The area from Charleston to Savannah is unusual in the Deep South for its wide variety of religious faiths. While South Carolina and Georgia remain overwhelmingly Protestant—at least three-quarters of all Christians in both states are members of some Protestant denomination, chief among them Southern Baptist and Methodist—Charleston and Savannah’s cosmopolitan, polyglot histories have made them real melting pots of faith.
Though both cities were originally dominated by the Episcopal Church (known as the Anglican Church in England), from early on they were also havens for those of other faiths. Various types of Protestant offshoots soon arrived, such as the French Huguenots and Congregationalists in Charleston and the Scottish Presbyterians and German Salzburger Lutherans in the Savannah area. The seeds of Methodism and the “Great Awakening” were planted along the coast from Savannah up to Charleston.
Owing to vestigial prejudice from the European realpolitik of the founding era, the Roman Catholic presence on the coast was late in arriving, but once it came it was there to stay. Savannah, in particular, has by Southern standards quite a large Roman Catholic population, mostly due to the influx of Irish in the mid-1800s.
But most unusually of all for the deep South, Charleston and Savannah not only have large Jewish populations, but ones that have been key participants in the cities from the very first days of settlement. Sephardic Jews of primarily Portuguese descent were among the first settlers of both Charleston and Savannah, and kept up an energetic trade between the two cities for centuries afterward, continuing to the present day.
© Jim Morekis from Moon Charleston & Savannah, 4th Edition