November 25, 2008

Pilgrims sought religious freedom?

More Thanksgiving myth-making--this time about how the Pilgrims went on to shape America after the big feast:

A time to pay tribute to the Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock.

'Giving Thanks'"The first seed had been planted for the American Revolution. People were free to practice their religions as they saw fit and were free to keep the fruits of their labor. This had never happened before in the history of mankind. In the words of William Bradford, 'As one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation.'"Comment:  So every society from Native Americans to the ancient Greeks to the Vikings to the Spanish Empire imposed confiscatory taxes on their people? None of them let their people keep the product of their work? That's so flatly ridiculous it isn't worth discussing.

As for religious freedom, let's get serious. Here's what the English invaders actually sought:

Thanksgiving Myths--The "Puritans (Pilgrims)," Religious Freedom and OthersThe emigration to the New World was a result of them accepting that the Church of England could not be 'reformed' to their satisfaction. The major trans location occurred from about 1629 to 1642. The English Dissenters decided that reformation of the Church of England was not possible. About 21,000 of the "godly" came to the New World on a "Pilgrimage" to impose their brand of religion; 13,000 went to Massachusetts Colony. Throughout this time they were not separatists. In fact, when the government in England was taken over by Oliver Cromwell not only did the emigration stop, some people went back to England. (Cromwell was a "Puritan"--he also abolished Christmas as a celebration but that is another article.)

While the first generation was in charge, there was strict adherence to the church laws including forcing people to church. Select members of the congregation went to the homes of people not in church to find out why they were not there. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne gives a pretty fair presentation about the attitudes and activities of the Puritan Elders. They did not extend the tenets of their religion to the local indigenous peoples.

The King of England had no right to grant ownership of the land to anyone. The Puritans came to steal the land. They also felt it was acceptable to lie, steal, cheat and beat the Indians, that, according to Legend, saved their lives and taught them to grow the corn.

The other colonies were populated more by young men seeking monetary advantage in the New World. It was not about religion or the freedom thereof.
Pilgrims Prove Need for Protection of Religious FreedomHasson addressed "America's most enduring myth," that the pilgrims came to America for religious freedom, found it, and lived happily ever after. They actually came for real estate and a place where they could live in isolation, he said.

The pilgrims' answer to diversity was to oppress it. The church was supported by state taxes, and attendance was mandatory. The pilgrims even legislated against the Quakers, the first religious group to appear and challenge their way of life, banishing Quakers from their colony on pain of death.
For more on the subject, see Democracy Rocks--with Indian Help.

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