Next time somebody tries to pull the “America was founded by good Christians who were regular church goers, pull this info out on them. Thanks to Zeteticus @ Soul Spelunker for Scooping this interesting piece.
Puritan alchemists founded America; sounds like bad fiction but it’s fact. As befits a young republic, the history of the earliest origins of American Metaphysical Religion amounts to a long list of extraordinary characters, daring experiments, and unlikely friendships. We’ll meet alchemists who persecuted witches, alchemists who were governors, and several alchemists who served as presidents of the first American colleges. The community of alchemists at home and abroad was in constant touch with each other, eagerly exchanging techniques, results, and useful writing published and unpublished. At the heart of this vital cosmopolitan movement for cultural evolution were the intelligencers, discerning men who were so respected they became gatekeepers. By exchanging letters (sometimes in secret codes), samples, and books with fellow seekers of knowledge across continents and oceans they became the Internet hubs of their day. If a valuable discovery was made in a far off land, news of it would soon be all over the world thanks to the intelligencers.
As Jon Butler wrote: “American colonists had an ambivalent relationship with Christian congregations. After about 1650 even in New England only about one-third of all adults ever belonged to a church. The rate was lower in the Middle and Southern colonies, and on the eve of the American Revolution only about 15 percent of all of the colonists probably belonged to any church. In 1687 New York Governor Thomas Dongan wrote that settlers there usually expressed no religious sentiment at all or, when they did, entertained wildly unorthodox religious opinions.” “Two years before the Salem trials, Cotton Mather was so concerned about the number of settlers who used occult techniques for curing illnesses and settling quarrels that he described the Christian defense against them in occult terms–as amulets–so readers could more readily understand him.” What were these wildly unorthodox beliefs? Jon Butler continues: “American colonists were indeed religious, but many resorted to occult and magical practices unacceptable to most Christian clergymen and lawmakers.”