Religious Freedom in Virginia

1192 Words5 Pages
Religion was a fundamental part of colonial life, incorporated into Virginia society since the founding of Jamestown. (From Jamestown to Jefferson, 20-22). In fact, a major goal in the establishment of the colony of Virginia was to spread Protestantism, and religious ideals were incorporated into the laws and regulations by which the colony was governed. (From Jamestown to Jefferson, 25). The Church of England was the primary church in colonial Virginia and in the early days of the colony attendance at an Anglican Church was obligatory. Nonconformist denominations, such as Baptists and Presbyterians, began to grow, but they were allowed very little freedom to practice their own beliefs, and Anglicanism was enforced as the official state religion. Some choice was granted when the Crown’s Act of Toleration in 1689 allowed a degree of freedom of worship to nonconformists. (viginiamemory.com). However, members of these congregations were still required to be married in and pay taxes to the Anglican Church (virginiamemory.com). This allowed for a small measure of toleration, but did not truly institute religious freedom in the colonies. Until the Revolutionary War, the Anglican Church remained instated as the official religion on Virginia, and very little attention was given to the other denominations that were beginning to expand. Decline of the Anglican Church Though religion had been so significant in the early colonies, by the mid-1700s church attendance had begun to decline, and organized religion was no longer considered an essential part of colonial life (founders.archives.gov). In fact, in his diary Travels in the Confederation, Johann David Schoepf commented that “religion generally, is now very faint among them,” and... ... middle of paper ... ...1, 2014. Johann David Schoepf. Travels in the Confederation.” 1783-1784. Internet Archive. Accessed April 21, 2014. http://archive.org/stream/travelsinconfede02schp/travelsinconfede02schp_djvu.txt Johann David Schoepf. Travels in the Confederation.” 1783-1784. Internet Archive. Thomas Jefferson. Notes on the State of Virginia. Query 17: Religion. 1785. Internet Archive: Wayback Machine. Accessed April 21, 2014. http://web.archive.org/web/20080914030942/http:/etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/publ ic/JefVirg.html Thomas Jefferson. Notes on the State of Virginia. Query 17: Religion. 1785. Internet Archive: Wayback Machine. “Toleration Act, 1689.” The Jacobite Heritage. Last modified October 26, 2003. Accessed April 21, 2014. http://www.jacobite.ca/documents/1689toleration.htm “Toleration Act, 1689.” The Jacobite Heritage. Last modified October 26, 2003.
Open Document