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Table of Contents
The religious history in the United States started in the early 1600s with the arrival of the Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower. The colonial history of the United States covers European colonization of America from the early 1600s until the incorporation and formation of the United States of America.
See the fact file below for more information on the Religion in Colonial America or alternatively, you can download our 22-page Religion in Colonial America worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
WHO WERE THE PILGRIMS?
- The Pilgrims were English settlers who migrated to North America aboard the Mayflower.
- They established the Plymouth Colony, which is known today as Plymouth, Massachusetts.
- They were from the religious congregations of Separatist Puritans, who had fled religious persecution in England in the early 17th century.
- They are also called Separatists because unlike Puritans, their congregations remained separate from the Church of England.
WHO WERE THE PURITANS?
- Puritans were English Protestants who wanted to reform the Church of England to completely get rid of Roman Catholicism.
- The ruling class opposed the Puritans, claiming that the Puritans conformed to Anglicanism.
- Unlike the Pilgrims, the Puritans believed that the Church of England, despite needing reforms, was a true church.
- The Puritans supported the uniformity of religion in the state.
- In the 1630s, around 20,000 Puritans emigrated from England to America, mostly New England.
- The New England congregational churches put up by the Puritans held no hierarchy and had no bishops to answer to.
- The Puritan congregation consisted of members who had undergone and proven a conversion experience.
- In 1654, 23 Jewish refugees fled persecution in Dutch Brazil and sought religious liberty in the United States.
- They arrived in New Amsterdam, which later became New York City.
- This small Jewish community established religious services by 1655.
- By 1658, Jews had also arrived in Newport, Rhode Island.
- Small populations of Jews continued to come to the British colonies in North America.
- By the late 18th century, Jewish communities had established several synagogues.
WHO WERE THE QUAKERS?
- In 1652, the Religious Society of Friends formed in England under the leadership of George Fox. They were simply referred to as Quakers.
- Historians have referred to Quakers as “radical Puritans”.
- The Quakers shared similarities with the Puritans in some religious beliefs but they were different in that Quakers did not subscribe to religious uniformity as the Puritans did.
- Quakers expanded the Puritan concept of a church of individuals converted by the Holy Spirit to the notion of people spiritually having the Spirit present in them, who were considered deviant and heretic by other religious groups.
- Quakers were extremely persecuted in England for diverging from orthodox Christianity, with thousands of Quakers being imprisoned and hundreds having died of torture.
- This severe persecution drove the Quakers to seek refuge in Rhode Island in the 1670s.
- By 1685, approximately 8,000 Quakers had emigrated to Pennsylvania from England, Ireland, and Wales.
COLONY OF VIRGINIA
- At the time, Virginia was the most populous and most important British North American colony.
- Anglican services commenced in Jamestown in as early as 1607.
- In 1619, the Church of England was legally made the established and dominant church throughout the Colony of Virginia.
- Throughout the 18th century, the Church was met with dissent by Protestants and other religious groups.
- In 1786, following the American Revolution, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom disestablished the Church of England.
- As the British colonies gained political independence, the practice of other religions was legalized.
- In the 1730s and 1740s, American colonies experienced a wave of religious fervor among Protestants which was later known as the First Great Awakening.
- The supporters of the Great Awakening were the Presbyterians, Methodists and Baptists while its opponents were Anglicans, Quakers, and Congregationalists.
- This period of religious enthusiasm resulted from sermons that greatly affected congregations with a profound sense of salvation and redemption by Christ, making their faith more personal and evangelical, and less ceremonial and ritualistic.
- The new style of preaching, by preachers called “new lights”, set a new standard and had a permanent impact on American Christianity.
- It further resulted in a divide between traditionalists, who insisted on doctrine and ceremony, and revivalists, who believed in the new way Christians chose to practice their faith.
- The Great Awakening challenged the established church authority, and decentralized usual religious practices as people began to study the Bible at home.
- It was also during this time when Christianity was brought to the slaves.
- Protestant rationalism was the dominant religious belief practice among many colonial leaders by the end of the colonial period in North America.
- Rational beliefs included the principle that no human entity could claim spiritual authority and that God had given humans the capacity to differentiate right from wrong, thus reinforcing man’s free will.
Religion in Colonial America Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Religion in Colonial America across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Religion in Colonial America worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the religious history in the United States which started in the early 1600s with the arrival of the Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower. The colonial history of the United States covers European colonization of America from the early 1600s until the incorporation and formation of the United States of America.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Religion in Colonial America Facts
- English Settlers
- Sequencing Events
- Fill in the Blanks
- Correct Category
- Religious Dissenters
- Simplified Meanings
- Great News
- Religious Slogans
- Questions of Importance
- Reflecting on Religion
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