Ralph Waldo Emerson helped to spearhead the American transcendentalist movement. He championed individualism and free thought, often pushing others toward self-reliance in many different ways. Emerson urged his listener to pursue their individual will rather than conform to the expectations of society.
Emerson’s attention to the individual’s will wasn’t simply a comment on a person’s place in society, but also their decisions regarding communication with God and their relationship with the Church. Emerson believed we could have a richer experience without the interference of priests and organized religion.
In his essay The Over-Soul, he outlines his belief in a God that resides in each of us and whom we can communicate with, without membership in a church or the assistance of an intermediary church official.