The Oneida Community

John Humphrey Noyes founded the Oneida Community in 1848 in upstate New York. The Oneida residents, self-titled Perfectionists, set out to form a utopian society that broke free of traditional marital, family, and religious values. In what was called "Complex Marriage," everyone was married to one another and children were raised communally. Women were free to associate with men as friends or lovers on equal footing. Education was an important value in the community. In 1879 Oneida began to collapse due to tensions among the residents, as well as criticism outside the community. Noyes' radical utopia officially ended in 1881.


John Humphrey Noyes believed that true Christians were free of sin, and he justified this belief by concluding that Christ's second coming had already occurred in 70 CE. Because of this new principle, Noyes thought that he had no obligations towards traditional morals, especially those related to marriage and family. He started to build a following of those who agreed with his religious findings. His community started within his own family and slowly grew in size, increasing from 87 members at it's beginning to 306 members before its collapse.


- The entire community was married to each other.

- To prevent unwanted pregnancy, men would not ejaculate during intercourse

- When a young man or woman was fourteen years old, a Central Member of the community would take responsibility for them spiritually

- Members of the community were often reprimanded for misdemeanors, publicly.

- The members of the community were sinless after conversion, so they did not need to confess.

- Through converting, members were free from sin and therefore regenerated.

- Members of the community were separated from society by their sexual practices.

- The community believed in equality of the sexes.

- They believed that the Millennial Kingdom was established in 70 CE when, according to Noyes, Christ made his second coming.


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