29 Mar 2022


Similarities and differences between the 3 major Christian denominations in colonial America

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During the colonial era, America has several Christian denominations. The Christian denomination had been brought to America by the settler from Europe. The dominant denominations were the Catholics, the Church of England (Anglicans or Protestants) and the Congregationalists (Puritans). These denominations shared various similarities but also had a number of differences. 

The despite wanting the freedom to practice their religions they did not freely allow others to practice their faith. They even persecuted those who did not adhere to their doctrines. For instance, they forced everyone in the cities to attend Sabbath gatherings. They believe in the importance of the relationship between the temporal and spiritual authority in creating political harmony, morality, and social harmony. In line with this, the Catholics and the Protestants believed that allowing the free liberty of conscience would result in chaos, and they entire nation would be punished by God for allowing heretics to thrive (Heyrman, 2008). The churches worked with the state governments and were state sponsored. They influenced state laws such as laws on tax and punishment of dissenters and others. 

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Despite these similarities, the denomination had a lot of differences. Their strengths varied considerably. Also, the strength of their relationship with the states varied from one state to another. Different denomination dominated in different states for instance, the New England was dominated by the Congregational, and Catholics were vibrant in mid-Atlantic and southern colonies, while the Church of England was dominant in New York and several southern colonies (Facing History and Ourselves, 2016). Also, while in some state the dominant denomination persecuted the deserters, in some state they did not persecute deserters but allowed them liberty to practice their faith (Heyrman, 2008). The denomination also had different doctrine and interpretation of the scripture and each one considered its approach to be the correct approach. Differences in ideology were also the cause for splitting away of the dissenters. 

Disputed the different and the similarities shared by these denominations, their ability to persecute the dissenter were curtailed with the help of an intervention from England. Although the denomination believed that the states had no powered to intervene in religious matters, their authority reduced due to the separation of the church and the state. 


Facing History and Ourselves. (2016). Religion in Colonial America: Trends, Regulations, and Beliefs . Retrieved from https://www.facinghistory.org/nobigotry/religion-colonial-america-trends-regulations-and-beliefs

Heyrman, C. L. (2008). Church and State in British North America . Retrieved from http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/tserve/eighteen/ekeyinfo/chustate.htm

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