ENGAGED in contention among themselves, the various Protestant sects in American colonies sought in common the suppression of Catholics; and Protestant and Catholics alike desired the elimination of Freethinkers.
The characteristic of that long-drawn age was the effort of religious authority to stifle iconoclastic thought. Arrogating to itself all rightness, each creed condemned other creeds as wrong. None could prove that it was the sole repository of truth, yet each maintained that position. And to make it inviolate, the force of law was stretched to its utmost against anyone voicing skepticism or challenge of the cardinal tenets of the established creed. With all the execration implicit in it, the hard epithet "blasphemer" was applied. Often blasphemy was made synonymous with atheism. This is not supposition. Embedded in laws of the time we find the attitude and atmosphere, and dry as such search may seem, it yields results which do not stand upon the slippery ground of assumption or inference. If a particular law was transient, soon to be wiped out, it would now convey no special significance. But when we find a series of laws, all to the same end and extending over large stretches of time, then we can accept them as a sure depiction of the processes of that time.
However they might be deprived of it, every one of the creeds insisted upon its full right to differ from the others, but none allowed the same right to the disbeliever. Unbelief need not go to the length of denying God. It might object to the special interpretation of God. Or it might do little more than balk at accepting the claims made in the name of God, the forms with which religion invested itself, and the utter restraint on all criticism. All of this was branded as the crime of blasphemy. In the era of America's settlement
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Publication information: Book title: History of Bigotry in the United States. Contributors: Gustavus Myers - Author, Henry M. Christman - Editor. Publisher: Capricorn Books. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1960. Page number: 12.
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