One of the great flaws of a secular education is the ignoring of spiritual movements in history. Great effort is made to interpret the actions & thoughts of people through the lens of purely secular (or even anti-christian!) motivations. But this ignores the very real & very significant impact of spiritual beliefs in society. It would be like future historians trying to explain the current terrorist actions without the driving belief system of Islam. You can't explain everything with a purely secular view, and it misses some important factors in our interactions. I won't be going back too far. Any discussion about spiritual awakenings has to include the biggest one in human history: The reformation. Some people view this as just political maneuvering. But they ignore the great volume of written works that provided the ideological basis for resisting the established religious institution. The Anabaptists, the Huguenots, & the concurrent protestant revival that swept through Europe unhinged the status quo, & threatened their power base. The establishment fought vigorously against it, killing, torturing, & undermining this spiritual awakening, for it not only upset the basis for their rule, but it went against their core beliefs. The divine right of kings, a professional priesthood, an aristocracy of privilege, & their right & duty to control the rest of humanity were all under attack by this awakening. So they fought it. They killed the apostates. They gave them 'second baptisms' by drowning them. They tortured them to deny this new found faith in late night inquisitions. They burned them openly at the stake, to deter any more departures from the status quo. But it did not work. Instead of nipping this new awareness in the bud, it spread like wildfire. The priesthood of believers, not a professional religious class. The authority of scriptures, not the ruling elite. The equality of man, not a divine order of elitism. These were earth shaking revelations. It changed the course of history, & opened up the enlightenment era of reason, human freedom, & human equality. Philosophers began to question the authority structures, & called for them to be based on Natural Law, not mandates from a monarchy. The king was a mere man, & was not above the law. About this same time, the new world was being settled with refugees & rejects from the European inquisitions. Quakers, Presbyterians, & Puritans moved en masse to start their religious utopias. They fled the intolerance & oppression of the European status quo, but at first, kept the intolerant part, demanding strict conformity to the tenets of their faith. Many religious colonies formed in the new world. Massachusetts- Puritan separatists, with some English congregationalists. Pennsylvania- Quaker, Mennonites, Moravians, Calvinists, Lutherans & more. A large segment from Germany came here. New Amsterdam- Primarily a trading port, it become more diverse than some of the others. Jews, Lutherans, Scandinavian & Dutch fortune seekers mingled with the varied religious beliefs. Virginia- Anglicans, loyal to the church of England were the bulk of the colonists there. Maryland- In the irony of the reformation, English Catholics were no longer comfortable in protestant England, & many came to Maryland. Rhode Island- The famous 'religious tolerance' colony, where outcasts from all the other colonies could come. It was not a large colony, but significant as a refuge for dissenters. Almost all the colonies had some kind of religious basis.. they were formed as religious utopias, where the faithful could practice their beliefs without fear of persecution; all of them a direct result of the reformation. But after a few generations, the original religious fervor waxed cold, as it always does. Heartfelt piety gave way to ritual instruction, & the power of spiritual living waned. But by the mid 1700s, a significant movement began sweeping across protestant Europe, & it found its way to the new world. This was the first Great Awakening. ..more later..