former tanner Johann Friedrich Rock travelled through southern Germany. Protestant dissenters venerated him as a prophet and saint.
Almost all local governments considered Protestant separatists a serious political danger. Leaders of such groups were put into prison, and all means available were used to break up regional networks of separatists and to discourage these nonconformist faithful. From the 1680s onwards, and especially between 1700 and 1730, but again also in the 1750s, as they were confronted with mistrust and repression, many groups of Protestant dissenters decided to leave Germany. While some migrated to Transylvania, most went to the British colonies in North America, and especially to Pennsylvania. Whether Germany's loss was America's gain in this matter depends on one's view of the role of the church and on how religious life should develop. If one believes that church ordinances should be obeyed under all circumstances and that any kind of dissent only serves to disrupt the spiritual growth of congregations, one can approve the actions of those pastors who did not tolerate dissent. However, if one acknowledges the importance of every person's individual conscience and concludes that religious liberty is an essential ingredient for the building of God's kingdom, then he or she must believe that the Protestant state officials and Protestant pastors failed in their Christian vocation when they suppressed nonconformists and expelled dissenters. In any event, by getting rid of separatists and dissenters, German Protestantism, both Lutheran and Calvinist, lost a vital religious element that might have led to a situation in which religion could prosper exactly because it was no longer expected first and foremost to serve political ends.
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