The Scarlet Letter Background Puritans: historical background “Puritans”: name given to 16th century Protestants within Church of England. Name came from group’s desire to “purify” the Anglican church of any hint of Roman Catholicism. Wanted to return church to practices of early Christians as demonstrated in the Bible. Historical background In 17th century, many Puritans emigrated to the New World seeking to establish a holy Commonwealth in New England: to practice their faith in a way that would not draw persecution from the national Church of England (Anglican). Historical background They did not come to New World to found a commonwealth based on religious freedom. The “freedom” they sought was to establish a church/state whose laws would be derived from Biblical principles. Puritan “Founding Fathers” came to the New World in order to establish a “Utopian” state; the “New Jerusalem”; the “City on the Hill” Historical background In 1620 the Pilgrims founded Plymouth Colony (via Holland) in Massachusetts In 1630, Puritans founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the first major Puritan migration to New England. Historical background The “New Jerusalem” was built on the premise of humankind’s weakness and fallibility. Left to their own devices, people would succumb to Satan’s temptations unless the whole community stood as one against the Tempter. Historical background Thus, there were few differences between church and state laws; offenses against church were offenses against state. Puritan Code: Waste no time Duty and responsibility before pleasure Evil is evil, regardless of circumstance Man is imperfect God has predestined man’s salvation and grace Puritanism Puritan beliefs The Scriptures provide step-by-step instructions for church conduct and organization The Bible tells individuals exactly how to behave Human beings are put on earth to honor God and follow the calling that God has set forth for them Human nature is evil; only God’s grace can save people from eternal damnation The community has a responsibility to punish sinnners harshly for the good of their eternal souls Puritanism Forbidden: Music in church Drama Erotic poetry Swearing, idleness, drunkenness Christmas and May Day holidays (they added three holiday celebrations: Thanksgiving, election day, college commencement) Overview: Puritan Beliefs and Values Grace, plainness, mission Absolute sovereignty of God (many were Calvinists: predestination and “election”: a few are “chosen” to be saved) Total depravity of mankind Salvation entirely from God (grace) as opposed to a person’s good works, morality, intentions Importance of personal religious experience Education as the tool to understand and execute God’s will Bible is indispensable guide to life; literal interpretation of Bible Value of high moral conduct and hard work (link between Puritanism and capitalism) Union of church and state to form holy commonwealth Duty to direct national affairs according to God’s will as revealed in the Bible Simple worship services; “plain” style of preaching; emphasis on conversion. Puritan Beliefs and Values Important contributions High value on education (Puritans established Harvard College; between 1630 and 1690, there were as many university graduates in New England as there were in England). Foundation for political revolution in New World and England (contributed to establishment of English Parliament). Social vision with distinctively Christian character Value on community and political service.