Community, Individuals, And Religious Liberty

1415 WordsSep 26, 20166 Pages
001059537 Community, Individuals, and Religious Liberty. The end of the 16th century and beginning of 17th century witnessed the departures of various European fleets setting out on their journeys westward to explore the New World. From the Pilgrims, who came to America aboard the Mayflower, to the Puritans, who later came across their sacred “city upon a hill,” hundreds of thousands of people eagerly set sail across the Atlantic Ocean on the premise of escaping the King’s tyranny and the unchecked religious persecution in their homeland. The desire for freedom to practice religion created an impression of a land of perfect liberty, where each man has the autonomy to lead his own life without the intervention of the government or other persons. This narrative gives rise to the spirit of liberalism prevalent in American tales, to the extent that individual liberty is often presupposed in conversations about the development of the country. The religious liberty that was sought by the first settlers of the colony, however, does not translate so easily into the vision of individual liberty and the guarantee of basic rights for every person. In this paper, I will discuss the important role that religious freedom played in shaping the early American society. Indeed, I hypothesize that religion provides a better perspective than the commonly perceived ideas of liberalism and republicanism to narrate the history of America from its founding to the beginning of the 20th century.
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