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The Puritans

            Puritans were English Protestants who wished to reform and purify the Church of England of what they considered to be unacceptable remains of Roman Catholicism. In the 1620s leaders of the English state and church grew being heartless to Puritan demands. They insisted that the Puritans conform to religious practices that they hated, removing their ministers from office and threatening them with" extirpation from the earth" if they did not follow their rules. Passionate Puritan laymen received savage punishments. For example, in 1630 a man was sentenced to life imprisonment, his property was confiscated, his nose slit, his ear was cut off, and his forehead branded with "S.S." (Sower of Sedition). .
             Beginning in 1630 as many as 20,000 Puritans immigrated to America from England to gain the liberty to worship God as they chose. Most settled in New England, but some went as far as the West Indies. The Puritans were "non-separating Congregationalists." Unlike the Pilgrims, who came to Massachusetts in 1620, the Puritans believed that the Church of England was a true church, though it was in need of major improvement. Every New England Congregational church was considered an independent unit, grateful to no chain of command. The membership was composed initially of men and women who had undergone a change experience and could prove it to other members. Puritan leaders hoped that once their experiment was successful, England would imitate it by instituting a church order modeled after the New England Way. .
             The first groups came in the Mayflower and were included with the group called Pilgrims. Their religious principles set them apart as Puritans. They believed that the Bible was God's true law and that it provided a plan for living. The established church of the day, described access to God as simple. Puritans stripped away the traditional trappings and formalities of Christianity, which had been slowly building throughout the previous 1500 years.

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