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April 16, 2013

Colonial Williamsburg Explores Religion and Revolution During April

Colonial Williamsburg explores the role of religion in creation of a new nation during April with programs throughout the Revolutionary City, the Kimball Theater and the Hennage Auditorium. The ideas fostered by the American War of Independence revolutionized the relationship between faith and government by abolishing the state’s connection with any church and allowing the free exercise of religion. By encountering “Revolutions in Faith,” guests discover daily the crucial importance of religion to the idea of America, then and now.

Programs include:

  • Martha Washington: Woman of Faith. Martha Washington suffered many trials in her life, including the loss of her first husband and two of her children before her marriage to George Washington. Join her at her daily routine of devotions and learn how her firm belief in the Creator gave her strength. 12:30 p.m., Monday, April 22 and 29 at the Dewitt Wallace Museum.
  • Duty and Faith. Meet Robert Carter III and discover how his faith journey affected his relationship to slavery. A wealthy planter, Carter inherited and owned hundreds of slaves. Learn why this active member of the Church of England from childhood converted to evangelical Christianity in 1777. How did his new association with the Baptists relate to his growing opposition to the institution of slavery during the 1780s? Discover how his beliefs were further shaped by the theology of Swedish mystic Emanuel Swedenborg and the Church of the New Jerusalem. 12 p.m., Tuesday, April 23 at the Raleigh Tavern.
  • Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry Debate the Relation Between Church and State. Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry held very different views on the nature of the relationship between any church and the state or government within which it existed. Experience the well-reasoned though heated debate between these two giants of the political stage. 12:30 p.m., Thursday, April 18 and 25 at Kimball Theatre.
  • The Player and the Pulpit. Is the theater a "moral academy" or the "devil's chapel?" It's the church vs. the stage! Hear sermons and letters from both sides of the argument brought to life as fiery rhetoric and comic quips. Join us for a spirited look at the debate over the theater's place in society, focusing on audiences in London and Virginia, the Church of England, and the famous Methodist preacher George Whitefield. 11:30 a.m., Friday, April 19 and 26 at the Play Booth.
  • God is My Rock. Gowan Pamphlet, a slave known locally as a popular preacher, offers his perspective on slavery, religion, and freedom. 12:30 p.m., Friday, April 19 and 26 at the Dewitt Wallace Museum.

    Presentations include two lectures by visiting scholar/authors in the Religion Month series. These lectures are included in Historic Area and museum admission.

  • “Born Again: The Rise of Evangelical Christianity in Early America” describes a vibrant new religious movement beginning to emerge in the decades before the American Revolution—a movement that we now call evangelicalism. Thousands of colonial Americans testified that they had been “born again,” transformed by a personal experience of divine grace. During her presentation, Catherine A. Brekus uncovers the historical roots of evangelical Christianity and explains why it became so popular in the 18th century at 5 p.m. Friday, April 19 in the Hennage Auditorium of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg. Brekus is associate professor of religions in America and the history of Christianity at the University of Chicago. She is the author of “Sarah Osborn’s World: The Rise of Evangelical Christianity in Early America.” A Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket, Museums ticket or Good Neighbor Pass is required.
  • “Hornets, Snakes, Presbyterians & Baptists: Fighting for Religious Freedom in Revolutionary Virginia” is presented by John A. Ragosta, assistant professor of history at Hamilton College, and explores the difficulties faced by non-Anglicans in colonial America. Before the American Revolution, dissenters from the Church of England – primarily Presbyterians and Baptists – faced not only legal discrimination in the Virginia but increasingly serious physical persecution. The war changed that. Not only was religious freedom largely established, but religious dissenters became increasingly active participants in the new nation. Dr. Ragosta’s lecture is presented at 5 p.m. Saturday, April 27 in the Hennage Auditorium. Ragosta is the author of “Wellspring of Liberty: How Virginia’s Religious Dissenters Helped to Win the American Revolution and Secured Religious Liberty” and “Religious Freedom: Jefferson’s Legacy, America’s Creed.” A Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket, Museums ticket or Good Neighbor Pass is required.

    Religion Month programs are presented daily. For a full schedule of Religion Month programs, visit Ticket requirements vary by program location. For more information, telephone (800) 447-8679 or visit

    Religion Month programming is made possible with a grant from the Kern Family Foundation, Waukesha, Wis. These are only a portion of the programs offered during Religion Month. Several other programs take place in the Revolutionary City and the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg in April.

    Programs and exhibitions at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum are supported by the DeWitt Wallace Endowment fund.

    Media Contact:
    Jim Bradley

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