty
Religious freedom is one of the most prized liberties of the American people, a fact that strikes some people as incongruous if they think of the United States as a secular society. That very phrase, however, is misleading, in that it implies a society in which religion and religious ideals are absent, and secular values alone govern daily conduct. Religion is not absent from daily life in the United States; rather, the Constitution has created a system in which each individual and religious group can enjoy the full freedom to worship, free not only from the rein of government but from pressures by other sects as well..... (Rights of the People: Individual Freedom and the Bill of Rights., June 22, 2008)

Main Religious Affiliations in the United States.
Almost all the world's religions are practiced today in the United States. The American tradition of religious tolerance and constitutional safeguards for freedom of worship has made religious life in the United States one of most diverse and vibrant in the world. (, March 19, 2008.)

U.S. Religious Landscape Is Marked by Diversity and Change. By Melody Merin.
Religious affiliation among U.S. residents best can be described as 'diverse and extremely fluid,' according to a new poll conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
(, March 17, 2008.)

Religion in the Workplace Is Diversity Issue for U.S. Companies. By Louise Fenner
American companies are looking for ways to deal with a diversity issue they increasingly face: the need to accommodate workers' various religious beliefs and practices. (, November 28, 2007.)

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Updated: September 2010