religion, immigrants, Danish churches


The combined 2012 Issue (Volume 35) of "The Bridge" was a translation of Max Henius' "Den Danskfodte Amerikaner" (The Danish-Born American), published in 1912. It is a fascinating addition for the English speaking "Danes" dealing with many aspects of the lives of the approximately 300,000 Danish-born that emigrated to the United States in the years prior to that time. It discusses many aspects of Danish-American life at the time, ranging from schools, societies, the Danish press, old people's homes, organizations and churches. Unfortunately when it comes to schools, churches, and newspapers there is barely a mention of anything outside of the Lutheran Church with the exception of a mention of the existence of some Baptist, Methodist, and Adventists churches in Jim Iversen's comments on the translation, none of the lists include any further data. The State Church of the Motherland was/is Lutheran but it is usually estimated that barely 25% (some historians estimate an even smaller percentage) of all Danes coming to America remained faithful to the church. Waldemar C. Westergaard notes in his article about Danes in Cass County, North Dakota that "Though the state religion in Denmark is Lutheran, there is hardly a member of the settlement who now professes the old faith" and " ... the immigrants have gone through their period of severe discipline in the catechism of the Danish Lutheran Church ... and ... many on their arrival express freely their dislike for the compulsory religious study" and "have never been in any haste to join any new church organization in this country." And even though the Danish Constitution (Grundlov) was changed in 1849 to grant religious freedom (section 67) and forbid religious persecution (section 70) it still existed, particularly for Baptists and adherents to the proselytizing of the Mormon Church.