Yet no one could take freedom of religion for granted. Baptists, Catholics, Jews, Mormons and others have all faced, at one time or another, overt prejudice and serious attempts to curtail their liberties (sometimes coming from fellow religionists). Yet looking back over the long narrative of American religious history and the experience gained, the principle of religious freedom is prevailing.
Freedom of religion has been, and still is, an essential moving force in the grand experiment of American democracy. Planting that principle of religious freedom in early America brought about two profound results—the rejection of a “divine right of kings” doctrine, and breaking the 1,500-year European tradition of upholding a state-established church. And with that, a heritage of self government, not to mention distinctly different congregations, sprang up.
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