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The term free church tradition refers to the governance and formation of Christian order and understanding in North America. It tends to be Protestant in faith orientation, but also involves specific moral precepts emphasized by the European Christians who sought religious freedom in North America, beginning with its colonization in the 1600s and expanded by the Protestant revivals of faith in the 1700s and 1800s (the First and Second Great Awakenings). Theologians Graydon F. Snyder and Doreen M. McFarlane identify separation of church and state, believer’s baptism (requiring confession as an adult), voluntary church affiliation, congregationally ruled church order, communal support, and the priesthood of all believers as key doctrines for religious immigrants from Europe. A democratic sensibility prevails in the governance of ...

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