TeacherServe Essays

Church and State in British North America

Author: Heyrman, Christine Leigh (NHC Fellow, 1985–86)

To create a holy commonwealth and a godly society, the founders of Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut instituted religious establishments—arrangements by which the civil government favored one church and penalized anyone who dissented from its teachings. The view that government had no business meddling in religious matters gained momentum throughout the Anglo-American world during the eighteenth century. By the end of the eighteenth century, an unlikely combination of insurgent evangelicals and “enlightened” liberals were mounting stiff challenges to the once-dominant proponents of religious establishments.

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Subjects: History; Education Studies; American History; Christianity; Thirteen Colonies; Puritans; Freedom of Religion; Religious Intolerance; Secularism; Government