Martin Surridge’s latest article on religious freedom appears in the November/December 2013 issue of Liberty magazine.
The similarity between the persecutions of Muslims in 2013, alleged Communists in 1950, and those believed to be witches in 1692 is a perceived threat to the traditional conservative Christian culture of the American people. In fact, instead of strengthening the community during the time of crisis, the strong Christian faith of so many of the Salem residents actually served to fan the flames of hysteria rather than abate them. Jess Blumberg of the Smithsonian wrote that much of the paranoia and fear in Salem came directly out of conservative Christianity.
“The Puritan villagers believed all the quarreling was the work of the devil,” Blumberg explained. “With the seed of paranoia planted, a stream of accusations followed for the next few months. Charges against Martha Corey, a loyal member of the church in Salem village, greatly concerned the community; if she could be a witch, then anyone could.”
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