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Evangelicalism in the United States

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In the United States, evangelicalism is an umbrella group of Protestant Christians who believe in the necessity of being born again, emphasize the importance of evangelism, and affirm traditional Protestant teachings on the authority and the historicity of the Bible. Nearly a quarter of the US population, evangelicals are diverse and drawn from a variety of denominational backgrounds, including BaptistMennoniteMethodistHolinessPentecostalReformed and nondenominational churches.

Evangelicalism has played an important role in shaping American religion and culture. The First Great Awakening of the 18th century marked the rise of evangelical religion in colonial America. As the revival spread throughout the Thirteen Colonies, evangelicalism united Americans around a common faith The Second Great Awakening of the 19th century led to what historian Martin Marty called the "Evangelical Empire", a period in which evangelicals dominated US cultural institutions, including schools and universities. Some evangelicals were strong advocates of reform, largely in the northern United States. They were involved in the temperance movement and supported the abolition of slavery in addition to working towards education and criminal justice reform. Many evangelical denominations split over slavery, with evangelicals in the southern United States establishing new branches that did not formally or openly call for abolition of slavery.  (For example, the Southern Baptist Convention was founded over the issue of slaveholders serving as foreign missionaries.)

By the end of the 19th century, the old evangelical consensus that had united American Protestantism no longer existed. Protestant churches became divided over new intellectual and theological ideas, such as Darwinian evolution and historical criticism of the Bible. Those who embraced these liberal ideas became known as modernists, while those who rejected them became known as fundamentalists. Fundamentalists defended the doctrine of biblical inerrancy and adopted a dispensationalist theological system for interpreting the Bible. As a result of the Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy of the 1920s and 1930s, fundamentalists lost control of the Mainline Protestant churches and separated themselves from non-fundamentalist churches and cultural institutions.

After World War II, a new generation of conservative Protestants rejected the separatist stance of fundamentalism and began calling themselves evangelicals. Popular evangelist Billy Graham was at the forefront of reviving use of the term. During this time period, a number of evangelical institutions were established, including the National Association of EvangelicalsChristianity Today magazine and a number of educational institutions, such as Fuller Theological Seminary. As a reaction to the 1960s counterculture, many evangelicals became politically active and involved in the Christian right, which became an important voting bloc of the Republican Party. Observers such as Frances FitzGerald have noted that since 2005 the influence of the Christian right among evangelicals has been in decline. Though less visible, some evangelicals identify as Progressive evangelicals.

wikipedia.org

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