Religious Tolerence in the British North American Colonies prior to 1700

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Some of the American colonies were established by various religious

sects from England that either disagreed with the Church of England or fled

to the Americas facing persecution by the Anglican Church. Overtime,

religious groups in the colonies obtained a charter from the King of

England and became formally recognized as colonies. The colonies were

shaped according to the beliefs of the religious group (if the colony was

established by a religious sect). Religious freedom in the Northern

colonies, except Rhode Island, allowed no religious freedom while the

southern and the middle colonies were a bit more yielding to different


The northern colonies' dominant religion was Puritanism. Puritans

were a group of English men who opposed with the way the Church of England

was run. Puritan extremists called for the Church of England to be

purified. Facing persecution, they fled to the Americas where they set up

a government that incorporated Puritan beliefs.

The Puritans set up a state

church, very much like the Church of England, that was tax supported.

Everyone, regardless whether they were a Puritan or not, was forced to pay

taxes. The Puritans were also oppressive against nonbelievers of the faith

for i.e. Roger Williams who was banished from the colony because he

publicly questioned the Puritan government's involvement in religious

matters. Roger Williams later went on to set up the Rhode Island colony.

Another example of religious in-toleration of the Puritans is the case of

Anne Hutchinson, who claimed that a holy life was not a sign of salvation

and the truly saved didn't have to bother with the laws of man or god. In

response to her claim, the government tried her on the charge of heresy and

banished her from the colony.

The Middle colonies were the most tolerant of all...