Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Next Time Someone Insists That The United States Was Never A Christian Nation...

Ask them to explain this Connecticut statute from a 1786 compilation, on p. 67.  Note that the language it uses is state, not colony -- this was not just an old statute.

Yes, a law against blasphemy!  And later, laws against card playing, selling decks of cards, and so on.


  1. Conn. didn't speak for the "Nation."

    John Adams would have been indicted under this law which flouted the religious liberty ideal that founds the Nation:

    "An incarnate God!!! An eternal, self-existent, omnipresent omniscient Author of this stupendous Universe, suffering on a Cross!!! My Soul starts with horror, at the Idea, and it has stupified the Christian World. It has been the Source of almost all of the Corruptions of Christianity."

    -- John Adams to John Quincy Adams, March 28, 1816.

  2. There were similar laws in most other states in the post-Revolutionary period.

    John Adams definitely moved towards a Unitarian point of view as he aged. During the Revolution, and immediately thereafter, he was reasonably orthodox in his Christianity. There is a fair amount of movement among intellectuals at the start of the nineteenth century in new directions.

  3. Adams claimed to have been unitarian his entire adult life, since around 1750"

    -- I thank you for your favour of the 10th and the pamphlet enclosed, "American Unitarianism." I have turned over its leaves and have found nothing that was not familiarly known to me.

    -- In the preface Unitarianism is represented as only thirty years old in New England. I can testify as a Witness to its old age. Sixty five years ago my own minister the Reverend Samuel Bryant, Dr. Johnathan Mayhew of the west Church in Boston, the Reverend Mr. Shute of Hingham, the Reverend John Brown of Cohasset & perhaps equal to all if not above all the Reverend Mr. Gay of Hingham were Unitarians. Among the Laity how many could I name, Lawyers, Physicians, Tradesman, farmers!

    -- John Adams to Jedidiah Morse, May 15, 1815. Adams Papers (microfilm), reel 122, Library of Congress. --


    -- We Unitarians, one of whom I have had the Honour to be, for more than sixty Years, do not indulge our Malignity in profane Cursing and Swearing, against you Calvinists; one of whom I know not how long you have been. You and I, once saw Calvin and Arius, on the Plafond of the Cathedral of St. John the Second in Spain roasting in the Flames of Hell. We Unitarians do not delight in thinking that Plato and Cicero, Tacitus Quintilian Plyny and even Diderot, are sweltering under the scalding drops of divine Vengeance, for all Eternity.

    -- John Adams to John Quincy Adams, March 28, 1816, Ibid, reel 430. --

  4. I don't doubt that Adams thought of himself as a Unitarian. I do not see him expressing any particularly unorthodox ideas earlier in life. He might well have held them, but might have not said them for fear of its effects on his political viability. Or perhaps just to avoid unnecessarily offending people.

  5. The Statute was still passed in 1642? The text was a republication in 1786 which changed the language from colony to state?

  6. It very clearly says State. Other statutes in the same book use "Colony" in laws of colonial vintage.