The British North American colonies intended that they have religious tolerance for all the people living in the colonies, yet this factored from colony to colony because of the different thoughts and beliefs of settlers living there. For example, in Rhode Island and Pennsylvania religious freedom was allowed to anyone. On the other hand, Massachusetts was strongly against committing to any other religion besides Roman Catholic.
Rhode Island can be accounted for as the most tolerant for various religions. This colony was founded by the man Roger Williams. He realized that people should have liberty and right to do as they choose in life. One could practice any faith they wanted and preach to any God they longed to believe in. Unlike other colonies, they were not confided to remain as Roman Catholics. Soon this began to become the colony for all those roaming souls who were outcasts of neighboring colonies. In a sense, Rhode Island brought out the meaning of freedom, the true meaning of the United States.
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Religious freedom in Massachusetts was not wholly free. Their religious orders were limited to Roman Catholic or Roman Catholic. In the main society of Massachusetts was the Massachusetts Bay colony. There the Puritans reigned. The society was made up as to make people either believe religion their way as they want you to or to get out. This was evident with at least two important figures in our history, one, Anne Hutchinson, and two, Roger Williams. The former being exiled for thinking and believing in antinomianism, that people in god’s good grace were above the law, an intolerable ideal in the Puritan society. The later, Roger Williams was banished for heresy, he then left and eventually founded the Rhode Island colony. The people of Massachusetts only consider themselves religiously tolerant because they allowed what those in England wouldn’t. They allowed people to worship Christianity in a more purified view where only the blessed held true power.
The so-called religiously tolerant Maryland was considered by most a safe haven from Catholic oppression and persecution in England. However, though it was religiously tolerant for all Catholics and those begin persecuted for this belief in England, it was not religiously tolerant for people of different religions. Maryland had a larger amount of protestant people. This state did not believe that the people should be able to fully choose what religion they wanted. They were one of the first states to separate church and state. In Maryland they let all freemen vote. Anyone who was a male non-indentured and not in slavery could vote, it didn’t matter what class you were or how high up on the religious food chain you ranked you still had a voice. Though they were slightly more tolerant than Massachusetts they were still the same. The people of Maryland limited their religious beliefs to Christianity. Basically those not Christian did not belong.
In retrospect though many colonies proclaimed that they were religiously tolerant most were not. There were very few that were truly tolerant. Most were tolerant of only one religion that limited their societies religion to only that one.
Massachusetts and Maryland are examples of states that limited religion to only Catholic. Whereas in Rhode Island it did not matter at all what religion you were or what you practiced. People of all religions were welcome. Overall, in these states, although there was religious tolerance, that very tolerance was limited by the religion that state was founded to protect.
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