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Religious Freedom In British North America

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During the colonial period North America was filled with individuals who did not agree with the religious and political ways of life in England. Before the 1700s the British North American colonies consisted mostly of Europeans in search of a place where they could find religious freedom. The first colony formed in Massachusetts in 1608 is an example of this idea of religious freedom. Plymouth, Massachusetts was a colony formed by English Separatists, who were also known as Puritans, in an attempt to live without religious discrimination

New colonies were formed before the 1700s because people were searching for a place where they could worship as they pleased. The colonists took it upon themselves to make the new world a place where religion was a matter of preference and belief rather then law. Some of the colonies, though, still took the road of the British and tried to combine church and state.

This was especially true in the northern colonies where the colonists formed areas with specific religions. For example, Massachusetts was a colony that was mainly puritan while New Hampshire was mainly Quaker. These colonies had specific laws that made its citizens follow the laws of the dominating religion. In these New England colonies fines, banishment and other harsh consequences were penalties for people who did not follow the main religion of a specific colony. In other words, there was freedom of religion but each colony had a main religion that was followed by everyone who lived there. Therefore people who did not believe in that specific religion were discriminated against.

In the middle colonies there was a greater tolerance of religious differences although there still were issues with religious discrimination. The southern colonies did not have a problem with religious discrimination. Religion was not a part of southern life in comparison to its importance up in the northern colonies. The southern colonies concentrated on trade and economy rather then religion.

In the colonies, it was known that religious beliefs were a matter of individual principles and entirely



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