It was in Philadelphia, alone of America's colonial cities, that Quakers, Jews, Catholics and Protestants "experienced the difficulties and discovered the possibilities of fruitful coexistence that American democracy was to offer." Philadelphia is a city that not only tolerated but welcomed diverse modes of religious practice from its beginning.
That diversity is still evident today in the Old Philadelphia Congregations, a consortium of historic churches and synagogues of different denominations working together to broaden interfaith understanding and celebrate Philadelphia's unique contribution to religious freedom in America.
The freedom of worship mandated in William Penn's 1701 Charter of Privileges ensured that Philadelphia made significant contributions to American religious history. Philadelphia is the birthplace of the Methodist Episcopal churches in America. It is here that the first African-American bishop was named, the Hebrew Bible was first translated into English and the first General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America was held. And in the 1730s, Philadelphia was the only place in the British Empire where a public Catholic mass could be celebrated.
In other words, Philadelphia's religious history is the nation's own.
"Because noe people can be truly happy though under the Greatest Enjoyments of Civil Liberties if Abridged of the Freedom of theire Consciences as to theire Religious Profession and Worship"
from William Penn's Charter of Privileges for Pennsylvanians 1701.