Religion in the United States
The Dawn of Salvation With the dawn of a new nation, the United States of America, came an ushering of religious revivalism. This new country promised liberty, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness.
The new found freedoms of religion, press, and assembly allowed radicals to state their mind and begin to harbour a following. Every revival and utopia were vastly different but they all promised one thing, salvation of the soul. The nineteenth century saw the rise of the Shakers and the Kingdom of Matthias. The twentieth century heralded in the Peace Mission Movement and the People’s Temple. These revivals and reform movements radically change the thoughts on gender, race, and wealth.
The Shakers were a shining beacon in women’s rights, unlike the Kingdom of Matthias which degraded their women. The Shakers started out as a quiet, small movement until the arrival of Ann Lee. Ann Lee’s life was riddled with pain and suffering. She lost her four children in infancy while she lived in England and in a last ditch effort to find solace she traveled to
America. There she joined the Shaking Quakers and became an active member. Her burning opposition of sexual activities made her the leading and loudest voice in the congregation. God gave her visions that she was the second coming of Jesus; Jesus came once in the body of a male and she was the female embodiment to save the world and restore equality. She proclaimed that the source of all evil in the world was sex and that if people live celibately then the kingdom of god shall be theirs. The Shakers believed in full equality between men and women and elected
Ann Lee, now going by Mother Ann Lee, to be their leader. The preaching of equality and free grace for all converted sixthousand men and women to take the vow of celibacy. Elijah Pierson was a fierce christian who married a like minded wife Sarah Stanford. They both attended prayer
Religion in the United States groups made up of, “ For the most part wellinformed and highly respectable persons, of both sexes.” ( Johnson, 28). Elijah Pierson would eventually find his way to the Kingdom of Matthias after his wife Sarah died and would abandon his gender equality notions. He abandoned his principles because of how great an orator Matthias. Matthias preached about what people would be saved in the reign of the Father, “ They who teach women are of the wicked.” ( Johnson, 92), and those who would burn in hell, “ All women who do not keep at home. All who preach to women without their husbands. All merchant tailors who hire women at 4s. per week.” (Johnson
9394). Matthias’s passionate loathing of women made them second hand citizens in his
“kingdom”. He made the women work chores, be accompanied everywhere by males, and disbanded their marriages and remarried them at will. Matthias’s view on women wasn’t radical, they merely reinforced traditional patterns of inequality between men and women while the shakers broke the tradition in light of equality.
Race played an integral part in the Kingdom of Matthias and People’s Temple. The
Kingdom of Matthias was not a very diverse Kingdom; they had one African American living at
Mount Zion with them, a former slave named Isabella Van Wagenen. Isabella bounced around many religions seeking for the correct one and was lured in by Matthias’s passion in beliefs, sermons, and life. Matthias preached an equality for all races, in hopes of attracting more followers, and it was practiced in the beginning of life at Mount Zion. Isabella shared the same workload with the community by cooking in the Kitchen. She would prepare feasts of boiled meat and plain vegetables to feed the commune. But as time passed the workload shifted onto her, “The bulk of the Kingdom’s household drudge work now fell on Isabella Van Wagenen.”
(Johnson, 128). She took on the work of the