Government
Laws & Tax
Religion
Trade

 

Religion in the Colonies

History of the first 13 Colonies and religious beliefs in the New World

Religion in the Colonies: The religious beliefs and the quest of the colonists for religious freedom

Early American patriots and colonists

Map of 13 Colonies Chart

Map of the 13 Colonies

This article on  the biography and life of Religion in the Colonies provides facts and information about:

  • Who were the Religion in the Colonies?
  • What were the their involvement in creating the United States of America?
  • Interesting facts and fast information in an easy to read format
  • The Religion in the Colonies and Religious beliefs
  • Educational resource for teachers, schools, students and kids
  • The Religion in the Colonies
13 ColoniesReligious Beliefs & Religions
American Colonies Index
 

Religion in the Colonies
Religion in the Colonies was extremely diverse and many of the religious groups, such as the Puritans and the Quakers established the first of the 13 colonies on the basis of their religious beliefs. The long, hazardous, 3000 mile trip from Europe to North America was undertaken by many in a search for religious freedom.

Religion in the Colonies - The Mayflower Pilgrims
The Puritans who undertook the voyage to the New World on the Mayflower were led by William Bradford. These Puritans were called Separatists who believed in a pure Christian church, with no vestige of the Catholic religion. They established the Plymouth Settlement in New England who later came to be known as the "Pilgrim Fathers" or simply as the Pilgrims.

Religious Persecution in the Colonies - the Puritans and John Winthrop
It must be said that religious groups, such as the Puritans, looking to escape from religious persecution in their home country arrived in the colonies and promptly established their own form of religious persecution. There was no religious freedom in the areas inhabited by the Puritans as they did not tolerate any other form of religion. Their idea of religious freedom was restricted only to the Puritan religion. John Winthrop, a powerful Puritan leader was the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. His Puritan religious group believed that they would establish a pure church in New England  that would offer a model for all churches. The Congregational Church eventually grew out of the Puritan Church and was formally established in the Colonial New England colonies, except for Rhode Island who favored religious tolerance. 

Religious Persecution in the Colonies - Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams
Any who did not conform to the Puritan beliefs were called Nonconformists or Dissenters and were severely punished. The punishments imposed on the Nonconformists and Dissenters included being fined, whipped and imprisoned. In some circumstances those who refused to adhere to the Puritan religion were banished from the colony. Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson were famous as early colonists from the Massachusetts Colony who was banished for their religious beliefs and fled to the Rhode Island.

Religion in the Colonies - The Salem Witchcraft Trials
The Salem Witchcraft Trials occurred in 1692 and were another example of religious fervor in the Puritan colony of Massachusetts.  The Salem Witchcraft Trials lasted for three months  in which accusations of witchcraft were made against both men and women. The Salem Witchcraft Trials resulted in 100-200 arrests, 19 people were sentenced to death by hanging, one old man was pressed to death under heavy stones, one man was stoned to death and two dogs were executed as suspected accomplices of witches (familiars).

Religion in the Colonies - Religious Tolerance and Diversity
Eventually this type of religious persecution ended and other religions began to appear in the Puritan based colonies. Other colonies were established where religious tolerance was exercised. The colonists from different countries in Europe adhered to various religions including Roman Catholic, Jewish, Lutheran, Protestant, Anglican, Quakers and Presbyterians. Religious diversity had become a dominant part of religion in the colonies and colonial life.

Religion in the Colonies - William Penn and the Quakers
William Penn (1644-1718) was famous as a follower of the Quaker religion and the leader of the Pennsylvania Colony. William Penn promoted the ideals of religious tolerance. He was extreme in his religious fervor and whilst in England he strongly criticised the Church of England (Anglicans).

Religion in the Colonies - The Catholic Religion and the Glorious Revolution
Under the rule of King James II of England (reigned 1685 – 11 December 1688) the American colonists were under the direct control of the monarch. As a staunch Catholic, James II was attempting to replace Protestant institutions with Roman Catholic ones. The vast majority of Colonists were Protestants - Only 1.6% of the population were Roman Catholics. The Protestants detested the Catholics and feared the bloody persecutions they had left behind in Europe. King James II believed in 'the Divine Right of Kings' and tried to create religious liberty for English Roman Catholics and Protestant nonconformists against the wishes of the English Parliament which led to the Glorious Revolution in which James was replaced by King William III and Queen Mary II. The Glorious Revolution and the subsequent revolts in the colonies were precursors to the American Revolution.

