Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Let your Freak Flag Fly

Three hundred and fifty years ago today, on June 1st 1660, Mary Dyer was hanged for violating theocratic law in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Far from establishing a free colony where individuals could practice their own flavors of faith the original settlers often sought freedom to persecute others for believing differently from them. Dyer sought to teach people to read the bible for themselves and establish a personal connection with god. She was branded a Quaker and sentenced to death. One anonymous juror was infamously quoted as saying: "She did hang as a flag for others to take example by."

Ironically her neighbor’s exercising of their religious freedom aided her in discerning the possible truth of an afterlife long before they could. To this day she is remains silent.

If you are an atheist you know that religious freedom is all too often the freedom to declare hate speech protected, the freedom to force others to pray, the freedom to subsidize proselytization efforts with public money. Historically it was the freedom to put people, like Mary Dyer, to death.

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