According to Campell1, progressives were mainly comprised of middle class citizens who desired things to change. They believed that education and information were the key towards a better and fair society.
Simon argues that, historically, there have there have been two primary chains of progressive thought concerning the proper relationship between politics and faith: secular and one emerging from religious social beliefs2. Secular progressive thought was associated with enlightened linearism. It is sceptical about particular religious beliefs, and exigent about keeping religion out of politics and politics out of religion. Thomas Jefferson and James Maddison advocated for religious conscience, freedom of conscience and separation of church and state. Liberalism caused a premium on rationality, self-determination, and personal morality above faith, public morality and church authority. Liberalism looked to establish a constitutional order in America that would stop the merging of government and religion that was prevalent in Europe3.
During the progressive era, many religious leaders viewed liberalism as a taboo and worked hard to stop its spread. The Catholic Church was the dominant church at the time. They discorded with the liberal conception of faith and politics until the reconciling of Catholic teaching with liberal democracy. Eventually, these progressive beliefs triumphed in the country since many Americans accepted that one can practise their faith while keeping some religious beliefs from taking over the government and jeopardising the religious freedom of others.
Another powerful chain of progressive thought came directly from religious beliefs during the social gospel movement. The preachers argued that they should apply everyone their teachings to solving public problems. Several protestant ministers and theologians in the 19th century such as Jennings Bryan and settlement founders such as Jane Addams espoused this belief4. Later,