WI: The Church of America?

Even though America is very religious countries with Protestant and Christianity (Even though it wasn't founded official under it officially) it is pretty interesting that a "Church of America" has never come to existence. The closest we probably have gotten to our timeline was the United Church of Christ (UCC). Would a Episcopalian and Presbyterian merger do the trick? Or would it have to be founded in another way? Is it possible to keep the church theologically conservative? Is also possible for this church to have apostolic succession?
 
A "Church of America" cannot exist insofar as the Founders' insistence on separation of Church and State holds. Neither Church you listed has that succession or particularly cares about having it in the formal sense, either.
 
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A major problem in England was the Church of England as the official religion of the country. Other religions could run into difficulties in matters of government. Hence, the prohibition against the establishment of a state religion. [That is what is in the USA constitution, not 'separation of church and state', a term which became popular after Mrs. O'Hara's court successful court case.]

The Episcopal Church is the Anglican [CoE] in America. The Presbyterian Church is much the same. I would think an "American State Religion" would be on the direction of either Puritanism [extreme protestantism] or Roman Catholicism and your POD would have be started in England during the Reformation with one of these religions resolves to emigrate but not the other due to a favorable change in attitudes towards the other.

Hope that helps.
 
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut each had an "established church" from the time of the original Puritan settlement. That is, a church recognized as the official church of the country, supported by taxation and with attendance or at least membership required. The practice of different religions was suppressed, and Massachusetts even executed several Quakers.

Those churches were "Congregrationalist": Calvinist in theology, but with an organization different from the Calvinist Presbyterian church of of Scotland, or the Calvinist Dutch Reformed Church, which had been established in "New Netherlands" and survived in New York.

Pennsylvania was founded by Quakers, who rejected any form of religious "establishment". The many German immigrants to Pennsylvania were mostly Lutherans or Baptists.

Rhode Island was founded by dissenters from the neighboring Puritan colonies, and practiced complete religious toleration: one of the earliest Jewish congregations in America was formed there.

In the mid-1700s, the evangelical movement known as "Methodism" came to the American colonies, and won many followers, who set up independent churches.

Maryland was founded by Lord Baltimore as a refuge for Catholics. Though Maryland was majority Protestant, a significant body of Catholics remained there.

The Southern colonies were largely settled by Anglicans, but AFAIK there was no religious "establishment" in any of them.

So from the very earliest days of "America", there was great religious diversity, and most people were not under the jurisdiction of any "established" church. Even in Massachusetts, the "established" Congregational Church was bitterly divided between "liberal" Unitarians and traditionalists. (The Church was disestablished in 1833 by traditionalists when Unitarians became the majority.)

Thus there never was any possibility of a "Church of America".
 
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut each had an "established church" from the time of the original Puritan settlement. That is, a church recognized as the official church of the country, supported by taxation and with attendance or at least membership required. The practice of different religions was suppressed, and Massachusetts even executed several Quakers.

Those churches were "Congregrationalist": Calvinist in theology, but with an organization different from the Calvinist Presbyterian church of of Scotland, or the Calvinist Dutch Reformed Church, which had been established in "New Netherlands" and survived in New York.

Pennsylvania was founded by Quakers, who rejected any form of religious "establishment". The many German immigrants to Pennsylvania were mostly Lutherans or Baptists.

Rhode Island was founded by dissenters from the neighboring Puritan colonies, and practiced complete religious toleration: one of the earliest Jewish congregations in America was formed there.

In the mid-1700s, the evangelical movement known as "Methodism" came to the American colonies, and won many followers, who set up independent churches.

Maryland was founded by Lord Baltimore as a refuge for Catholics. Though Maryland was majority Protestant, a significant body of Catholics remained there.

The Southern colonies were largely settled by Anglicans, but AFAIK there was no religious "establishment" in any of them.

So from the very earliest days of "America", there was great religious diversity, and most people were not under the jurisdiction of any "established" church. Even in Massachusetts, the "established" Congregational Church was bitterly divided between "liberal" Unitarians and traditionalists. (The Church was disestablished in 1833 by traditionalists when Unitarians became the majority.)

Thus there never was any possibility of a "Church of America".
And it was this variety of religions in different states that brought about the prohibition of the establishment of a national religion within the USA constitution.
 
Even though America is very religious countries with Protestant and Christianity (Even though it wasn't founded official under it officially) it is pretty interesting that a "Church of America" has never come to existence.
As others have said, it's precisely because America is a big tent of Protestant Christian denominations that they never established an established Church: doing that contradicts the ideas of religious freedom and separation of church and state enshrined in the American Constitution.

