So here we have Lucy Colman: abolitionist, infidel, freethinker, and firebrand. Eloquent writer and difference-maker. Yet somehow she doesn’t merit a Wikipedia page.
I wish I could say much has changed since her time. In ways it has: slavery is no longer officially sanctioned, women aren’t formally kept out of careers, and hey, blacks and women have the vote now, so that’s something. But just a few paragraphs of her Reminisces suffice to remind me how far we have yet to come. Christianity still demands “entire subordination.” It still forces the Bible into public schools. And we are still not safe.
Lucy N. Colman
About this time (from 1824 to 1830) there swept over New England what was called a revival of religion. As I look back upon it, it seems like some scourge or plague, so great was the sorrow that followed in its wake. Protracted meetings were everywhere the order of the day; sensational ministers were sought for and employed to preach, with all the effect possible, the coming of the day of judgment, and the sure doom of the impenitent. Here was another problem to be solved. Of what use was preaching, or praying, for those who were elected from the foundation of the world to be saved, and how worse than useless to try, by any means, to avert the doom of those who were fore-ordained to destruction?
My queries, no matter to whom addressed, always received the same answer, “Child, Satan desires to have you, and so he is putting such questions into your head; answer him as did the Saviour, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan!’ and remember it is very wicked to reason on the ways of God; you have the Holy Bible, read that, and accept it, it is God’s word.” At last, in despair, I began to read the bible, consecutively, chapter by chapter, but alas, I found it wholly inexplicable, and when I went to my good Christian aunt (who was in the place of mother to me), and begged her to tell me what such things meant, and why God used such filthy words, and what was the good of such laws, and why woman was required to do things that were wrong in the nature of things, the only answer that she could give me was, “I don’t know; put away the bible till you are older; read the Psalms and the New Testament.” Such was the food that was given to children to mentally digest sixty and seventy years ago. Is it better to-day? Liberalism has so permeated thought that, like homeopathy in medicine – all pathies are more or less affected by it, so that no respectable physician to-day salivates with calomel, or bleeds, or denies to patients burning up with fever cold water – the Protestant religion, in all its different creeds, is a mild mixture compared to what it was seventy years ago. And perhaps for the reason that its hideousness is so nicely covered, there is more need that Liberals be on the alert. Christianity is the more dangerous when it gives its attention to this life. Christianity demands entire subordination to its edicts, no matter that it keeps out of sight the damnation of infants in another world, if it subjugates all children to its decrees by teaching them, not only in Sunday-schools but in public schools supported by the public at large, the doctrines taught in the bible. Until the majority of the people are emancipated from authority over their minds, we are not safe.