Father Abram J. Ryan, poet-priest; Margaret O'Brien Davis, author; Lucian Julian Walker, journalist and author; Raphael Semmes, Admiral in the Confederate States Navy; S.A.M. Wood and Alpheus Baker, Brigadier-Generals, C.S.A.; R.M. Sands and D.S. Troy, Lieutenant-Colonel, C.S.A.; Wm. R. Smith, poet, historian, lawyer, political leader, and Colonel C.S.A; Frank P. O'Brien, political leader and journalist. Arthur and Felix McGill are the names of the founders and patrons of McGill Institute at Mobile. The Catholic population of the State at the present writing is 28,397.
In educational and benevolent enterprises the Catholic Church of Alabama has an enviable record. Institutions devoted to charity and education under its direction are as follows: Spring Hill College, St. Bernard College, Academy of the Visitation, and McGill Institute, at Mobile; St. Vincent's Hospital, at Birmingham; Providence Infirmary, at Mobile; and St. Margaret's Hospital, at Montgomery. Convents and schools are conducted in Montgomery and Birmingham by the Sisters of Loretto, in Selma by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, in Cullman by the Sisters of Notre Dame, and in Tuscumbia by the Sisters of St. Benedict. An asylum for boys is conducted at Mobile by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart; and for girls by the Sisters of Charity, of Emmittsburg, Md. St. Joseph's College for Negro catechists is located near Montgomery. A Catholic newspaper, The Messenger, is published in the same city.
Protestant and other religious efforts.—From the very first arrival of American emigrants the Protestant denominations were represented, but it was not until 1808 that formal organization of congregations took place. They entered the field that year most probably in the following order: Methodist, Cumberland Presbyterian, and Baptist. However, in the territorial period the struggle for existence on the part of settlers was so intense that no very general progress was made until the first decade of statehood. From 1819 to 1832 they entered upon a real healthy growth and expansion. A higher state of intellectual cultivation existed among the preachers. Regular houses of worship took the places of the makeshifts of private houses, the county courthouse, and the open air. The camp-meeting grew to be a most potent factor in awakening religious interest, and in advancing the cause of the churches. In October, 1823, the Baptist State Convention was organized. On 1 March, 1821, the Presbytery of Alabama, was formed, and in 1834 the Synod of Alabama was set off from the Mississippi Synod. From its introduction into the State, in 1808, to 1832 the Methodist Church had at various times been in part under the South Carolina, the Tennessee, the Mississippi, and the Georgia Conferences. In the latter year the Alabama Conference was organized. The Methodist Protestant Church was organized in Alabama in 1829. While there were numbers of individual Episcopalians in the State from the date of the occupation of its territory by Great Britain, it was not until 1825 that, in Mobile, its first Episcopal church was organized, but it had no minister until December, 1827. A Primary Convention was held 25 January, 1830, and an organization effected. According to the most reliable information, the Southern Baptists in Alabama number 150,945; the Methodist Episcopalians, 133,000; the Southern Presbyterians, 15,020. The following denominations are also represented in the State: Unitarians, Congregationalists, Universalists, Christian Scientists, Lutherans, Salvation Army, and Campbellites. Nearly all denominations are well represented among the colored population, which also has several religious organizations of its own. The Jews have strong congregations in all of the leading towns. Sectarian schools have already been noted under the head of education. Orphan asylums and other benevolences are conducted by the Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and the Salvation Army.
State laws on subjects directly affecting religion.—Under the Constitution of 1901, which practically followed earlier instruments, it is provided (Section 2): "That no religion shall be established by law; that no preference shall be given by law to any religious sect, society, denomination or mode of worship; that no one shall be compelled by law to attend any place of worship, nor to pay any tithes, taxes or other rate for building or repairing any place of worship, or for maintaining any minister or ministry; that no religious test shall be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under this State; and that the civil rights, privileges and capacities of any citizen shall not be in any manner affected by his religious principles." In the courts testimony is required to be given under oath or affirmation. No search warrant can issue unless supported by oath. All executive, legislative, and judicial officers are required to take an oath to support the Constitutions of the United States, and of the State, and to faithfully discharge the duties of the office. By statute the word "oath" includes "affirmation". (See 71 Ala. Reports, 319, for discussion of nature and character of an oath.) The observance of Sunday is not directly enjoined, but the sanctity of the day is recognized in the prohibition against the working of a child, apprentice, or servant, except in "the customary domestic duties of daily necessity or comfort, or works of charity", also in the prohibition against shooting, hunting, gaming, card-playing, or racing, or keeping open store or market (except by druggists) on that day. It is to be observed that these provisions "do not apply to the running of railroads, stages, or steamboats, or other vessels navigating the waters of this State, or any manufacturing establishment which requires to be kept in constant operation." There is no statute against blasphemy or profanity, as such, these subjects being regulated as at Common law. There is no constitutional or statutory provision requiring the use of prayer in the State Senate and House of Representatives, but it has always been customary for each body to provide for such a service to be held at the opening of the day's session. Usually the clergymen of the capital city, without discrimination, are asked to alternate. Among other holidays, Sunday, Christmas, and Good Friday, are set apart by statute for public observance.
Laws on subjects affecting religious work.—Members of any church or religious society, or the owners of a graveyard, may become incorporated by complying with a liberal statute on the subject, and may hold real and personal property not to exceed $50,000 in value. The property of institutions devoted exclusively to religious, educational, or charitable purposes is exempt from taxation to a limited, yet liberal, extent. Ministers in charge of churches are exempt from jury duty. Military service is voluntary. Marriage between whites and Negroes is prohibited. Legislative divorce is not allowed under the constitution. With certain limitations the following are the statutory grounds for divorce: physical and incurable incapacity, adultery, voluntary abandonment, imprisonment in the penitentiary, the commission of the crime against nature, habitual drunkenness, and cruelty. The Constitution prohibits the appropriation of public school funds in support of any sectarian or denominational school. Liberal charters of incorporation are allowed to charitable institutions, and their property is exempt from taxation as above, but no public funds can be appropriated to any charitable institution "not under the absolute control of the State." Cemeteries are