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Religious freedom varied greatly from colony to colony in th

            Religious freedom varied greatly from colony to colony in the British North American Colonies prior to 1700.
             Some colonies had no religious freedom at all. Massachusetts set out from the beginning to be a non-separatist Puritan colony; they would not even say that they were separated from the Church of England. The church heavily influenced state affairs. You could not even be eligible to be a freeman unless you were a "visible saint", but the power the preachers had was not absolute. A congregation had the right to hire and fire it's minister and to set his salary. Clergymen were also not allowed to hold an official office.
             While many colonies were intolerant like Massachusetts, some others were very tolerant to religion. Rhode Island was even founded around the idea of tolerance of religion. Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island, was an exile from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Roger Williams greatly endorsed freedom of religious, requiring no oaths regarding religious belief, no compulsory attendance to worship, no taxes to support a state church. In fact, his views on tolerance stretched beyond just religion, he believed that the Indiana's owned the land and that he colonist should have to purchase any land that they wished to colonized, and the Indians had the right to refuse any offers if they so choose. People like Roger Williams did not only found the religiously free colonies. Pennsylvania was religiously tolerant but it was for very different reason then Rhode Island. William Penn founded Pennsylvania as a haven for Quakers. The peaceful and pacifistic ways of the Quakers fostered religious tolerance among the people of the colony.
             Not all the tolerant colonies began that way. Maryland was founded by Lord Baltimore as a haven for Catholics, but was permitted unusual freedom of worship by Baltimore. The colony flourished but as it did its Protestant population grew immensely.

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