Discussion Paper 2
Religion played a crucial part during colonial America, not only during the 18th Century but ever since colonist began settling from Britain. Churches were the center of colonial towns and often held the most local power regarding rules and regulations during the colonial period allowing them to keep peace within the colony. Those who were caught in opposition were tried and often banished from the colony, which further reinforced the churches influence on colonial life. As the colonies progressed into the 18th century, religion was still central in the lives of the colonist, but many ministers and church officials feared that they would lose influence on the people as new events and developments occurred, leading up to the Great Awakening. Although the primary goal of the Great Awakening was spiritual salvation, it affected more than just individual colonists. Liberty and inherent rights in the 18th century were established as a cause of religious movements, such as the Great Awakening, and ultimately led to decreased government influence on colonists. With the Great Awakening colonist began to think more independently and form opinions on government influence, particularly on religion. “[Great Awakening] threw into question many forms of authority & inspired criticism of certain aspects of colonial society”. “Many of these new churches began to criticize the colonial practice of levying taxes to support an established church; they defended religious freedom as one of the natural rights government must not restrict.” This resulted in colonist forming their own views and opinions rather than adopting those of superiors and elites, allowing them to form and independent frame of mind. The press was a tool used by the ministers during the Great Awakening to further influence the right of freedom of speech and press. During this period of new religious preaching, newspapers and pamphlets were...
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