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The Baptists

Baptists are a branch of Christianity that came about probably in the early seventeenth century, as far as historical evidence goes. The term Baptist comes from the major rejection of infant baptism - Baptists believe that a human being must be old enough to proclaim his faith and association with the church by his own free will in order to become part of the religion. This contrasts with other Christian denominations such as Roman Catholicism where the parents of the infant take responsibility for baptizing them at a very young age where they do not have the ability to choose. Statistically, over 90 million people in the entire world call themselves a Baptist (in almost 300 congregations). 47 million of these are in the United States alone. Baptists exist in the United States as the second largest Christian denomination in the country, with Roman Catholics coming in first place. Baptists are also the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.

Baptists have their native roots in England, started with the beginnings of Christianity in Europe. Nobody knows how Christianity was introduced into England, or when, but after many years, English Christians began to ask for reform within their churches. Their belief that the church had strayed from its purpose and intents led them to seek this reform. The Church of England did not meet their standards, even after several rulers attempted to change it to meet demands. However, it wasn't enough. The people wanted greater involvement in the church and its processes; they felt the church had become selfish and strayed from "the message of the Bible" (McBeth).

Eventually these people gathered as groups to seek ways to reform the church. Under the influences of John Calvin (McBeth 2), they formed the Puritans, named possibly for the desire of seeking purity within the Bible and its teachings, away from the corrupted ideas of the Church of



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