Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Kristin M. S. Bezio

Second Advisor

Dr. George R. Goethals

Third Advisor

Dr. Douglas L. Winiarski


This research focuses on a sect of Christian thinkers who originated in mid-16th century Poland called Socinians. They had radical Christian views built upon ideas from humanism and the Protestant Reformation, including Anti-Trinitarianism and rejecting the divinity of Christ. Most importantly, they believed that in order to follow Christ’s message, separation of church and state and religious toleration were necessary. Socinianism spread across Europe into England, first permeating subtly while England remained intolerant, but it came to the forefront during the English Civil War. Socinian ideas helped further political agendas of Royalists and ultimately influenced Enlightenment thinkers like John Locke and Joseph Priestley. Religious toleration ultimately spread into early American colonies via new religious modes, namely Unitarianism, and through political ideas via writings from important English and colonial thinkers. This led early American leaders, specifically Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, to have political and religious motivations for establishing the separation of church and state in America. The last part of this project focuses on implications of this legacy for present leaders and the political climate in current day America.