With 23 percent of the United States' population as of 2018, the Catholic Church is the country's second largest religious grouping, after Protestantism, and the country's largest single church or Christian denomination where Protestantism is divided into separate denominations. In a 2020 Gallup poll, 25% of Americans said they were Catholic. The United States has the fourth largest Catholic population in the world, after Brazil, Mexico, and the Philippines. Catholicism first arrived in North America during the Age of Discovery. In the colonial era, Spain and later Mexico established missions (1769–1833) that had permanent results in New Mexico and California (Spanish missions in California). Likewise, France founded settlements with missions attached to them in the Great Lakes and Mississippi River region, notably, Detroit (1701), St. Louis (1764) and New Orleans (1718). English Catholics, on the other hand, "harassed in England by the Protestant majority," settled in Maryland (1634) and founded the first state capitol, St. Mary's City, Maryland. In 1789, the Archdiocese of Baltimore was the first diocese in the newly independent nation. John Carroll became the first American bishop. His brother Daniel Carroll was the leading Catholic among the Founding Fathers of the United States. George Washington in the army and as president set a standard for religious toleration. No religious test was allowed for holding national office, and colonial legal restrictions on Catholics holding office were gradually abolished by the States. However, in the mid-19th century there was political anti-Catholicism in the United States, sponsored by pietistic Protestants fearful of the pope and rising Catholic immigration. Tensions between Protestants and Catholics continued in the 20th century, especially when a Catholic was running for president as in 1928 and 1960. More information...

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