Religious Freedom As One Of The Main Factors Of Immigration To America

The United States is hands down the most diverse nation on Earth. Historically, the country has attracted migrants from Ireland to China and every country in between. With so many nations of origin for these immigrants, there is bound to be diversity in not just culture, but the reason for migrating in the first place. Many migrate to the U.S. for economic prosperity, whilst others seek stability and security. However, one major reason why people move to America is to enjoy religious freedom. Immigration due to religious persecution was a prominent reason for the journey to the United States for many of our ancestors.

In fact, the first people that immigrated to America were searching for freedom to practice religion. These Puritans fled from Great Britain and made a colony that is now modern-day Massachusetts. Puritans believed that the Bible was God’s exact direction and people didn’t need the Church of England to live in faith. The Puritans did not agree with the Catholic way of worship which included complex rituals and believed the church had become too political. While this difference of opinion and views continued for many years, things came to a head when Charles I came into power. The king viewed Puritans as his enemies since they challenged his royal authority, motivating Charles I to disband the Puritan majority parliament. This became the breaking point for the Puritans to flee England beginning in 1630.

In the 1700s, a religious denomination called the Huguenots fled from France to other countries, including the United States. The Huguenots believed in more freedom religiously and politically though the Catholic Church wanted to remain in power which in many situations ended in bloodshed. Louis XIV outlawed the practice of The Huguenot religion in 1685. If the Huguenots tried to leave France instead of renouncing their faith, they would be put to death. This caused them to start immigrating to America. They mostly moved to Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and South Carolina.

One such immigrant was my 9th-great-grandfather, Dr. Jean Pierre Bondurant I. Jean Pierre I was baptized a Huguenot shortly after his birth. Then, at the age of seven was re-baptized a Catholic in order to preserve his right to inherit family property. Jean Pierre I first left France and arrived in Aarau, Switzerland in February 1698 where he joined his uncle, Guillaume Barjon, Pastor of the Huguenot refugee Church. This motivated Jean Pierre I to renounced the Catholic faith and became a Huguenot again on October 3, 1697. He was listed as a fugitive from the Kingdom because of religion. He then migrated to Manakin, Goochland, Virginia and stayed there until his death on September 25, 1734.

Jean Pierre I’s 3rd-great-grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bondurant, my 4th-great-grandfather, went on to establish the town of Bondurant, WY in 1900. The town is located in Sublette County in the Hoback Canyon. The town’s population is currently 100.

One cannot speak about migration due to religious persecution without mentioning the Jews during World War II. As it is well known, the Nazis had placed millions of European Jews into concentration camps, sparking what would be known as the Holocaust. Jews around Europe fled to wherever they possibly could to escape prosecution, and many had set their eyes on the United States. However, the United States had established immigration quotas in 1921 to restrict the number of people entering the country. Even though sympathy for the Jews began to rise in the 1930s, the quotas remained as the U.S. was suffering from economic depression and feared that migration would only worsen the situation. Nevertheless, many Jews still fled to the U.S. to avoid Nazi and, later on, Soviet persecution. The Jewish population in the United States would have a profound impact on American society, and the quotas would be taken down in 1965.

The pursuit of religious freedom and tolerance has always been a major factor for immigration into the United States. It has been a guarantee in the First amendment ever since the ratification of the U.S. constitution. Today, America as a collective whole enjoys the benefit of each ethnic and religious group’s contribution which form a common culture. It can be easy to take for granted the extensive amount of religious liberty we have in this country, yet religious prosecution still occurs in different parts of the world. We must always remind ourselves that the religious freedom we enjoy is a precious gift that we must always treasure and protect to maintain the core ideals of American liberty.  

16 December 2021
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now