Variety of Faiths.--The religious background and life of the Germans is varied, to say the least. We have little space to detail them at length, but separate accounts may be found in libraries for particular readers.
The German Baptists, or Brethren, are a denomination of Christians who emigrated to this country from Germany between the years 1718 and 1730; they are commonly called Dunkers; but they have assumed for themselves the name of "Brethren".
The United Brethren in Christ came into activity in the United Stites about 1755, differing in name from the Moravians, or Unitas Fratrum, (or United Brethrens Church) by adding "in Christ." The former mentioned denomination enjoys a healthy membership scattered throughout the country.
The Moravians (Unitas Fratrum), or United Brethrens Church, dates from 1722, descendants of the Bohemian and Moravian Brethren who were persecuted in their native country, and who founded a colony under the patronage of Count Zinzendorf, on an estate of his in Upper Lusatia. American history is replete with accounts of activities of the Count, and David Zeisberger, who labored among and learned so much from his association with Indian tribes. Their establishments in the early days were primarily, at Bethlehem, Nazareth and Lititz.
The Schwenkfelders take their name from Casper Schwenkfeld von Ossing, who was born seven years after Martin Luther, with whom he had many disagreements. This denomination arrived in Philadelphia on September 22, 1734, settling principally in Montgomery, Berks, Bucks and Lehigh counties.
Ephrata Cloister.--One of the most notable of the early pietist movements was this Ephrata community, under Conrad Beissel, who was born in Eberbach, in 1690. He was a baker, as was his father. He came to America in 1720, becoming a hermit on the Cocalico. Others built cabins around him and imitated his ascetic life. But any religion that prohibits race propagation soon eliminates itself.