REligion in the Colonies

Religion was the key to the founding of a number of the colonies. Many were founded on the principal of religious liberty. The New England colonies were founded to provide a place for the Puritans to practice their religious beliefs. The Puritans did not give freedom of religion to others, especially non-believers. Sabbath laws were strictly enforced. It was expected that everyone would attend church on Sundays. The colonies of New England, with the exception of Rhode Island, all had an official church, the Congregational Church. By the end of the 17th century, other churches began to be allowed in New England. In the south, the Anglican Church was the official church of many of the colonies. However, it was considered the church of the landed class, and not of the people.

In the early 1730's, a religious movement began which became known as the First Great Awakening. The Awakening began as a sense spread that people were lacking religious fervor. To revive the religious fervor that was missing preachers started traveling from town to town preaching and holding large revival meetings. The preaching had a major effect. Benjamin Franklin of Philadelphia wrote: "From being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seemed as if all the world were growing religious, so that one could not walk through town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street."