Saturday, 10 January 2015

English Christians being mean to other English Christians shocked me much more than the Paris shootings

Call me an old softie, but I really was much more shocked to read about the persecution of John Wesley and the Methodists than to hear about the Paris shootings.

I was going on about it so much that a friend asked me if I had heard about the Paris shootings because he clearly thought I should be going on about that instead. 

Terrorism was only to be expected in view of the continuation of the crazy foreign and domestic policy of the West, so I am afraid I only greeted the news of the Paris shootings with a Gallic shrug.

Wesley was a priest in the established Church of England, and most of his followers were communicants in that church. Yet their spiritual zeal, moral threat to liquor and gambling interests, and empowering of common people aroused tremendous hostility, some of it violent. Gentry and clergy who resented the Methodists often fomented the riots. Methodist preaching houses were torn apart by mobs, congregations assailed with clubs, livestock set loose on outdoor audiences, and Methodist preachers pelted with rocks. Sometimes Methodists were themselves jailed, charged for disturbing the peace, while their assailants went free.

A Methodist baker in the 1740s was threatened by a mob who for days stoned him and threatened to destroy his house. He appealed for protection from the mayor, who replied: “It is your own fault for entertaining those preachers.” The baker remarked: “This is fine usage under a Protestant government; if I had a priest saying mass in my house, it would not be touched.” Unmoved, the mayor retorted: “The priests are tolerated, but you are not.” Sometimes Methodists were offered contracts of protection if they pledged no more to host preachers. And sometimes the mob attacks against them were reported in newspapers as Methodist riots. There were occasional outright murders and sexual assaults.

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