Religion played a major factor in the colonization of the New World as the primary reason for the founding of New England was the search for religious freedom. The religious freedoms sought by the colonists in the New World included freedom from the Anglican Church of England, freedom to worship God in a Puritanical manner, and the freedom of each church to separately govern itself and its membership.
Freedom from the Anglican Church was a highly motivating factor in the colonization of the New World because the majority of the founders of the New World were in strong disagreement with religious practices of the Anglican Church, also referred to as the Church of England. One major complaint of the New World founders was that the Anglican Church too closely resembled the Catholic Church and its practices.
The Anglican Church was organized very similarly to the Catholic Church in that there was a hierarchy of bishops and archbishops that governed the churches across England as a whole, and there was a lack of insight from the church members as far as church service structure or changes were involved.
A large part of the colonization of the New World came to be due to strong desire of New World founders to separate from the strong hierarchy that governed the Anglican Church that was also very strongly tied to the government of England. The lack of religious freedom in the country of England and across Europe was a large motivating factor that sparked the treacherous journey to the New World, filled with danger and challenges.
The founders of the New World valued separation from the Church of England enough to face the dangerous risks of travel across the ocean to an unknown land so that they could seek a new way of life and be separated from the governing of a church that did not fit their bill of satisfaction. A large majority of the New World founders valued a Puritanical way of religion that gained its name from the desire to purify the ways and practices of the Anglican church that the founders so disagreed with.
The Puritan form of religion that motivated the foundation of the New World was also referred to as Non-Separatism because there was an even more extreme group of New World founders referred to as the Separatists who completely opposed anything to do with the Anglican Church, period. The Puritans or Non-Separatists held on to a very basic, bare-bones structure derived from the Anglican Church, but took out any views or church laws that were once enforced by the hierarchy structure f the church in England and instead replaced these formulaic and rigid practices with new rigid practices of their own devise. Some of the Puritan practices of religion and changes from the Church of England included an all-encompassing way of life in the New World colonies that tended to force an entirely Puritanical religious lifestyle by creating the freedom for each church to decide who earned “sainthood” by their everyday practices and way of life.
If the Puritan colony and church did not approve of a person’s everyday practices and did not deem a person to have the status of “sainthood” then they could deny the person membership to the church and also ostracize them from the colony as a whole, therefore forcing anyone who disagreed with the new, rigid Puritanical way of life to relocate elsewhere. Giving each church the freedom to govern itself and its membership was a new “freedom” in the New World that forced people out of the New World churches and colonies as each deemed appropriate.
This caused many to relocate elsewhere and created many different branches and sects of churches to accommodate the many differing religious views of the pilgrims of the New World colonies. This led to the creation of new colonies up and down the New England coast, each with their own varying degree of Puritanical religious beliefs. As new pilgrims arrived in the New World, there became a large variance of religious freedom and lifestyle to suit many ways of life, each varying according to location and colony.
These newfound religious freedoms led way to a new way of life for many that took sail to the New World in hopes new and exciting freedoms that the New World claimed to have. Though many Puritanical colonies were just as rigid as the Anglican Church, it was the freedom to move elsewhere and create a new sect of religious freedom to accommodate a large variety of people, opposed to a one-church way of life in Europe, that enticed many to venture to the New World and populate the colonies up and down the coast.
In conclusion, one can see that religion was a major factor in the colonization of the New World, because not only was it the primary reason for many pilgrims to make the treacherous voyage to the New World, but the newfound freedom of religion that the New World colonies offered allowed new colonies and new religious ideas and sects to take hold.
All one had to do to find religious freedom in the New World was to choose a colony with a religious mindset that resembled one’s own mindset, and if that wasn’t an available option then the option to up and move to a new area was always on the table. This freedom to simply up and move to create a new colony with a new religious standard was a major factor in the colonization of the New World.
Each group of pilgrims that arrived in the New World took this freedom for what it was worth and spread up and down the New England coast in a wildfire fashion of colonization that allowed the New World to flourish. Once word spread back to Europe that so many freedoms, especially in the religious realm, were offered in the New World then more pilgrims chose to take the treacherous journey to the New World in hopes of a new way of life. Colonies flourished and continued to spread throughout the New World, and the rest is history.