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THE AMERICAN RELIGIOUS MYTH

 
 
Setanta
 
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2004 09:47 am
This morning on the local talk radio program, the guest was an editor of a collection of the writings of Thomas Jefferson. At one point, he quoted Jefferson's comments about priests and their inimical effect on freedom. Shortly thereafter, a caller began ranting that Jefferson was not talking about religious men and women in general, but only specifically about Catholic priests, and continued to rant about the evil nature of "Papism." To my dismay and disgust, both the show's host and the guest caved into to this tripe. Therefore, i will address the American religious myth.

America was founded by people fleeing religious persecution.

Poppycock. The first colony in English North America was at Jamestown. It was a miserably conceived and executed commercial venture which had eventually to be taken over by the royal government because of chronic mismanagement. Among those first colonists who survived (for many years, about 90% did not survive their first year) were many secret Catholics, who sought to practice their religion freely in a new world. To that extent, one could allege religious refugees--but it was not the purpose of the colony.

The Massachusetts Bay Company was founded by Puritans. But the "Pilgrim Fathers" were not fleeing persecution as is so commonly and erroneously contended. They willing left England, most at first for Holland, where ironically, in the midst of a religiously tolerant community, they felt their religious "purity" to be endangered. This is what lead to the Mayflower expedition, and not a flight from active persecution. After Charles I prorogued Parliament, the Puritan directors of the Massachusetts Bay Company conceived their plan to create a "godly republic" in the widlerness--and chose for their Governor, John Winthrop, then a lawyer in the Court of Wards and Liveries, an institution devoted to the fleecing of wealthy orphans on the part of the Crown. Those who left were substantial men--it is estimated that before Charles passed an ordinance to prohibit Puritans from leaving England, more than twelve million pounds sterling in specie had been taken out of the country. The notion of poor, harried, but noble religious refugees fleeing the imposition of a pervasive tyranny is simply nonsense.

In fact, in Massachusetts, a species of religious tyranny was established, with Roger Williams and Sarah Hutchinson as its most noteworthy victims. Williams founded Rhode Island to provide a haven for those being persecuted in Massachusetts. The Puritans became the Congregationalists, and that was the established religion of Massachusetts and of Connecticutt right up until the Revolution.

Pennsylvania was given to William Penn as a payment for the debts of the Stuart Kings to his father, Charles Penn. William was a "Quaker," but there was no active persecution of them in England, and the colony became a haven for all religions, who then had to fight against a governor appointed by the Penns, who was required by the terms of his appointment to refuse the land taxes on Penn property necessary to fund the colonial budget. The Quakers steadfastly opposed funding a militia--after all, they were wealthy merchants in Philadelphia, it was the poor, dumb Irish, Scots and German farmers on the frontier being killed by the French and Indians, why should they care?

Maryland was payment to English Catholics by Charles II for the shelter they had given him after his defeat at Worcester in 1651. Catholics, and in fact all religions other than the established English church, were under political debilities--but none were actively persecuted there. In Maryland, they simply had the freedom to practice their religion, and to participate in government.

The Irish and Scots-Irish who settled in Pennsylvania and the Carolinas were fleeing the impositions of the Puritans who had triumphed in the English Civil Wars, but their main motivation were the land laws instituted in that period, which ran against the grain of ancient Keltic custom which held all inheritance to be partible (i.e., to be divided among all heirs); the new land laws instituted inheritance by primogeniture (i.e., by the first-born or oldest surviving son). Certainly Scots-Irish and Scots Presbyterians were bitter about their defeat by Puritans, but they were not actively persecuted.

Only two small groups which came to the American colonies could have been said to have been fleeing active Catholic persecution. These were the Moravians, a Protestant sect originating in the lands of the Catholic House of Hapsburg, and the French Calvinists who fled France after the revocation of the edict of Nantes.

Basically, these colonies were filled by those fleeing economic deprivation, seeking economic opportunity, or seeking to establish their own small religious tyrannies. Arthur Shlesinger, Sr., writing in the 1920's and -30's, exploded almost all of these myths about religion and economics--and his work is largely ignored. Get a grip folks, almost nothing which you were taught in grammar school about our "founding fathers" was true.
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Joe Nation
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2004 05:15 pm
I am so glad, so, that you have started posting again.

so.
'

Joe
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2004 07:14 pm
Danke, Boss . . . i'm enjoying it . . . sometimes . . .
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Mr Stillwater
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2004 07:14 pm
Excellent work - if I have to read another 'USA' was founded on 'Christian values' statement again, I will hurl all over the PC. For the goddam record the first 'Christians' to the New World were Roman Catholics founding the settlements in Florida and what is now New Mexico.

