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Molded by grade school lessons and Hallmark commercials, we reverently refer to those brave pioneers at Plymouth as our "Pilgrim Fathers." Of course, if we actually did file a class action paternity suit, most of us couldn’t prove it. Furthermore, we really wouldn’t want to be related to them. The Pilgrims were a bunch of 17th century Jerry Falwells.

They were the loony fringe of the Puritans; compared to them, Oliver Cromwell was a liberal softie. We were taught that the Pilgrims fled religious persecution in England and Holland. In fact, they fled religious tolerance in those countries.

Pilgrims could not abide other Protestants (except the equally morbid Presbyterians); you can only imagine how they regarded Catholics. The Pilgrims wanted nothing less than a theocracy where only they had the freedom of worship. In England, however, the Anglicans seemed unwilling to persecute themselves. Holland was even more sectually depraved; it tolerated Catholics and (gasp)Jews. That was the Pilgrims’ idea of Hell.

And the Pilgrims were everyone else’s idea of obnoxious. If the Calvinist bigots wanted a theocracy, England did have a practical solution. In the most generous way of saying "good riddance," the Crown offered the Pilgrims their own colony in North America. Thousands of quiet miles from England, the fanatics would be free to bore and bully. If they survived, then God and England had a new colony. And, if they didn’t survive...well, we mustn’t think that the Crown was actually rooting for the Indians.

Originally posted to EugeneF on Wed Nov 21, 2007 at 09:33 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I think a lot of Americans dont understand (6+ / 0-)

    This truth when they say that America was founded as a Christian nation.

    They need to be reminded just what it is that they are going to get if we turn into a total 'christian' nation

    I straddle the fine line between Holistic and Assholistic

    by Goodbye Kitty on Wed Nov 21, 2007 at 09:36:33 AM PST

    •  A Christian Hodgepodge (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      varro, slapshoe, tonyahky, Goodbye Kitty

      British America began as a hodgepodge of Christian colonies, and the fact is that these Christians did not trust each other. Today, Protestantism is largely homogenized: can you tell the difference between a Lutheran, a Congregationalist, an Episcopalian and a Methodist? But in the 18th century, those differences were very pronounced and frequently antagonistic. The Congregationalists and the Episcopalians hated each other, and you can only imagine how they felt about Catholics. Quakers were none too popular either (and they were not allowed to defend themselves). The Mother Country was only too happy to dole out a colony to each and every denomination–just to get them out of England.

      The Congregationalists of New England, the Episcopalians of the South, the Catholics of Maryland, the Quakers of Pennsylvania, and the Methodists and the Presbyterians scattered throughout the colonies were never going to agree on the definition of Christianity. And each of these denominations knew it. So they reconciled themselves to a compromise and accepted secularism over sectarianism. It was the rational choice; in a society where no creed is dominant, all creeds are equal.

      If "The Founders had intended a Christian, not a secular, society," America would never have succeeded.

  •  Tips: For the Delivery Boy (10+ / 0-)

    If I had been at Plymouth in 1621, I would have ordered out French food from Quebec.  (Muskrat bourginon might be better than turkey.)

    •  If I were the Pequot... (0+ / 0-)

      ...I would have organized a party to drive those English illegals back onto their ships.  The next thing you know, they'll have anchor babies and want us to worship that dead guy on the pole...

      9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

      by varro on Wed Nov 21, 2007 at 11:02:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  what do you expect from people (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    irishwitch, tonyahky, martydd, langerdang

    who wore their shoe-buckles on their hats...???

    •  Tecnhically, so did the Cavaliers (0+ / 0-)

      but THEY added feathers as a fashions tatement.  And oddly, many Puritans didn't just wear black and white wool or linen--many wore velvets and satin and alce,aalbeit in dark colors  (the oNLY movie I've ever seent hat got the time period right for feel was Demi Moore's Scrlet Letter--it wasnt' Hawthrone, which I considered a vast improvement, but hte looka nd the feel was dead on--it even made her an ANne Hutchinson figure)

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Wed Nov 21, 2007 at 10:21:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Funny how those good Christians (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    varro, irishwitch, marykk, langerdang

    were happy to accept the Indians' hospitality when they were all starving...but a mere few decades later started killing them en mass.

  •  Excellent stuff. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    varro, slapshoe, irishwitch, tonyahky, marykk

    In reality the Pilgrims were a bunch of miserable bastards. Their idea of "Religious persecution" was not being allowed to torture and murder people who did not adhere to Puritanism. They must have suffered terribly not being able to stone people to death or Burn them at the stake.

    Blame God and you'll get away with anything.

    by langerdang on Wed Nov 21, 2007 at 09:52:28 AM PST

  •  Nasty, joyless pains in the ass (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tonyahky, langerdang

    whom  even the famously tolerant (then and now) Dutch finally got fed up with and kicked out. I am a native New Englander (COnn.) and I never much cared for these guys. Glad to say MY ancestors didn't come over until the Famine in the 1840s on one side of the family and the turn of the last century for the other.  Not a Puritan among them, just Irish Cahtolcis who enjoyed a drop of the creature now and then and loved a good time,a nd RUssian Jews who were simialr.

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Wed Nov 21, 2007 at 10:19:11 AM PST

  •  Thanks for pointing out (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tonyahky
    the historical fact that the original colonists of this continent were actually fleeing from religious toleration.
  •  The Bill of Rights was written... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tonyahky

    ...to protect this country from the likes of the Puritans.  

    It's a shame that so many people want to bring back the blue laws, banishments, and petty religious restrictions that the deist Founders wrote the Bill of Rights to protect us from

    9-11 changed everything? Well, Katrina changed it back.

    by varro on Wed Nov 21, 2007 at 11:00:52 AM PST

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