The Salem Witch Trials, and other witch trials though out the early American colonial period, were a terrible tragedy, the reasons of which are still debated. A variety of possible reasons have been claimed, but one stands out to me as the most likely reason. Many of my classmates have put forward one argument or another, and I think most of the reasons put forward did, to an extent, have an effect on the witch trials. Overall I agree with Kindig that the primary reasoning behind the witch trials were religious, however I would expand on that assertion.
In looking at the witch trials in the context of the great awakening, it bares an obvious resemblance to the witch trials which took place in Europe following the reformation. But what is the uniting factor which explains why both these periods of religious change should cause witch trials? As I see it, the witch hunts came about as a result of a shift of religious authority from the educated elite to a more personal or grassroots religiosity. This change in who controlled the religious power could have moved the concept of witchcraft into the forefront as the more superstitious religion of less educated common folk moved to the fore. This i think is the most logical explanation for the trend itself, however each individual trial was most likely caused by different individual factors, which played into the trend.