Puritans vs Separatists: Difference and Comparison

The Puritans and the Separatists were Protestant factions from the Church of England, and although their goals may seem quite different, they have a lot in common.

While the Puritans and Separatists both contributed to the development of the Church of England, they were allowed to reintegrate into New England and follow their own beliefs.

Key Takeaways

  1. Puritans wanted to reform the Church of England, while Separatists wanted to separate from it completely.
  2. Puritans believed in a hierarchical church structure, while Separatists believed in a congregational structure.
  3. Separatists were more extreme than Puritans in their views on religious purity and separation from the Church of England.

Puritans vs Separatists

Puritans were a group of English Protestants who sought to purify the Church of England from what they saw as Roman Catholic practices and beliefs. Separatists, also known as Pilgrims, were a group of English Protestants who were dissatisfied with the Church of England and sought to separate themselves completely from it.

Puritans vs Separatists

The Puritans were British Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries. They tried to get rid of the Roman Catholic tradition of the Church of England, believing that it had not yet been reformed and needed to become more Protestant.


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Puritans were unhappy with the English Reformation’s restricted scope and the Church of England’s acceptance of some traditions linked to the Roman Catholic Church.

Separatists, also known as Independents, were English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries who wanted to break away from the Church of England’s alleged corruption and set up their own local churches.

Separatists had the greatest political clout in England under the Commonwealth (1649–60) under Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, who was a Separatist himself. They eventually defeated the persecution and became an important religious minority in England.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonPuritansSeparatists
DefinitionPuritans are a group of Protestant extremists. The Separatists are a group of Puritans.
AimPuritans would not want to separate away from the Church of England.Separatists desire to be separate from the Church of England.
BeliefsPuritans are adamant about their beliefs.Separatists are not firm in their beliefs.
CleansePuritans sought to cleanse the Anglican Church by whatever means necessary.They wanted to leave genocide and ethnic cleansing behind.
DependencyNot all Puritans are Separatists.Separatists are Puritans

What are Puritans?

Puritans were Protestants who felt the modern church had gone too far from its biblical foundations. They believed that the Roman Catholic Church had been especially terrible in this regard but that the Church of England (Anglican Church) had maintained far too many Catholic traits.

They desired to return to what they considered to be “true” biblical Christianity. They didn’t want the Anglican Church’s structure and ritual, for example.

On the other hand, the Puritans were not so extreme that they wanted to leave the Church of England. They intend to change it from the inside out. Separatists wanted to set up their own church (as their name suggests).

They believed that the Church of England had sunk too low and that it could no longer be saved. Therefore, the Puritans were not as extreme as the separatists, who tried to separate from the Church of England.


What are Separatists?

Separatists did all they could to resist the English church’s practice during the time. Separatists sought to safeguard ethnic cleansing and genocide victims.

Separatist actions are sparked by economic motives as well, in the sense that they seek to put an end to the economic exploitation of the poorer group by a more powerful group.

As the name suggests, a separatist is someone who opposes the Church of England. To put it another way, he actively promotes the separatist. Separatists oppose the Church of England and wish to be free of it.

They’d also want to set themselves apart from so-called non-believers. It’s worth noting that there’s another kind of separatist known as ethnic separatism.

Ethnic separatist is more founded on cultural and linguistic differences than on religious differences. They have very little to do with religious differences or even ethnic differences. It must be recognized that the instability of one separatist movement may lead to the emergence of another.


Main Differences Between Puritans and Separatists

  1. Puritans are a group of Protestant radicals. They were dissatisfied with the Church of England’s Reformation. However, they did not abandon the church and continued to advise changes. The Separatists were a group of Puritans who broke away from the Church of England because they didn’t like the changes and their methods.
  2. Separatists oppose the Church of England and wish to be free of it. They would also want to distinguish themselves from so-called non-believers, while Puritans did not seek to distinguish themselves from the Church of England. On the other side, they simply wish to rid the Church of the Catholic Church’s influence.
  3. Puritans are adamant about their beliefs. Separatists, on the other hand, could not be considered to be like that since they want to be free of everyone.
  4. Puritans sought to purify the Anglican Church by whatever means necessary. That was not the case with separatists. They wanted to move away from ethnic cleansing and genocide.
  5. Puritans and Separatists are both included when the term Puritan is used in a broad sense. As a result, although all Separatists are Puritans, not all Puritans are Separatists.
Difference Between Puritans and Separatists
  1. https://academic.oup.com/ehr/article-abstract/CXXIV/510/1050/416469
  2. https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1525/9780520908031-009/html

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