Melton's Encyclopedia of American Religions by J. Gordon Melton, James Bevereley, Constance Jones, Pamela

By J. Gordon Melton, James Bevereley, Constance Jones, Pamela S. Nadell, Rodney Stark

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1558–1603) with a church that drew major components from both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. The Church of England, Anglicanism, was the inheritor of Elizabeth’s via media. However, there were Protestants who were not content with anything less than a fully Protestant church. The union of Scotland and England strengthened their cause in 1607 with the ascension of James I (r. 1603–1625) to the throne. Scotland had gone through a reformation and established Presbyterianism. Puritanism is the name given to the movements whose goal was to purge the Church of England of its remaining unwanted Romanish elements.

The new perspective was called deism, and its importance lay not so much in the number of its adherents (which seems to have been small), but in: (1) its acceptance by many of the men who were to provide the theoretical framework for the Revolution and the Constitution of the new nation; (2) the compatibility of its major affirmations with the irreligious elements of the American public; and (3) the role it played in further diluting the strength of the Church of England. Such leading figures as Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790), George Washington (1732– 1799), and James Madison (1751–1836), while retaining their formal affiliation with the established church, had left it in their hearts and begun to speak against it.

The structure of their religious life was equally varied, and there are few threads that run through all the Indian religions. As is true of most religions prior to the segregation of life into the modern distinction between secular and sacred, Native American religions tended to be at one with the whole life of the people. Religion was intimately tied to tribal survival, the self-identity of individuals as tribal members, and the organization of tribal routine. Just as the religious aspect of life was integrated into other aspects of tribal life, so tribal life was integrated into the 4 natural environment chosen by the tribe for its home, including the climate, terrain, and the animal and plant life.

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