What are the religious influences of the historical period in The Crucible?

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meg526 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The religious climate of the Salem Witch Trial period was one of Puritanism. Puritans were called such for two reasons: They sought to purify new Protestant practices from any vestiges of the Catholic Church. In the eyes of new-world Protestants, no branch of Protestantism had yet gone far enough in throwing off all remnants of Catholic thought and ritual. Puritans were also given their name due to their puritanical way of life, which sought to rid all bodies and communities of sin, with a particular focus on lust/sexual sin, which is an evident theme in The Crucible. Women were branded witches for many reasons in Puritan society, but most often -- as in Miller's play -- women were punished for inspiring lust and for performing any acts perceived as ritualistic, as ritual is a strong component of the Catholic faith. It's also important to note that the time of The Crucible's writing was reflective of the Salem Witch Trials' period, at least culturally. Arthur Miller used the setting of the Salem Witch Trials to comment on the Red Scare going on at the time, Senator McCarthy's congressional hearings in particular.