The fact that the nation had already been peopled for 30,000 years or so does not seem to reach the radar of those folks. In fact the predominant 'religion' of North America at the founding of the US would have been Native American.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2004 07:16 pm
They had no bankers or credit instruments, Mr. Pondquility . . . they didn't count . . .
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Sofia
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2004 08:28 pm
Setanta-- and everybody else, I guess.

Are you saying large numbers of American settlers didn't leave other countries to flee religious persecution?
0 Replies
 
Acquiunk
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jul, 2004 09:00 pm
Set, I beg to differ on several of your points, but not on your thesis.
First, the Plymouth colonists were Brownists, not Puritans as were the Massachusetts colonist. The two sects and colonies had a touchy relationships.
Second Roger Williams got run out of Massachusetts for publicly ripping the Cross of St. James out of the English Standard (flag) to make the point that church (Anglican or reformed) and state should be separate. This was not only unpatriotic, it challenged the political prerogatives of certain Mass Bay individuals and he had to go.
Third, what ever one might think of Ann Hutchinson's political positions, she had a personality problem and few were sorry to see her leave.
Also though Massachusetts and Connecticut definitely were settled by English religious zealots, it faded rapidly and by the late 17th century they had reverted to type, rioting every time the Irish (Protestant) tried to settle.
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Joe Nation
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jul, 2004 04:17 am
Quote:
Setanta-- and everybody else, I guess.

Are you saying large numbers of American settlers didn't leave other countries to flee religious persecution?


That's the myth we teach to little children in school. It's a press agent's view of history-- ah, the first colonists there at Plymouth Rock--except they weren't the first, by far--escaping the cruel persecution of their beliefs--more like escaping higher taxes on the wealth they had already gathered--to make their way in the formidable wilderness-- to make a lot more money from free land and open trade routes. This is not to say that many of the ones who ended up in Massachusetts weren't believers in some form of religious nuttery, they were, but refugees, they were not. That's a revisionist view of the facts, redrawn so that sixth graders can make hats to take home to their moms at Thanksgiving.

Those first colonists on the East coast of America were tough-minded individualists looking for ways to make money. The Dutch, spotting a harbor they knew would prove worthy, plunked down on the end of the island where I am now. John Smith and his bunch chopped out a chunk of forest to make Jamestown, but those were two of the surviving establishments. The real story of the American settlement lies in the tales of those who tried and didn't make it. Did you know that there were dozens of other settlements around Jamestown? Read Martin's Hundred and other histories about those early days. Was religion important to those settlers? Yes. Was it the driving force in their lives? For some, but for most, their Bible was packed in their satchel next to their journal of debts and receipts.

And that's a good thing. It just doesn't make a very good myth.

Joe
0 Replies
 
Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jul, 2004 05:35 am
This is great stuff, guys. Thanks, from a former student who used to doze in history class! Very Happy
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jul, 2004 06:48 am
Sofia wrote:
Setanta-- and everybody else, I guess.

Are you saying large numbers of American settlers didn't leave other countries to flee religious persecution?


Yes Laughing ("The American West - Myth vs. Reality" is quite a common thesis at history departments/faculties, as I've learnt.)


Thanks, Joe.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jul, 2004 06:52 am
Acquiunk wrote:
Set, I beg to differ on several of your points, but not on your thesis.
First, the Plymouth colonists were Brownists, not Puritans as were the Massachusetts colonist. The two sects and colonies had a touchy relationships.


They, like the Massachusetts Bay colonists, had come to the "new world" not fleeing persecution, but to establish a "pure" religious colony. I did not mention Plymouth specifically, and the English Calvinists, by whatever name described, who first went to Holland, and then to the new world, did so see assylum to follow their beliefs unsullied by the "heresy" around them. Almost without exception, these groups arrived in the new world to establish communities in which there was no religious tolerance, such as had been offensive to them in Holland. You are correct to point out that the Mayflower expedition members were not Puritans per se--i have the habit of referring to all English Calvinists as Puritans. The point, of course, is that they were none of them fleeing active persecution. In fact, as i have noted, Charles eventually forbad the emmigration of the Calvinists, because England was bleeing specie at the time. Twelve million pounds was an enormous sum in the early 17th century.

