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Enforced Christianity

PBS reality series Colonial House tests Texas pastor's faith and witness.

Jeff Wyers knew four months living as a Puritan in a 1620s-style Massachusetts colony would be hard. He didn't expect his faith to be so challenged.

Wyers, real-life pastor of Community Baptist Church near Waco, Texas, became "governor" of the colony in Colonial House, PBS's version of "reality TV" that aired in May. Wyers, his family, and about 20 others volunteered to live as four households of freemen and indentured servants in the show that challenged modern prejudices and historical mores.

As a functioning colony, participants agreed to live as they would have 400 years ago—including milking goats and raising corn, producing goods to repay their British backers, submitting to male headship, and mandatory attendance at three-hour church services.

As governor of the colony, Wyers had responsibility to enforce civil laws. He also had a personal, spiritual mission: to understand the Puritans who hoped to create a "City on a Hill" in the new land. But he experienced the same problems ...

January/February
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