A Historical Look at the Status, Engagement and Implications of the Ta Ethne Immigration to the Unit...
Sponsored Links
This presentation is the property of its rightful owner.
1 / 94

A Version Developed for the NAMB Leadership Celebration PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Uploaded on
  • Presentation posted in: General

A Historical Look at the Status, Engagement and Implications of the Ta Ethne Immigration to the United States from 1775 to 2006. A Version Developed for the NAMB Leadership Celebration. Documentation of This Look At Immigration from 1775 to 1950.

Download Presentation

A Version Developed for the NAMB Leadership Celebration

An Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation

Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - E N D - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Presentation Transcript

A Historical Look at the Status, Engagement and Implications of the Ta Ethne Immigration to the United States from 1775 to 2006

A Version Developed for the NAMB Leadership Celebration

Documentation of This Look At Immigration from 1775 to 1950

Will Herberg’s and Oscar Handlin’s works, along with John Hansen’s work, stand today as the classic works on immigration to the USA up to the 1950s. through major research of their own, which included Their research was based upon the work of hundreds of other social researchers of their era.

That body of research when joined with research from the 1960s to now provides clarity and vital understanding of our situation today.

Exploring The Ta Ethne Migration from 1775 to 2006 A.D.

An old proverb says: “those who do not consider and pay attention to history are doomed to repeat it.”

There is a more biblical focus. A look at Israel in the Old Testament era tells us that when Israel ignored God and history, God warned them and instigated their downfall.

The Three Periods that Led to Future-Altering Changes in the USA

The first of the three periods occurred between 1775 and 1924. We will extend this date to 1950 to include the religious data parameters.

The second period of change occurred between 1945 and 1960. (This period is an overlap period.)

The third period of change occurred between 1960 and 2006 A.D. and will likely continue to the extreme. Many Christians are unaware of issues.

A Look At 1775 to 1950--The Main Historical, Social and Religious Factors Related to Immigration to the USA

Will Herberg’s & Oscar Handlin’s Basic Research Findings

Oscar Handlin said in the 1950s: “Once I thought to write a history of the immigrants in America. Then I discovered that the immigrants were American history”The Uprooted, The Epic Story of the Great Migrations that Made the American People. (p. 3. Little Brown, 1957)

This is the most significant and critical reality for America and American Christians to understand-- then and now. We will explore the “then” followed by a look at the “now.”

A Look At 1775 to 1950—America, A Nation of “Panta ta ethne” Immigrants

America was founded, grew and flourished in terms of ethnic peoples, population, religious adherents and their churches. We will explore those categories.

Herberg described America following 1607 saying: “The colonists who came to these shores from the time of the founding of Jamestown in 1607 to the outbreak of the Revolution were mostly of English and Scottish stock, augmented by a considerable number of settlers of Dutch, Swedish, German, and Irish origin.”

A Look At 1775 to 1950—America, A Nation of “Panta ta ethne” Immigrants

Herberg and Handlin said in separate research documents in the 1950s: “At the time of the Revolution, this British-Protestant element (usually, though inaccurately, known as ‘Anglo-Saxon’) constituted at least 75 per cent of the 3,000,000 whites who made up the new nation (in 1775)”.

  • “In addition, there were about three quarters of a million (750,000) negroes.”

  • “The great influx (of ethnics) came in the next century.”

  • In three huge waves, stretching over something more than a hundred years, over 35,000,000 men and women left Europe to come to continental United States.

A Look At 1775 to 1950—America, A Nation of “Panta ta ethne” Immigrants

  • By 1924 when the great migrations were past, the British-Protestant element had been reduced to less than half the population, and Americans had become linguistically and ethnically the most diverse people on earth.” (Herberg and Handlin) That situation has continued to increase since 1924 to 2006.

A Look At 1775 to 1950—America, A Nation of “Panta ta ethne” Immigrants

  • The melding force from 1775 was a combination of the frontier, economics and the continuing waves of ethnic immigrant arrivals from 1775 to 1924.

  • Immigrants found plenty of opportunities to work on the Westward moving frontier and came in waves seeking frontier jobs.

  • First generation immigrants rose from menial jobs to middle class manager/business status

The Economics of Immigrants

“From 1830 to 1930, Irish, Bohemians, Slovaks, Hungarians, and many other peoples followed each other in the service of the pick and shovel, each earlier group, displaced by newcomers, moving upward in the occupational and social scale…If successive waves of immigration served as the ‘push’ in this pattern of occupational advancement, education and acculturation to American ways provided the immigrants with the opportunity of making the most of it,…” (Herberg)

A Look At 1775 to 1950—America, A Nation of “Panta ta ethne” Immigrants

  • The second generation of immigrants assumed the jobs of the vacated first generation immigrants who moved up on job ladder.

