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"Religious Pluralism in the Middle Colonies" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP29 Dec 2020 8:23 p.m. PST

"The Middle Colonies of British North AmericaŚcomprised of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and DelawareŚbecame a stage for the western world's most complex experience with religious pluralism. The mid-Atlantic region, unlike either New England or the South, drew many of its initial settlers from European states that had been deeply disrupted by the Protestant Reformation and the religious wars that followed in its wake. Small congregations of Dutch Mennonites, French Huguenots, German Baptists, and Portuguese Jews joined larger communions of Dutch Reformed, Lutherans, Quakers, and Anglicans to create a uniquely diverse religious society. African Americans and the indigenous Indians, with religious traditions of their own, added further variety to the Middle Colony mosaic…."
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rmaker29 Dec 2020 8:47 p.m. PST

Not to mention the Roman Catholics in Maryland …

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP30 Dec 2020 3:00 a.m. PST

…and the Roman Catholics in Pennsylvania where there was also religious freedom…

And this quotation from the article is still true today:

'Early American churchmen and churchwomen soon discovered that if they wanted to practice their beliefs unmolested in a diverse society,
they had to grant the same right to others. This wisdom did not
come easily.'

It is a good thing that freedom of religion is codified in the Bill of Rights…

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian30 Dec 2020 4:53 a.m. PST

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Bill N30 Dec 2020 8:17 a.m. PST

Religious pluralism wasn't unique to the Middle Colonies. Religious toleration in Rhode Island stemmed from the inability of Puritans to agree among themselves. Western Virginia and the Carolina Backcountry areas of religious diversity, driven in part by the large numbers of colonists moving south from the middle colonies in the mid-18th century. However there were also the Huguenots that settled along the Carolina coast earlier. I suspect the Scots brought in by the Georgia founders to help defend that colony may have introduced a Presbyterian element into a nominally Anglican colony.

doc mcb30 Dec 2020 9:02 a.m. PST

It is complex indeed. I once spent a day in the Baptist Historical Society in Richmond looking at church disciplinary records from the 1790s. In many cases a single church was the only institution in a frontier area and functioned as civil government too, until the legislature established a county. If two farmers couldn't agree on whose cow it was or where the boundary between their property was, they took it to the church. The only sanction the church could impose was excommunication, but that meant that you were basically ostracized by your community, all of whom attended that church. No one would buy or sell with you. As with much else in American history, it is difficult to make valid generalizations, as the exceptions may outnumber any rule.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP30 Dec 2020 11:13 a.m. PST



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