God's Mosaic

God's Mosaic

A look at the role of religion in English colonial North America with an emphasis on the dominant faith(s) in each colony.


5 - 8


Religion, Social Studies, U.S. History

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This infographic concerns the religious beliefs of European-descended residents of the 13 Colonies. The dominant religion among the colonists was Christianity with the leading denomination varying from colony to colony. Many of the Indigenous peoples on whose land the colonists settled, as well as Africans taken to the colonies against their will, followed their own distinct religious traditions, which are outside the scope of this infographic.

Voting rights existed for some members of these colonies. However, those voting rights were almost always reserved for white, property-owning men.

Ideas for Use in the Classroom

Ask students what “freedom of religion” means to them. Then ask why religious freedom was so important to so many colonists who came to settle in what would become the 13 colonies. What events were taking place in Europe during this period?

Next break the class into small groups, with each group researching a particular religion. This would include the following groups: Puritans, Pilgrims (also known as Separatists), the Church of England, the Quakers, the Roman Catholic Church, the Congregationalists, the Lutherans, and the Dutch Reformed Church. Have students pay particular attention to the core beliefs of each group. Also direct students to research ways in which some groups (such as the Pilgrims and Puritans), or the Church of England and Roman Catholicism were similar and/or different, and how religion was practiced in each colony. Tell students they will present their information when it comes time to review the infographic.

Review the infographic with your students. As each group presents their finding on their groups, ask what did religious freedom mean for this colony? (For Puritans, the right to establish a theocracy and a state religion; for the Church of England, the support by taxation or political alliances; and for Quakers, the freedom to worship for all who came. How did each of these perspectives play out in the establishment of the United States?)

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Gina Borgia, National Geographic Society
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Program Specialists
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Clint Parks
Roza Kavak
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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