  • As the frontier moved farther westward and as new waves of immigrants came to America, the movement from menial to managerial jobs continued.

  • This kept immigrants from wholesale settlement within ethnic enclaves, except in cities.

A Look At 1775 to 1950—America, A Nation of “Panta ta ethne” Immigrants

The Americanization process did produce in the somewhat melded population a fairly common English language among the ethnics.

  • However, pronounced (pun intended) regional, and some sub-regional, dialectical accents, worldview expressions and word choices remained unmixed within the various ethnics.

  • Some immigrants stayed in cities and often duplicated their ethnic status there.

A Look At 1775 to 1950—America, A Nation of “Panta ta ethne” Immigrants

Americanization of the various European ethnics:

  • even though they learned English for economic reasons, this language melding did not erase all of their ethnic identities.

  • As will be seen, this language melding did not erase their religious identity from the old country. Of all their ethnic qualities, their religious identity came over from old country.

A Look At 1775 to 1950—America, A Nation of “Panta ta ethne” Immigrants

Most of the regional dialectical and worldview differences can be traced to ethnic heritages that persisted. Consider the Cajuns in Louisiana. German dairy communities spotted the nation. For other examples see the DVD package entitled The Appalachians and the San Antonio, Texas Catholic Missions video produced by the US Parks and Historical Society.

A Look At 1775 to 1950—America, A Nation of “Panta ta ethne” Immigrants

American frontier history shaped and “melded” only to a degree the European ta ethne peoples.

  • Over a two-hundred year period these multiple ethnic groups were melded mainly into an “Anglo Saxon” or Anglo-Saxon-oriented population, at least in terms of language. It is out of this process that the WASP arose—White Anglo Saxon Protestant.

A Look At 1775 to 1950—America, A Nation of “Panta ta ethne” Immigrants

American religious denominations, beginning in 1775 and continuing until 1950, underwent classic changes which were only minimally theological.

In the American religious landscape Protestantism dominated from the 1700s to the 1900s.

American Indians, who were almost the only Americans in the 1500s and 1600s, and who existed in many ethnic groupings, are said by various historians to have suffered the most between 1775 and 1924 as the European ethnics came and settled the American frontier from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

The American Indian from 1600 to 1900

  • The first change was the overrunning of the American Indians by the European immigrants

  • Of an estimated 300 plus original languages spoken within the American continent, 175 living languages remain (National Museum of the American Indian, the Smithsonian Inst.)

  • Optimum estimates of pre-Columbian population was 15,000,000 to 18,000,000 (R. David Edmonds of UTDallas)

The American Indian from 1600 to 1900

  • By 1860 in the continental USA there were official government counts or estimates of 339,421 American Indians (James Collins, Native Americans in the Census, 1860-1890)

  • By 1880 the American Indian count was 305,543. (Collins)

  • Like all early US Census data, this was based upon a projected sample. The issue is the decline from 15,000,000 to 306,543.

Immigration from 1775 to 1924

“The ‘epic story of the great migrations that made the American people” came to an end substantially with World War I and with the restrictive legislation of the 1920s.”

  • 35,000,000 Europeans had reached these shores:

    • 4,500,000 from Ireland,

    • 4,000,000 from Great Britain,

    • 6,000,000 from central Europe,

    • 2,000,000 from the Scandinavian lands,

    • 5,000,000 from Italy,

    • 8,000,000 from eastern Europe,

    • and 3,000,000 from the Balkans.

      (This was America.” Much of Will Herberg’s data came from Handlin’s study cited earlier. See Herberg, p. 8.)

The Religious Situation In The USA from 1775 to 1950

The First Period of Change from 1775 to 1924

There was the status of Christianity in 1775 and the changes within the population in light of Christianity during this period.

  • It was clear that the main reason that people migrated to the New World was primarily for religious freedom. There were other minor reasons.

  • The percent of Christians in the colonies in 1775 was about 12% and the majority were Protestants

  • The Bill of Rights & the Western frontier resulted in a marked change in religion in America

The Six (6) Leading Church Groups in the Colonies in 1780

Congregational (745 churches)

Anglican/Episcopal (405 churches)

Presbyterian (490 churches)

Lutheran (235 churches)

Methodist (Less than 200 churches)

Baptist (About 200 churches)

Catholics are not included in this comparison

The Six (6) Leading Church Groups in the USA in 1850







(See Neil Braun’s Laity Mobilized Master’s Thesis for more discussion of this dynamic within US history.)

