The thirteenth to the seventeenth centuries are marked by the blood of hundreds of thousands of Christians who were slaughtered by Christians in the name of God.
In the 1600s, civil war raged throughout Europe. In England, King James and King Charles I wrestled with separatist dissent. Charles dissolved Parliament, Catholics and Protestants were killing each other in England, Ireland, and Scotland, and eventually, Charles was beheaded. Throughout this, England’s kings and Parliament wanted a national church.
It was within this context that America’s story began. Puritans began fleeing England in 1620; over the next twenty years about 20,000 would arrive in New England. However, when the two ministers John Winthrop and Roger Williams disagreed over the basic principles that would form a new society, an ideological struggle began that would seep through American culture well before it became a country.
Roger Williams championed the ideal of “Soul Libertie” and the separation of church and state, effectively persuading leaders on both sides of the Atlantic. His ingenuity rooted the American identity in freedom, which he believed God granted to every person. People could live in a society that safeguarded individualy liberty and religious freedom, and be assured that its government would not interfere, dictate, or control religious beliefs or worship.