August 4: Connecticut Broadcasting’s Ban the Beatles Boycott

  “She loves you, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!” . . . . Well, maybe not. On August 4, 1966, several Connecticut pop music radio stations joined a nationwide boycott and refused to play Beatles music in response to perceived anti-Christian remarks made by John Lennon. The offending interview actually took place the preceding March, when journalist…

July 22: Mohegan Minister Samson Occom Preaches Up An Ivy League College

  Samson Occom, one of the Mohegan tribe’s most famous members and a direct descendant of the great 17th-century tribal leader Uncas, was born in 1723 in southeastern Connecticut. As a teenager, he converted to Christianity after attending one of the many revivals held throughout Connecticut as part of the first Great Awakening. When he…

July 20: Mass-Marriage-Minded “Moonies” Minister Moves Into Danbury Prison.

  Sun Myung Moon, the late 20th century Korean evangelist whose Unification Church once claimed over three million members worldwide, was a figure dogged by controversy throughout his life. Born in occupied North Korea in 1920, Moon developed strong anti-Communist views as an adult and founded the Unification Church in Seoul, South Korea. The church’s…

July 8: The Sermon That Terrified Its Way Into History

  In the early 1740s, New England was in the midst of a sweeping religious revival now known as the Great Awakening. Charismatic evangelical ministers traveled from town to town on a mission to invigorate congregations with a renewed sense of Christian piety based on fear of damnation. They were inspired by the internationally famous…

May 31: Rev. Thomas Hooker Declares “the People” the Foundation of Government

  To many students of Connecticut history and colonial America, Thomas Hooker is considered the “founding father” of Connecticut. A Puritan minister who journeyed from England to Holland to Massachusetts in search of a place where he could preach his message of reformed Christianity free from persecution, Hooker served with distinction as the first established…

March 29: Catholic Immigrants Unite to Protect & Support Each Other, & Their New Country

  Late-19th century Connecticut was marked by growing hostility toward a massive recent influx of Catholic immigrants from Europe, dangerous working conditions in factories that left many families fatherless, and a marked increase in the formation of fraternal benefit societies. In response to these societal pressures, Father Michael J. McGivney, the 29-year-old Irish immigrant and…

March 8: A Fearful and Spreading Disease? Or A Vampire Attack?

  Today in 1845, 24-year-old Lemuel Ray died in Jewett City, a borough in the rural Eastern Connecticut town of Griswold. The young man, one of several children born to the Ray family, had died from tuberculosis, a disease then commonly known as “consumption” because of the way its victims would lose weight and become…

February 17: A Great Hope for Hawaii Dies in Cornwall

  When 25-year-old Henry Opukahaia first set foot in the town of Cornwall, Connecticut in 1817, he carried on his shoulders the far-reaching hopes and dreams of some of Connecticut’s most powerful religious leaders. The charismatic young man, one of the first native Hawaiians to convert to Christianity, was also one of the first students…

January 27: His Big Idea Didn’t Have a Prayer

Willard C. Fisher was one of a handful of early 20th century professors at Middletown’s Wesleyan University who gained national recognition — although in his case through controversy, not his economics lectures. Professor Fisher was a strong-willed man who never hesitated to voice his opinions, regardless of whose sensibilities he might offend. But he was…

November 26: The Oldest Congregational Church in America

  As the oldest continuously active Congregational church in the United States, the First Congregational Church of Windsor, Connecticut has celebrated more anniversaries than nearly any other church in the country. One of the most memorable anniversaries in the congregation’s existence was its 275th anniversary, celebrated on November 26, 1905. That year, the church organized…

October 23: They Met, Married, & Became the First Protestant Missionaries to the Hawaiian Islands in 24 Days

  During the first quarter of the 19th century, the tidal wave of Protestant Christian revivalism known as the Second Great Awakening transformed Connecticut’s social and cultural landscape. New Protestant denominations finally gained a foothold in the once exclusively Congregational state, church attendance among all sects dramatically increased, and scores of young Connecticut men and…