Jamestown Lessons on Faith and Government

There are so many places I could share with you from my trip to D.C. and Virginia, but today, I want to leave you with just one more: Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America.

The second day of the Alpha Omega Academy trip took us to Jamestown, or rather, the scale-size model of that first community that sits on the opposite side of the James River where the actual excavation site lies.

There, we encountered replicas of the three ships that brought the first settlers to American soil: the Godspeed, the Discovery, and the Susan Constant. Next, we explored a Powhatan Indian village and the fort itself, including the church where members, according to our tour guide, were required to attend several times a day or risk severe punishment.

You see, the church of Jamestown was a transplant of the Anglican state church of England, and other types of worshipers (including Puritans and Catholics) were prohibited.

In other words, the “freedom of religion” guaranteed to Americans today was not available in this first community. However, in 1791, the first amendment of our Bill of Rights made that freedom not only possible, but also a Constitutional right.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …

The reason for “separation of church and state” is not meant to take God out of government. Rather, it is to ensure the freedom to practice one’s faith and prevent America from following England’s example of a state church.

Still, despite the restrictions Jamestown imposed on religious freedom, the colony reveals how important faith was to the early settlers. It was not something to be taken lightly but a vital and integral part of life.

Parting thought: Thankfully, no state church requires us to attend mandatory services. However, Hebrews 10:25 admonishes us not to neglect church fellowship, because it’s essential to our spiritual growth. Do you take church for granted? What benefits do believers reap from spending time in God’s house?

~ Kristen



Jamestown Lessons on Faith and Government – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

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