Religion in the Thirteen Colonies

Start Free Trial

Are there still puritanical undercurrents in American culture?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Indeed there are. To take but one example, observe the many restrictions placed on gambling in most American states. It's fair to say that the Puritans weren't big on gambling, which they regarded as sinful. Many's the time that Puritans would break up card games and the rolling of dice, especially if they took place on the Lord's Sabbath. Though the Puritans may be long gone, their attitude towards gambling remains deeply entrenched in the American psyche. Even with the rapid development of internet gaming, there remain significant restrictions in place on interstate and online gambling.

A further example comes in the form of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations on what you can and can't say on broadcast television. The FCC has wide regulatory powers which allow it to restrict the broadcasting of what it deems to be indecent or obscene material. The relevant rules are somewhat confused and open to interpretation, but generally they prohibit, on pain of substantial fines, the broadcast of swear-words on broadcast television. (Cable TV isn't subject to such restrictions, which explains why shows on HBO are often laced with profanities).

The Puritans didn't have TV, of course, but as die-hard Calvinists, they were certainly hostile to obscene language and the frank depiction of sexuality in works of art and literature. Their modern-day equivalents, evangelical Christians, have formed themselves into powerful pressure groups that closely monitor broadcast TV for the merest hint of what they perceive to be filth or moral degradation.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team