These folks were so uptight, with their insistence that human beings must at all times strive to live in accordance with the Bible down to the smallest details of their lives, with their belief that human beings were inherently sinful and loathsome, that no one else could even tolerate their company.
So they set off for America with their buckles on their ridiculous hats, clutching their Bibles and maintaining an insane vigilance against the Devil. These people were so repressed, so burdened with guilt that they were dangerous. They regularly sought for and found the Devil in their midst. Those whom they accused, their own neighbors and family, they cruelly tortured and put to death: drowning, hanging, burning at stake.
Imagine a pretty, young girl, unaware even of her own prettiness who, while on a visit to the market, makes the mistake of smiling at some twisted and repressed village elder. The elder, feverish and tormented in his fight against his own sexual urges, his "sin," cannot rid his mind of the image of the pretty girl and her smile. He is driven mad by lust. He therefore concludes that the poor girl has cast a spell on him, that she is a witch. Well, you know where it goes from there...
Constitution as a safeguard against it. One of my favorite quotations on the matter comes from Thomas Paine:
"Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon, than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind." - Thomas Paine (The Age of Reason, 1794-1795.)There are many more similar quotations here.
But, of course, puritanism is still with us. Today's inheritors of the puritan morality are the Christian evangelicals that routinely retard social progress. Here are just two examples:
- In 2007, the Food and Drug Administration approved a vaccine, Gardasil, that protects against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually-transmitted disease that is known to cause cervical cancer in some women. HPV is so common that physicians recommended that girls as young as 9 years old be given the vaccine, presumably in an attempt to protect them before they become sexually active. But rather than express relief that modern medicine may have actually achieved a significant breakthrough in defeating cervical cancer, evangelical Christians shrieked that administering the vaccine would encourage promiscuity.
- Despite many studies that show that sex education is effective in reducing teen pregnancies and the transmission of STDs, evangelical Christians, under the wise guidance of Junior Bush, prohibited federal dollars from being expended on anything other than "abstinence-only" sex education. That is, education that teaches only that abstinence is the "only certain way" to avoid pregnancy and STDs and that the expected standard of human sexual activity is "a monogamous relationship within the context of marriage." Apparently, if kids were armed with real knowledge they would be unable to resist the temptation to f*ck their brains out.
Well, people, we're stuck with them. They're not going away. Our only consolation is that, no matter how much they annoy us, they are themselves miserable; it's their nature. They resent people that don't live as they do, especially when they don't see those people suffering as a result of their "sin." I heard a definition once that I thought nailed it perfectly:
Puritanism: the vague fear that someone, somewhere might actually be happy.