Religion in the Thirteen Colonies

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Many Puritans claimed they came to North America seeking religious freedom, but they were extremely intolerant of other beliefs. In fact, there was greater liberty of conscience back in their Native England. How do you explain this? How did the Puritans use their concept of moral liberty to justify their actions against others in the New World...and why might some Puritans, other English settlers in the New World, and those remaining in England see these justifications as hypocritical?

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Like other groups that sought sanctuary in North America in the seventeenth century, the Puritans desired religious freedom to practice their own faith, but they saw no hypocrisy in not extending that same freedom to people who held other beliefs. In fact, the word "Puritan" was applied to several extremist Protestant sects whose intention was to reform the Church of England because it had become too morally slack. The term was first applied to the group by its enemies as an assignation of contempt for their extremist views.

Puritans believed in studying the Bible and interpreting it as literally as possible; in deeply personal and complex conversion experiences; in the elimination of music but the importance of sermons during religious services; and a strict structuring of family life, with husbands as heads of the household.

Although the Puritans squabbled over doctrine in New England, their adherence to strict values enabled them to survive the harsh conditions in which they found...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 666 words.)

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