Christianism ("Christianity"), Etc.

American Freethought


from: American Freethought, 18601914, Sidney Warren, Gordian Press, 1966.

'The atheist crusade against Christianity, like the freethought campaign in general, was launched mainly from the Northeast. It was virtually non-existent in the South, and comparatively weak in the middle and far West. The most ardent opponent of Christianity among the radical freethinkers, was D.M. Bennett [1818 - 1882], publisher of The Truth Seeker. His enthusiasm was reflected in his repeated exposition of the case for freethought. In a debate with the Rev. G.M. Mair, Bennett enumerated his objections to Christianity. To begin with, he insisted that the doctrines of Christianity were not original, some of its principal features being embodied in other religions preceding it by hundreds of years. The story of Jesus and his mission is uncorroborated by any contemporary history, and its veracity is therefore highly questionable. What are called the Four Gospels are "unauthentic or spurious productions. Not one was written by the one whose name it bears, and not one was known to be in existence till 150 years after the time of the reported death of Jesus." Christianity had proven itself to be more often a curse than a blessing, and the leaders of its church have been some of the worst tyrants in history. Instead of a religion of love, it has been one of hate, war and bloodshed, and has caused more persecution and conflict than any other religion or combination of religions. Christianity is also a curse to the human race because it has "fostered ignorance, superstition and falsehood, and has retarded education and science in the world."

Having thus impugned Christianity, Bennett went on to attack the validity of the Bible. He stated categorically that the Bible was not written or inspired by God, and that its authors were poorly informed about scientific knowledge and truth. He then proceeded to charge it with the following iniquities: It recognizes and confirms the tyranny of kings and despots; it has relegated woman to an inferior position, and by so doing has deprived her of the rights to which she is justly entitled. It has been responsible for a war on witchcraft, resulting in the death of many innocent victims. It has favored ignorance and slavery rather than knowledge and liberty. Finally, it does not teach the highest kind of truth--that truth can be taught only by science. The Bible and the Christian religion should therefore yield to science in the promulgation of eternal verities.10 ["10D.M. Bennett, What Objections to Christianity? The Bennett-Mair Discussions (New York, 1880), pp. 5-9."]' [189-190].

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'Bennett was sweeping in his refutation of the Christian religion. It possessed no principle which he conceded to be good, nor any phase which he acknowledged to be progressive. With a stroke of the pen, or the utterance of a word, he attempted to break down convictions and creeds cherished by people for many centuries. He might have been more effective had he taken into account the significant position which Christianity occupied in the hearts and minds of the masses, and opposed it less dogmatically. Instead, Bennett, like most other atheists, was defiant, belligerent, and aggressively hostile. He was accustomed to view the world in the light of one obsession and one alone--the pernicious influences of the Christian religion.11' [see footnote, below] [190-191]. [Christian sentiments].

[footnote] '11Typical of Bennett's style--one might even say typical of his personality--were the following remarks: "Thus I pronounce the fables, inventions, dogmas, or whatever they may be termed, upon which the Christian religion is founded, to be untrue, false, nothing but lies. It makes no difference who promulgates these dogmas, whether Augustine, Gregory, Leo, Luther, Calvin, McClosky, Crosby, Talmadge, Hall or Brigham Young, they are equally false. Protestantism is just as false as Catholicism, etc...." D.M. Bennett, A Truth Seeker in Europe (New York, 1881), p. 646.' [191].

[See: Joseph McCabe 1867 - 1955: Social Record of Christianity; A Rationalist Encyclopaedia: "Christianity", "Roman Catholic Church"].

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