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Religious Difference in America

When the colonies were settled, they consisted of a diverse religious population, ranging from the Puritans in New England to Anglicans in Virginia.

George Washington's Beliefs

Washington was a member of the Church of England, the state-sponsored religion in the British Empire. He served on the vestry, or council, of his church and helped finance it. Discover more about Washington's religion below!

Washington's Beliefs

Religions of the Enslaved

The enslaved brought many religions with them to the colonies, practicing Islam, Vodoun, Christianity, and other faiths. Click here to learn more about religion and enslaved life.

Enslaved Religions

Catholicism in America

Catholicism was intensely persecuted by the Protestants, and the Protestants heavily mistreated the Catholics: this was true both in Europe and the colonies. However, Washington had a friendly relationship with the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church

Where was Religion in America? Click to Learn More!

Why do you think religious persecution exists?

Primary Source: Washington's Bible

The Bible was very important in Washington's family, since they were involved in the Anglican Church. The Washingtons also recorded their family information in this bible.

Click below to view the source!

Washington's Bible

Primary Source: Anti-Catholic Oath

When Washington first enlisted in the British Army, he was forced to repeat this anti-Catholicism oath:

 “I…do declare that there is no Transubstantiation in the sacrament of the Lords supper or in the Elements of Bread and wine at or after the consecration thereof by any person whatsoever.” 

By doing so, Washington denied the essential beliefs of the Catholic Faith.

Why do you think Washington was forced to do such a thing?

Church and Government

Many people in the colonies who wanted religious freedom did not like religious difference. They wanted everyone to follow their specific religion, and would often incorporate religion into their governments.

This was true in George Washington's Virginia, as well as New England. Why do you think this is? How do you think people reacted to these laws - especially those who wanted to practice something else?

Why do you think colonists who looked for religious freedom refused to tolerate religious difference?

Watch Religious Freedom

Learn how George Washington successfully established religious freedom in America with this 15 minute film!

Religious Freedom Home

Click the link to go back to Religious Freedom Classroom Resources

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