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'They Wanted to Worship Jesus': Documentary Examines Pilgrims Journey to America, Pursuit of Religious Freedom

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ABOVE:  Jerry Newcombe, producer of  The Pilgrims spoke with CBN News about the project and what he hopes viewers will gain from the documentary. Newswatch is seen weekdays on the CBN News Channel.

The English settlers who came to North America on the Mayflower in 1620 faced many hardships but believed that religious freedom and liberty were worth dying for. 

Their determination to start a new nation and a new form of government centered on the rule of law as well as respect and tolerance toward others has been enshrined in a new documentary titled The Pilgrims

CBN News spoke with Jerry Newcombe, the film's producer, who explained the documentary goes far beyond what's taught in history books at school.

"It aims to tell the true story, all the difficulties that they faced. What we did was rely heavily on original resources and research so we made sure we were totally accurate in what we told," Newcombe said. "And a lot of amazing things about the Pilgrims."

He said some of the most surprising facts about the early settlers were the historical details they uncovered while conducting their research for the documentary.

"I think that 95 percent of the Indians in the area where they settled had been wiped out in a plague three years before the voyage of the Mayflower," he noted. "And in the providence of God, they came there and were not wiped out by unfriendly Indians. Instead, they were able to meet friendly Indians, and together they made a treaty of peace. Together they enjoyed fellowship as they celebrated the first Thanksgiving."

Newcombe told CBN News the Pilgrims' pursuit was driven by their strong Christian faith. 

"Faith was the whole motivator," he explained. "They just wanted to worship Jesus Christ in the purity of the Gospel. When they read the Bible for themselves, they felt that the Church of England was not really living up to what the Bible says. So they ended up, basically getting out of England so they could be at least tolerated in Holland. Then they wanted to be totally free once they heard about Jamestown and that that was a permanent establishment. That's where they set out to go, just so that they could worship Jesus." 

He continued, "Because they were blown off course, they ended up making an agreement for self-government, under God. A written charter based on the biblical concept of the covenant. It's called the Mayflower Compact and it was the first major step towards the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution - 150 years later."

Newcombe also pointed out that very little is being taught about the Pilgrims' faith in school today.

"It's really a shame because that's what motivated them," he said. "If you take away the Bible, you take away the Pilgrims. You take away their motivation for coming and to endure all the difficulties that they had to go through in order to be able to worship the Lord in the purity of conscience. Really, it was a Bible-centered commonwealth. They even said in the Mayflower Compact, 'We having undertaken a voyage for the glory of God and the advancements of the Christian faith.'"

Newcombe said he hopes viewers will learn "the truth" about the Pilgrims after watching the documentary.

"I think, unfortunately, some people are calling for an abolition of Thanksgiving. I think this is a tremendous tradition ... Thanksgiving is," he explained. "And it's not correct - some people have said - that the Pilgrims were bad to the Indians. No, the Pilgrims were great with the Indians." 

"But, I want people to witness what they sacrificed and how much they contributed to America. They even experimented with socialism, which was imposed upon them by the people who lent them the money.  After a couple of years, they said this is not working. And then the prosperity started to come," Newcombe concluded.

To learn more about The Pilgrims, click here.

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