“I have said that it is not a common thing to meet an American who belongs to no denomination of Christian worship. This I think is so: but I would not wish to be taken as saying that religion on that account stands on a satisfactory footing in the States. Of all subjects of discussion, this is the most difficult. It is one as to which most of us feel that to some extent we must trust to our prejudices rather than our judgments. It is a matter on which we do not dare to rely implicitly on our own reasoning faculties, and therefore throw ourselves on the opinions of those whom we believe to have been better men and deeper thinkers than ourselves . . . .
“It is a part of [the American] system that religion shall be perfectly free, and that no man shall be in any way constrained in that matter. Consequently, the question of a man’s religion is regarded in a free-and-easy way. It is well, for instance, that a young lad should go somewhere on a Sunday; but a sermon is a sermon, and it does not much concern the lad’s father whether his son hear the discourse of a free-thinker in the music-hall, or the eloquent but lengthy outpouring of a preacher in a Methodist chapel. Everybody is bound to have a religion, but it does not much matter what it is.”
-Anthony Trollope, “North America”
via Marc DeGirolami