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Religion and Colonialism in the History of the USA

The desire by European powers such as Britain, French, and Spanish to spread religion led to the colonization of America. The three colonial powers were initially in the same political camp and ironically used religion as a weapon to strengthen overseas colonies. It was also evident that these colonial masters were driven by a desire for power, acquiring resources as well as advancing western civilization. However, the spread of religion resulted in a great reawakening whereby itinerant preachers from colonialists were used as forceful instruments of spreading Christianity (Brooks 282). It is also profound to note that most Americans by this time had no well-defined religious systems in place. However, exploration of America by European powers was very controversial in the sense that partitioning of the colony was largely driven by narrow and individualized interests. This essay presents an argument that Christianity enhanced partitioning and colonizing America by colonial powers.

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Religion played a major role for European powers to colonize America. It is also vivid that many people migrated to America to flee from religious prejudice that was going on in Europe by this time. For instance, British Protestants felt imprisoned by their governments and had to look for a suitable location to spread Christianity with much ease. Religion had deeply infiltrated into societal values by this time (Books 296).

As a result, colonial powers secured the freedom of worship to the American immigrants which were initially denied back home. Moreover, they gave natives the opportunity to choose the religion of their choice. Once the colonists took hold of America, they were in the race to look for the most perfect religion that would satisfy people’s needs. On the other hand, many American missions scrambled for European natives to adopt their religion. Consequently, religious diversity became a norm in the colony since natives were free to choose the religion of their choice. Over and above religion, the search for better living conditions in America made colonial masters offer expeditions to peasants and merchants so that they could start-up businesses. This increased colonists’ dominance in America leading to full colonization.

Certainly, divisions in religion triggered colonial powers to partition America to safeguard those who had conformed to their religious beliefs. Many religious groups divided themselves based on belief systems. Examples included the Quakers and Puritans who were the most dominant religious groups in America. However, there emerged conflicts among these groups since each wanted the other to adopt their way of worship. Major denominations that were established later included the Anglican and Catholics. For example, Britain supported Christianity. Religious diversity became part of colonialists’ life bearing in mind that “…their cross-cultural experience made them valuable as interpreters, translators, and envoys…” (299). Moreover, the latter believed that they had the right to explore and colonize the new world in a bid to spread the gospel. In line with this, they believed in acquiring wealth to live a better life on earth.

Nevertheless, through religion, the colonial life in America prospered. Moreover, through religion, the colonists were able to impact their political motives to the natives. (Brooks 297). It is worth noting that the church and the state could not be separated. In this case, the state-supported American colonial masters in spreading the religion to people with a mentality that they will obey the law. Christianity in the first place made the natives submissive to the colonists’ rule. Hence, religion served as a launchpad for American colonization efforts in Europe.

In as much as colonial powers used religion as a tool to conquer both American and European powers, it made them succeed in spreading their influence (Brooks 296). Europeans took their time in developing new technologies. These involved building warships, compasses, and warfare equipment that enabled them to explore new areas in America. This made the colonists feel superior hence dominated the natives. Moreover, the churches established in America were willing to safeguard natives’ social religious, and economic freedom only if they were submissive. This made the natives not question the influence of colonial powers. Additionally, in the process of spreading religion in America, Indians who were resisting adopting Christianity were treated harshly. This made them get coerced to submit to the European authority (Morgan 188).

Conquest of and effective occupation of America by colonial powers was just plain luck since they secured a chance to exercise their biological agenda. In the name of religion, their conquest was predetermined to establish a tremendous transformation of American ecosystems. They wanted to reform the flora and fauna. During their adventure, they encountered new varieties of animal and plant species in America. They carried varieties of crops to their land and introduced others to America.

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Additionally, Europeans targeted to eliminate geographical isolation. Moreover, they felt that the interchange of native forms of life will help to fight germs and diseases (Morgan 169). However, colonial powers fell succumbed to local illness and introduced others that led to the extinction of several forms of life. For instance, many people were affected by foreign fever to the point of death. Other plant and animals diseases also interrupted the ecological balance.

To recap it all, it is imperative to note that religion played a major role in the colonization of America. After the full occupation of America, the latter became a reserve for immigrants who had escaped from their native countries due to religious persecution. Since their needs were being met by the colonialists, they remained submissive to their powers. Moreover, prolonged dominance by colonial masters in America made them develop other motives such as gaining wealth, spreading civilization, and terminating geographical isolation.


Brooks, James. “This evil extends especially to the feminine sex: negotiating captivity in the New Mexico borderlands”. Feminist Studies 22 (1996), 279-309.

Morgan, Jennifer. Some Could Suckle over Their Shoulder: Male Travelers, Female Bodies, and the Gendering of Racial Ideology”. The William and Mary Quarterly, 54(1997), 167-192.

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