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Difference Between Puritans and Separatists

Puritans vs. Separatists

The Puritans and the Separatists were both sects of Protestantism, from The Church of England.  While they may seem as though their ideals were very different, there is much in common with both groups.  While both the Puritans and the Separatists developed from the Church of England, they were able to reintegrate again in New England where they in turn followed their own beliefs.

The English Puritans first came about in the 16th and 17th century with the idea that the English Reformation retained too much Catholic influence. Puritans wanted the Church of England to further separate from the Catholic religion and follow stronger beliefs.   In the late 15th century, Robert Browne created the first Separatist church.  A Separatist also believed that the Church of England was too much like the Roman Catholic Church; however Separatists wanted nothing to do with the Church of England.  By definition, Puritans and Separatists believed the Church of England needed reform, however the Separatists did not want to stay with the church till it changed.

The Puritans believed that, a pure life was necessary to do the will of God.  There should be no pleasures in life and recreation was sinful, all time should be devoted to work and God.  Puritans also felt that a monarch, or king, should not be the leader of the Church.  Religion should be governed by the head of the church.  Separatists believed that they were selected by God as his people, and were going to be saved.  Additionally similar to the Puritans, the Separatists believed that a higher public standard was in order; people should act as representatives of God at all times.

After both groups separated from the Church of England, members of both groups fled England to escape from persecution under the king’s rule.  At the time, the monarchy could have beheaded anyone who chose to disobey the church. Puritans and Separatists thrived in America and were responsible for beginning the colonies in the New England area.  The Puritans who still believed in the practices of the church settled and formed the Massachusetts Bay colony, and the Separatists settled in the area of Plymouth Rock.  As time progressed, both groups were responsible for creating religions which are practiced today, the Unitarian and Baptist churches.

Summary:

  1. Puritans and Separatists stemmed from the Church of England.  Both groups were unhappy with the Catholic influence within the church. Puritans maintained the faith of the Church of England and the Separatists separated from the church entirely.
  2. Both Puritans and Separatists believed that life was to be devoted to God and that a king was not a proper religious figure to follow.
  3. Both groups fled England to save themselves from religious persecution under the king.  However, in the New World the Puritans settled in Massachusetts and the Separatists settled in Plymouth Rock.
  4. Puritans and Separatists eventually created the Unitarian, Baptist, and Presbyterian churches which are still widely practiced by many in the United States today.

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