Religion in the U.S. (Before the U.S.) (And Now.)

Not receiving much talk but for criticisms, religion plays an extremely important role in the founding of America, and continues to play a predominate role in “American Culture.” From the founding of the first school for higher level education, to the very reason for our work ethic that stands out to those from other countries, to the unalienable rights that we as Americans share, religion at the country’s founding is the cause. In fact, Massachusetts, Maryland, Rhode Island, and others would never have been founded in the absence of religion and near-omnipresent religious controversy.

Lord Baltimore, in 1729, founded Maryland (named after the Virgin Mary) with the purpose of creating a Catholic haven. The Massachusetts Bay Colony was founded by Puritans in 1630 who were fleeing the oppressive Anglican Church in England and Holland. They sought freedom of religion in the Americas, which they received after their long and painful journey to the New World. Rhode Island was founded by Roger Williams, after being exiled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for his religious radicalism. Originally “squatters,” Rhode Islanders founded a colony with total and complete religious freedom, setting an example for the future United States of America. Partially because of all of these religious differences, and also to distance themselves from Great Britain, we Americans have freedom of religion. There is no doubt that many of the freedoms we received in the first tenamendments to the Constitution (The Bill of Rights) and key phrases in the Declaration of Independence (e.g. “All men are created equal.”) have tremendousroot, perhaps cognitively, perhaps not, in the thinking of the fathers of our country.

Higher level education, invented in the U.S. for the purpose of training ministers, had impact on the country, as well as the entire world’s education systems. Harvard University, The College of William and Mary, Princeton University, and other now ivy league schools were started pre-United States for training ministers for the Puritan Church, the Catholic Church, and the Presbyterian Church, respectively. These set the stage for future centers for higher level education and the popularization of education in the U.S. and the rest of the world.

The “protestant work ethic” sets Americans apart from other countries around the world. While it may not seem the case while procrastinating on homework, we Americans have an extremely strong work ethic as compared to other countries. This, as many particularities in America, is a result of religion. The Puritans, and other Calvinists, who believe in predestination and that they are the elect: “a city on a hill,” many feel the need to prove to themselves, and others, to a lesser degree, that they are among these elect. In this way, they have a work ethic that will give them affluence that demonstrates this “calling.” Wesleyans, as well as Calvinists also have the belief that they must perform to the best of their abilities in all that they do, to “multiply their talents,” also adding to this idea of the protestant work ethic.

In ways stated above, religion on the American continent, most notably Christianity, plays an extremely important role in our history and culture today. Though often neglected, even those not practicing any specific religion, the role religion plays and its cultural impact in the U.S., and around the world, is hard to ignore.

Works Cited

The American Pageant (Textbook)

http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/3711102.pdf?&acceptTC=true&jpdConfirm=true

http://usreligion.blogspot.com/search/label/puritanism

http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/361513.pdf?&acceptTC=true&jpdConfirm=true

Picture Source – http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/37/Religious_symbols-4×4.svg

Image

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