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Religious Diversity, GCSE Coursework Example

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GCSE Coursework

Religious diversity became a central concept within the 13 colonies of America, as the religious tolerance attracted increasing number of immigrants and resulted in the growth of the number of communities. Not only were more people coming from Britain, but many from other parts of Europe looking for new opportunities offered by the New World. People heard that America was a place where they were not persecuted for their religious beliefs and where those without a position and fortune could make their future based on their talent and skills. One of the first acts that gave way to religious tolerance was the Act Concerning Religion (Maryland Tolerance Act) in 1649.  It helped people embrace the thought of religious and ideological tolerance. While it did not bring complete freedom of religion, it was a pragmatic solution to the extreme power assigned to majority Protestants oppressing and ill-treating Catholics who were a minority in the new colonies.  Additionally, the act provided a modest attempt to establish a foundation of religious freedom by putting an end to the prosecution of practicing other religious beliefs. The Age of Enlightenment or the Age of Reasoning was based on  the ideas of John Locke, Isaac Newton, and other influential philosophers. More importantly, the ideology of Enlightenment helped asserting the rights of people and to challenge the government’s rule over thought. More importantly, people were beginning to challenge the religious doctrines, and doubt the existence of God.  From these formed ideas it helped to empower the people in Europe, and change the course of history. The main movement, however, was the separation of the church and the state. The administration of the colonies had no influence on the religious thought of settlers. This ideology led to the Declaration of Independence; the foundation of today’s America (1776). Thomas Jefferson stated:

“Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it”. (Declaration of Independence, 1776)

In America, many people were embracing the attitudes of tolerance in order to put an end to the war that were killing individuals. One of the first significant acts of the newly formed government was to enact the First Amendment, which guaranteed that the government would not create any law that would infringe on the religious rights of others. More specifically, people were free to exercise their religious beliefs through worship, speech, or other methods, where no religion had superiority over the other. (Wikipedia, 2014) These concepts helped the new foundation of America; to be one of the first nations to establish a full religious tolerance. While some religious groups, such as  Jews, Quakers, Baptists, and especially Catholics were looking to create supremacy, they failed. (Facing History, 2012) However, freedom to practice only where meant for men, because neither women nor slaves were equal, so the law did not apply to everyone until later in the American history.

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