Religion in the Thirteen Colonies Questions and Answers

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How did religion shape and influence colonial society?

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Religion shaped colonial society in a number of significant ways. This varied from colony to colony, so it is important to look at different regions in turn.

Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire were largely settled by the Puritans. These were Christian fundamentalists who settled in New England so as to practice their faith free from the influence of the Anglican Church. Heavily influenced by the teachings of John Calvin, they set up theocratic societies during the seventeenth century. Religion and society were one and the same in Puritan New England. Church attendance was compulsory. It was illegal to work on Sunday. Spiritual leaders were also political leaders. This led to an insular society that was often suspicious and unwelcoming to outsiders and outright hostile to dissenters.

Rhode Island was founded on the notion of religious liberty. Roger Williams had refused to follow the tenets of the Puritans in Massachusetts and founded the Colony of Rhode Island in response....

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