America as a Religion

Of course no two colonies, or social groups within each colony, translated their commitment to liberty into laws and institutions exactly the same way. But by 1776 all American patriots called the cause of liberty “sacred” and endowed their glorious cause with the attributes of a religion, including a creation myth, a theology, a moral code, a martyrology, and a teleology promising a limitless “empire of liberty” (in Jefferson’s words) if America snapped the chains of Old World corruption and made themselves worthy through abstinence, courage, faith, and community. In other words, while many colonial patriots interpreted their struggle in Protestant terms and others in secular terms, all patriots made America itself a sort of religion – and that made resistance to Britain and Tories at home into a holy war.

Freedom Just Around the Corner by Walter A. McDougall

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