Friday, September 24, 2010

Would the Puritans Have Executed John Adams For His Religious Heresy?

I dunno. But they said they would.

This article by Joseph Farah commits a common error among "Christian Americanists" confusing the "Founding" of America -- the Declaration of Independence -- with the "Planting" -- the Mayflower Compact and establishment of Puritan Massachusetts.

The Mayflower Compact was done under the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings, something the American Founding repudiated.

Read the link and see the MC begins:

In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord, King James, by the Grace of God, of England, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, e&. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith,...

And ends:

In Witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord, King James of England, France and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini, 1620.

Exactly what America rebelled against in 1776.

The 1641 Massachusetts Body of Liberties [arguably SIC] details the Christian content of their "Shining City on a Hill." Whatever the validity of the modern analogies between Christian conservatism and the Taliban, this code reads like a true American Taliban.

94. Capitall Laws.


(Deut. 13. 6, 10. Deut. 17. 2, 6. Ex. 22.20)
If any man after legall conviction shall have or worship any other god, but the lord god, he shall be put to death.


(Ex. 22. 18. Lev. 20. 27. Dut. 18. 10.)
If any man or woeman be a witch, (that is hath or consulteth with a familiar spirit,) They shall be put to death.


(Lev. 24. 15,16.)
If any person shall Blaspheme the name of god, the father, Sonne or Holie Ghost, with direct, expresse, presumptuous or high handed blasphemie, or shall curse god in the like manner, he shall be put to death.

[Page 274]

In particular it's the third under which the Puritans would have executed or at least threatened to execute John Adams, arguably the majority of the drafting board of the Declaration of Independence (Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams were all theological unitarians).

As Adams blasphemed:

"The Trinity was carried in a general council by one vote against a quaternity; the Virgin Mary lost an equality with the Father, Son, and Spirit only by a single suffrage."

-- John Adams to Benjamin Rush, June 12, 1812.

"If I understand the Doctrine, it is, that if God the first second or third or all three together are united with or in a Man, the whole Animal becomes a God and his Mother is the Mother of God.

"It grieves me: it shocks me to write in this stile upon a subject the most adorable that any finite Intelligence can contemplate or embrace: but if ever Mankind are to be superior to the Brutes, sacerdotal Impostures must be exposed."

-- John Adams to Francis van der Kemp, October 23, 1816.


Joe Winpisinger said...

This shows how things had evolved by the time of the Revolution. Are you saying that this occured because of the diminishing power of the Orthodox and that they had no choice but to be tolerant. OR another possibility is it happened because they became more tolerant.

I think it is the former and for many of the reasons Tom stated in his recent post on Protestantism. Once Baptists and other started to come the Puritians were either going to have to fight them or accomondate them. Once the can of worms was open accomondation of heretics was inevitable.

But a powerful point nonetheless against that fool Farah!

Tom Van Dyke said...

Farah didn't really write that. he compared the Mayflower Compact to the Declaration as a "mission statement," but didn't reference the Compact directly as something we should draw from today.

I am always puzzled by the constant references to the Mayflower, etc. by religious types, though. The lesson to be drawn from history is how the semi-theocratic Puritan scheme died off quite on its own, well before the Founding, without any help from the First Amendment.

King of Ireland said...

The untold story because of the "Harvard Narrative".

Anonymous said...

Do you know what vote Adams was talking about? Some early Church Council?

bpabbott said...

Re: " Do you know what vote Adams was talking about? Some early Church Council?"

My understanding is that Adams was referring to the First Council of Nicaea.

Anonymous said...

While I realize how harsh and Bible-based the Body of Liberties made Massachusetts, I would also like to point out the many liberties (hence the name)that the document granted. It's true that Adams would have probably been executed under the laws of the BOL, but he also would've had many rights in his trial (such as having a trial, a right to bail, even if he didn't live in the colony, etc. - very progressive for the time). In any event, none of the more than 90 rights granted would've protected him against the strict "Capitall Laws"... Just wanted to show both sides of the document