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History too Kind to Puritans' Brutal Intolerance by Eric Sharp

  1. Ralph Deeds profile image71
    Ralph Deedsposted 5 years ago

    History Too Kind to Puritans' Brutal Intolerance [From the Detroit Free Press.]

    Americans who worry about Muslim countries adopting Sharia law forget that our country was first settled by Christian fundamentalists who codified their own version of religious absolutism -- and had no qualms about killing anyone who objected.

    And as you doze in front of the football game after Thanksgiving dinner, give a thought to the enduring myth this holiday perpetuates, that the Puritans who came to Massachusetts some 400 years ago believed in freedom of religion.

    The truth is that the Puritans had no problem with religious persecution. They just wanted to be the ones doing the persecuting.

    The "Body of Liberties," written in 1641 to govern the Massachusetts Bay Colony, incorporated many of the legal protections that would appear in the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights 150 years later. But it also said that anyone convicted of worshiping "any other God but the Lord God, he shall be put to death."

    It threatened the same penalty for witchcraft and denying that the Bible was the inspired word of God, and a law passed by the Plymouth Colony in 1671 prescribed death as the penalty for those who rejected Christianity.
    The new chosen people

    The Puritans were no worse than most of their Christian counterparts in the European nations they had left behind. After they were kicked out of the Levant at the end of the Crusades and could no longer slaughter untold numbers of hapless Muslins, Jews and funny-looking Eastern Christians in the name of Jesus, Europeans had turned to murdering each other by the thousands.

    The religious wars that followed Martin Luther's attempts to reform the Roman Catholic Church had the approval of the nations involved. And when they weren't killing each other, Christians often would vent their hostility on the small colonies of European Jews during murderous pogroms that continued in Germany and Eastern Europe well into the 20th Century.

    But we should not teach our children that the Puritans were any more tolerant than most of their European counterparts. The Puritans believed they were the new chosen people, selected by God to take over the role that in Biblical times had been fulfilled by the Jews.

    It was a convenient coincidence that their moral superiority and spiritual election allowed them to slaughter the Native Americans whose land they usurped.

    Our children's history books sometimes allude to the fact that the Puritans did kill Indians, but the textbooks I've seen make those conflicts sound like justified retaliation for Indian depredations on the colonists.

    They either fail to mention or simply gloss over the fact that the Puritans seized valuable agricultural lands the Indians had held for centuries. Nor do they mention that dozens of "heathens" were killed for every Puritan slain.

    And it wasn't only Indians who faced the wrath of the Puritans if suspected of nonconformity. Roger Williams, a Puritan rabble rouser who wanted to separate from the Church of England and not just to reform it, was driven out of the Plymouth Colony for denouncing "inforced (sic) uniformity of religion."

    Williams moved along the coast a few miles to found Rhode Island in 1636 and wrote that "forced worship stinks in God's nostrils."
    Teach real history

    The most notorious example of Puritan intolerance was the so-called Salem witch trials, which resulted in 19 people being hanged as witches and one man crushed to death under stones when he refused to plead guilty.

    But they weren't the first victims of doctrinal wrath. Twelve others, 11 women and one man, were executed as witches starting in 1647. And four Quakers were executed in Boston between 1659 and 1661 under a law passed in 1646 that made Sunday church attendance in the Massachusetts Bay Colony compulsory and imposed the death penalty on those who denied the Puritans' interpretation of the Bible.

    So when you bow your head over the Thanksgiving turkey this year, perhaps you should give thanks that you live in a much freer society than the one created by the Puritan founders of Massachusetts, and think about how teaching real history might give our children a better understanding of the world they live in.

    That might also help them understand that many Muslim peoples in newly liberated countries still have to travel much of that road we started down 400 years ago.

    Contact Eric Sharp: 313-222-2511 or esharp@freepress.com .











    http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/arti … 1111240487

    1. Pcunix profile image89
      Pcunixposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      One of my ancestors was Elder Brewster - one of the religious jackasses who contributed to their thought and deeds.

      Some people in my family are rather proud of that.   I think of him with rather less admiration :-)

    2. pennyofheaven profile image80
      pennyofheavenposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Thanksgiving should be an everyday event.

  2. LookingForWalden profile image59
    LookingForWaldenposted 5 years ago

    We gotta wait four hundred years?
    Sigh.

  3. A Troubled Man profile image60
    A Troubled Manposted 5 years ago

    Interesting Ralph, thanks for posting that.

  4. Jerami profile image78
    Jeramiposted 5 years ago

    Ralph Deeds wrote
    Americans who worry about Muslim countries adopting Sharia law forget that our country was first settled by Christian fundamentalists who codified their own version of religious absolutism -- and had no qualms about killing anyone who objected.
    =    ==  -=-   == +   ?

      I gotta admit   I skipped a couple-a paragraphs  ... I kept being distracted by the thoughts going on in my head  ....  which you provoked ...           but I gotta agree with what I thought the over all concept was about.

       To me ...  the history of organized religion pretty much mirrors the definition of the Beast, as described in Rev.13

       BUT   thank God. for the two witnesses (C 11)  which came down to,  kinda,  make everything balance out concerning the good and evil which exists within organized religion;  ....   bumping elbows , ...  while sitting on the pews.

        Is it not a true scientific term, that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction?              This keeps momentum alive in EVERYthing.

       I better stop here  ....  I could write a hub on this.

      but don't want to booooore YA.

    1. Mikel G Roberts profile image89
      Mikel G Robertsposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Nope. Newton was wrong.

      1. Jerami profile image78
        Jeramiposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        ?????

        1. Mikel G Roberts profile image89
          Mikel G Robertsposted 5 years ago in reply to this

          One of my first hubs. I have spent hours/years arguing it in the forums, and in the comments section of the hub.

          1. Jerami profile image78
            Jeramiposted 5 years ago in reply to this

            Maybe I should go read it?

            1. Jerami profile image78
              Jeramiposted 5 years ago in reply to this

              didn't find the hub, but found another one I liked and commented on.

              1. Mikel G Roberts profile image89
                Mikel G Robertsposted 5 years ago in reply to this

                I'm glad you liked the one you found. smile

    2. Will Apse profile image91
      Will Apseposted 5 years ago

      It is good that most of us expect people to be better than they are. But of course, they never will be.

      The sad thing is that myths are needed to cover our darker acts. Or perhaps, the fact that we need the myths (because we feel shame)is actually a cause for optimism.

      1. pennyofheaven profile image80
        pennyofheavenposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        Darkness reminds us that there is light and vice versa.

      2. Jerami profile image78
        Jeramiposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        .......  "It is good that most of us expect people to be better than they are. But of course, they never will be".

        ====  - = -
        me   
           

            Most everyone else has a different opinion of how good we are  ... than we do of ourselves.

    3. Mikel G Roberts profile image89
      Mikel G Robertsposted 5 years ago

      <<<Getting back on topic. I agree Ralph. True history and what kids are taught in school are two separate subjects.

     
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