What was the relationship between the Puritan church and the local government?

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hantayo's profile pic

hantayo | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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Many, if not most, of these Puritan colonies were established by those wishing to codify and unite religion and government and, therefore, the colonies were governed by members of the Puritan populous. The laws of the colony reflected the direct influence of the Puritan belief system.  For example, women were not allowed to participate in politics in much the same manner in which they were excluded from direct leadership roles in the church.  Further, males who were not participants in the Puritan belief system were not allowed to vote and many experienced problems owning property and business interests in these colonies. In some instances, they lost their property for vocalizing discontent with the Puritan governing practices.  The Puritans were equally harsh on their own members with public punishments, excommunication and banishment against Puritans the leadership considered heretical or without unwavering faith. 

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hwbruce | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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In short, original Puritan churches and the local governments were one in the same.  During this time, there was no separation of church and state, meaning that church leaders made up the government and enforced church law.  This can be seen in the voting of towns.  Men who were not a part of the Puritan church were not given the right to vote.  Colonies of New England would banish people who did not agree with and believe the same things as the church.  The most famous example of this supremacy was the exile of Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson from the Massachusetts Bay Colony during the late 1630s.

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