The Six (6) Leading Church Groups in the USA in 1950

Baptist was first





Congregational was last

(See Jim Slack’s and Jim Maroney’s IMB study of the principles and practices of church planting.)

Discerning The Lay of the Land

In fact, the seven in 1775 were exactly reversed by 1950.

By 1850 Methodists were the largest Protestant denomination in the USA and Baptists were second.

By 1950 Southern Baptists were the largest of the seven and Methodists were second.

Discerning “The Lay of the Land”

It is very informative from a historic evangelization and missiological perspective to follow and compare the growth dynamics among the 7 largest Protestant denominations in 1775 with the 7 largest Protestant denominations in 1950.

Baptists in 1775, who had not yet divided into two major Baptist groups (Northern and Southern), were the smallest of all seven Protestant denominations. Methodists were next to last.

What happened that caused this turn-around?

Why Did These Groups Grow & Why Did the Order End Up Reversed?

Congregationalists whose polity was thought to be best fitted for the frontier went though an “Old Lights” and “New Lights” theological controversy followed by a comity agreement with Presbyterians. Neither of them recovered from that missiological mistake.

Yet, it was Congregationalists who brought the initial and major political and religious group with a manifesto to the New Land. And, in 1900, Congregationalists had 1,000 missionaries on foreign fields, only to see them dwindle during the 1900s.

Why Did These Groups Grow & Why Did the Order End Up Reversed?

Anglican churches were identified with the English colonizers, with the causes of the Revolution and never overcame that image until they changed their name. Few realize that many of the Puritans and what today are Low Church Anglicans had gone with Wesley, forming the foundations of the Methodist church in both England and the Colonies/USA.

Why Did These Groups Grow & Why Did the Order End Up Reversed?

Presbyterians suffered from the comity agreement between them and the Congregationalists, and like the Episcopal churches, their institutional preference of land and building, and requirements for a theologically degreed, denominationally chosen and installed pastor kept them off the edges of the frontier.

The institutional denominations lagged an average of 200 miles behind the frontier where more settled communities were like them and could afford them.

Why Did These Groups Grow & Why Did the Order End Up Reversed?

Lutherans seem to be the strange anomaly among the six denominations. Lutherans did make it to the frontier and did grow. However, persecution and lack of a colony base in New England pushed Lutherans to Missouri territory and northward into Canada where they settled & grew some distance from persecution.

How did Methodists become First in 1850 and Remain Second in 1950?

Methodists had a strategy, a carefully defined and carefully managed geographic circuit plan that fitted the frontier. Their plan was the “method” found in “Methodist.” The plan, designed by Wesley for England, which was never accepted there fit the US frontier “beautifully.” (This is in quotes for a reason.)

How did Methodists become First in 1850 and Remain Second in 1950?

  • “When the rigors of circuit riding in the early days, as the Church moved over the country, are brought before the mind and imagination, the question is frequently asked, ‘How did they stand it?’ The answer is: ‘They didn’t.’ They died under it. No group of men ever lived up more fully to the truth, ‘He that looseth his life shall find it.’ (pp. 42-43, Halford E. Luccock, Endless Line of Splendor. The Advance for Christ and His Church of The Methodist Church publisher, Chicago, Illinois, 1950)

How did Methodists become First in 1850 and Remain Second in 1950?

  • “They died, most of them, before their careers were much more than begun.” Of the 650 preachers who had joined the Methodist itinerancy by the opening of the 19th century, about 500 had to ‘locate,’ a term that was used for those too worn-out to travel further. Many of the rest had to take periods for recuperation. Others located not because of health, but by reason of lack of support and the desire to marry and establish a home.” (Luccock)

How did Methodists become First in 1850 and Remain Second in 1950?

Of the first 737 circuit riders of the Conferences to die—that is, all who died up to 1847

  • 203 were between 25 and 35 years of age

  • 121 between 35 and 45.

  • Nearly half died before they were 30 years old.

    Of 672 of those first preachers whose records we have in full,

  • two-thirds died before they had been able to render 12 years of service.

  • Just one less than 200 died within the first five years. (Luccock)

How did Methodists become First in 1850 and Remain Second in 1950?

“Many circuits were from 300 to 600 miles in length…For instance, in 1791, Freeborn Garrettson was assigned to a circuit which included almost half of what is now the state of New York…In 1814 James B. Finley, on the Cross Creek Circuit, Ohio, had a circuit covering more than two counties, and preached 32 times on every round. The salary schedule has an eloquence of its own. Cash was almost unknown. In 1821 Benjamin T. Crouch records receiving only $38 toward his year’s allowance. The same year Peter Cartwright received the highest salary in the Kentucky Conference--$238. But when he moved, with his wife and six children, to the Sangamon Circuit, Illinois, he received $40, all told, for the year.” (pp. 44-45, Luccock)

How did Baptists become Second in 1850 and Grow to First by 1950?

