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Puritan Illusions
– posted to the Tennyson blog, February 14, 2012.

The date of original posting gives some temporal contextuality.

At CPAC, but constantly and elsewhere, Santorum was once again spreading the Christian revisionist pseudo-history nonsense of how the Puritans came to new world bringing the freedom of religion that is inherent to U.S. values.

To set the record straight, Puritanism was not at all, in any way, in even the smallest bit about freedom of religion. Puritanism was born in reaction of an early effort to permit religious freedom, as an extremist attempt to end such movement, and force England deep into Protestant extremism. They continually opposed all efforts at creating Protestant/Catholic peace.

When the Puritans came to New England, the idea of freedom of religion was as far from their mind as can be had. They wholly and fully were for freedom for their religion and their religion only. Those who came to the new world looking for religious freedom, like Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson, were rejected by and rejected the Puritans. In fact, people who opposed Puritanism generally had rather horrible things done to their bodies (like cutting off noses and ears and branding, among other things). (Do they even teach the Puritans any more in grade school/high school? or did they vanish in the soccer mom textbook purges?).