The Lutheran branch of Protestantism is one of the oldest Protestant denominations that came about as a result of the Reformation movement in Western Europe in the 16th century. It is based on the principles of Martin Luther, a German friar and professor who has been called the "Father of the Reformation." It is interesting to note that Martin Luther opposed the designation of his name for the religion.
Luther struggled with the contradictions he saw between the Bible and some of the practices of the Catholic church. He fought to reform the church by exposing its corruption and abuses. It was never his intent to divide the church, but his efforts toward reform proved to be fruitless and eventually he was excommunicated. He continued to spread his teachings despite threats to his life.
Although Luther strongly opposed many aspects of Catholicism, he continued to embrace any practices of the church that did not directly contradict the scriptures. As a result, Lutheran churches today tend to reflect the appearance and atmosphere of Catholic churches.
In the 17th century, Lutherans from Germany and Scandinavia began to migrate to the United States, bringing their culture and faith with them. Lutheranism is known for its emphasis on education, and therefore, today many Lutheran schools, colleges, and seminaries exist throughout the world.
(Sources: ReligiousTolerance.org, ReligionFacts.com, AllRefer.com, and the Religious Movements Web site of the University of Virginia.)