Puritans and Salem Witch Trials

2245 words 9 pages
Puritans and the Salem Witch Trials

During the time period of 1691 to 1692 the town of Salem, a small thriving community within the Puritan Massachusetts Bay colony, was struck by widespread hysteria in the form of witch trials. The way these trials and accusations played out are historically unlike any other witch trials found in European and American history. Historians have pointed to a number of economic, political, and social changes of the then existing institutions throughout the Massachusetts Bay area to be the cause of the Salem witch trials, along with the direction they took. If studied closely however, it becomes apparent that the main cause for the Salem witch trials can be found in the way the people of Salem viewed and
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However, when the Massachusetts Bay colony was first formed, in order to become a citizen you had to be a member of the church, and in order to be a member of the church you had to be what was called a “visible saint.” Puritans believed that a distinction could be made between people who were saved and damned by the way they lived their lives and how closely they modeled their lives to the Bible. Consequently, they felt that those who strictly upheld the Bible were those who were saved, and in turn were visible saints. This line of thinking set up a community in which a person’s religiosity determined their status in a community. The Puritan community became one in which religion became a main focal point, as well as one in which people were continually examining the actions of their neighbors trying to determine whether they could truly be considered a visible saint. (Lorence-4) It was common belief in the Puritan religion that the Devil existed and was on a continual mission to turn Christians from God. This belief was expressed in a sermon of Samuel Parris in which he stated: “John 6:70. ‘Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil.’ Our Lord Jesus Christ knows how many Devils there are in his Church, and who they are. (Lorence-5). Sermons such as these set the mood of Salem during the time of


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