American Culture

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Puritans was the name given in the 16th century to the more extreme Protestants within the Church of England who thought the English Reformation had not gone far enough in reforming the doctrines and structure of the church; they wanted to purify their national church by eliminating every shred of Catholic influence.


Many of them were graduates of Cambridge University, and they became Anglican priests to make changes in their local churches. They encouraged direct personal religious experience, sincere moral conduct, and simple worship services. Worship was the area in which Puritans tried to change things most; their efforts in that direction were sustained by intense theological convictions and definite expectations about how seriously Christianity should be taken as the focus of human existence.
After James I became king of England in 1603, Puritan leaders asked him to grant several reforms, of which, mostly are rejected and the repressive attitude of Archbishop William Laud caused most of the Puritans to emigrate. Those who remained formed a powerful element within the parliamentarian party that defeated Charles I in the English Civil War. After the war the Puritans remained dominant in England and during the whole colonial period Puritanism had direct impact on both religious thought and cultural patterns in America. In the 19th century its influence was indirect, but it can still be seen at work stressing the importance of education in religious leadership and demanding that religious motivations be tested by applying them to practical situations.
Often in society people are criticized, punished and despis ...
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