During the founding of Plymouth, religion was a huge part of American culture. Most of the people who came to the New World came so they could worship God in their own way and not how the English royalty told them they had to, and to avoid persecution for worshiping how they wanted to. Even colonies like Virginia, who were originally founded to make money, spent time promoting the importance of the church. In the late 18th century, however, many changes were made. Churches varied in size and decor, and many different religions sprung up all over the colony. However, religions not effected by the Great Awakening seemed to die away.
As time progressed, religion in the colonies progressed from a defining characteristic of each colony, to a belief that still existed but could be overlooked. In the Plymouth Colony, religion was the reason they founded the colony. The colony was founded by a group of separatists who wanted to completely divide from the Church of England. The Massachusetts Bay Colony, which was founded shortly after the Plymouth Colony, was slightly less radical and wanted to purify the church, but remain members hence their name, Puritans. During the 1660s the Puritan church loosened its reigns on its members, allowing those who were not visible saints, or those destined for salvation, to become partial members in the Halfway Covenant. This signifies the first of the changes to religion in the colonies. In 1691, the two colonies merged and in 1692 another event occurred that would change the church. The Salem Witch Trials involved the accusing of townsfolk, predominately females, of witchcraft. Many of the "witches" were hung as a result. Following the end of this craze, the church apologized and once again became less strict. As the changes occurred in New England, the middle and southern colonies were forming. In those colonies, religion had always been somewhat trivial. Rules such as the Act of Toleration in Maryland, stated that non-Christians would be killed but all Christians were fine. Pennsylvania was always open for anyone of any religion. The next major change in religion occurred in the 1730's. The Great Awakening, as it was called, began when Jonathan Edwards started giving sermons stating that God was vengeful of sinners. George Whitefield spread this throughout the colonies and a rift formed between those who believed in these teaching and those who didn't. The New Lights or those who believed, revolutionized the church system and the role of ministers. People became independent worshippers and attending church became less of a priority. This outlook stuck and church became less important in colonial life. Overall, in the span of almost two centuries, church went from being central in colonial life and a strict method of defining how settlers should act, to a characteristic that still existed but was much more lenient and less prominent.
In the colonies, specifically the Plymouth Colony, religion was the most important thing and the reason that they divided themselves from the Church of England to begin with. The religion of the Separatists was key and there were thought to be 'visible saints', creating a divide between them and the others. The Halfway Covenant majorly changed things for many churchgoers, especially for those who were not considered 'visible saints'. They became capable of worshiping at church, but only had partial membership. This made many of the elect angry, along with the radical ideals of those such as Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson. Religion started to sit on the backburner as colonies such as Pennsylvania and Maryland were founded due to their less strict religious toleration. The Salem Witch Trials also changed ideals, as many were hanged or killed in other means once they were accused of being witches. Regarding their mistakes, the Church once again took a step back and religion became of even less importance. Other events such as the Great Awakening and the Glorious Revolution would change the colonies and their religion as it became less strict but England became more strict over the colonists.
From the founding of Plymouth to the end of the 18th century the role of religion in the colonies changed greatly. Plymouth was founded by Puritans who wanted to practice religion the way they thought it should be done and without the English Crown's interference. In the beginning of the seventeenth century religion was a big reason why most people came to New England. At the time anyone who did not comply with the Church of England and held those beliefs were persecuted, hanged, burned at the stake or imprisoned. New Englanders had very strict rules on religion, and if a person did not belong to the church of a colony then they were not allowed to vote or attend town meetings, even though they paid taxes to the church and the government whose laws were based off of church values and beliefs. Religious dissenters such as Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams were not tolerated and cast out of their colonies. Over the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries religion became more tolerated in the colonies. Pennsylvania was especially religiously tolerant and it then became the place where most non-English immigrants went to settle. Pennsylvania was founded by the Quaker William Penn, and he wanted a place where Quakers could live in peace away from England's church and the strict religious rules of the other colonies. During England's Civil War the colonies became independent at managing themselves, and their religious and politic problems. With the immigrant influx religious tolerance spread, slowly but surely. In New England restrictions on who was allowed into the church relaxed, as well as who could attend town meetings and vote. By the end of the eighteenth century less people were being persecuted, and killed for religious reasons. Between the founding of Plymouth and the end of the eighteenth century religion went from being at the center of life in the colonies, with religion ruling the laws that the government set, and how settlers were to go about their lives, to being more relaxed and in the background of colonial life with independence and prosperity more at the forefront.
