In the United States which has benefited so much from the legacy of the Pilgrims who came in 1620, it is hard to imagine being forced to go to the parish church or face dire consequences. We have taken for granted that the State does not enforce religious belief and thus people are free to choose their religion. Though it would take time to develop, the germ of this religious liberty began during the Reformation.
William Bradford states that the Pilgrim Church began by individuals voluntarily forming a covenant. Probably done in Scrooby Manor in 1606, Bradford writes:
“So many, therefore, of these professors as saw the evil of these things in these parts, and whose hearts the Lord had touched with heavenly zeal for His truth, they shook off this yoke of antichristian bondage, and as the Lord’s free people joined themselves (by a covenant of the Lord) into a church estate, in the fellowship of the gospel, to walk in all His ways made known, or to be made known unto them, according to their best endeavors, whatsoever it should cost them, the Lord assisting them. And that it cost them something this ensuing history will declare