Dawn Schultz
Religion in the U.S.
Midterm Project
02.25.99


"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden."
-Matthew 5:14


John Winthrop: "In seventeenth-century England, there was no such thing as freedom of religion. Sincere Christians had only two choices: either work to reform the Church from within, or break off from the Church and reject its authority. Those who wanted to break off from the Church were known as Separatists; the Puritans were not Separatists. We believed that breaking off was a very serious matter, and should only be considered as a last alternative. We did not want to be disloyal to the Crown. But as the Church grew more hostile towards our Puritan ideas, it became clear to me that I could do nothing to reform the Church from within. At the age of forty-two, after a very painful struggle, I decided that the only real choice was to take my family and move away from England.
"I sold all of my possessions and arranged to move my entire family to the dangerous and rugged New World. On April 7, 1630, I left my wife and eldest son behind because she was expecting another child. It was painful to separate, but I had no choice. While aboard the Arabella, I kept a diary of events and thoughts. I dreamt of America, this wonderful new land, to become a city on a hill as Jesus described to his apostles in the Holy Gospel.
"The first year of our settlement in New England was one of misery. I kept the firm belief in the guiding hand of the Lord, despite the death of three of my children and the near failure of the colony. I reflected on the words I had spoke to nearly five thousand passengers aboard the Arabella:
'. . .the eyes of all people are upon us, so that if we deal
falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, we
shall be made a story throughout the world; we shall shame
the faces of many of God's worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned to curses upon us, until we are consumed
out of the good land to which we are going. . .'
"The religious tradition of the Puritans was my life; it consumed my life and filled every aspect of my career both in my mother country and in my home in the New World. The teachings and philosophies of John Calvin stood at the base of what we, as Puritans, believed. As our name indicates, our sole mission was to purify the Church; to return to the primitive Church that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ instituted. We dedicated our lives to the works of the Lord, and made every attempt to keep in accordance with the teachings of the Bible. Our services were simple, for prayer and faith needs no decoration. It is our belief in God that is the most glorious.
"Of course, there was a very clear hierarchy that served the congregation. Our most faithful and well-established men served these positions. As our colony progressed, a need for a government grew, and so I took part in the governmental procedures. I served as governor of our colony called Massachusetts; however, long before I took that role in colony life, I had a deep understanding of God's divine purposes for the colony. Boston's center of life was the church during the years I lived there. While on my journey to America, I wrote a sermon called "A Model of Christian Charity", in which I outlined the purposes of God for New England. I described my vision of a harmonious Christian community whose laws and government would logically proceed from a godly and intentional arrangement.
"I also envisioned God's plan for the whole nation that would arise out of the colonies. Our citizens would be free to act and choose according to free will, and yet still remain dedicated to a lawful social order. Liberty was a very important issue to me; my yearning for religious freedom inspired me to start anew in the colonies. My ideals about the New World helped to set the foundation for a land that would eventually gain great power. I