Religious Beliefs In North Carolina

A historic church in North Carolina.
A historic church in North Carolina.

North Carolina covers an area of about 53,819 square miles in the southeastern part of the US. North Carolina was one of the original thirteen colonies that declared independence from the British in 1776. At the signing of the declaration of independence three delegates represented the state of North Carolina, and they include William Hooper, John Penn, and Joseph Hewes. North Carolina is home to about 10,273,419 people a vast majority of whom are Christians. Religion has played a significant part in shaping the destiny of the state. Christians have formed the majority of the state's population for most of its history. The state is mainly divided among Protestant denominations.

Southern Baptist Church

The largest Christian denomination in the state is the Southern Baptist Church which has more than 1.5 million members who worship in close to 4,300 churches. The faith dominates in 82 of the 100 North Carolina counties. In 1830 Southern Baptists in the state formed The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina to promote the work of the church. The convention has a strong relationship with various institutions of higher learning such as the Campbell University. For a period, African Americans could not worship in the same churches as Caucasian Americans due to the laws of segregation. Southern Baptists practiced segregation in their churches during this period. Southern Baptists have dominated the religious landscape of the state since at least 1890.

United Methodist Church

The United Methodist Church has the second highest following in the state with close to 660,000 members congregating in more than 1,900 churches.The denomination dominates in 6 counties in the state. The Methodist doctrine is similar to the doctrine of the Church of England which was its predecessor. The denomination was established since the American revolutionary war prohibited the Church of England from sending bishops to conduct services in the area.

The Roman Catholic Church

In the state of North Carolina, Roman Catholics are the third largest denomination. The number of Roman Catholics in the state is estimated at more than 420,000 with nearly 200 churches. The Roman Catholic Church has had a presence in the state for a long time. John England was the first Vatican appointed bishop in the region, and in 1821 he visited the Catholic community of the North Carolina region. At the time, the Catholics in the area were mainly migrants and they found it extremely difficult to practice their faith as they lacked proper facilities. William Gaston was a famous Catholic in the state who served on both the state legislature and in the state supreme court.

Choosing a State Religion

Legislators in the state of North Carolina proposed a bill to make Christianity the official state religion although such a measure would go against the constitution of the US. Though the state legislature did not approve the bill, it highlights a growing feeling among some Americans on the importance of Christianity over other religions. North Carolina had previously passed a law that made it illegal for any person who did not believe in God to hold public office but the Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional. A growing number of people in the state are choosing to identify with no religion.


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