“Methodism grew faster until after 1850, but Baptist growth from 1800 to 1960 is unparalleled. From a little over 100,000 in 1800, they were approaching 20 million by 1960.” (Gaustad: 1962 as quoted by Braun)

The basic reason is that Baptist theology and polity fitted them better for the frontier than any other denomination of churches.

Growth Characteristics of Baptists

  • Each local church was autonomous

  • Churches were congregational in polity

  • Baptist church members going west were encouraged to plant a church if no Baptist church existed where they settled

  • Churches that emerged met in homes, saloons, hardware stores, barns, stables, school rooms, under trees, etc.

Growth Characteristics of Baptists

  • Local churches found their pastor within the maturing believers in their emerging church

  • Local churches called, recognized and ordained their own pastors

  • Experienced pastors tended to itinerate, pastoring 2-4 other churches

  • As frontier towns settled in and grew, some churches sought pastors from more settled frontier towns to the east

Growth Characteristics of Baptists

  • By the mid to late 1800s, in settled territory behind the frontier’s leading edge, as churches there increased in number, in membership size and stability, with pastors of longer tenure in the pastorate, requests arose for training

  • This led to Baptist schools being started

The Most Common Growth Reason

  • Sweet, Herberg, Latourete, Braun and multiple other historians said that the most common growth factors were: 1) the starting of churches in homes where land and building for a church was not a condition for having and being a church; and 2) lay preachers and pastors, most of whom were bi-vocational.

The Lay of the Land Discerned

Over time, for sure by the early 1900s, as religious status became the leading characteristic of an American, the Bible Belt was forming. The American culture was developing a stronger Christian ethic, with Christian values as its base. This base was “in practice” for some, and only in the “awareness” or “conscience-ought to stage” for others. It is out of this base that the terms “WASP” (“White Anglo-Saxon Protestant”) and “Judeo-Christian” emerged in the mid-1900s.

The Major Concern of the Immigrants by the 1900s

“Their big concern was the preservation of their way of life; above all, the transplanting of their churches.” (pp. 10-11, Herberg.)

In his footnotes Herberg quotes Marcus L. Hansen’s research in The Problem of the Third Generation Immigrant (Augustana Historical Society, Rock Island, Ill., 1938, p. 15 who said: “The church was the first, the most important, and the most significant institution that the immigrants established.”

By 1950, Who Was an American?

  • By the early 1900s being an “American” came out of a degree of melding of three generations of ethnic groups into being “Americans.”

  • Herberg’s research discovered that by the 1930s, A ‘Triple Melting Pot’ situation in the US had developed as the norm. Ethnic migration saw their language and some of their culture receded somewhat to the background. English had become a practical acquisition of most ethnics, but their religion persisted to become the ethnics major identity.

By 1950, Who Was an American?

The singular most identifying characteristic among most ethnics who migrated to the USA from 1775 to 1924 was their religious status. As their language became mostly English and as they gave up some of their cultural identity, the sum of their status as “Americans” settled into three acceptable identifying religious markers—Protestant, Catholic or Jew.

So, by the 1950s in the USA the identification of an American was according to one of these three categories—Protestant, Catholic or Jew.

A Look At Culture and Religion in the USA:1945 to 1960

Again, the three primary researchers and authors of what have become classic works concerning American immigration were Handlin, Hansen & Herberg.

By 1950, Who Was an American?

In review of what went before, the singular most identifying characteristic among most ethnics who migrated to the USA from 1775 to 1924 was their religious status. As their language became mostly English and as they gave up some of their cultural identity, the sum of their status as “Americans” settled into three acceptable identifying religious markers—Protestant, Catholic or Jew.

So, by the 1950s in the USA the identification of an American was according to one of these three categories—Protestant, Catholic or Jew.

The USA Religious Scene in 1950

  • In 1775 church members were only 10 to 12% of the US population

  • By 1910 church members had grown to 43%

  • By 1960 church members had grown to 60% (pp.33-34, Herberg)

The USA Religious Scene in 1950: A Consideration of Conversions

“Conversions from one community to the other take place, but they seem to be very small and do not appreciably affect the over-all picture.” (Herberg, p. 160) (Herberg quotes the Yearbook of American Churches, edition for 1960, pp. 261-262 for his data. In the research Herberg quotes 140,414 as the Catholics record of conversions to Catholicism from Protestantism and he used The 1959 National Catholic Almanac, p. 407 for this information. This data is for the year 1957. For a more in-depth study, see Thomas J.M. Burke’s “Did Four Million Catholics Become Protestants?, America, April 10, 1954.

