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How the Puritans Differed from the Pilgrims Essay


The Puritans and the Pilgrims were two significant immigrant groups who moved from England to America in the 1600s. Both groups existed in England at a time when the country underwent a break with Catholicism. Following this break with the Catholic Church, The Church of England was established and every Englishman was required to acknowledge its authority.

This new state of affairs led a group of religious people to seek immigration to the New World so that they could exercise their religious freedoms. Thus in the early 1600s, the Pilgrims and the Puritans headed left England for America out of religious considerations. This paper will highlight the major differences between the Puritans and the Pilgrims.

The most significant difference between the two groups is that while the Pilgrims desired a separation of church and state, the Puritans only wanted to purify the Church of England from within. The pilgrims did not want to belong to the Church of England and they took to holding meetings in barns and homes. These separatists formed their own religious rules and traditions (Velm 83).

Because of this, the King of England persecuted the Separatists. These pilgrims therefore moved to America, which was viewed as a place where they could have the freedom to worship the way they wanted. The Puritans on the other hand viewed did not seek a separation from the English establishment and only wanted to carry out reforms to remove corruption from the church.

The Puritans emigrated to the New World since they were persecuted in their attempts to instigate reforms in the Church of England. The two groups also differed in their perception of God. The Puritans deemed religion as a guideline for everyday living and God was regarded as a strict supernatural being who ruled over all. The Puritans laid great emphasis on spirituality and members of this group had great biblical knowledge (Conforti 190).

Owing to their concern for Christian purity, the Puritans were strict in their way of life. Conversely, the Pilgrims had a more accommodating perception of God who was viewed as a benevolent and lenient ruler who could forgive easily. The pilgrims had a more liberal approach to worship and religion and little emphasize was made on spirituality.

The Pilgrims way of life was more tolerant and it did not have many restrictions. The other difference between the two groups is that while the Pilgrims emphasized on individual righteousness before God, the Puritans were committed to corporate righteousness. The Pilgrims were in favor of a strong separation between the church and state and for this reason; they were regarded radical rebels (Velm 83).

To this group, each person was accountable for his or her own actions to God and corporate righteousness was unbiblical. The Puritans on the other hand supported corporate worship and deemed the state as integral to the perpetration of religion. The Puritans were of the opinion that the role of the government was to enforce God’s laws.

The Puritans and the Pilgrims played a major role in the development of the American colonies. This paper set out to articulate the difference between the two groups. To this end, it has documented that the major difference was that the Pilgrims were Separatists while Puritans wanted to purify the Church of England. In spite of their differences, the two groups move to the New World where they were able to practice the religious freedoms they did not enjoy in England.

Works Cited

Conforti, Joseph. Imagining New England: Explorations of Regional Identity from the Pilgrims to the Mid-Twentieth Century. Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 2001. Print.

Velm, Greg. Wiley AP U.S. History. NY: John Wiley & Sons, 2012. Print.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "How the Puritans Differed from the Pilgrims." July 1, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/how-the-puritans-differed-from-the-pilgrims/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'How the Puritans Differed from the Pilgrims'. 1 July.

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