The role of religion from the founding of Plymouth to the end of the 18th century had a great deal of change. The founding of Plymouth occurred because Puritans wanted to worship their religion they believed in without restrictions and punishments from the Church of England. Puritans and others seeking religious freedom came to New England to worship freely. The New England colonists had a strict view on worship though. Only "visible saints" were allowed to have church membership, as well as have involvement in the government and suffrage. If anyone spoke out against the government/church, they were banished from the colony, like Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson. As time went on, the founding of new colonies broadened religious tolerance. Pennsylvania, founded by Quakers, had the most religious tolerance which caused the influx of immigrants that were not English. Also the Half Way Covenant opened up church membership in New England. This diminished the distinction between the elect individuals and the rest of the population. The Great Awakening in the 18th century introduced evangelicalism, which was the belief that through preaching of His Words, you could have a religious experience. This expanded church membership greatly. All of these examples show how religion still was a major part in the colonies but the fact that the tolerance of religion was expanded upon. The general population could be involved in the church. The role of religion changed from being strict, creating discrimination in the Plymouth Colony, to the 18th century when religion became more laid back and tolerated and became equally available to the people.
In 1620 the Plymouth colony was founded for religious freedom. The Puritans came to the new world after separating from the Church of England in order to avoid persecution. During the early days of the Plymouth colony religion played a key factor both in the government and within the church as a whole. Only "visible saints" could be members of the church and the government was run by these religious leaders. The church was very strict and religious toleration was non-existent. Those who spoke out against the church such as Anne Hutchinson or Roger Williams would quickly find themselves banished from the colony. But towards the late 18th century the church had changed greatly. With the introduction of The Half Way Covenant the membership into the church was opened up to many more growing the church, but making it less pure and strict at the same time. As well government was not as religiously based towards the end of the 18th century. Through all of this the Plymouth colony grew, but lost its purity in the church as religion didn't play as prominent of a role in the colony towards the end of the 18th century.
From the founding of Plymouth and to the end of the 18th century, religion has always played an important role. Puritans founded Plymouth for religious freedom. The Puritans waned a place where they could practice their religion without being persecuted. From the beginning of the 17th century, religion was a major motive why immigrants came to the New world. Religion was very strict and anyone who did not agree with the churches view were given harsh punishments. For example, people were hung and burned for not believing in the "right" faith. The Act of Toleration is another example of how religion was strict towards the founding of Plymouth. This stated that all Catholics would be unharmed but everyone who believed in the Christian faith would be persecuted and killed. Another example of the role of religion towards the founding of Plymouth, would be Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams. They both were banished from the colonies for giving their opinions about faith. Next, "visible saints" were the only people allowed a church membership. However, a difference in church membership was created by the Half way covenant. The Half way covenant gave people the opportunity to have a partial membership with the church by the 18th century. Also, various religions were created among the colonies. Towards the 18th century religion did not play as big of a role as it did in the founding Plymouth, but was still a part of everyday life.
The role of religion has changed from the landing at Plymouth to the 18th century. The landing at Plymouth was surrounded by religion. From Mayflower compact to their government that was based around the catholic religion. Their government was based around the combination of church and state. But as the years passed people like Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson started questioning the system, the way things have been run for years, and the church itself. Roger Williams thought that there should be a separation of church and state instead of a blurry line between both. The higher ups of that kind of government thought that Williams was not only questioning them but also God, so they kicked him out. Williams eventually went on to found the colony of Rhode Island. Anne Hutchinson also was another person who thought there should be definite line between church and state. She, as well, was accused of questioning God and was kicked out. But she never did make it to Rhode Island, instead she was killed in an Indian attack in New York. Religion has changed very drastically from the landing at Plymouth to the 18th century.
When the colonists came to the New World, one of the main reasons they came was for the freedom of religion. Many colonies focused on making their religion a stronger aspect of their colony as well as their cash crops. An example being Virginia, they grew and sold tobacco as well as develop a church and religion. In the 18th century, religion started growing at an alarming rate till 75 to 80 percent of people were a part of a religion. The churches themselves changed as well. They went from being simple buildings, to more modest buildings, some with wooden pupits. Religion played a very important role in the changes that took place in the 18th century.
Great job on the comments everyone!