Religion in USA in the 1950s: A Consideration of Conversions

Burke’s article, a survey by the American Institute of Public Opinion (a Gallup poll) in 1955 indicated that of an adult population of 96,000,000, only about 4 per cent no longer belonged to the religious community of their birth; of these: 1,400,000 were Protestants who had originally been Catholics, and 1,400,000 were Catholics who had originally been Protestants, about 1,000,000 had made changes of some other kind. See also John A. O’Brien, You Too Can Win Souls (Macmillan, 1955).” (Herberg’s footnotes on pages 170-171.)

A Study of Marriage Patterns from 1870 to 1940

“In the early 1940s, Ruby Jo Kennedy undertook an investigation of intermarriage trends in New Haven from 1870 to 1940. She published her findings in the American Journal of Sociology for January 1944 under the significant title, ‘Single or Triple Melting Pot?’…The years 1870, 1900, 1930, and 1940 were isolated for detailed examination…’The large nationality groups in New Haven,’ Mrs. Kennedy found, ‘represent a triple division on religious grounds: Jewish, Protestant (British-American, German, and Scandinavian), and Catholic (Irish, Italian, and Polish)…’ In its early immigrant days, each of these ethnic groups tended to be endogamous; with the years, however, people began to marry outside the group. (Herberg’s quote of Kennedy data on page 33)

A Study of Marriage Patterns from 1870 to 1940

Kennedy found: Irish marriage was 93.05 per cent in 1870; 74.75 per cent in 1900, 74.25 per cent in 1930, and 45.06 per cent in 1940; German in-marriage was 86.67 per cent in 1870, 55.26 per cent in 1900, 39.84 per cent in 1930, and 27.19 per cent in 1940; for the Italians and the Poles, the comparable figures were 97.71 per cent and 100 per cent respectively in 1900, 86.71 and 68.04 per cent in 1930, and 81.89 per cent and 52.78 per cent in 1940. But, ‘while strict ethnic endogamy is loosening, religious endogamy is persisting…” (Herberg’s quote of Kennedy data on page 33)

The USA Religious Scene in 1950: A Consideration of Inter-Marriage

By the 1950s, religion not only divided into the three ‘pools’; but those in each religious category tended to marry only within their pool. Hollingshead found in a study that:

  • 97.1% of Jewish pool married only Jewish spouses

  • 93.8% of Catholics married only Catholic spouses

  • 74.4% of Protestants married only Protestant spouses (pp.33-34, Herberg. He is quoting the study of Hollingshead.)

A Study of Marriage Patterns from 1870 to 1940

“Members of Catholic stocks married Catholics in 95.35 per cent of the cases in 1870, 85.78 per cent in 1900, 82.05 per cent in 1930, and 83.71 in 1940; members of Protestant stocks married Protestants in 99.11 per cent of the cases in 1870, 90.66 per cent in 1900, 78.19 per cent in 1930, and 79.72 per cent in 1940; Jews married Jews in 100 per cent of the cases in 1870, 98.82 per cent in 1900, 97.01 per cent in 1930, and 94.32 per cent in 1940. ‘Future cleavages,’ in Mrs. Kennedy’s opinion, ‘will therefore be along religious lines rather than along nationality lines as in the past….Cultural [i.e. ethnic] lines may fade, but religious barriers are holding fast….When marriage crosses religious barriers, as it often does, religion still plays a prominent role, especially among Catholics,’ in that such marriages are often conditioned upon, and result in, one of the partners being brought into the religious community of the other.’” ‘The traditional ‘single melting pot’ idea must be abandoned, and a new conception, which we term the ‘triple melting pot’ theory of American assimilation, will take its place, as the true expression of what is happening to the various nationality groups in the United States….The ‘triple melting pot’ type of assimilation is occurring through intermarriage, with Catholicism, Protestantism, and Judaism serving as the three fundamental bulwarks…The different nationalities are merging, but within three religious compartments rather than indiscriminately…A triple religious cleavage, rather than a multilinear nationality cleavage, therefore seems likely to characterize American society in the future.’” (pp. 32-33, Herberg)

The Breadth and Depth (Evidences) of these Religious Characteristics

By 1950, one’s personal identity, political qualification, social status, marriage, and a few other functional American categories were primarily determined by their identify with one of the three that was most appropriate for ethnic background and geographic location in the USA.

(See Will Herberg’s Protestant-Catholic-Jew.)

