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Characteristics of the Puritan and the Quaker Essay

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Updated: Jul 29th, 2020

The Fundamental Features of Puritan Life

The study analyzes the patterns, which may be differentiated in the existence of Puritan and Quaker societies as well as offers an insight into the contemporary revelation of these patterns, in the life of Americans.

The way of Puritan life extended from the cultural, religious, and moral persuasions of the individual, who conveyed Puritanism. According to the historical records, the movement was launched by the group of people, who opposed the activities of the Anglican Church. The theory of Puritanism was developed under the influence of John Calvin, who was the leader of Protestantism. The central idea, which constituted the doctrine of Puritanism referred to the fact that its representatives did not agree with the laws that were dictated by churches. According to Puritans, the only dogmas, which could have been followed by humanity, were prescribed by the Bible. In this context, it may be claimed that Puritanism resisted church as the source of authority and took a direction on the purification of the religion and binding it to Bible regulations.

The functioning of Puritan communities may be characterized by a stable system of features. Primarily, the experts claim that Puritans were extremely friendly and ready for mutual cooperation. Indeed, the representatives of the movement were settling in the New England area, which promoted a rapid rise of the movement representatives as well as a maximal expansion of the Puritan principals (Butler, Wacker, & Balmer, 2008). The community was characterized by a strong religious unity, which made Puritan ideas extremely popular throughout England. Moreover, Puritans, who were perceived as immigrants in the New England area, were responsive to the needs of each other and developed a culture of church opposition.

The critical feature of the Puritan community may be expressed by the attachment of individuals to the laws of the Bible. For instance, according to the religious script, a special place, in society, is given to a man. Accordingly, the functioning of the Puritan community was marked by a distinct patriarchate. Thus, women had no rights to vote or express their opinions in public, which signified their submission to males’ will. Furthermore, the urgency and importance of religious issues were expressed by the fact that voting rights were granted exclusively to the males, who had a solid educational preparation and occupied high positions in society.

The level of learning preparation, in Puritan society, was quite efficient, in comparison to the general academic success rates, which existed in the English community. Thus, even families with low financial opportunities strived to provide their children with basic study opportunities. This desire was motivated by the idea that the most critical skill for every Puritan was reading since it was important for the representatives of the community to excel in reading and understanding Bible scripts.

Finally, the most vital feature, which defined Puritan society, referred to the obedience of church laws and, consequently, the punishments for religious detachment. Specifically, Puritans were supposed to attend church two times per week. Furthermore, church attendance was linked to basic governmental and public meetings. If the laws were not followed, the citizens could have been publicly punished through hanging, ear cuttings, etc.

Quakers: Community Characteristics

The religious community, which is called the Group of Friends or Quakers’ society, evolved in the 17th century by the English dissenter, George Fox. The doctrines of the society have a long history of existence, and the impact of its functioning may still be traced in the American culture. The primary idea, which was put in the group foundation, embraced the persuasion, according to which every person had his/her inner God inside. The name of the movement stems from the title of the New Testament Gospel and emphasizes an inner commitment to Christ. The movement of Quakerism has some resemblance to Puritanism. Thus, both Quakers and Puritans claim a direct interaction with God rather than following clerical doctrines.

The main characteristics of the Quakers’ life embrace pacifism and practicing silent commitment to God, in everyday routine. Primarily, the representatives of the movement detach themselves from specific religions such as Baptism or Buddhism and find faith in their inner world. The second feature of the Quakers’ functioning refers to the appreciation of silence as the means of getting closer to God. Therefore, the experts claimed that the participants of the group are often introverts, who detach themselves from casual communication. The third critical specialty, which relates to Quakers’ society, is a rejection of any form of opposition, no matter whether it refers to a verbal or physical struggle.

For instance, the support of any war activities is perceived by Quakers as the direct denial of Christ’s ideals. Moreover, the representatives of the analyzed religious group have a strong belief in simplicity, which may be revealed in their dressing styles. Thus, both rich and poor social groups of Quakers are persuaded that any kind of material luxury is the betrayal of God. Therefore, they are likely to choose simple and comfortable clothing and reject fancy decorations or jewelry. Finally, Quakers appreciate the isolation and looking for an inner peace, they pay much attention to sharing their ideas in large communities. Thus, due to the representatives of the movement, the common prayer has a special power and enhances the Quaker society strength.

The Revelation of Puritans’ and Quakers’ Movements in American Community

The influences of the Puritan culture on the life of modern Americans may be traced in different social life domains such as governmental ruling, literature, and philosophical thought. Specifically, it may be argued that the ideas of John Winthrop, who conventionalized the concept of liberty in his writings, created a strong impact on the democratic development of America.

Therefore, the statement of positioning liberty in the focus of courts’ functioning was overtaken from Winthrop’s theory, according to which the functioning of magistrates prioritizes the rights of a person as the highest virtue (Butler & Stout, 1998). The leader of the movement, also, gave a consistent explanation to the notion of natural liberty, which, currently, takes a critical place in the US social relations. Thus, the Puritans were persuaded that every individual is free to express his opinion. Today, the feature lays in the foundation of American democracy. The second effect of Puritan dogmas on the modern life of the US government order embraces a separation between religion and state.

The idea was formulated by one of the Puritan leaders, Roger Williams, who suggested that the functioning of government can not be correlated with the church tasks since, according to Puritanism, God is sacred can not be compared to such earthly matters as state ruling. The underlying principle of governmental separation, which functions in the USA, today, is based on the supposition that the church can not interfere with the authority of a state, which equals to the Puritans’ idea. Therefore, the analysis proves that the theory of Puritanism still resonates in today’s life of Americans.

The impacts of Quakers on the life of Americans embrace the ideas of equality and war rejection. According to the statistics, the number of Quakers has dropped, in the last thirty years, which reduces the authority of the Group of Friends, in the USA. However, the community of Quakers made a terrific influence on the abolition of slavery and, therefore, on the prevention of discriminatory tendencies, in America. Thus, the activities, which were embraced by the group, involved expelling the slaveholders from Friends’ Unions as well as organizing multiple actions in support of human equality throughout the country.

The pattern was developed under the main principle of Quakers, which states that every person has an inner God inside, no matter which race or ethnicity is represented by an individual. Conclusively, the Quakers were the first to claim the liberty rights for Afro-Americans. Except for racial inequality, the activity of Quakers targeted the rejection of gender-based discrimination. Thus, the experts claim that the organization of Worship and Ministry, which consists of Quaker representatives, became a model of non-discriminative authority representation for America.

Mainly, the group had a strong appreciation of non-biased gender inclusion, which meant that the voting rights belonged to the equal number of males and females, within the organization. The pattern was overtaken by many American parties and non-governmental organizations, which aimed to show the importance of inequality rejection. Moreover, the functioning of Quaker organizations produced a consistent effect on the development of feministic groups, which took up the idea of female rights as the guiding social principle. Therefore, the fundamental social ideals, which represent America, stem from the activities of Quakers.


Butler, J., & Stout, H. (1998). Religion in American life: A reader. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Butler, J., Wacker, G., & Balmer, R. (2008). Religion in American life. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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