Throughout the seventeen hundreds, thousands of immigrants came to the New England region, seeking refuge from European persecution. These early colonist yearned for a domicile were they could indulge in religious freedom, a heavy contrast to the strict religious persecution they experienced in their native countries. Aspirations such as these hold the initial sentence in the statement: The New England colonies were founded upon the promise of religious freedom, to be valid.

On the contrary, there are several cases from the New England colonies that make he second sentence of the statement, Those who wish to practice their religioun freely were able to do so, to be invalid due to their characterization of exclusive religious tolerance. A rare example of complete religious tolerance in the New England region sprang from Rhode Islands liberal religious freedom, which extended to all their citizens; this factor would hold the statement Martin Luther, a German friar, nailed ninety-five theses, protesting Catholic doctrines, to the door of the Wittenbergs Cathedral in 1517.

By denouncing the authority of priest and popes, Luther ignited the fire of religious reforms. The Protestant Reformation divided peoples, toppled sovereigns, and most importantly, kindled the spiritual fever of men and women that helped find John Calvin, of Geneva, elaborated on Luthers ideas. His basic doctrines in Institutes of Christian Religion state that God was all-powerful, all good, and all knowing. Humans were weak and wicked (due to the original sin), and were governed spiritually by the idea of predestination.

A principle theory in Calvinism, predestination was the idea that those who were to achieve salvation were already chosen by God. Adding to the the Protestant Reformation, King Henry VIII of England broke away from the Roman Catholic Church in the 1530s. This in turn would give birth to the Church of England, or the Anglican Church, which was headed by the king of England. Henrys actions stimulated English religious reformers to undertake a total purification of English Christianity.

Calvinism fed the social unrest and provided spiritual comfort to the economically disadvantages of English Puritans. The mixture of visible saints and the Kings subjects in their congregation appalled extreme Puritans, or Separatists. This led King James I, who reigned from 1603-1625, to believe that if his subjects defied him as their spiritual leader, than they would not hesitate to defy him as their political leader. This, henceforth, led to the harassment of Separatist off their land and looking for a refuge to live free from religious intolerance.

Continuing turmoil in England sprouted the Great Migration of the 1630s. Seventy thousand refugees left England seeking a Due to their continues persecution from the English authorities, a congregation of Separatist fled for Holland in 1608, only to lead a twelve year life of toil and poverty. The Dutchification of their children and the need to live as purified Puritans led the congregation to believe that America was a logical refuge. After securing the rights to settle under the Virginia Companys jurisdiction, the Mayflower set sail in 1620.

Their site was off the shore of the inhospitable Plymouth Bay, outside the Virginia Companys domain, making them squatters due to the fact that they were without legal right to the land and without specific authority to establish a government. The Plymouth colony was the first of many New England colonies that were founded on the promise of religious freedom. A group of more moderate Puritans sought to reform the Church of England from within, gathering increasing support.

This support that came especially from Parliament led Charles I to dismiss the legislative body in 1629; this would lead to the further persecutions of Puritans in England. A group of non-Separatist Puritans secured a royal charter to form the Massachusetts Bay Company in 1629. The colony was well establish from the beginning, and enjoyed the fruits of the Great Migration, which brought them eleven thousand more refugees. Along with the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colony, other colonies sprouted from the earch of religious freedom, reinforcing the validity of the above statement.

Boston Puritans who were not contempt with the Bay colony founded Hartford in 1635. New Haven was establish in Massachusetts. Both Main and Rhode Island were founded upon the idea of complete religious tolerance, eventually being dubbed the sewer by Boston clergymen because they consisted of malcontents and exiles for the Bay Colony. Though the idea of religious freedom was present in the New England colonies, the extent of this idea was not bestowed to all colonist. Such is the case in the Massachusetts Bay colony, ere only a freeman could participate in politics.

To be constituted as a freeman, one had to be a male who belonged to one of the Puritan congregations, or collectively called the Congressional Church. This exclusive method of government practice included only two fifths of adult males who enjoyed franchise in provincial affairs. Dispite this factor, non-believers and believers alike paid taxes for government supported churches and were held to the same laws that were created specifically by Puritans wanting to enforce Gods law.

Rhode Island was founded in 1936 by Roger WIlliams, who was fleeing Puritans from the Bay colony that found him guilty of disseminating new and dangerous opinions to the public. His open challenge on Puritan ideas of government and religion was punished by an order to be exiled to England, but later foiled authorities. Williams built the first American Baptist Church in Providence upon his arrival in Rhode Island. Rhode Island was the prime example of complete freedom of religion in the New England colonies. The colony established this concept in their government and extended the liberty to all its citizens, including Jews and Catholics.

The colony was consisted of malcontents and exiles hat could not stand the stifling theological atmosphere of the Bay colony. The settlers shared little in common with the only consistent factor being that they were unwelcome anywhere else. Thus, Rhode Island became strongly individualistic and stubbornly independent. In separating the statement into two separate sentences, the first sentence is found to be valid in explaining that the New England colonies were, in deed, founded on the factor of religious freedom. This is displayed by the enormous mass of refugees that immigrated to the area in the 1630s.

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