Religion Among Early American Immigrants essays
For thefirst American immigrants, religion wasn't just an attribute, it was a way of life.It defined what kind of lives they lead and how they were viewed by others in their new community.In some cases, religion determined where people could live.It became a regular financial expense similar to paying taxes.Often, one's rights as an American citizen hinged on which faith he proclaimed, as did their political views.In essence, the immigrant experience was dramatically affected by religious attitudes in the country at the time of their coming.
In the early years of Virginian immigration, the vast majority of the settlers held Protestant beliefs, though the varieties differed.After becoming a royal colony, Virginia became an example for England of "ideal Anglican conformity."Sermons were administered every Sunday, communion given three times a year, responsibility was adopted to shape the behavior of the children, and to influence the people to lead what they considered to be pure lives.Church was not just a pastime, it was an expected ritual.Any parishioners absent from church on Sundays or holidays were forced to pay a shilling in addition to the tithes they owed already.People such as Sir William Berkeley focused their wills on their spiritual wealth more than their material."In a world that was haunted by death, religion became urgently important to the Virginians–more urgent then their worldly business."
Prejudice against certain religions incited a major change in the lives of their followers.In 17th century Massachusetts, Puritans and their descendants had tight control over the area.A control they would lose in 1642 when Governor William Berkeley created new laws that demanded "all nonconformists…to depart the colony with all conveniency."Many nonconformist ministers served Puritan communities, which suddenly found themselves scattered and banishe…