What Were the Religions in Colonial New Jersey?


Quick Answer

Colonial New Jersey was home to Presbyterians, Quakers, Dutch Reformed, Baptists, Dutch Lutherans, Seventh Day Baptists, German Reformed, Portuguese Jews, Anglicans, members of the Church of England, the religions of African Americans and Indians, and others. Religious unrest in the European countries caused many people to emigrate to New Jersey and the New World.

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Full Answer

In Colonial Times, New Jersey was part of the Middle Colonies in what was then known as British North America. The Middle Colonies also included New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Due to religious persecution and fallout from the Protestant Reformation movement throughout Europe, many people fled to the New World. New England was a popular initial destination, but some emigrants were dissatisfied with the New England government and moved on to other places. As a result, New Jersey and the other Middle Colonies enjoyed a pluralism of religion during Colonial Times.

A church survey recorded in 1765 showed Presbyterian as the majority religion, with Quakers, members of the Church of England, Dutch Reformed, Baptists, Dutch Lutherans, Seventh Day Baptists, German Reformed and other religions also present. According to the National Humanities Center, there were probably more religions present than were recorded. Families frequently practiced religion at home, due to the limited number of religious leaders and many families' inability to afford church dues.

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