- Grand Strand Weekend
- South Carolina for Kids
- South Carolina Bar-B-Que
- A Midlands Weekend
- Civil War Adventures
- South Carolina Waterways
- Three Days in Horse Country
- South Carolina for Seafoodies
- South Carolina Kitsch
- Gullah and African American History
- Upstate Weekend
- South Carolina’s Top Ten for Golfers
- South Carolina’s Offbeat Festivals
- Southern Comforts
- Lowcountry Romance
The Lowcountry, and Charleston in particular, is unusual in the Deep South for its wide variety of religious faiths. While South Carolina remains overwhelmingly Protestant—over 80 percent of all Christians in the state are members of some Protestant denomination, chief among them Southern Baptist and Methodist—the coast’s cosmopolitan, polyglot history has made it a real melting pot of faith.
Though the Lowcountry was 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 French Huguenots and Congregationalists. Owing to vestigial prejudice from the European realpolitik of the founding era, the Roman Catholic presence in South Carolina was late in arriving, but once it came it was there to stay, especially on the coast.
Most unusually of all for the deep South, Charleston had not only a large Jewish population, but one that was a key participant in the city from the very first days of settlement. Sephardic Jews of primarily Portuguese descent were among the first settlers. One of them, Judah Benjamin, spent a lot of time in the Carolinas and became the Confederacy’s secretary of state. Indeed, up to about 1830 South Carolina had the largest Jewish population of any state in the union.
Because of the large numbers of German and Swiss settlers in the Midlands, the region has more of a Lutheran quality to this day. There is even a notable Mennonite presence, particularly in Blackville and Abbeville.
The Upstate was first settled by Presbyterians, hard-shell Baptists, and various fundamentalists. Their collective attitude was much more sternly moralistic, and this conservatism has colored the region’s sensibilities to this day.
The Greenville area in particular is a hotbed of fundamentalism, with the arch-conservative Bob Jones University being but the premier example. Sprawling, well-attended mega-churches dot the region and increasingly are the focal point of religious activity—to the dismay of the pastors of smaller, older churches.
And of course who could forget the tragicomical reign of televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker? Though both Midwesterners, their now-defunct religious empire, Heritage USA in Fort Mill, South Carolina, became a byword for kitsch and corruption.
© Jim Morekis from Moon South Carolina, 4th Edition