Setanta-- and everybody else, I guess.
Are you saying large numbers of American settlers didn't leave other countries to flee religious persecution?
Some did--i've mentioned the French Calvinists and the Moravians. Largely, however, the religiously motivated didn't want to dirty their skirts by contact with the benighted, heretical degenerates whom they saw around them (such terms are to be found in their correspondence and private journals). They came here to get away from the theologically "unclean" in England and Holland. Holland was especially offensive to them, as the legacy of William the Silent was a near complete religious tolerance. This incensed the English Calvinists, who felt that religious error must be corrected, or suppressed, or, if necessary, exterminated. It was only the fear of attracting attention from the authorities in England that prevented the more radical of Puritans in Massachusetts from taking stronger measures. Winthrop was not re-elected governor in every year, and his moderating (more or less) influence did not always hold sway in the colony. The Puritans there were only restrained from actively interferring with others because of a fear of being interferred with themselves in return.
Of the thirteen colonies:
Virginia--a failed commercial venture which flourished when first private capitalist and then royal control was removed. The Episcopal church was the established church, but it's writ rarely ran to the frontiers (in Washington's day, the frontier was the Shenandoah Valley and the upper reaches of the Appomatox River), and it could hardly compel the FFV's (first families of Virginia), whose ancestors had been very nearly sovereign monarchs on their own estates.
Massachusetts--originally containing seasonal settlements where Basque and French fishing fleets dressed and smoked or salted their catch, English settlers trickled in. As Acq has pointed outl, Plymouth was settled by a "sub-sect" of the Puritans, who were seeking to escape the religious "corruption" they saw in Europe. Samuel Maverick was probably a Puritan, but his little community (eventually Salem) was untroubled when founded in 1624, and was only brought under the control of the Massachusetts Bay Company after his death. Congregationalism was the establishe religion of the colony, and this remained true right up to the revolution. However, the strife of the revivalism in the early 18th century gutted Congregationalist authority, and the political infighting between the Otis' and the Hutchinsons prior to the revolution left the churches in the shadows. In the Connecticutt valley, the small farmers used the opportunity of the political upheaval in the 1760's to overthrow the power of the "River Gods," the first families who had settled western Massachusetts. These hardy pioneers had long defied requirements for attendence upon divine service.
New York and New Jersey were formed from the New Amsterdam colony, seized by James, Duke of York, in the last Anglo-Dutch war. They were Dutch reformed, James was a secret Catholic, and Charles II, Jame's brother, was canny enough to guarantee their religious practice, on the condition that they did not enquire into the creed of their tenants. This was not inimical to the practice of the Dutch, who were tolerant by constitution before James arrived.
Delaware was a failed Swedish colony, easily absorbed by the English, and Charles again recognized their right to practice Lutheranism, on the condition of them tolerating other confessions. It would be well to point out at this juncture that Charles had lead a Scots army into England in 1651, two years after his father was executed, and which was destroyed at Worcester. He escaped England by being hidden in "priest holes" in English Catholic homes, and the English Catholics put themselves at great risk to get him alive out of England. When his monarcy was restored by George Monck in 1660, he attempted to pass bills of religious toleration, which Parliament struck down. Thereafter, he was more cirucmspect. He acted privately to protect Jews in England, and required religious tolerance in the colonies established during his reign, which was most of them.
An English admiral whose life would make a great move, Charles Penn had virgorously supported Charles I. When the King lost and was beheaded, Penn easily turned his coat to serve Parliament, something which was not condemned in Europe in those days. He had lent large sums to the Crown, and Charles II was unable to repay them. Therefore, he gave to Willaim Penn, the son of the bawdy old admiral, the colony which became known as Pennsylvania. When Penn came to meet the King, as a Quaker, he would not remove his hat. All of the other "King's Gentlemen" of course went bare-headed in the King's presence. The King immediately removed his hat. A startled Penn asked him why he had done so. Charles replied: "We have a custom that only one man may keep his hat in the King's presence." Charles' early hardships in life (he wandered Europe in exile for 11 years) had created a wise, complex and fascinating personality. Pennsylvania's governors were appointed by the Penn family, and could only take office by swearing an oath to never lay a tax on Quaker land. This impoverished the colonial government, and their political history was one of constant strife. After the Revolution began, Pennsylvania wrote the most radical constitution in American history. The eastern portion was largely devoted to commerce, especially
the Quakers, and religion held little sway when money was to be made (see Joe's post, above).
Maryland was another colony in the gift of the King, and he rewarded the English Catholics by granting the colony to the Calvert family, the most prominent of Catholic families, in the person of Lord Baltimore. The Test Act passed by a suspicious Parliament early in Charles' reign assured that those who were not Anglican "high church" would not participate in the government or the military, with the result that the Maryland colony became a haven for well-to-do Englishman who dissented religiously, and for English Catholics who were free there to openly practice their religion (in England, priests were under penalty of immediate execution if found in the realm, hence the "priest holes" in which Charles had hidden when fleeing England in 1651). Baltimore was also smart enough to ingratiate himself to Parliament and the Lords of Trade (the latter admiinistered the colonies) by accepting large numbers of convicts who could be used as labor by the colonists, may of whom had religious scruples against slavery. Slavery in Maryland was largely the product of "immigration" from Virginia.
The Carolinas were religiously wide-open. Although South Carolina ostensibly had Anglicanism as the established church, the planters of the Ashely River valley made a fortune growing indigo, and rice to feed the slaves in the Sugar Islands. Most flatly refused to pay for the livings of the ministry, and the establishment of the church fell flat on its face. The hill country and mountains of both of the Carolinas were settled by French Calvinists (who fled France after Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685--it was a charter of religious toleration in France passed by Henri IV), and by Irish and Scots-Irish farmers who were escaping the land laws in Ireland. Many Scots farmers came as well, to escape the hardscrabble poverty of farming in Scotland.
Georgia was established ostensibly as a penal colony, but the fever for free land had seized the British Isles, and to a lesser extent attracted Germans displaced by the Thirty Years War (1618-1648, many were still unsettled 60 years later), and no one inquired to closely into anyone else's confession.
The "religious" origin of the American colonies is a propaganda.