Tony Perkins’ Ironic Pilgrim Comparison


Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council went on Fox and Friends on Monday to talk about his crusade to make sure that religious owners of companies can deny their employees contraception coverage in their insurance policies and he made a rather ironic reference to the Pilgrims.

“This administration has not confined their attack on religious liberties simply to the workplace,” Perkins agreed. “It’s really started in the military. I mean, this administration, the Obama administration, I believe, all evidence would suggest, they’re on a search-and-destroy mission as it pertains to religious liberty.”

“Why do you think the administration wants this fight?” co-host Brian Kilmeade wondered.

“I think this administration has a very narrow view of the First Amendment, that first freedom, the freedom of religion,” Perkins explained. “I think they see religious freedom as fine with it as long as it’s in the four walls of a church. But if it comes into workplace, the marketplace, if it comes into the public square, it’s not welcome.”

“But the reality is, the founders saw us with an aggressive ability to live our lives according to our faith,” he added. “I mean, that’s why the Pilgrims came here.”

No, they didn’t. We hear this all the time, that the Pilgrims came to America for religious freedom. But that simply isn’t true. They came here for their own religious freedom and for the right to deny it to others. They came here to establish a theocracy and that is exactly what they did in the Plymouth Colony. Indeed, it was the imposition of a very limited kind of religious freedom — more than they wanted — by the British crown that destroyed the Plymouth Colony.

From 1620, when the Mayflower landed, the Pilgrims were allowed to run the Plymouth Colony as the Puritan theocracy that they wanted, expelling “heretics” — that is, Christians of the wrong brand — and imposing Biblical law on inhabitants. But starting in 1664, the British crown began to diminish their authority to do so, first by ruling that one need not be a member of the Congregational Church in order to be a citizen of the colony. This was important because there was a wave of immigration beginning in 1650 that included lots of non-Pilgrims and non-Puritans (the first is a subset of the second).

In 1691, a new royal Charter merged the Plymouth Colony with the Massachusetts Bay Colony to create the new Province of Massachusetts Bay and that charter allowed religious freedom for all Christians other than Catholics. The Pilgrims had allowed religious freedom only for Pilgrims (not even for all Puritans; they were Puritan separatists, as opposed to the Puritan accommodationists of the Mass Bay Colony who believed in reforming the Church of England rather than separating from it).

The Pilgrims came here to establish a strict Puritan separatist theocracy and they did so for several decades, when the British crown established a slightly broader Protestant Christian theocracy, which was enough to make the Pilgrims essentially disappear and become powerless. Their definition of religious freedom was the right to create a theocracy that would rule over all others — coincidentally, the same definition of religious freedom that Tony Perkins has.

Comments

  1. magistramarla says

    “I think they see religious freedom as fine with it as long as it’s in the four walls of a church. But if it comes into workplace, the marketplace, if it comes into the public square, it’s not welcome.”

    Hmmm – That’s exactly how I see religious freedom. He actually got something right.

  2. raven says

    The Puritans were not nice people.

    1. The high point of their theocracy was when they killed 26 alleged witches at Salem. Not content to be a one trick pony, they also killed some heretics, Unitarians and Quakers.

    2. Roger Williams and others got so fed up that they moved slightly south and formed Rhode Island to get away from them. Rhode Island was a place of religious freedom from…the Puritans.

    3. And they failed. The Puritans didn’t last too long and morphed into the Congregationalist and Unitarian churches. No one missed them.

  3. raven says

    “I think they see religious freedom as fine with it as long as it’s in the four walls of a church. But if it comes into workplace, the marketplace, if it comes into the public square, it’s not welcome.”

    Hmmm – That’s exactly how I see religious freedom. He actually got something right.

    LOL. That was my thought. OMYCthulhu, Tony Perkins accidently got something right.

    It’s also the law of the USA and has been for centuries.

  4. says

    In fairness, the Puritans and Pilgrims (who were Separatists) were different groups with different colonies, the Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the Pilgrims in Plymouth. The point about the Pilgrims (and the Puritans) coming here not for universal religious freedom but for the freedom to install a theocracy of their own is spot on, though.

  5. Michael Heath says

    Even more ironic than Ed’s point was that the Pilgrims enjoyed religious freedom in Holland. A primary motivation to move to America was that they didn’t have confidence their progeny would maintain their faith and submit to church authority in Holland where in America, they’d be no place for the young ones to go.

    This is taken from memory after reading one of Nathaniel Philbrick’s books on the Pilgrims.

  6. says

    I find it interesting when theocrats like Perkins cite the Pilgrims as our model for religious freedom. Not only is it false for the obvious reasons, but it’s also a bad analogy because they didn’t write our Constitution. Their views on religious freedom were diametrically opposed to what the Founding Fathers intended. If it weren’t for the fact that we glorify them every year at Thanksgiving, it’s likely that the pilgrims would have been nothing more than an embarrassing footnote in our history.

  7. says

    I’ve never really understood fetishism over the Pilgrims. Given the iconography, you’d think they single-handedly populated the future United States as opposed to being one small and not especially important group.

  8. Chiroptera says

    When I was in school, I seem to remember a bigger deal about William Penn establishing Pennsylvania than the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth.

    And, seriously, if you really wanted to talk about “freedom of religion” as a founding principle, I’d say that Pennsylvania would be a more apt example.

  9. abb3w says

    I’d add that keeping the Puritan theofascists in check seems to have been one of the major concerns of the non-Puritan delegates from more religiously liberal areas such as from Pennsylvania and Virginia.

  10. cptdoom says

    I’ve never really understood fetishism over the Pilgrims. Given the iconography, you’d think they single-handedly populated the future United States as opposed to being one small and not especially important group.

    Well, perhaps not the entire population of the US, but estimates I’ve seen are from 10 – 40 million current Americans can trace their ancestry back to one or more passengers on the Mayflower. Of course, that’s partially because we all have lots of ancestors that far back and there were far fewer humans from which to be descended, so the odds go up.

    As for Perkins’ idiocy – exactly how many religions has the military barred? Which sects are no longer allowed to hold services? Which religious beliefs cause you to be rejected from the military? I’m just asking.

  11. says

    Well, perhaps not the entire population of the US, but estimates I’ve seen are from 10 – 40 million current Americans can trace their ancestry back to one or more passengers on the Mayflower.

    Yeah, but as you allude to, that’s not as impressive as it seems, even assuming no one is bullshitting. Each one of us has over half a million potential ancestors who lived in 1620. I’m sure similar or greater numbers could be found for descendants of Jamestown, or the Huguenots, or one of dozens of other colonist groups. But no one tries to trace their ancestry back to those groups because they’re not The Pilgrims, who as we all know were the first Real Americans.

  12. says

    I’m still waiting for these assholes to argue that they shouldn’t have to pay their employees a salary because those employees may possibly spend that money on evil/sin, and that violates their (the employer’s) religious freedom.

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