The Consequences of this Religious Environment

It was beginning to be true in the late 1930s, increased as being true in the 1940s, throughout the 1950s and into the early1960s that, to be elected to a significant state and national office in the USA, the candidate had to represent, or make the public think they represented, Judeo-Christian values or he or she was seldom elected to a major offices.

This was especially true in the Bible Belt of the USA. However, except in pervasively Catholic areas, it was difficult for a Roman Catholic to be elected to a national office.

The Consequences of this Religious Environment

These Judeo-Christian values that can be seen in the background of the US Constitution, had emerged as the broad American ideal by the mid-1800s and were commonly taught and nourished in the US public schools from the 1800s to the 1970s.

It was the 1960s before the USA elected a Catholic as president for fear that a Catholic president would allow the Pope in Rome to influence American political decisions in ways unfavorable to Protestants and Protestant values. Until Reagan, no divorcee had every been elected as President of the USA.

The Consequences of this Religious Environment

Southern Baptists, by 1950, not only emerged as the largest and most influential Protestant denomination in the USA, they existed predominantly in the “Bible Belt.”

Methodists and Southern Baptists were the major denominations that produced the “Bible Belt.”

The people who produced the Methodist and Baptist denominations and the Bible Belt were migrant peoples, mostly from Europe, mostly northern Europe.

Most of these had fled Europe looking for religious freedom, while the others came to the colonies looking for decent work, land, a better lifestyle and freedom.

The Consequences of this Religious Environment

Southern Baptist evangelism and church planting methods, or approaches, developed in the midst of this history and upon this base of Judeo-Christian values. They were assumed to exist by most citizens in the USA.

These Judeo-Christian values permeated the justice and legal system of the USA and were assumed to be the best rules to live and do business by in the USA. (See Herberg’s book Protestant, Catholic, and Jew.)

The Lay of the Land Discerned

  • Consequently, Southern Baptists, and other evangelical denominations, and Para-church agencies such as Post-WWII Navigators, Campus Crusades, Inter-Varsity, and others, understood the assumptions and aspirations of typical Americans in the USA during this era. Thus, this was the situation just prior to the next stage of immigration and history.

Looking Back on this Period from 1945 to 1960

We now look back on the period from 1945 to 1960 as America’s most formative and significant religious ingathering period in American history. This does not minimize the affects and the magnitude of the Great Awakenings in the 1700s, or the Great Prayer Revival in 1850. However, the growth of religious denominations—Protestants, Catholics and Jews—within this period speaks for itself. Southern Baptists grew by 100% in this period.

A Troubling Reality of the Most Homogeneous and Religious Era

“This is at least part of the picture presented by religion in contemporary America. Christians flocking to church, yet forgetting all about Christ when it comes to naming the most significant events in history; men and women valuing the Bible as revelation, purchasing and distributing it by the millions, yet apparently seldom reading it themselves. Every aspect of contemporary religious life reflects this paradox—pervasive secularism amid mounting religiosity, ‘the strengthening of the religious structure in spite of increasing secularism…America seems to be at once the most religious and the most secular of nations…can there be much doubt that, by and large, the religion which actually prevails among Americans today has lost much of its authentic Christian (or Jewish) content.” (p. 2-3, Herberg)

Major Missiological Issues to Notice

As the American population became sociologically more homogeneously Anglo and as most of the American population had come to see itself as either Protestant, Catholic or Jew a number of things occurred:

  • Most any kind of evangelism program that a Christian “worked” tended to “work” (meaning produced fruit);

  • Programs and methods tended to work across minor cultural boundaries

Major Missiological Issues to Notice

  • Programs, methods, approaches, whatever one wants to call them, became more and more generic. This was especially the case with Southern Baptists who were mainly in the Bible Belt;

  • Consequently Southern Baptists came to believe that “one size, meaning one model, fits all,” and they did to a great degree then, especially in the Bible Belt;

Major Missiological Issues to Notice

  • However, when Baptists “hit the road” and took their evangelism teams to the Northeast, to the Midwest and to the Northwest, they tended to attract primarily transplanted Southerners who had a firm Christian base.

  • And, when the Baptists were out of the Protestant Bible Belt and in Catholic territories of the 1950s they met the “we don’t swap religions” ethnic identify that created America and Americans of the 1950s.

Major Missiological Issues to Notice

  • Those transplanted churches were soon sealed off those churches from the locals. For, when the few locals who did come to see what church was all about, they saw “foreign southern folks,” heard sermons that assumed evangelical, Christian values & assumptions with southern Bible Belt terms.

  • Most locals did not stay and join those non-local, southern churches, for they did not engage the locals’ worldview. Fifty years later, most of those churches are as they were then, or smaller.

