REGION 6: RELIGION (The Great Lakes) Fun Facts


Michigan * Indiana * Wisconsin * Minnesota * Illinois

Historically, the governing of this region was dependent on the social institutions that were more powerful, popular, and clearly defined than the other governing powers in the region. Other governing powers remained comparatively small, weak, and distrusted until World War II.

The most powerful and influential of these institutions were religious denominations and congregations. The most centralized denominations were the Roman Catholic, Episcopal and Lutheran Churches.  There was no alternative  because without state funding, congregations were forced to depend on the voluntary donations, activities, and tithes of their members. In most settlements, congregations formed the social framework that supported parish and common township schools, local boards and commissions, and an increasingly vital social life.


Congregations and township politics eventually gave rise to voluntary organizations. Four kinds of these were especially significant to the region’s development: agricultural associations, voluntary self-help associations, ethnic and civil groups and political parties. These associations eventually evolved into agricultural coops, insurance companies, orphanages and hospitals. They also initiated labor unions and state educational systems.


            *Catholicism was the only organized religion in Michigan until the nineteenth century.

            *When Michigan gained statehood, the border of the Diocese of Detroit was redrawn to match that of the state.

            *The largest Protestant denomination was the United Methodist.

            *Scandinavian and German immigrants introduced the Lutheran denomination to Michigan, and it is the second largest denomination in Michigan.

            *The Calvinism doctrine was introduced by the Dutch who fled from the Netherlands in 1850 to avoid persecution.

            *The immigrants from the Near East brought Islam into the state during the twentieth century.

            *The SDA (Seventh Day Adventist Church) began in Michigan.  martin-luther-tweetsB). INDIANA:

            *The largest single religious denomination in Indiana is Roman Catholicism.

            *Protestantism makes up the largest religious group as a whole which is further subdivided into various forms of Protestantism including Evangelical Protestant, Mainline Protestant and Black Protestant.

            *Other Christian denominations include Mormonism, Orthodox and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

            *The state is home to several headquarters and major offices of certain religious groups.

            * One of the two arch abbeys of the Catholic Church in the US is located in Indiana.

            *The Wesleyan Church, the Christian Church, and the Free Methodist Church are all headquartered in Indianapolis.


            *Christianity has the largest share of religious followers in the state of Wisconsin. Protestant Christians are the leading Christian group in the state.16725443_G

*Protestantism was introduced into Wisconsin by European settlers in the early 19th century. These settlers created the first institutions such as schools and churches in Wisconsin.


            *Catholics are the second largest Christian community in Wisconsin.

            *Catholicism was brought into Wisconsin by Jesuit Missionaries at the start of the 17th century.

            *Minority Christian communities in Wisconsin consist of Orthodox Christians, Jehovah’s Witness, Mormons, and other unidentified groups.

            *Wisconsin has embraced diverse religious communities living in the state, and is home to numerous religious centers created by various groups of people.

            *The state provides religious freedom for all its residents. Christianity is the dominant religion in the state, but minority religions are protected by state laws from discrimination.


            *Protestantism is adhered to by the majority of Minnesotans, while Roman Catholics form the largest single denomination of Christianity.  This is followed by the Lutherans.

            *German-Jewish pioneers formed Saint Paul’s first synagogue in 1856, and there are now appreciable numbers of adherents to Islam, Buddhism, and other traditions.

            *In 2006, Minnesota became the first state in the US to select a Muslim representative to Congress.


            *Before 1830, little religion of any sort was practiced in Illinois. Energetic Protestant missionaries set out to evangelize this un-Christian population and they largely succeeded.

            *By 1890, the majority of adults in Illinois were affiliated with evangelical denominations- mostly Methodist, Disciples of Christ, Baptist, Congregationalist, and Presbyterian.

            *Most immigrants, belonged to liturgical denominations (chiefly Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Episcopal).

            *There are also over 11,000 Mennonites throughout the state.

            *Illinois has had episodes of religious persecution: at Carthage in 1844 the Mormon founder Joseph Smith was killed by a mob; strong but brief waves of anti-Catholicism developed in the 1850s (the “Know-Nothing” movement), and the 1920s saw the rise of the Ku Klux Klan.

            *Robert Green Ingersoll, a self-proclaimed agnostic, was appointed attorney general of Illinois in 1867–69, but his identity as an agnostic prevented him from ever being elected into politics.
*Since then however, tolerance of religious diversity has been the norm for most of the rest of the state’s history.


Religion in the U.S. has always made its mark on Society.  From Education to Labor Unions, State Laws, Volunteer Organizations, Health Care Institutes, Agricultural Coops, Ethnic and Civil Organizations and much more, religion has left an unmistakable influence, and no more so than in the States of the Great Lakes Region.



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  1. Pingback: REGION 6: ART & ARCHITECTURE (The Great Lakes) Fun Facts | Road Trips and Tiny Trailers

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