Religion in the Colonies - The American Revolution
The American Revolutionary War ended the rule of the British and the religion in the colonies based on the practises of the Church of England.  A separation from the Church of England was forced because the Church of England clergy were required to swear allegiance to the British monarch. Different denominations were therefore organized shortly after the American Revolution. The different denominations consisted of various unified religious congregations and churches.  The Religion in the Colonies adhered to the religious practises of many denominations.

 

Colonial America - The Land of the Brave

 

Religion in the Colonies - Chart of Different Denominations
The religion in the Colonies encompassed the religious practises of many denominations. The differences between the range of different types of religion in the colonies leads to considerable confusion. The religion in the colonies included Protestant, Puritan, Catholic, Anglican, Episcopalian, Congregationalists, Baptists, Evangelists and Unitarian. These were all Christian religions based on the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus as embodied in the New Testament and emphasizing the role of Jesus as savior. A brief definition of the different types of religion in the colonies are detailed  in the following Chart:

Religion in the Colonies Chart


Names of Religion

Religion in the Colonies Chart
 

Religion in the Colonies of the:

Anglican
 
The Anglican Religion - those with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, but did not swear allegiance to the British monarch

Religion in the Colonies of the:

Roman Catholic
 
The Roman Catholic Religion - The traditional Christian Church based in the Vatican in Rome and presided over by an Episcopal hierarchy with celibate male leadership, headed by the pope

Religion in the Colonies of the:

Protestant
 
Protestant Religion - Christian churches who “protested” against the practices and beliefs of the Roman Catholic church and separated from Catholic religion

Religion in the Colonies of the:

Evangelists
 

The Evangelists held conservative theological views believing in the Bible as the word of God and sufficient for salvation. The Evangelist movement was characterized by revival meetings and
emotional conversion - refer to the Great Awakening

 

Religion in the Colonies of the:

Baptist
 
The Baptist religion - Evangelical Protestant church that believes in the baptism of voluntary believers

Religion in the Colonies of the:

Episcopalian
 
The Episcopalian Religion - In which the Church government views the bishop as the principal officer

Religion in the Colonies of the:

Presbyterian
 
The Presbyterian Religion - Its organisation is based on government by elders. The church adheres to the Calvinist theological tradition within Protestantism

Religion in the Colonies of the:

Unitarian
 
The Unitarian Religion - Liberal Christians who assert the unity of God but reject the doctrine of the Trinity.
Individual freedom of belief and a united world community

Religion in the Colonies of the:

Congregationalists
 

The Congregationalists - Its Protestant organisation is based on the freedom of each church to control its affairs. The Congregational Church eventually grew out of the Puritan Church and was formally established in the New England colonies, except Rhode Island
 

Religion in the Colonies of the:

Deist
 

Deist - Believe that God exists and created the universe but does not intervene in the world. An enlightenment religion, partly a reaction against Calvinism and religious superstition,  emphasizing reason and morality but rejecting supernatural events such as miracles, prophecy and divine revelation in holy books prominent in organized religion
 

Religion in the Colonies of the:

Judaism
 
Jewish - Those who follow a religion called Judaism based on the Torah and the Talmud

Name of Religion

Religion in the Colonies Chart
 

Religion in the Colonies Chart

 

Religion in the Colonies

  • Religion in the Colonies
  • The different types of Religion in the Colonies
  • Fast Facts and info about Religion in the Colonies
  • Religion in the Colonies is a great history resource for kids
  • Social Studies Homework help for kids and children - Religion in the Colonies

Colonial America - The Land of the Brave

 

Religion in the Colonies - Colonial America - America - Facts - Colonies - Colonists - History - US - History - Interesting - Information - Info - Events - Kids - Religion in the Colonies - Children - Studies - Colonies - United States - America - USA - Social Studies - Religious beliefs in the Colonies - Colonists - Religious beliefs in the Colonies - Teaching resource - Religion in the Colonies - Social Studies - Religion in the Colonies - History - Teachers - Kids - Famous - Religious beliefs in the Colonies - Colonial America - Religion in the Colonies - Written By Linda Alchin