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Religion in Colonial America AMST 71-33
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Our country’s history has been greatly shaped by the presence of religion. The United States promotes religious freedom, but politics, society and religion are all intertwined. Christianity has been with the United States since its inception, and today controls many hot button issues such as abortion, stem-cell research and governmental control over the social agenda. Yet, when our country was a fledgling democracy, recently emancipated from the British Empire, religion had a darker, uglier face. Early American settlers saw Native Americans initially as foes, but later as a blank canvas, similar to their new country, for them to shape in their image. Christianity would be their tool to shape the indigenous people, unfortunately often with great malice. Prior to the European landing in North America, thousands native peoples lived in distinct states and tribes, some as nomads, others as settled, non-vagrant societies. While each tribe could be, and often was, markedly different from another, their spiritual beliefs did have common elements. Ethnologists argue that many Native Americans are descendants of a group of peoples who travelled across a land bridge from Asia through Alaska, and south into the now continental US. 1 The spiritual practices of most tribes involve a strong connection to the land and its creatures, with a heavy emphasis on shamanism. The nomadic peoples (as most pre-European tribes were) spent a large amount of their lives hunting, travelling and living in nature in general, and it was therefore a large part of their spiritual world. The reverence of different plants and animals each believed to possess unique powers and values was a common trait. This
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This essay was uploaded on 04/22/2008 for the course AMST 71 taught by Professor Murphy during the Fall '08 term at GWU.

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