In Defense of Puritanism

Many of us think of 17th century Puritans as dour, conservative theocrats – nothing could be further from the truth. This video will argue that Puritanism was, in fact, a radically progressive social justice movement that directly inspired the principles of the Enlightenment, and first articulated foundational modern democratic beliefs about human rights, civil liberties, and individual freedom. Click here for a one-hour video produced by by Atun-Shei Films.

On April 1, 1649, a handful of farmers gathered on St. George’s Hill in Waybridge, Surrey, and began to dig furrows for their crops. The Diggers original name came from their belief in economic equality based upon a specific passage in the Acts of the Apostles and firmly rooted in Puritan ideology. While Puritans referred to themselves as saints, professors or the godly, other called them puritan, precisians and hypocrites.

While there certainly was some bigotry within Puritanism, and some of them did hunt witches, it was their hatred of the Catholic Church that led led to wide-spread paranoia and anti-Catholic bigotry.

Puritans founded four major lasting colonies in New England: Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Most think of Puritan Massachusetts as a brutally repressive fundamentalist theocracy, but elected secular officials held the most power.