Independents, in religion, those bodies of Christians who claim freedom from ecclesiastical and civil authority for their individual churches. They hold that each congregation should have control of its own affairs. In a historic sense, it is ordinarily applied to churches in Great Britain now known as Congregational. The name Independents came into use in the 17th cent. and was in use in Great Britain until the end of the 18th cent. See Congregationalism; Puritanism; separatists.