Religion and News in Eighteenth-Century America

David Copeland

in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the American News Media

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780195395068
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Religion and News in Eighteenth-Century America


In eighteenth-century America, two important elements of religious evolution provided the keys to people's understanding of most of the political, economic, and social issues that they faced and read about in the news. First, there was the concept of the covenant people—that America was a new promised land or the “Land of Promise.” The Puritans attempted and failed in establishing government as a theocracy in America, but the rhetoric and ideals of that effort became core values despite the fact that Puritanism was not the universal way that colonial Protestants approached scripture. The second religious element that shaped the understanding of news grew out of the Great Awakening and its promotion of an individual's personal relationship with God. This article explores the way religious interpretation shaped news in eighteenth-century America and how a theological lens provided a potential interpretation for all information. It first discusses how the press operated in colonial America before analyzing how religion defined news during the period. It then looks at how the press portrayed the conflict between Britain and the American colonies.

Keywords: America; news; religion; Puritanism; Great Awakening; Britain; colonies; press; religious revolution

Article.  6754 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies

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