Role Of The Church In Colonial America
In Colonial America, people regarded visiting the church as an important event and believed that it ought to be an all day procedure. The American colonies had houses of worship. However, what the people imbibed in those church services depended on where they lived.
The New Englanders went for church services to the meeting house, which was a large building in the center of a town area. This place was used for town meetings and religious services as well. Those living in the Middle and Southern colonies went to more familiar looking churches. The religious beliefs also varied with the places. The New England colonists were largely Puritans leading very strict lives. The Middle colonists were a mixture of religions, including Quakers, Catholics, Lutherans, Jews and others. The Southern colonists had a fusion of religions as well, including Baptists and Anglicans. The 18th Century brought in the Great Awakening in the colonies. This movement refocused people's views on religion. Famous preachers like George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards brought many people into church.
Colonial religion was vibrant and diverse with respect to the different religious traditions, denominations within traditions, in the way in which religious impulses were enacted and in the interactions of various cultures and denominations amongst themselves and with others. In fact, the level of commitment to religion itself varied amongst people. Catholics and Protestants were deeply divided and national rivalries between French and Spanish Catholics and English and Dutch Protestants kept these groups separate from each other. The Native American tribes further added to the colorful fabric of colonial religiosity. In due course of time, these very distinctions and parallels became the foundation of the diverse, historically evolving experiences of religion that exemplified the American Revolution. During the phase of European colonization, religious norms were constantly tailored in America in accordance to the varying state of affairs. Consequently, these shifting religious traditions altered the way Europeans, Africans and Native Americans experienced life. These powerful interactions made religion a major force everywhere in colonial American life.
The revival of religion in Colonial America marks the period of the Great Awakening. This religious phenomenon was short lived, tied to local circumstances and modest in its social and political circumstances. Women also played a very significant role in colonial American religion. Although, they were forced to stay away from the limelight in the 17th and 18th centuries, women still managed to exert significant religious influence in plenty of ways. They formed the maximum percentage of worshippers, and thereby exerted immense religious influence through the rituals of baptism, marriage, funerals and religious education.
Religion also had a vital implication on the revolutionary war. Although religion cannot be defined as one of the causes of the war but the war itself had enormous religious implications. The end of the war resulted in a mammoth religious renaissance. Eventually, this resurgence resulted in the ratification of the First Amendment, which prohibited an establishment of religion. The First Amendment illustrated the essence of colonial America's religious development. It acknowledged the diversity of religion that emerged in colonial America, a spiritual pluralism, which is difficult to locate in any society on either side of the Atlantic or Pacific. It assured that the government would not initiate any change in this miscellany by intervening in religion or by supporting one or more religious groups. It also vouched that the federal government would uphold free exercise of religion for all groups, not just one. Even in the 21st century, this religious pluralism forms a cardinal part of the American religious sentiment.
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