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Religion plays a role in Asbury Park’s history. The town founder, James A. Bradley, named the beach community for a Francis Asbury, a key Methodist dignitary who helped bring the Christian denomination to America. He spread his faith on horseback and by other means. According to Christianity Today:

When in October 1771, Asbury landed in Philadelphia, there were only 600 Methodists in America. Within days, he hit the road preaching but pushed himself so hard that he fell ill that winter. This was the beginning of a pattern: over the next 45 years, he suffered from colds, coughs, fevers, severe headaches, ulcers, and eventually chronic rheumatism, which forced him off his horse and into a carriage. Yet he continued to preach.

During the Revolutionary War, Asbury remained politically neutral. To avoid signing an oath disclaiming his allegiance to England and to dodge the American draft, he went into hiding for several months. “I am considered by some as an enemy,” he wrote, “liable to be seized by violence and abused.” By war’s end, he had retained his credibility with the victorious Americans and was able to continue his ministry among them.

Asbury Park, in Bradley’s time, as well as the beginning and middle of the 20th century, was prime shore resort. A race riot and economic downturns, from the summer of 1970 and onwards put the town into a sort of death spiral. Presently, Asbury Park is trying to renew itself, but there’s an irony spray-painted across town. There’s has been instance of strange religious graffiti, like…..

 

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