European settlers increase religious diversity
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European Settlers Increase Religious Diversity. Transatlantic Transitions and the Origins of Colonial America. Catholicism in America. Before any Protestant landed on the shores of America, Catholicism had made its mark, first by the Spanish and then by the French

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European Settlers Increase Religious Diversity

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European settlers increase religious diversity

European Settlers Increase Religious Diversity

Transatlantic Transitions and the Origins of Colonial America


Catholicism in america

Catholicism in America

  • Before any Protestant landed on the shores of America, Catholicism had made its mark, first by the Spanish and then by the French

  • The Spanish came through Mexico into the (now) southwestern United States with military force intent on extending the glory and wealth of Spain

  • The French, traveling down from Canada, came as traders and trappers, seeking use of the resources of an untapped country


Spanish catholicism

Spanish Catholicism

  • From the beginning of their conquest, Spain entertained competing ideas of how to deal with indigenous populations: conquer them and take their land or convert them?

  • Brutality against native peoples was not uncommon, however many priests and monks established pueblos where Native Americans could earn a living and receive religious instruction

    • Disregarding motives, in both instances, native peoples were forced to leave their tribe, effecting the destruction of indigenous culture

    • For example, Junipero Serra, forcefully restrained Native Americans in his missions who wished to leave- he did not eschew the use of force in religious conversion


French catholicism

French Catholicism

  • The second Catholic presence in America was French missionaries

  • Overall, the French were less interested in conquering indigenous populations, but they too were assured of their conviction that these “inferior” populations needed to be converted

  • In certain ways, the French had greater success

    • They came into areas where tribes were competing for dominance, thus certain tribes saw it as an opportunity to ally with the French

      - Religious women were also a part of the effort, adding a different flair to conversion attempts

  • Even with the advent of Protestantism in America, there existed a strong Catholic presence in the areas where the French were most prominent


Varieties of protestantism in the first english colonies

Varieties of Protestantism in the First English Colonies

  • From England arrived a number of different forms of Protestantism to the Eastern seaboard of America

  • First came the Anglicans to Virginia, representing the established Church of England

    • Colonial settlement from Jamestown followed the course of rivers, making gathered groups of people more scattered, less concentrated and in individual parishes; this led in turn to a shortage of clergy and greater lay participation in turn


English protestantism

English Protestantism

  • Settling in the North, what would later become New England, were those dissenting from English rule

    • It obscures differences to say that all were Puritans, since even within that group, there were different movements

    • The Separating Puritans were those who saw the Church of England as beyond salvation; these were the famous pilgrims of the Mayflower, settling in Plymouth

    • Later came the non-separating Puritans who believed that the church needed reformation from within, the inspiration for which they would provide across the ocean; they established the Massachusetts Bay Colony

  • Both forms of Puritanism did not wish to allow for religious diversity, but desired a purified church


Dissent in new england society

Dissent in New England Society

  • In spite of their initial goals, dissent and diversity did seep into Puritan society

  • Four classic examples, all of whom represent the common theme of American religion (that of minority religions confronting a majority religion):

    • (1) Roger Williams: believing that the purity of the church was so vital, that government should have no hand in enforcing it; began the Colony of Rhode Island, a virtual haven for those with religious beliefs different to those of the Puritan establishment

    • (2) Anne Hutchison: lightning rod of the “Antinomian Controversy”; believed that all New England clergy, but John Cotton, were preaching a “covenant of works”

      • She maintained that she received direct revelation from God, thus existing “above the law”; she was banished to RI


Dissent in new england society1

Dissent in New England Society

  • Four Classic Examples (contd.):

    • (3) The Quakers: started by George Fox who maintained that “the inner light of God’s truth came to each person directly” (26) and denied that the clergy held the sole right to interpret scripture

      • They found refuge in Williams’s Rhode Island, but some who returned were hanged for their heresy

    • (4) The Salem Witch Trials: an instance of the conflation of the Puritan belief in the supernatural with a belief that heresy must be sought out and punished

      • Many people were accused, usually by young women, tried and subsequently executed for witchcraft

      • The reality of demonic forces made such hysteria possible


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