Quote:
Second Roger Williams got run out of Massachusetts for publicly ripping the Cross of St. James out of the English Standard (flag) to make the point that church (Anglican or reformed) and state should be separate. This was not only unpatriotic, it challenged the political prerogatives of certain Mass Bay individuals and he had to go.


Roger Williams was not in fact "run out of Massachusetts." Arriving at Plymouth in 1631, he publicly questioned the authority of the General Court of the Governor and Selectmen of the Massachusetts Bay Company to pass on the legality of purely religious issues. He denounced the company charter because it allowed for the confiscation of the land of the aboriginals. He was placed under an order of expulsion in 1635, but left voluntarily to spend several months with local tribes. When he eventually lead a band of others disgusted with the rule of Winthrop to Narragansett Bay, they paid the aboriginals for the land they occupied.

Thank you for correcting me on Misstress Anne Hutchinson's name--i've always recalled that name incorrectly. Both she and Williams were accused of heresy. The two heresies involved were antinomianism and arminiamism. Misstress Hutchinson skirted dangerously close to antinomianism (that those filled with God's grace are liberated, and therefore not subject to man's law--in its extreme, the doctrine holds that as only grace, and not works, is the source of salvation, theoretically, the elect cannot sin in violating social law; on the flimsy charge that they were antinomianists, the early Anabaptists were accused of living in "free love communes" in which sexual license was rampant--hard to think of Baptists in those terms). More than anything else, in subscribing to the teachings of a newly arrived divine, whose name was Cotton, if i remember correctly (as i saddly often do not), offended the Governor and Selectmen of the General Court who eventually placed her on trial. Her having held private religious meetings in her home had certainly alarmed them, as likely to lead to the congregational fragmentation which many were convinced was leading to error and religious "pollution" in England. Williams was accused of arminiamism, i.e., that man chooses to seek God's grace as the path to salvation, as opposed to being "elected" by the Spirit of God. Ironically, this was likely not true at the time he left Massachusetts, and he initially helped to found a Baptist church in Rhode Island. Later, he in fact did become a "seeker," a non-denominational christian, and by that time, arminiamism was likely a valid charge. I frankly believe that the charge about desecrating the flag was a canard, and part and parcel with the historical fairy tales spread by Congregationalist in the early- and mid-nineteenth century when their dominance of Massachusetts religious affairs was challenged by their decreasing influence. I don't recall the exact date, but in the late 1840's or early 1850's, a Baptist was elected Governor of Massachusetts, and the "ancient elect" exhibited much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Almost all of the silliness about "Pilgrim fathers" and fleeing religious persecution arose in that era, and have been perpetrated on the American public ever since.

Williams most eggregious offense, not publicly admitted by the General Court, was the contention that a man may know of his own salvation, but not that of others (which is a tenet of arminiamism). As Winthrop had extended the franchise on the basis of good standing in a congregation of good standing, determined among the English Calvinist by the acceptance of a member as being numbered among the elect, this was a blatant challenge to the religious qualification for voting and holding public office as a Selectman.

However, with Williams in Rhode Island, founding America's first Baptist church and accepting the Society of Friends and other forms of "heresy," the authorities had a convenient dumping ground for their religious dissidents, such as Misstress Hutchinson. That Williams obtained a Royal Charter in 1644, in the midst of the first English Civil War, i continue to consider the flag desecration story just that--a story. It is further challenged by the decidedly "un-royal" character of the Massachusetts Bay Company. By an unusual device, they had removed to New England. The charters of such companies always required the Governor and Selectmen to meet in London, but that requirement had been omitted form their charter, probably an oversight. As i mentioned, Winthrop was a lawyer, as were many of the prosperous Puritans who were eventually to make war on their King. They used this loophole to establish their "godly republic in the wilderness," and took the actual charter scroll to Massachusetts with them. Another reason for their decision to leave Williams alone was their desire to attract no royal attention--when it was eventually discovered that they had removed the Charter itself, after the restoration in 1660, it was not long before the Charter was revoked, and they were placed under Royal government--but i'm to lazy to go look up the details. Sorry Acq, but for as much as i am aware of and respect your historical knowledge, i think you've got that one about Williams and the flag wrong.

Quote:
Third, what ever one might think of Ann Hutchinson's political positions, she had a personality problem and few were sorry to see her leave.
Also though Massachusetts and Connecticut definitely were settled by English religious zealots, it faded rapidly and by the late 17th century they had reverted to type, rioting every time the Irish (Protestant) tried to settle.


