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.

From Our Blog

Rosary with metal crucifix and black beads. Circular and rectangular medals are positioned regularly along the chain

Rosaries or prayer beads are an essential part of American material religion, the study of the objects, icons, images, and spaces of religious practice in the United States.

Detail from the cover of the magazine, ONE: The Homosexual Viewpoint, with a black-and-white illustration of the Biblical Magi

I was surprised . . . by the dialogue I encountered in a December 1960 issue of ONE: The Homosexual Viewpoint, titled “Homosexual, Servant of God,” which actively and openly discussed reconciling sexuality and Christian religious identity nine years before the famous Stonewall uprising in New York City.

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