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The Baptists are exponents of a form of Protestantism founded originally by John Smyth and Thomas Helwys in 1609 while living as émigrés in the Dutch Republic. Smyth had initially been a priest of the Anglican Church in England and Helwys a merchant alligned to the Dissenters. They are named "Baptists" because of their rejection of infant baptism for Christian membership, instead supporting baptism only when somebody is of an age to independently profess belief. Other early ideas included rejecting liturgy, heirarchial church structures and advocating freedom of religion. They are not to be confused with Anabaptists, a sect originating in Zürich with Conrad Grebel in 1525 (although Smyth moved closer to the Mennonites in later life and a number of his followers joined them).


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