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America & Christianity

The early American colonies were characterized by religious diversity to the point that it is difficult to determine which religion became predominant in American culture as the colonies formed a nation united. Most of the immigrants to the colonies had incentive to migrate to America because of religious intolerance in their own countries. Henry VIII breaking with the Catholic church set the Protestant Reformation in motion. Protestants and Catholics have been battling for supremacy ever since, but, if we study the formation of the U.S. we see that at time no or place was Christianity the dominant religion of the founders of America. Rather, Puritans and the Protestant ethic have much more historical validity as the dominant religion of the newly founded nation.

Puritans, Quakers, Baptists, Catholics, Jews and other victims of religious persecution fled to the New World during the 17th and 18th centuries. Like the Puritans, English Catholics also fled to America. They were similarly hounded and persecuted by the English government and the Church of England. While the colonials did encompass large numbers of Catholics, they were outnumbered by far by Puritans and English Protestants. The views of the founders were not welcoming toward Catholics, a viewpoint which would continue until the enlightenment of the 18th century “In 1632 Cecelius Calvert, an English Catholic nobleman, received a charter for Maryland, a colony he conceived as a refuge for his coreligionists. Relatively few Catholics came to the colony, however, and Protestants soon became the majority. Elsewhere in British North America, Catholics were even more heavily outnumbered. In many communities they retained their image as aliens whose faith raised doubts of their loyalty to the larger society” (Unger 73).

Negative views of Catholics would continue to pervade in American society. Few people care to remember that the fact that John F. Kennedy was I...

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America & Christianity. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 16:36, March 20, 2019, from