Did you know the myth of Thanksgiving taught in our schools is full of mistruths?
What we are taught is that the Pilgrims came to America in search of religious freedom. While that may have a germ of truth in it, the truth is far different. The Pilgrims sought religious freedom for themselves only.
They sat up the Congregational church as a state church in Massachusetts and then instantly began to persecute the followers of other faiths. And not only Anglicans and Catholics but even fellow Calvinists as well. Even Baptists.
Roger Williams had to found the colony of Rhode Island for religious freedom.
Believe it or not in these days of the Religious Right, Baptists were founded on the principle of religious freedom and the separation of church and state. I greatly admire the original Baptists for this.
Don’t withdraw it! You’re right: there are many myths about Thanksgiving, some of which involve religious freedom, in which the former persecuted became the persecutors. A lesson for the present. Even today, Baptists come in many shapes and sizes, and some of them are quite liberal, including Jimmy Carter and Bill Moyers. They are not uniform in their beliefs.
If I were rich I would move to Long Island ASAP. But I am not, instead I live in Andrews Texas where Southern Baptists and worse rule.
They do not believe in church-state separation they think their church should run everything.
Being in the South liquor is still an issue. We had a local option election and the ‘wets’ won the first time in history. Even though they lost the election the Baptists on city council are still fighting they are passing laws that make it nearly impossible to buy beer and wine by pushing the distance between stores selling alcohol and schools and churches.
By me the decision to drink is a personal decision, even though I drink very little it’s my decision and not some Baptists decision to make for me.
I think you are taking commonly held ideas about the Pilgrims and then juxtaposing them as a political commentary on your dealing with Baptist in Texas. Likewise, you are trying to judge or make comments about people in the 1600’s with today’s standards and political understanding. It’s too easy to look at a group of people like the pilgrims and imply that they are a bunch of hypocrites because they tried to escape religous persecution in England yet when they set up their colony, their children turned around and went after others that didn’t share their religous ideas. You are not considering the times of the 1600’s where there wasn’t any religious freedom as we know and understand it today anywhere in the world. While they came to practice their faith as well as evangelize the native Americans (another over looked fact), they were still under the English crown and set up their early forms of government following what they basically understood and came from which is a state religious form of government. Yes, some of the other colonies ended up being setup like Rhode Island and Pennsylvania for furtherance of religious freedom. Again you are lumping todays standards with the past and linking political ideas together that don’t really belong. The relgious freedom as we have in the US today was not done in overnight sweeps but in baby steps in history and the pilgrims and their story is a baby step. Just like the US constitution which is suppose to put limits on the government was done in baby steps in history starting with the Magna Carta which put limits on the power of a King.
Yes, but to be fair, I think the Pilgrims were children of their times. Apart from a small number of leaders --the Baptist Roger Williams in Rhode Island and the Quaker William Penn in Pennsylvania come most easily to mind for me—who else believed in the rightness of the religious freedom? As far as I can recall, none of the established churches in Europe–Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, Presbyterian—did. What about the Orthodox Churches when they had the power to persecute heretics and limit the rights of non-Orthodox? Did they allow religious freedom? ( That’s a real question, not a rhetorical one.)
It’s easy for us to look back and be aghast at the way the Pilgrims persecuted others when they had the chance to be in charge. But I wonder, if we were thrown back to those times, would we ourselves understand the justice of religious liberty the way we do today? Or would we, as did they, just go along with the idea that it was in the best interest of the society to eliminate “heretics”?
You said this better, but this is what I had in mind while I was doing my pokey writing.
I do have a real question for history experts who may be around. Prior to men like Brother Williams and Friend Penn, was there a semblance or a seed of our modern idea of separation of church and state and full religious liberty anywhere in Europe since the time of Jesus?
If we were projected back into those times, we’d get our necks stretched in short order if we did not keep our different opinions about religion to ourselves.
Societal cohesion is crucial to the common good, and until the 1700s, that cohesion was understood to include religion. Those who challenged the majority faith were seen as threatening the society itself. We can’t really relate to that anymore.
yes, these were baby steps towards religious freedom. These people were still under the crown of England and I think England let them be because they were thousands of miles away and across an ocean, so they could believe what they wanted and not be under the thumb of the Church of England. The new Protestant governments like England were worst to those that didn’t want to follow the state religion than the Catholic ones which are usually blamed here (ie inquisition). The pilgrims wanted to set up a new Israel which is how they saw themselves as well and that did not include other Christian ideas and denominations.
I agree. One time period of greater-then-typical religious harmony that comes to mind for me, fuzzily ( high school Spanish class!), is when the medieval Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim populations of Spain went through something of a golden age of learning from each other.
I always understood the settling of the Pilgrims as more of a… expelling than going in search of “religious freedom.” I also don’t think it is unfair to call someone a hypocrite who expects tolerance but sets up an intolerant system. Just because someone was beaten as a child, doesn’t mean one should overlook their beating as an adult.
Either way, the aspect of communal vs private property and the early results of these systems is also an interesting and often ignored conversation.
The so called golden age in Spain is another myth of history books. Catholics were always in battle and under threats from Muslims from Moracco and the Jewish population was caught in the middle. Only when King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella married and untied their respective states, did the Catholics have enough of a united front the beat back the Muslims and kick them out. Sadly though, they went after Jews as well. There is nothing in the history of Islamic expansion that included tolerance towards people of the book (Jews and Christians). Again this is somewhat off topic but history myths do need to be addressed anytime they come up.
It’s kind of like how they gloss over the famine in Ireland and blame it all on the potatoes while neglecting to mention Elizabeth I starved the Catholics in Ireland to death and the likes of this mass starvation wouldn’t be seen again until Joseph Stalin in the 1920s. They never make the connection of the ethnic cleansing and the Catholic v Protestant issues between the UK and Ireland. You want to jump up and say they obviously aren’t disputing things like the Real Presence in the Eucharist or what books belong in the Bible which are typical Catholic v. Protestant disputes and it is seemingly all political.
So just what is wrong with including more of the history. The pilgrims did leave England to escape persecution for their beliefs, and did in fact then turn around and persecute others for their beliefs. Irony, hypocrisy, tragedy, you can call it what you like but it still happened and there’s no reason to avoid that aspect of our history and it shouldn’t be forgotten. When we ignore to the point of forgetting we have to learn it all over again.
First of all, I wasn’t denying that the pilgrims left Enland for the netherlands and then the New world due to religious persecution. Likewise, I didn’t deny that they then (or at least their children) turned around to make a official state run church which then went after others. What my point is that we could right them off as hypocrites but not realize that the pilgrims and the puritans were products of their time and in the 1600’s open relgious freedom as we know and understand it today was not the reality then. But their desires, the Mayflower compact were stepping stones to our current open religious freedom. Understanding people in the times they lived puts in proper perspective the past and what happen. It doesn’t excuse the bad things because even today, we have bad things that our decendents will judge us by as well.