Religion in Early America Symposium

March 20, 2015

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History convened a one-day symposium on “Religion in Early America.” Led by Stephen Prothero, Professor of Religion at Boston University, the symposium explored three major themes that characterize the role of religion in the formation and early development of the United States. The first theme is the principle of religious freedom that was incorporated into the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution and that has been an enduring principle of the nation. The second is the growth of many forms of religion in the new United States and how they shaped American society during the first half of the 19th century. The third is the diversity of religious traditions in the American colonies, and how they needed to be considered as the nation came into being.

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Session 1: Religious Freedom

Panelists:
Kathleen Flake, Richard Lyman Bushman Professor of Mormon Studies, University of Virginia
Michelene Pesantubbee, Associate Professor, Religious Studies and American Indian Native Studies, University of Iowa
David Sehat, Associate Professor of History, Georgia State University

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Session 2: Religious Growth in Second Great Awakening

Panelists:
David Holland, Assistant Professor, Harvard Divinity School
Amanda Porterfield, Professor of Religion, Florida State University
John Wigger, Professor of History, University of Missouri

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Session 3: Religious Diversity

Panelists:
Kathryn Gin Lum, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Stanford University
Michael Gomez, Professor of History and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, New York University
Nancy Schultz, Professor of English, Salem State University

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