• Religious Tolerance

    The Puritans who developed the Massachusetts Bay Colony followed their religion strictly. Although they came to America seeking freedom to worship their religion, they didn’t always give that freedom to others. Several people were banished from the Puritan community because they expressed their own ideas about religion.

    Fun Facts of Religious Tolerance- Image of Roger Williams
    Fun Facts of Religious Tolerance- Image of Roger Williams

    Fun Facts

    •  Anne Hutchinson was an outspoken woman who disagreed with some of the preacher’s sermons. Over 80 people visited her home weekly to discuss religion. The community leaders thought she was dangerous. They arrested her and charged her with heresy. She was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1636.
    • Roger Williams was a minister. He recognized the danger of any one religion having too much power. He thought America should be a country where people could worship however they chose. He also thought the practice of taking land from the native tribes was wrong. Others disagreed with him and he was also banished in 1636.
    • Williams purchased land from the Narragansett Indians. This land became what we now know as Rhode Island. Rhode Island was a refuge of religious freedom. People came here from other parts of New England.
    • Early American leaders learned lessons from the Puritans. Thomas Jefferson read Roger Williams’ ideas about separation of church and state. These ideas helped form the First Amendment, which guarantees religious freedom.

    Vocabulary

    1. Banish: to force someone to leave and not come back
    2. Outspoken: to speak one’s mind directly and often without caring about the consequences
    3. Heresy: a belief that goes against accepted religious views

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Question: Have people in America been persecuted for religious beliefs since then?

    Answer: Although we now have laws protecting religious freedom, people don’t always obey these laws. In the 1800s, hundreds of Mormons were driven from their homes or even killed because of their religion. After September 11, 2001, Muslims were targeted because of their beliefs. Jews, Jehovah Witnesses, and others have been bullied or persecuted. Think about how you feel about religious freedom. How can you be respectful of others’ views even if you don’t agree with them?

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