I think again that your characterization of Misstress Hutchinson is formed by the propaganda of the Congregationalist as formulated and perfected in the 19th century. In all that i have read on this topic, including in Winthrop biographies, her most offensive public behavior seems to have been that she challenged the authority of the General Court of Governor and Selectmen. She defiantly defended herself against them, and therefore eventually afforded them the opportunity to expell her on the basis of theological error. Consider if you will how well an outspoken, intelligent woman was received in 16th century Massachusetts. I have not read anything that ever suggested that she did not get along with her neighbors, and the fact that the popularity of her "after meeting" get-togethers in her home to discuss theology alarmed the authorities in fact suggests that she was far too well-liked in the community.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jul, 2004 07:02 am
Joe Nation wrote:
Was religion important to those settlers? Yes. Was it the driving force in their lives? For some, but for most, their Bible was packed in their satchel next to their journal of debts and receipts.

And that's a good thing. It just doesn't make a very good myth.

Joe


Nice turn of phrase, there, Boss.
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jul, 2004 07:05 am
Setanta- Did you mean, "Cotton Mather"?

http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/salem/SAL_BMAT.HTM

http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/mather.htm
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jul, 2004 07:10 am
I'm reading along. Not well enough educated to contribute.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jul, 2004 07:11 am
Acq, i would also point out that in contravention to what you've stated, even after the revocation of the Charter, the Massachusetts Bay Colony continued to have Congregationalism (as it had come to be known here--in England the Puritan remnants were known as Independents) as the estalbished religion of the colony (as was the case in Connecticutt). Hence, the strife and bitterness in Massachusetts and Connecticutt when the revivalists of the "Great Awakening" were ruthlessly suppressed by the authorities. Ruth never seems to be around when such shenanigans take place. They were digging their own political graves when they cracked down on the "New Lights," and it was thereafter, in the mid-18th century, that their influence began to wane.

I strongly urge those with an interest to look into the work done by Arthur Shlesinger, Sr. Most Americans were in fact, "unchurched" by the beginning of the 18th century, and a good many more were transported here as convicts. Stonewall Jackson was descended from convicts who met and married in Maryland. Additionally, the Dutch Reformed Church was long dominant in New York and New Jersey, until large-scale immigration began. German Protestants of various reformed congregations helped to fill up New Jersey and especially Pennsylvania, where Moravians came in large numbers. Delaware having been orginally a Swedish colony, the Lutherans were numerous there, and attracted other Lutherans. Scots-Irish Presbyterians and French Calvinist were in large numbers in the Carolinas, and the Scots-Irish joined the Germans in the Pennsylvania widlerness. These hard-headed farmers ignored what they considered the foolishness of the revivalist movement in the early 18th century--having never fallen from what they considered their own high principles, their churchs did not need to be revived. The myth of the significance of the "Great Awakening" must pointedly ignore the dwindling significance of the Congregationalist, the Presbyterians and the Baptists in order to continue to assert its significance--obviously, those with a stake in the contention of the religious origins of this nation are not going to take notice of dissenting religions, and a vast proportion of the population (40% or more in Shlesinger's estimation) as being unchurched.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jul, 2004 07:13 am


No Boss, he was another species of religious hypocrite altogether. I'll dig out the Winthrop biography i've read most recently and get the name later -- maybe . . .
0 Replies
 
BoGoWo
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jul, 2004 07:26 am
Set; you know that's all nonsense;

the first to 'colonize' America were the 'MacDonalds', seeking to sell "Big Macs" to the indiginous people. Their, eh, 'religion' had a certain 'green' tint to it!

the enterprize failed, of course, as the "Indians" preferred currie! Shocked Cool

[i can trivialize almost anything; it's a talent!]
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jul, 2004 07:46 am
Sofia wrote:
Setanta-- and everybody else, I guess.

Are you saying large numbers of American settlers didn't leave other countries to flee religious persecution?


Some did--i've mentioned the French Calvinists and the Moravians. Largely, however, the religiously motivated didn't want to dirty their skirts by contact with the benighted, heretical degenerates whom they saw around them (such terms are to be found in their correspondence and private journals). They came here to get away from the theologically "unclean" in England and Holland. Holland was especially offensive to them, as the legacy of William the Silent was a near complete religious tolerance. This incensed the English Calvinists, who felt that religious error must be corrected, or suppressed, or, if necessary, exterminated. It was only the fear of attracting attention from the authorities in England that prevented the more radical of Puritans in Massachusetts from taking stronger measures. Winthrop was not re-elected governor in every year, and his moderating (more or less) influence did not always hold sway in the colony. The Puritans there were only restrained from actively interferring with others because of a fear of being interferred with themselves in return.

