European religion, especially Christianity, invaded the Atlantic world and was dramatically transformed in the process. England’s forays were intended to bring Protestant Christianity to the natives and to counter Spanish Catholicism’s missionary campaign. English rulers assumed that their subjects in the New World would adhere to the Church of England, transplanting the hierarchy, ritual, and loyal worship that they also sought to inculcate in their kingdoms. Religion would, it was assumed, accompany expansion, tie the natives to the colonizers, and cement loyalty to the crown. All of these expectations were disappointed. Native Americans largely rejected the prospects of Christian conversion. Efforts to coerce conformity in the colonies failed miserably, as did policies intended to command conformity in England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Diversity became a fact of life in Britain and its dominions. Beyond these thwarted expectations, unforeseen changes occurred. Christianity in the wider Atlantic world was profoundly influenced by the settler societies’ interaction with the African diaspora. Slaves, imported as laborers, their spiritual needs ignored, became Christians fairly late in the history of the British Atlantic world, but when they did so they remade their new faith.
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Carla Gardina Pestana
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