The Third Period of American History: 1965-Present

The most homogeneous era and the most religious period in US history soon:

  • eroded into the most secular period the US has ever known;

  • entered, became and continues to escalate into a “separation of church and state” era that never existed in previous US history and that is totally out of character with the intentions of the founding fathers;

The Third Period of American History: 1965-Present

The most homogeneous era in US history and the most religious period in US history soon:

  • saw a renewed influx of ethnic immigrants who are on their way to surpassing the numbers which occurred from 1775 to 1924;

  • began experiencing ethnic immigration that, except for ethnics coming from Latin America, come from very different cultural, worldview, and religious stock;

The Third Period of American History: 1965-Present

The most homogeneous era in US history and the most religious period in US history soon:

  • was faced with a large percentage of ethnics from many different ethnic groups who want to keep not only their religion as did those of the 1800s, but who in addition want to keep their own language and their own culture as well;

  • had ethnics, some of whom are compromising enough to learn English at a work level;

The Third Period of American History: 1965-Present

The most homogeneous era in US history and the most religious period in US history soon:

  • experienced immigrant ethnics who want the American dream but who do not want to assimilate into American culture to the point of giving up language, culture and religion; yet, who want all of the rights of any traditional American citizen; and who soon

  • met Christians who do not see them as, or relate to them as, Jesus’ “panta ta ethne.”

Missiological Issues This Generation Faces

  • Attempts to revive and repackage methods and approaches used during the most homogeneous and religious period in US history, that of the 1950s;

  • Following the lead of secular, market-driven, demographic, sociological categories, that adequately locate and define ethnic Anglos, an ever-shrinking pool within the American population as very diverse ethnics increase;

Missiological Issues This Generation Faces

  • Assuming and search for generic, silver-bullet, models that will work among each and every one of the ethnic groups throughout the USA;

  • And, this is when the old 1950s methods do not even work today among a very different pool of Anglos from those of the 1950s;

  • Post-modern Anglos of today do not resemble nor respond to programs of homogeneous and religious Anglos of the 1950s;

Missiological Issues of Today

  • The American population continues to move away from Judeo-Christian values

  • Two entire generations of school kids have not been introduced to Judeo-Christian values and worldview assumptions

  • This is very much the truth in the cities and on college & university campuses

Missiological Issues of Today

  • The political landscape has changed drastically. The attempt is to move Christianity out of the market place and out of public view into the privacy of homes or church buildings.

  • Political campaigns are not friendly to up-front declarations of Christian truth and obvious Christian positions.

Missiological Issues of Today

  • Based upon biblical and pedagogical evidence, each ethnic group should be engaged in the idiom of its heart language. (See the Acts 2 miracle of the Pentecost visitors hearing in their own heart language.)

  • Worldview is at the heart of “ta ethne” engagement, yet is a hardly understood and followed concept today;

  • Worldview is laid down in the life of each person in the idiom of their heart language;

Missiological Issues of Today

What is beneath the issue of heart language and worldview?

  • Pedagogy, psychology, psychiatry and anthropology tells us that by the time a child is 4-5 years old, he or she, has accrued from 45-60% of his or her worldview. These same researchers tell us that by 11-12 years of age, 80% of a person’s worldview is formed.

  • To engage and influence a person’s worldview in favor of a Christian worldview it should be engaged in the person’s heart language idiom;

Missiological Issues of Today

What is beneath the issue of heart language and worldview?

  • Generic approaches and generic content that does not work in a person’s heart language and that does not address a person’s specific worldview issues has little opportunity of influencing that person’s worldview;

  • To not engage a person’s worldview is to face syncretism in that person’s life;

Missiological Issues of Today

What is beneath the issue of heart language and worldview?

  • Even if an ethnic learns English, the worldview, to be engaged, should be engaged in the person’s heart language for that is the language in which worldview beliefs, values and habits reside;

  • Today, a large number of the ethnics are coming from Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, Animistic, Catholic and Post-Modern cultures;

Missiological Issues of Today

What is beneath the issue of heart language and worldview?

  • Copying materials developed for one ethnic group and translating them into the language of another ethnic group will not address the second group’s worldview unless they have the same language and worldview. The IMB did it for years and reaped syncretism from it.

  • The setting ethnics live in, such as urban or rural, has less to do with evangelizing ethnics than does their language and worldview;

Missiological Issues of Today

  • As the US experiences the entry of record numbers of different ethnic peoples with their own individual languages that produced their own peculiar ethnic worldview beliefs, values and lifestyles, there is the high priority need to:

    • Segment society according to each and every ethnic group within the USA

    • Encourage, learn about and assist in the People Groups Info partnership between the IMB and NAMB research departments

The Paramount “Ta Ethne”Facing America Today

America’s Most Critical Hour

Multiple ethnic groups are migrating to the US and Canada today who have various heart languages, and various ethnic worldviews, yet who embrace the same religion—Islam.