Of the thirteen colonies:

Virginia--a failed commercial venture which flourished when first private capitalist and then royal control was removed. The Episcopal church was the established church, but it's writ rarely ran to the frontiers (in Washington's day, the frontier was the Shenandoah Valley and the upper reaches of the Appomatox River), and it could hardly compel the FFV's (first families of Virginia), whose ancestors had been very nearly sovereign monarchs on their own estates.

Massachusetts--originally containing seasonal settlements where Basque and French fishing fleets dressed and smoked or salted their catch, English settlers trickled in. As Acq has pointed outl, Plymouth was settled by a "sub-sect" of the Puritans, who were seeking to escape the religious "corruption" they saw in Europe. Samuel Maverick was probably a Puritan, but his little community (eventually Salem) was untroubled when founded in 1624, and was only brought under the control of the Massachusetts Bay Company after his death. Congregationalism was the establishe religion of the colony, and this remained true right up to the revolution. However, the strife of the revivalism in the early 18th century gutted Congregationalist authority, and the political infighting between the Otis' and the Hutchinsons prior to the revolution left the churches in the shadows. In the Connecticutt valley, the small farmers used the opportunity of the political upheaval in the 1760's to overthrow the power of the "River Gods," the first families who had settled western Massachusetts. These hardy pioneers had long defied requirements for attendence upon divine service.

New York and New Jersey were formed from the New Amsterdam colony, seized by James, Duke of York, in the last Anglo-Dutch war. They were Dutch reformed, James was a secret Catholic, and Charles II, Jame's brother, was canny enough to guarantee their religious practice, on the condition that they did not enquire into the creed of their tenants. This was not inimical to the practice of the Dutch, who were tolerant by constitution before James arrived.

Delaware was a failed Swedish colony, easily absorbed by the English, and Charles again recognized their right to practice Lutheranism, on the condition of them tolerating other confessions. It would be well to point out at this juncture that Charles had lead a Scots army into England in 1651, two years after his father was executed, and which was destroyed at Worcester. He escaped England by being hidden in "priest holes" in English Catholic homes, and the English Catholics put themselves at great risk to get him alive out of England. When his monarcy was restored by George Monck in 1660, he attempted to pass bills of religious toleration, which Parliament struck down. Thereafter, he was more cirucmspect. He acted privately to protect Jews in England, and required religious tolerance in the colonies established during his reign, which was most of them.

An English admiral whose life would make a great move, Charles Penn had virgorously supported Charles I. When the King lost and was beheaded, Penn easily turned his coat to serve Parliament, something which was not condemned in Europe in those days. He had lent large sums to the Crown, and Charles II was unable to repay them. Therefore, he gave to Willaim Penn, the son of the bawdy old admiral, the colony which became known as Pennsylvania. When Penn came to meet the King, as a Quaker, he would not remove his hat. All of the other "King's Gentlemen" of course went bare-headed in the King's presence. The King immediately removed his hat. A startled Penn asked him why he had done so. Charles replied: "We have a custom that only one man may keep his hat in the King's presence." Charles' early hardships in life (he wandered Europe in exile for 11 years) had created a wise, complex and fascinating personality. Pennsylvania's governors were appointed by the Penn family, and could only take office by swearing an oath to never lay a tax on Quaker land. This impoverished the colonial government, and their political history was one of constant strife. After the Revolution began, Pennsylvania wrote the most radical constitution in American history. The eastern portion was largely devoted to commerce, especially the Quakers, and religion held little sway when money was to be made (see Joe's post, above).

Maryland was another colony in the gift of the King, and he rewarded the English Catholics by granting the colony to the Calvert family, the most prominent of Catholic families, in the person of Lord Baltimore. The Test Act passed by a suspicious Parliament early in Charles' reign assured that those who were not Anglican "high church" would not participate in the government or the military, with the result that the Maryland colony became a haven for well-to-do Englishman who dissented religiously, and for English Catholics who were free there to openly practice their religion (in England, priests were under penalty of immediate execution if found in the realm, hence the "priest holes" in which Charles had hidden when fleeing England in 1651). Baltimore was also smart enough to ingratiate himself to Parliament and the Lords of Trade (the latter admiinistered the colonies) by accepting large numbers of convicts who could be used as labor by the colonists, may of whom had religious scruples against slavery. Slavery in Maryland was largely the product of "immigration" from Virginia.

