500th anniversary of the Reformation… or not

The 500th anniversary of the Reformation is being commemorated this month because Oct. 31, 1517, is the date on which Martin Luther legendarily nailed his 95 theses to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany.

Reformation is the term commonly used to refer to the historical period in which Protestants broke away from the Catholic Church.

Some scholars now doubt that Luther actually nailed his long list of theological propositions to the church door, and the notion that the Reformation began on a particular day – or even in a single year – is an obvious oversimplification.

Many historians argue that the Reformation is best understood as a series of events with roots that precede Luther and which continued into the 17th century, long after his death in 1546.

Majorities of both Protestants and Catholics in America say the two traditions are, religiously, “more similar than they are different” according to recent polling.

Roughly half of both Protestants and Catholics say that the other tradition is at least somewhat similar to their own, while fewer say the same about other religions such as Judaism, Mormonism and Islam.

Jews, Catholics and evangelical Christians are viewed warmly by the American public, while Buddhists, Hindus and Mormons receive neutral ratings but atheists and Muslims are perceived more coldly.





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