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Iowa Religious Culture


City of Iowa
City of Iowa

The earliest missionaries in what is now Iowa were Roman Catholic priests who came to convert the Native Americans to Christianity in the 18th century. Saint Raphael’s Church, now a cathedral, was the first Roman Catholic church in the Iowa region. It was erected in Dubuque in 1835. By that time, Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians were also active in Iowa. Other early Protestant groups included the Congregationalists, the Disciples of Christ, and the Protestant Episcopalians.

Between 1835 and 1850 the Quakers, or members of the Society of Friends, founded Salem and 13 other settlements in Iowa. In 1855 a German religious sect called the Society of True Inspirationists established the communal colony of Amana near Iowa City. During the next ten years they laid out five more communities and purchased a seventh. All seven communities came to be known collectively as the Amana Colonies. Many of the German and Scandinavian immigrants who settled in the state during the second half of the 19th century were Lutherans.

Denominations now account for more than half of all church members in the state. The Methodists are the most numerous Protestant group, followed by the Lutherans. However, the largest single religious denomination is the Roman Catholic church, with about one-fifth of all church members. In addition, there are large Jewish congregations in Sioux City, Des Moines, and other urban areas. "Iowa" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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