The Carolinas were religiously wide-open. Although South Carolina ostensibly had Anglicanism as the established church, the planters of the Ashely River valley made a fortune growing indigo, and rice to feed the slaves in the Sugar Islands. Most flatly refused to pay for the livings of the ministry, and the establishment of the church fell flat on its face. The hill country and mountains of both of the Carolinas were settled by French Calvinists (who fled France after Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685--it was a charter of religious toleration in France passed by Henri IV), and by Irish and Scots-Irish farmers who were escaping the land laws in Ireland. Many Scots farmers came as well, to escape the hardscrabble poverty of farming in Scotland.

Georgia was established ostensibly as a penal colony, but the fever for free land had seized the British Isles, and to a lesser extent attracted Germans displaced by the Thirty Years War (1618-1648, many were still unsettled 60 years later), and no one inquired to closely into anyone else's confession.

The "religious" origin of the American colonies is a propaganda.
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jul, 2004 07:56 am
Some sects were persecuted for their beliefs, and IMHO, they peacefully endured all the persecution that they could gather.
Allow me to elaborate.

The Anabaptist movements, a widespread counterculture, in europe,produced the Mennonites,the Hutterites, and the Swiss Bretheren as root stock of the Anabaptist sects that still live today.
With the invention of the printing press, people began reading the Bible for , in most cases, the first time. This led to a rise in literal interpretations of Gospel. People babbled like babies because Jesus said"ye must be as children to enter the kingdom of heaven"
The authorities compounded , a list of the "gross heresies" like the Adamites (a cluster of believers who displayed public nudism as a means of personal revelation). The Free-Livers, The Weeping Brothers, The Blood Thirsty Ones, etc, all of these heresies got the old systems of authority a bit riled. when the big three reformists (Martin, Ulrich, and John) proposed their respective disciplines , they still retained infant baptism as a basic tenet., so it became merely a matter of "getting over it' with the main reformists. The Anabaptist Movement, was a further reform that was early and suatainably considered seditious .
Klaassen (1973) summarized
"....Anabaptism appeared as a cancerous growth that would destroy Europes religious and social institutions. The anabaptist beliefs were regarded as devil-inspired..."
The Schleitheim Articles which summarized the founding creeds , were penned by a Benedictine-turned Anabaptist and the rise of the martyrs began in earnest. The concept of passive separation, as listed in the '"Articles' was clear sedition to the authorities. Since the adoption of the articles in 1527, at least2 continuous and unrelenting centuries of persecution followed. The small bandsof Anabaptist dispersed ina reformist diaspora and settled into the boonies of the Jura and vosges Mountains and tried to blend in as best as they could to avoid stacking up too many martyrs. A secret police force of Anabaptist hunters
was set up in the German Palatinate and Alsace and continued until the waves of emmigration began with the first secret "tourist" visit of Joseph Pastorius to "Germantown " Pa in the late 1690s (Pastorius met with the penns as a diplomat to seek conditions of asylum for the anabaptist population)
the final straws occured in Switzerland and alsace and the Palatinate in the early 1700s. Here, similar to the Married Catholic priests 500 years earlier, Anabaptists wre not allowed to inherit from their parents because they were illigitemate in the eyes of the authorities. So , for the 3 root groups of anabaptists, the migration PHASE I began about 1712 and went on in 3 phases into the early 19th century. These people were, by all definitions persecuted.
While we look at their original trial belief sets and smile, Ive been given the verbal and written traditions by my Amish and Mennonite neighbors. they are passionate about their history, it reinforces , to them, why they have not become a militaristic sect in light of all that they endured .Their own history is a living testament to Their SChleitheiim Articles
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jul, 2004 08:10 am
Well stated FM. During the Wars of the Reformation, and the Thirty Years War, all sides attacked one another. During the later, it was hard for Catholics and Lutherans to know if they hated one another more, or the Anabaptists and Calvinists.

I've acknowledged that small groups came here fleeing persecution. (By the way, the Hussites pre-date the Protestant Reformation--Jan Hus was executed at Constanz in 1415.) However, on the larger theme of the putative religious character of the settlement of the colonies vis-à-vis the relatively small groups of which you speak, i would observe that one swallow does not a summer make.
0 Replies
 
 

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