The state of New York’s Constitution defined a separation between church and state. This allowed for the citizens of New York to freely practice their own religion without any form of persecution or discrimination. After the Revolutionary period, the state of New York was introduced to Deism. Deism is “the belief that God has created the universe but remains apart from it and permits his creation to administer itself through natural laws.” As immigrants flooded the state, they carried along their religions with them. “Methodists, Baptists, Universalists, and Quakers spread along the state.”
Also popular in the state of New York in the later years of the eighteenth century were “religious cults.” A cult, as defined by the dictionary, is “specific system of religious worship.” Mother Ann Lee headed a cult called the “Shakers” who settled in Niskayuna, which is located near Albany. This group made a grave impact on New York society because of its “contributions to agriculture and by the products of its handicrafts.” The shaker lifestyle consisted of celibacy and agriculture. “The members lived in gender segregated, dormitory-like housing, but came together to work, and pray. Like the Quakers they believed in personal communication with a God who was both male and female and in the ability to find and give voice to the Inner Light.”
“Constitution of New York.” , 1777. National Humanities Institute, 1999. Web. 25 Sept.
“cult.” Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. 25 Sep. 2012.
“deism.” The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005. 25 Sep. 2012.
“Religion.” New York: A Guide to the Empire State. New York: Oxford UP, 1940. 126-30. Print.
Shaker Village. Digital image. Fotopedia. N.p., 25 June 2005. Web. 18 Oct. 2012.
“The Shakers.” PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2012.