Religion in Mississippi: A Comprehensive Guide

Religion has been a major part of Mississippi's history since its inception. From missionaries to Native Americans, the construction of border churches and schools, the growth of African-American Christianity and the making of an argument for slavery, religious beliefs and practices have been fundamental to many aspects of life in colonial and pre-war Mississippi. In modern times, the religious composition of adults in Mississippi is dominated by the Baptist family (evangelical tradition). Two trends in the late 19th and early 20th centuries challenged the centrality of Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians in the state's religious landscape.

The largest religious groups in Mississippi are Missionary Baptists and Southern Baptists. Missionaries created church organizations to form Baptist missionary congregations, African Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal, and Methodist Episcopal Congregations of Color (CME) that had their roots in western Tennessee and northern Mississippi. Christian music has been a major part of Mississippi's religious culture. The Blind Boys of Mississippi, the Blackwood Brothers (both bands with roots in the 1930s), Pops Staples and the Staples Singers, Jackson Southernaires, the Mississippi Mass Choir and Ann Downing are some of the most influential artists in this genre. Religion in Mississippi continues to evolve in the 21st century, with both appeals for traditional religion and new religious groups, interests, and forms of worship emerging. Starting in the late 17th century, Catholic missionaries were among the first permanent European settlers in the area.

Jesuits and Capuchins faced the challenges of being a minority religion in a struggling colony. White-led church leaders, many of whom had some reservations about slavery and its impact on Southern society in the early 19th century, eventually joined the pro-slavery movement late in the pre-war period. When statehood was achieved in 1817, Mississippi attracted Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and other evangelical Protestant religions at a remarkable rate. By the 20th century, religion in Mississippi was predominantly Protestant and evangelical.

Abby Parrett
Abby Parrett

Certified pop culture fan. Friendly gamer. Professional pop culture nerd. Professional tv nerd. Freelance pop culture advocate. Passionate travel geek.