Even though they have their own individual languages and worldviews, they share the aim of living permanently in the US, along with their aim of being the dominant religion in America. They aim for it to be the only religion in America.

America’s Most Critical Hour

Islam is already on its way to becoming the dominant religion in Europe. Scholars who seldom ever agree on any one issue, political or religious or secular agree that Islam has Europe in its grasp and will soon have Canada, followed soon after by Islam’s possession of the US. Possession to Islam means socially, religiously, politically and economically without any rivals.

Document prepared by:

Dr. James B. Slack


August 2006

For: NAMB-SBC Leadership Meeting

End of Presentation

  • “No one who attempts to see the contemporary religious situation in the United States in perspective can fail to be struck by the extraordinary pervasiveness of religious identification among present-day Americans. Almost everybody in the United States today locates himself in one or another of the three great religious communities. Asked to identify themselves in terms of religious ‘preference,’ 95 per cent of the American people, according to a recent public opinion survey, declared themselves to be either Protestants, Catholics, or Jews (68 percent Protestants, 23 per cent Catholics, 4 per cent Jews); only 5 per cent admitted to no ‘preference.’” (p. 46, Herberg. Herberg gained this data from the Catholic Digest, January 1953. The survey was conducted by Ben Gaffin and Associates. Only adults over 18 are considered.)


  • “Much the same may be said about the high and growing repute of religion in the American public mind. ‘Religion is given continued public and political approval…’Godless’ is a powerful epithet…At least nominal public acceptance of religion tends to be a prerequisite to political success (Herberg quotes Williams’ American Society, pp. 326, 336.)….It was not always so; there was a time when an atheist or agnostic like Robert C. Ingersoll, who went around the country defying God and making anti-religious speeches, could nevertheless occupy a respected and influential position in American politics. Today that would be quite inconceivable, a professed ‘unbeliever’ would be anathema to either of the big parties and would have no chance whatever in political life.” (p. 51, Herberg)

  • Congressional Religious Affiliations-1957

  • “The contrast between the days of Ingersoll and our day, when every candidate for public office is virtually required to testify to his high esteem for religion, measures the position that religion as a ‘value’ or institution, has acquired in the American public mind. Of the 528 members of the two houses of the 85th Congress, only 4 gave no religious affiliation; 416 registered as Protestants, 95 as Roman Catholics, 12 as Jews, and one as a Sikh.” (p. 52, Herberg. Herberg quotes the Report of the Legislative Reference Service of the Library of Congress, released April 6, 1957.)


  • “The figures for church membership tell the same story but in greater detail. Religious statistics in this country are notoriously inaccurate, but the trend is so well marked that it overrides all margins of error. In the quarter of a century between 1926 and 1950 the population of continental United States increased 28.6 per cent, membership of religious bodies increased 59.8 per cent; in other words, church membership grew more than twice as fast as population. Protestants increased 63.7 per cent, Catholics 53.9 per cent, Jews 22.5 per cent. Among Protestants, however, the increase varied considerably as between denominations; Baptist increase was well over 100 per cent, some ‘holiness’ sects grew even more rapidly, while the figure for the Episcopal Church was only 36.7 per cent, for the Methodist Church 32.2 per cent, for the Northern Presbyterians 22.4 per cent, and for the Congregationalists 21.1 per cent. (p. 47, Herberg. Herberg found in Information Service, March 8, 1952 that “The trend continues. In the thirty-two years between 1926 and 1957, the population of continental United States increased about 45 per cent while the membership of religious bodies increased nearly 92 per cent, more than twice as fast. (Yearbook of American Churches, edition for 1959, p. 294.)

  • “In 1950 total church membership was reckoned at 85,319,000, or about 57 per cent of the total population. In 1958 it was 109,557,741, or about 63 per cent, marking an all-time high in the nation’s history. (p. 47, Herberg. Data taken from Yearbook of American Churches, edition for 1960, pp. 258, 279.)

The First Period of Change from 1775 to 1924

There were some noble human events during this period of unprecedented migration, but there were also so many ignoble events when viewed from the perspective of the American Indians.

  • San Antonio as an illustration of Catholic mistakes

  • Jonesborough and the Free State of Franklin as an illustration of Baptist ethics and church planting

  • There never has been a significant period of evangelization of American Indians in US/Canada

  • Login