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American Church History: Dealing With Multi-cultures

Monday, November 12, 2018

One of the most unique challenges faced by Christians during the colonial years was the internal struggles within the movement itself. Interestingly enough, these struggles were very closely tied to pro/anti-American Revolution sentiments. In the North East or what we can call New England territories, there continued to be struggles related to ties to the Church of England. Why would anyone wish to identify with England and its church in the push for liberation? Why sever ties with the people who provided means for a new life? After all, wouldn’t that be the least these new territories could do for the motherland?  Not quite. Aside from economic and political motivations related to the revolution, the North Eastern region became a melting pot of diverse religions and worldviews, predominantly pro-freedom of religious liberties. In Lancaster County, Thomas Barton described the presence of “German Lutherans, Calvinists, Mennonites, New Born, Dunkers, Presbyterians, Seceders, New Lights, Covenanters, Mountain Men, Brownists, Independents, Papists, Quakers, Jews.”[1] Imagine a community in which such diverse religious worldviews are competing for space, influence, and converts. 

If there was one common factor in these struggles, it was intolerance on the part of the Church of England/Anglicans of other religions. To make things worse, there was a lingering call for an Anglican bishop to come into the regions to set things straight. This intolerant attitude was antithetical to the New World experiment for which the basis was freedom, exploration, and an openness to new ideas and innovations. 

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