And honestly, the Thirteen Colonies themselves were founded by people of too many differing religious backgrounds for an established church to be a thing in the first place.
 

GuildedAgeNostalgia

Gone Fishin'
I could see a independent Confederacy possibly establishing the Episcopal church as it's state church as a way of maintaining and enforcing anglo-white/southern "values"
 
I see two semi-believable options. Both are a very very big stretch, & have a lot of "ifs."
  • The First Great Awakening happened before the American Revolution. If one of the groups in the Great Awakening was massively more successful than in OTL & now included the majority of the colonial elite. Then if the revolution isn't butterflied (it isn't they far so that isn't too much of a stretch) then when the USA is formed that religion may be in a position to become a state church.
  • The other is for a sort of civil religion. This wouldn't originally be intended to be a religion, but begin as a neutral acknowledgement of a "higher power" without violating the Separation of Church & State. Not unlike OTL. However, in ATL this continues to evolve into a, probably deist Christian flavored, religion.

I could see a independent Confederacy possibly establishing the Episcopal church as it's state church as a way of maintaining and enforcing anglo-white/southern "values"
I could see them doing something as well, though I'm not as sure as to which church they would go for.
 
I could see the United States retaining full religious freedom but establishing some tenets of Protestant faith as state policy (an expansion of the same principle that allows "In God We Trust" on money). Presumably it would be meant as an expression of anti-Catholic/anti-immigrant sentiment.

For what you're proposing, the most obvious obstacle is the Establishment Clause, which explicitly prevents such a state church. Maybe it could've been written differently in a way that leaves some wiggle room, but the founding generation certainly would not have established a Church of America, and anyone else trying to do so later would face the combined opposition of non-Protestants, every other Protestant church, and supporters of separation of church and state. As others have said, America would need to be totally unrecognizable.
 
I could see the United States retaining full religious freedom but establishing some tenets of Protestant faith as state policy (an expansion of the same principle that allows "In God We Trust" on money). Presumably it would be meant as an expression of anti-Catholic/anti-immigrant sentiment.
I'm sure some of the Framers thought the Catholic Church was reactionary and obscurantist, but I don't think more than a few would have supported any sort of explicit anti-Catholicism.

While George Washington was in Philadelphia presiding over the Constituional Convention, he made a point of attending services at a different church each week. The first week, he went to the Catholic church.
 
For what you're proposing, the most obvious obstacle is the Establishment Clause, which explicitly prevents such a state church. Maybe it could've been written differently in a way that leaves some wiggle room, but the founding generation certainly would not have established a Church of America, and anyone else trying to do so later would face the combined opposition of non-Protestants, every other Protestant church, and supporters of separation of church and state. As others have said, America would need to be totally unrecognizable.
Maybe more of a "the bill of rights only applies to the federal government. The states can have their own ones" sort of thing
 
I'm sure some of the Framers thought the Catholic Church was reactionary and obscurantist, but I don't think more than a few would have supported any sort of explicit anti-Catholicism.

While George Washington was in Philadelphia presiding over the Constituional Convention, he made a point of attending services at a different church each week. The first week, he went to the Catholic church.
Absolutely the founding generation wouldn't have done anything like that. I was imagining a little later down the line, when there was a more significant Catholic population and more powerful backlash. Maybe the 1840s?
Maybe more of a "the bill of rights only applies to the federal government. The states can have their own ones" sort of thing
Would this be considered a violation of the Supremacy Clause? The idea that states aren't bound by the constitution seems like a can of worms that nobody would want to open.
 
Even though America is very religious countries with Protestant and Christianity (Even though it wasn't founded official under it officially) it is pretty interesting that a "Church of America" has never come to existence. The closest we probably have gotten to our timeline was the United Church of Christ (UCC). Would a Episcopalian and Presbyterian merger do the trick? Or would it have to be founded in another way? Is it possible to keep the church theologically conservative? Is also possible for this church to have apostolic succession?
It is simply that the term Church of ... Ireland for eg refers to the fact that it was once the established church, as was also the case in Wales and Scotland and remains so in England. So it cant happen in the Americas and that was the case before the Constitution as several of the colonies were specifically non anglican. So it is not due to the .Constitution or the Bill of Rights at all, contrary to statements below, but predates that by a considerable degree.
 
Maybe more of a "the bill of rights only applies to the federal government. The states can have their own ones" sort of thing
This was, in fact, how things were up through the 14th Amendment being adopted. It was only after the passage of the 14th Amendment that the Bill of Rights got incorporated against the states. Again, a number of states retained established churches in 1789 (as well as various other franchise restrictions and so on) and they weren't chucked by SCOTUS shortly thereafter.
 
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