- What were some of the large religious groups that had an impact on the forming of this country? You are being asked to not only name the groups but how their theology had an impact on the forming of the United States.
America’s experience towards the formation involves various linguistic, individual, national, and most importantly theological differences and similarities of religion. The powerful interactions between Europeans, Africans, and Native American brought the religion as a powerful force to establish the Colonies and United States. The formation of United States was not free of interaction by religious groups who wanted religion and politics to be dealt with apart. In the period between 1600 and 1776 colonial culture of America experienced various patterns that were surrounding religion. The religion played a vital role in the declaration of independence from Britain and the establishment of United States of America (Middlekauff, 2005). The emphasis of religious groups on the need to separate religion with politics was following plenty of revivals and altering the landscape of United States.
It was a time when, the character of America transformed when its religious groups and spiritual resurgence brought into existence various denominations such as Anglicans, Congregationalists, and Quakers. Religion became the reason to bring America onto a course of a revolution by the Britain as almost two million people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds living in the thirteen English colonies, divided into different cities, farms, and towns wanted satisfactory life. Majority of the people settled in colonies was not allowed to worship their religion according to their fit and there were various counterparts where equality was hardly practiced. The thirteen colonies were burdened with the excessive taxes and extremely unfair sanctions by the parliament and king. The imposed pressures by the Britain on the colonists brought a feeling of isolation among the Americans who were unrest towards the excessive control and discrimination by the British counterparts. At the same time, British enforced all the colonists to bring uniformity and follow the religion that is practiced by majority of people. The unjust situation was out of control and thus people thought to leave Britain, which resulted in the development of two important religious groups divided into Puritans and Quakers.
Puritans included the members of Church of England who wanted the churches to get free form impurities created by Roman Catholic Church. Their intention towards bringing the purities in churches so that all could follow religion the way it should have been, led all the laymen and ministers to remove. However, after that Puritans suffered largely. On the other hand, Quakers also came up with the same idea of Puritans and thus faced torture, imprisonment, threats, and property confiscation. It was a time when the wish for independence grew among religious groups and they attracted people by their positive behaviors of allowing people to understand the difference between right and wrong. Their theologies were based on the rational beliefs that humans are on the earth to differentiate between sins and moral behaviors. They changed the attitude of people to become good humans to become good nation towards forming the country of United States. That was the time when religion took a lead and became one of the reasons of American independence. Each of the thirteen colonies brought a revolution in 1770s and the war of religious independence and freedom followed.
- How did their theology influence the formation of this country?
When the unjust behavior, physical abuse, and religious intolerance moved across the limits, the Americans stood against England. The British colonists were exploiting people and practicing the tyrannical system of Government. As the colonies were divided into the people of England who were following Anglican Church of England and the Americans who were following Puritanism, the sharp differences arose. As a result, religious groups were compelled to emigrate and settled in colonies of America (Lambert, 2010). The colonies were divided into various ethnic groups of people and thus there were Germans, Scotsmen, Dutchmen, Irishmen, and Swiss. By the late 1700s, America started to become a country of immigrants and people from diverse religious backgrounds. The enduring racial and ethnic conflicts and religious wars were the only solutions to the independence of America where everyone could pursue the religion equally, according to his faiths.
United States was a country that had religious diversity. Religious groups wanted United States to form according to the concepts of God and thus exerted much pressure to the nations. They wanted people to understand the nature of religious truths and make their religious beliefs extremely firm. Jewish immigrants settled in various developing urban centers, along with German immigrants and British Methodists. The colonies of United States were divided into Catholics and Protestants where Protestants were further split into traditional Anglicans and the reforming Puritans. The Puritan and Anglicans kept facing many conflicts and thus differences among them remained for longer. As the time passed, Anglicanism and congregationalism established and turned into the most organized denomination. On the other hand, Protestants also developed newer movements including Unitarians, Methodists, Baptists, Quakers and among them Methodism and baptism was the strongest religious groups to influence religion. As each group established with its own purpose, the most growing religion Methodism targeted the human beings and their deprivations. It came with revolutionary ideas to provide the ordinary and common people with their rights over elite class. Its orientations, theologies, and preaching included the need for individual piety and brought a fundamental transition in the common people’s lives. Each of the thirteen colonies was following its own brand and identity of Christianity. It was a point where American religious groups and their theologies were going against the Church of England and favored religious denominations and, on the other hand, England wished for the Anglican religion to be followed by all the thirteen colonies. Consequently, in the period of 1770s the religious groups exerted deeper influence in colonial America and religious conflicts served as the need to go for independence.
- In what ways did the theologies of different colonies influence the formation of the United States?
As the basic principle of Americans was religion, various movements and religious groups emerged throughout America to fight for the independence. Thirteen British colonies started to develop and came up with the organized churches. Each colony wanted to worship its religion with fervor, violence, and independence. The settlers included the Protestants who were in a majority as compare to few Jews and Catholics (Northcott, 2004). As the government was hardly involved in religion, it resulted in the number of sects and denominations to flourish. Different religious groups were tired of religious persecution in their own countries and found America as the place that could give them the right to worship the religion according to their will and choice rather than forcibly as were in the case of Britain.
The theologies of religious groups influenced the formation of America as they were related to the journey towards independence of religion. The settlers came to colonies for freedom from persecution, but the colonies themselves were not the free from persecution. The thirteen colonies with different religious beliefs brought little conflicts too. For example, religious group of Puritans wanted all to follow puritan. On the other hand, Quakers wished for the worship of their religion. The persecution towards the religions influenced for the country where everyone could have his religion to be followed freely without forcing others. There was a dire need for the country, which could allow people from distinct religions and equal treatment. The issues among colonies led to the creation of various other religious groups such as Anglicans, Baptists, and Roman Catholics. In addition to them, even the German religions and Lutherans appeared in the colonies and created a situation of a dominant part in the lives of colonies. The people from distinct backgrounds, religions, communities, and religious groups with their own theologies started increasing the population of America. As a result, religious freedom started to flourish and persecution began to reduce. The theologies of religious groups even affected the American politics and as a result, in the following years the act relating to religion was enacted, as well. The idea of introducing an Act served as a great help towards emphasizing on religion.
Finally, the issue of separating the religion and state also came into appearance in the colonization of America, which became one of the most important aspects of the formation of United States. Religion became a very important part of the lives of colonists and proceedings named as Salem Witchcraft Trials of the year 1690’s and the period of Great Awakening in the 1730’s influenced the importance of a religion in the independence of United States of America. America became a dwelling, peaceful place, and refuge for all those who wanted better and improved lives and intended to follow religion without any trouble.
- Historians have a wide perspective on this topic. What is the insight you have from learning about the religious foundations of this country?
Various historians have commented on the importance of religion behind the American War of Independence. According to them, the colonists prior to any other issue that was directly attributable to the foundation of United States of America did not have the desire and love for their mother country. Living for over a century without any intervention and enjoying a lifestyle freely in accordance to their belief was more favorable to them rather than thinking about the domination of motherland. Moreover, among the settlers were people who were driven out of England due to religious policies. Therefore, the gathered community had a strong religious feeling that combined to fight against the then mighty British Empire with full vigor. Colonists were not in a situation where they could accept the intervention of their motherland for which they had little love left.
Lambert, F. (2010). The Founding Fathers and the place of religion in America. Princeton University Press.
Middlekauff, R. (2005). The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789. Oxford University Press.
Northcott, M. (2004). An angel directs the storm: Apocalyptic religion and American empire. IB Tauris.