BibleGateway Verse of the Day (KJV)

Monday, May 31, 2010


To those who attempt to argue that the common law of England was not Christian, or that the laws which prevailed at the founding of the United States were not Christian, I thought I'd share a few paragraphs from my 1805 copy of Graydon's Justice, under the topic of the civil crime of blasphemy:

1. Whosoever shall wilfully, premeditatedly, and despitefully blaspheme or speak loosely and profanely [in a manner contemptuous of that which is holy] of ALMIGHTY GOD, CHRIST JESUS, the HOLY SPIRIT, or the SCRIPTURES of TRUTH, and is legally convicted thereof, shall forfeit and pay the sum of ten pounds, for the use of the poor of the county where such offence shall be comitted or suffer three months imprisonment at hard labor for the use of the said poor.

Speak loosely] To write against christianity in general is an offence punishable at common law: but this is not intended to include disputes between learned men upon particular controverted points. In the case of Woolston, who was convicted on four informations for his blasphemous discourses on the miracles of our SAVIOUR, the sentence of the court was L.25 for each of his four discourses, to suffer a year's imprisonment, and to enter into a recognizance for his good behavior during his life, himself in L.3000 and L.2000 by others.

2. Blasphemy against the ALMIGHTY, by denying his being or providence; or contumelious [insolently rude] reproaches of our SAVIOUR CHRIST; to which also may be referred all profane scoffing at the holy scripture, or exposing it to contempt or ridicule, are offences punishable at common law by fine and imprisonment, or other infamous corporal* punishment; for christianity is part of the laws of England.

* This cannot apply to Pennsylvania at present.

--from William Graydon's The Justices and Constables Assistant, for the District of Pennsylvania, 1805, pp. 53-54

** Updated 6/2/2010 to give a definition of blasphemy. Blasphemy is a hateful, disdainful, contemptuous, disrespectful act, utterance, or writing against our holy LORD God. God will forgive His people of all blasphemies, but blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be not forgiven (Matthew 12:31-32).

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