Ridgefield, Connecticut, Historian talks about Catholics and Episcopalians

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the beginning on the 19th century, the Roman Catholic Church mostly didn't exist in the United States.

The Episcopal Church was the American version of the Anglican Church: i.e. The Church of England. After the Revolutionary War, those British ties left it a church spurned as a remnant of Toryism.

And yet, by the end of the century, there were more Roman Catholics in the United States than in any other faith.

"And the Episcopal Church was the most influential denomination in the country,'' said the Rev. John Heeckt, pastor of the Ridgebury Congregational Church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI

7 Comments
Posted October 27, 2010 at 5:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. DeeBee wrote:

“The despot’s heel is on thy shore, Maryland, My Maryland!

October 27, 10:26 am | [comment link]
2. A Senior Priest wrote:

I so very deeply miss the Episcopal Church. Where did it go?

October 27, 1:24 pm | [comment link]
3. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Hmmm.  This is probably as fair a summary as such an extremely short piece can be, even if it’s naturally vastly oversimplified.

But it definitely describes the Episcopal Church of the past.

The days when TEC will be thought of as the church of society’s elite are quickly drawing to a close, as #2 seems to imply.  Yes, I think 11 of America’s presidents have been Episcopalians, far out of proportion to our small numbers in this country, starting with Washington, Jefferson, and Madison.  And yes, a very disproportionate number of CEO’s of Fortune 500 corporations are either Episcopal or Presbyterian.  And elite prep schools like St. Paul’s in Concord, NH have certainly played a key role in clinching the Episcopal church’s spot at the top of the social ladder.

But what are we best known for now?  Not for being the prestigious church of presidents, or business tycoons like J. P. Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and Jacob Astor.  Now we’re known for being “the gay church.”  Or the church that sues ex-Episcopalians just for continuing to teach and believe what the Church has always taught and believed.

“How are the mighty fallen!”

David Handy+

October 27, 3:05 pm | [comment link]
4. Fr. J. wrote:

3.  Not to rub salt, but dont you think the two are linked?  From the church of the elites to the church of the zeitgeist.  Isnt that virtually the same thing?  Perhaps in a fashion, TEC has changed very little, since its ethos is tied as much to the national character as any other principle.

October 27, 11:27 pm | [comment link]
5. Fr. J. wrote:

to add…

or perhaps it could be said is that what has most changed is a veneer of Christianity.

Of course, there are very real and committed believers, but haven’t they been slipping away for generations now?

Living in Indiana, the former berreta belt where my first TEC liturgical experience was ad orientem, I am only shocked by how unaffected the local TEC diocese is by the events of the past decade.  No churches have left or closed.  All appears well at least from the outside.  So, this is where I get the impression that perhaps not so much has changed in much of TEC.

October 27, 11:34 pm | [comment link]
6. NoVA Scout wrote:

No. 3 - a small point, perhaps, in the context of the post, but I am unaware of anyone being sued “just for continuing to teach and believe what the Church has always taught and believed.”  If I am a judge and someone brings me a complaint like that, under what theory could I even hear the case?  I suspect that any litigation is over other issues entirely.

October 28, 6:18 am | [comment link]
7. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Fr. J (#4-5),

You have a valid point, of course.  You may live in Indiana, but I live in VA, where Anglicanism has always been associated with the wealthy plantation class.  And Thomas Jefferson could be taken as Exhibit A for your claim that the Christian veneer of Anglicanism in America has always been rather shallow in many cases.

After all, Jefferson was a vestry member most of his adult life, even though he openly scorned the doctrine of the Trinity and was a Deist.  But he was wealthy, well educated, and socially connected to all the right people, which appears to have been far more important than whatever he believed, or didn’t believe.

David Handy+

October 28, 10:02 am | [comment link]
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