While it is common to think of the early settlers, Pilgrims and Puritans, as coming to America for religious liberty, they really came to avoid religious persecution.
Later on, they would practice their own brand of persecution. This created a very messy background to the principles established in our constitution. Fortunately, our founders would be able to figure out a way, in the constitution and bill of rights, to create a great framework for governmental balance.
“Pilgrims and Puritans came specifically to practice religious beliefs freely and to spread the gospel. In the 1500s England broke away from the Roman Catholic Church and formed its own church called the Church of England. However, the Separatists also known as the Pilgrims wanted nothing to do with that church. And as a result they were persecuted and harassed by followers of the new Church of England and accused of being traitors of the state. Many of these people feared for their lives, so under the leadership of William Bradford the Separatist decided to leave and go to a land where they could worship freely. In order to accomplish this new mission they sought the permission of the Virginia Company to establish their new home in this new land. Once they got permission the Pilgrims set sail in September 1620 on the Mayflower.
“Their journey was long and difficult and instead of landing in Virginia they actually landed North in Cape Cod. Because they landed in Cape Cod there was no formal written statement describing the rights and responsibilities of government. So the Pilgrims establish their own form of government for their colony. The agreement for the colony was to work together and consult each other to help the colony succeed. They began to fulfill the other part of their reasoning for coming here which was to spread the gospel by converting some of the Native Americans to Christianity.
“After learning that the pilgrims started their own colony and succeed other oppressed religious groups began to follow in their footsteps. In 1630 the Puritans also left England in search of religious freedom. The puritans left England because they wanted to become pure and get rid of any evil associated with the Church of England. In England if they disobey the Church of England they would suffer serious consequences. For that reason, they left to make reforms and changes elsewhere.
“The puritans received permission to form a colony in Massachusetts Bay. The puritans wanted to base their colony on the word of God. Their main belief was that God would protect them if they obey his commandments. The Massachusetts Bay also established a government where men church members could vote for governor and representatives to the General Court. Today many of the Amish communities are descendants from early settlers. It was also the protestant migration that paved the way for early constitutionalists to implement religious freedom into the constitution.”