The Puritans were reformed Protestants in England who wanted to purify the Church of England from what they called “Catholic practices”. The Puritans were active in the 16th and 17th centuries in England, but also spread to some parts of modern North America. What began as an activism within the church saw the exiled leaders only to return in 1558 when Elizabeth I ascended the throne. Limited by English law, Puritan beliefs found their way into the Netherlands, Wales, Ireland and North America. They took a different position on clerical dress and the episcopal system among other beliefs closely related to Catholicism. Through strategy and luck, the Puritans came to power after the first British civil war. At the end, most have left the Church of England. However, the church has incorporated some of the Puritan beliefs. The Puritan movement slowly vanished in the 18th century. Many people considered the word Puritan a derogatory term that depicted some Protestants as extremists. However, the Puritan is used today to mean “against pleasure
Puritanism has regularly changed its belief system in the 16th and 17th centuries. Elizabethan Puritanism opposed Elizabethan religious beliefs towards the end of the 16th century. Jacobin puritanism existed from the early 1600s. Due to hostility towards the Puritans, many of them emigrated and politically differed from each other and with the Church of England. In the mid-1600s, some of the beliefs of Puritanism gained the support of the Church of Scotland and other minor sects. The Church of England restored its constitution in the form in which it was before the Puritans ascended (first English civil war) to political positions, thus, setting aside the Puritans further bringing to 2,400 the Puritan clones leaving the church from 1662. Most of them were called “dissidents”. Many dissidents have difficulty ministering because the government has limited their activities.
The Puritans believed in seeking the intervention of the Holy Spirit in interpreting the teachings of the Bible with an emphasis on moral and ecclesiastical purity. They also believed that man exists to do the will of God and the name of Jesus to be exalted in everything. However, some Puritans were divided on whether to support the hierarchy of existing bishops or to adopt the Presbyterian model of ecclesiastical leadership. The Puritans believed that demons existed and were very active in owning people and therefore their pastors performed exorcisms for the possessed and for those who practiced witchcraft. The Puritans also believed in millenarianism and that there would be a golden time on earth where Jesus Christ will reign for a thousand years.
Puritanism has had different effects on society. Education was promoted to the masses so that they could read and interpret the Bible for themselves and not depend on the clergy. Puritans have also banned musical instruments during their church services for their own dogmatic and enforced reasons. The Puritans insisted that marriage was for procreation, love and salvation, and husbands doubled as spiritual leaders of their homes while women had to submit under authority. For them, marriage was between spouses and God. Most Puritans separated children from their mothers during adolescence so that children could form a good relationship with God. They believed in redeeming children through obedience and religious teachings. Girls were taught separately by boys. The boy’s training prepared them for leadership roles while the girls were trained only for domestic and religious functions. The Puritans also considered the relationship between a teacher and a servant as that of a parent and a child. Some Puritans disapproved of Christmas celebrations and secular entertainment on moral grounds.
The Puritans formed a religious and political movement at a time when religion and the state were intertwined. The movement created on the need to get rid of Catholic practices in the Church of England has become international through clergy migrations that have felt oppressed by the state. In the end, they formed a belief system that had an impact on the education and social well-being of members.