“For years England had seesawed between Catholic and Protestant mandates, depending on the monarch in power. When the king was Catholic, Protestants were burned. When Protestant, Catholics died. In both situations, Puritans and non-Anglicans (Dissenters) were hunted down with such vengeance that they finally rebelled. King Charles I was beheaded, his young son fled to France, and a Puritan government was installed. But the people missed their monarchy, and in 1658 young Charles II headed home from France promising religious liberty. He entered London on his thirtieth birthday, May 29, 1660. Twenty thousand soldiers escorted the young king through flower-strewn streets. Trumpets blared, crowds cheered, bells pealed from every tower. His love life and his dubious faith in God made him the most scandalous leader of his time. But his easy smile and approachability caused few to dislike him. Some did. In 1661 a pack of religious fanatics known as Fifth Monarchy Men tried to overthrow him and set up a kingdom awaiting the return of Christ. They failed, but the experience left Charles more suspicious of Dissenters than ever. Such preachers as John Bunyan found themselves languishing in prison, and a series of laws put the screws to Dissenters. Five different acts were passed: (1) the Corporation Act of 1661 excluded all Dissenters from local government; (2) the Act of Uniformity in 1662 required all ministers to use The Book of Common Prayer as a format for their services. It was this act that drove 2,000 preachers from their pulpits in a single day; (3) the Conventicle Act of 1664, aimed primarily at Baptists, forbade religious meetings by Dissenters; (4) the Five Mile Act of 1665 prohibited dissenting ministers from coming within five miles of any city or town in which they had ministered; and (5) the Test Act of 1673 excluded Catholics from civil and military positions. Baptists, Catholics, Quakers, Presbyterians, and Congregationalists all found themselves again under the lash. In the jail. At the stake.” Robert J. Morgan
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given …
And he will be called …Prince of Peace.”
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Do you read this story as a frightening example of the legislation of religious bigotry and prejudice? …as violence fueled by fear and intolerance?
- Is defending the your own religious liberty and that of others who differ from you (like Muslims) important to you? If not, why not?
- Can you imagine Jesus treating religious bigotry, hatred and intolerance as virtuous?
- Are you thinking, “This could never happen here?”
Abba, deliver us from the evil one. As people of faith, may we be known as people of love.
For More: On This Day by Robert J. Morgan
Thanks for reading/following my blog! – Bill (Psalm 90:14)
“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”