Blog Entry Three
Religion in Colonial Georgia
Point of view: Wolfgang Fritz – German Lutheran – 1761
The religious differences that would eventually become part of colonial Georgia had their beginnings in the religious conflicts in Europe and Britain. England, as with much of Europe, was going through a period of great change and adjustment in the wake of the Protestant Reformation started by Martin Luther in 1534. Because of this, many European Protestants such as the Quakers, Presbyterians, and Lutherans like me faced continuing religious persecution and eventually sought refuge in the New World; a land which they felt would give them religious freedom. Indeed, I can remember my family’s exile from Salzburg in 1734 on the wishes of the Catholic Archbishop, Count Leopold. My family came over with 41 other families on The Prince Of Wales captained by George Dunbar. This was a time of great advancement. James Oglethorpe had spearheaded a colony in the new world called Georgia. Word quickly spread about how this man had created a safe haven from religious persecution for all religious faiths. However, this privilege was not extended to Roman Catholics, or even Jews. Even though they were not welcomed with open arms, this hindrance did not deter any members of either faith coming over uninvited. All these various faiths brought great diversity to the religious portfolio of Georgia but they did very little if anything to ease the tension between the Protestants and Catholics. The only mitigating factor seemed to be that the Quakers brought an ideal of religious tolerance with them. Every time, Mr. Oglethorpe came back from England, he always seemed to bring back vibrant individuals. These men were very skilled preachers who had a passion for their faith. Well-known names include John Wesley, and Daniel Marshall. These men would eventually form of the Methodist and Baptist churches. This will be part of Mr. Oglethorpe’s legacy. He has created something much larger than I think even he could not imagine. Not only has he created a safe haven for those who are persecuted but also he has started a colony that is as diverse as the people who live in it. A melting pot of cultural heritage and diversity in that area, which will become known as part of America’s Bible Belt. There still is quite a bit of religious tension in Georgia, but at least it’s not as bad as it was in Europe. Even the slaves have brought over their unique religious practices and ceremonies, which they strongly support. At least over here no one is giving their life for their faith. I pledge, not only to be proud of my religion within the colony, but also to be accepting of other faiths that have sprung up since Mr. Oglethorpe has left us. He may be gone from the affairs of Georgia, but his legacy of religious freedom will always remain. Thank you, Mr. Oglethorpe.
Wolfgang Fritz – German Lutheran – 1761
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