Collage of objects from the collection connected to U.S. religious history


The Center for the Understanding of Religion in American History explores the influence of religion on every facet of life in the United States.

The root of the word religion means “to bind.” Throughout American history, religion has bound us together: In communities. Within families. As a search for meaning that crosses racial, political, and cultural lines.

Yet binding is not always positive. Religion has also kept people in bondage. It has created boundaries. It has led to violence.

The Center examines the binds that gather us in and those that pull us apart.

Through thoughtful exhibitions and active programming, we examine the complex interaction of diversity, devotion, creativity, and critique that has marked American attitudes toward religion.

To learn more, explore our collections, programs, and research below.

The Center for the Understanding of Religion in American History is made possible through generous support from Lilly Endowment Inc. and the John Templeton Foundation.