Religious Tolerance in Colonial America, a
la Shmoop. AMERICA! FOUNDED ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM! Or was it all just a lie? A marketing ploy like the ones realtors use
to sell real estate? Let’s take a look. Pilgrims wanted the freedom to practice their religion, but persecuted anyone who practiced other religions. However, they weren’t the first
Pilgrims in North America. French Protestants had already
established a colony in Florida. The Spanish soon established a Catholic fort and then proceeded to wipe the French off the map. There were a few early voices of reason. John Wise thought that religion corrupted government. But he thought government corrupted religion, too. When the colonies of Rhode Island, Maryland, and Pennsylvania were founded, religious tolerance
was built into their charters. Like people buying that Gotye single on iTunes… …everyone else had to jump on the bandwagon.
All the new colonies opted for religious tolerance. But there were still a bunch of
mixed-up laws throughout the country. Like in Massachusetts, where only
Christians could hold public office… …and if they were Catholic, they had
to renounce the pope to do so. New York banned Catholics from public office. In Maryland, Jews didn’t have full civil rights. James Madison eventually argued for complete
separation of church and state. Thomas Jefferson embraced freedom, checking
an item off his bucket list. What do you think?
Were we founded on religious freedom? Or was Separation of Church and State simply
a reaction to colonial intolerance? Shmoop amongst yourselves.