Religion and the Founding of the American Republic

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G.K. Chesterton depicts the early republic as “a nation with the soul of a church”1 meaning that America was founded on religious principles. Many of those who came to the colonies did so for religious refuge from the Church of England. Although there were many independent religious groups in the new colonies, the commonality they shared was the desire to practice their separate beliefs. This religious foundation influenced the political and social structure of the colonies as they became an independent and separate nation from Great Britain.
Colonists seeking religious refuge from England characterized the early days of the American colonies. Religious freedom was the unifying factor among colonists coming to America to escape persecution from The Church of England. The Monarchy left very little room for individuality or independence among religious groups, thus groups such as the Puritans and Roman Catholics came to America seeking refuge from persecution. They were seeking a place where they would have the opportunity to share and practice their religious beliefs. This common ground of religious refuge was a crucial catalyst in the American Revolution. However, because there was no monarchy forcing the citizenry to conform to one religion, division was created among colonists. Puritans wishing to cleanse the Church of England from Catholic influence commonly came into conflict with Roman Catholics, many times persecuting or even banishing them from the region in some cases. In the case of Puritans in Massachusetts who were not tolerant of any other religious group, Presbyterians, Baptists, and Quakers were banished and Catholics were not accepted. The same happened with Virginian Anglicans saying “if not our religion, no religion.”2 This intolerance led to a separation between people, which inevitably weakened America.
The founders of America realized the success of Pennsylvania with its emphasis on separation of church and state. People were given

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