In part two of,“A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada,”Mark Noll talks of the Americanization of the European churches thathad found roots in America and Canada that took place during theeighteenth century. Noll (1992) offers a remarkable discourse of theAmericanization development of a characteristically American Church,molded by the “Independence War” and “Great Awakening” duringa period, which saw major a revolution in the Church and renewedpiousness. The Revolution, the “Great Awakening, and otherinfluences Americanized Christianity leading to an era of populistdemocracy thus, Americanization contributed greatly to the revivalof devoutness and separation of the church and the government.
TheAmericanization of the Church commenced with the renewal ofspirituality especially in the first half of the 18thcentury leading to the Great Awakening and spread of Revivals. Duringthis period, America saw a heightened intellectual wakefulness andreligious experience with the development of Enlightenment and theAwakening. In the wake of new influences and revivals, peopleexperienced changes in paradigms and patterns of religion as newreligious movements especially among Baptists and Methodists allowedpeople to experience Christianity. In addition, an increaseddemocratic spirit stimulated the development and spread of revival asit emphasized on individual liberty. Since the Awakening and theRevolution coincided with the development of religious movements andrise of the revival spirit, it allowed the growth of market economyand geographical mobility thus, development of the Second Awakening.
On the otherhand, the Americanization of Churches and Christianity saw thedevelopment of Christians who allowed the formation of a new informalmovement aligned to lending moral support to the people. During thefirst half of the 18th century, the church through theAwakening and the development of the revival spirit and the renewalof piousness had influenced the Revolutionary War, but the war upsetreligious practices heavily. Although Christian faith permeated thecause of the Revolution with spiritual meaning and assisted justifythe Independence War, most people exerted their energies on the warrather than the development of the local church hence, the churchsaw the development of patriots, pacifists, and loyalists. In fact,arguments among these groups on the war, split congregationsespecially in Southern places and New York. However, the war did nothurt some movements of the church especially Congregationalists dueto their Puritan origins that blended well with the social unity andharmony of the time, but some movements such as the Anglican Churchsuffered greatly. In this regards, the Independence War shaped thecourse of the church especially in aligning movements to specificfaith.
After the war,America saw the separation of the state and church in mattersrelating to religious practices, tolerance, and involvement. Duringthe war, the association between France, America, and Quebec hadweakened anti-Catholicism hence, the belief in the necessity of thechurch as the underpinning of public ethics. However, most peoplebecame cynical about religious canon, which resulted to revolutionswithin the church. The separation of the church and the state saw thecoming together of members of evangelical factions and deists as wellas the declaration of “free exercise of faith.” Although theexpansion of religious liberty saw the decline of some churchauthority, the increased liberty saw the propagation of religiousdenomination, the development of a mainstream democracy, and thepublic authority support of religious movements.
Noll, M. A. (Ed.). (1992). A history of Christianity in theUnited States and Canada. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing.