Thank You, Pilgrims, for Religious Freedom


jenny erikson
Jenny Erikson
This is the first of a three-part series on Thankfulness for the Pilgrimage to America.

It’s Thanksgiving week. Which means that I’m frantically grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and generally trying not to go insane. One trick I’ve employed over the years to preserve my sanity is to take a deep breath and remind myself of what I’m thankful for.

Isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about?

This year, I find myself ironically thankful that my life is nothing like the lives of the Pilgrims before they ventured to the new world. I have the freedom to work, play, and worship how I want, but 400 years ago, the Pilgrims didn’t.

Before the Reformation in the 16th century, everyone in the western world was Roman Catholic. The pope controlled religion, philosophy, morals, education, politics, and art. The church claimed to control salvation too, demanding indulgences (payments) for entrance into Heaven. Basically, it was a mess.

King Henry VIII hopped on board the Reformation Train when he wanted to divorce his wife to marry his mistress. The pope would not grant the divorce, so Henry split from the Roman Catholic Church to create the Anglican Church, also known as the Church of England.

This sounds good at first. A split from the corrupt religious leaders of the time had to be a good thing, right? Except that the king replaced the pope with himself as the head of the church, and declared all Englishmen to be Anglicans.

Now that brief bit of history brings us to the Pilgrims, part of a Separatist group in the late 16th century. The Separatists were called such because they wanted to separate completely from the organized religion of the Anglicans and the Catholics. They wanted small, locally governed churches that did not put themselves above the law.

They just wanted to be themselves and worship God their own way, yet they lacked the freedom to do so. Eventually, they decided to make the long, hard journey to the New World, for which I am incredibly thankful.

Without the Pilgrims and their perseverance for religious freedom, I might not be able to take my Bible off the shelf and flip through it for verses on patience, endurance, and loving one another this holiday season.


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Maru Venegas

I have no idea where you get your information Jenny. The Pope "controlled"?? OR did the Roman Catholic Church encourage education, morals, faith, values and principles? What a mess the Anglican Church is today where they have departed so far from the Gospel truth it is pathetic. I guess that's what happens when you lose any moral authority. Imagine a Constitution without the Supreme Court. Imagine a Bible without a Church? What you get is what you see today. Over 50,000 small denominations claiming to be the true Church!!! At least the Pope can trace his authority to Peter. What about all these others?

Veron... VeronicaTex

Thank you for making a positive religious post....It is much needed here on the Stir.....

I thank the Pilgrims for being an example of religious freedom....To have religious freedom for me is the most precious thing in the world....

Even though the history points to the pope having been  the leader of the time...then King Henry VIII.....the Pilgrims had in mind and traveled far from their homeland , as you said it......"just to be themselves and worship God their own way...." This is so vital in our country....

My ancestry is Scotch-Irish German (Reformed Church)  from my father's side and Roman Catholic from my mother's side...I have chosen being baptized Catholic to remain one.....

It is such a rich religious experience to be one with the rest of those who like you, will during this holiday season....""flip through the Bible looking for verses on patience, endurance and loving one another....."

May you have a Blessed Thanksgiving.......

ankle... anklebitr

But didn't the pilgrims end up doing what they were running from....?

Lisa Cohan

religion is complicated, faith is not.. thanks for pointing out the difference and the blessing of living in a nation that allows us to love one another as Christ loves us :)

Pundi... PunditMom

So you're OK with all religions having the same religious freedom in the U.S.?  So many of your conservative brethren are not.

nonmember avatar Allboys

It's just to bad they had to essentially decimate an entire indigenous population in order to have religious freedom huh. Or is that part just an inconvenient portion that was the ends to the means for their own comfort. Instead of I don't know staying in their own country and fighting for change there. Not to mention many of the "pilgrims" who wanted freedom from others religions were the most strict in enforcing their religion once in their new communities. Or is that just some pesky history we would like to not own up to also?

Veron... VeronicaTex

I observe that school has done the most wonderful job of helping the student analyze a piece of work...then evaluate it....

What it doesn't teach however is to be positive about a well-written,  respectful  journal,,,,that presents facts and very little opinion....I love the way Ms. Erickson speaks with eloquence....

I find it very disappointing that a reader JUST MUST slash a fine work to the name of writing a comment....which is no doubt going to be snide..   Are you responders not content enough with life to write with a little more optimism?

I really appreciate  this journal .....It is inspirational and sets a tone of good will.....May it be taken more as such....

nonmember avatar Allboys

I dare say Veronica if you were as altruistic as you claim to be you would not be insulting anyone in any way. But yet you consistently throughout the stir do just that all the while claiming to be the bearer of peace good will and harmony. I would love to deal with just the facts as many other responders would too. Except the tend towards revisionist history when telling of this time period has made it such that the fact telling gets pushed aside. People who tell the facts are not the ones calling names or not being the bearer of good will. It seems to me when ever anyone speaks the truth about this time period they are insulted on many levels and it's a way of manipulating the conversation. May you actually practice the words that you preach and if it bothers you so much pray for us.

nonmember avatar Marsh626

"So you're OK with all religions having the same religious freedom in the U.S.? So many of your conservative brethren are not."

Nonsense. It's primarily the leftists and islamists who persecute and oppress religious freedom. Your leftist comrades all over the world have been brutally persecuting literally billions of people of faith for decades. They banned religious belief altogether deriding it as much a "crutch" and the "opium of the masses" and sentenced people to hard labor camps where they were worked to death just for believing in God. And now Christians can't even thank God in their graduation speeches without being persecuted by leftists.

nonmember avatar Rocin

PM: I have never met a conservative that was not "OK with all religions having the same religious freedom in the U.S.". Have you? Really?
There are religions I don't like (Santeria, which uses life chicken blood, & such), but as a conservative I am "o.k." with their freedom to worship.
I think your comment is just hateful, knee-jerk liberalism, slandering what it doesn't like!

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