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510                              POLITICAL SCIENCE.
peared from the statute books. I have a code of a puritan
state now lying before me, in which the only crime against
religion is blasphemy, which is defined as directed " against
God, either of the persons of the holy Trinity, the Christian
religion, or the holy Scriptures," and is punished by a fine
of not more than one hundred dollars, and imprisonment for
not more than a year. The offender may also be bound over
to his good behavior. This offense was punished in 1642 with
death, which in 1784 was changed to whipping and the pillory,
and in 1821 was punished as it is now. There have been also,
in a small number of states, disqualifications for political office
arising out of atheism, disbelief in future rewards and punish-
ments, or even in the Christian religion. But all these are
passing away.
Why is it, we may now ask, that any offences against re-
ligion are noticed by the law of the state. Various reasons
may be assigned in particular cases. It may be said of the
Hebrews that the theocracy made God the ruler of the nation;
the importance of rest may be alleged for Sunday laws ; the
malice of sorcery and witchcraft for laws against these prac-
tices, and so on. But I believe that the original feeling was
that the offence deserved divine displeasure without any due
discrimination between the spheres and ends of divine and
of human law; to which may be added the fear that the
divinity would not favor the community, if his rights and
honor were not protected. Then followed the trae conviction
that faith in divine power was a main pillar of the state, which
naturally led to state laws in favor of religion of various kinds,
the greater part of which only injured what they were intended
to support.
I, The laws against blasphemy rest on a reasonable foun-
dation. The offence does not proceed from a calm state of
mind, but from malignity, and it hurts the feelings of believ-
ers in God or the Scriptures more than it would if the char-
acter of deceased parents were aspersed. It serves no pur-
pose whatsoever. It destroys respect for religious truth, -
which is a principal support of the state. For these reasons