"Latter-day Puritan"

Kenneth Woodward has a definitive rebuttal in the Wall Street Journal to the political correctness crowd that is trying to eliminate Indian-based sports team names and nicknames. These, the PC crowd thinks, are, somehow, demeaning.

I agree entirely with Mr. Woodward’s thesis as regards the silliness of objecting to Indian-based names for teams. However, I must take issue with his designation of today’s PC crowd as “latter-day Puritans.” From his article:

European intellectuals have long complained of excessive moralism in American foreign policy, politics and attitudes toward sex–the lingering effect, as they see it, of our Puritan heritage. But if they want to spot the real Puritans among us, they should read our sports pages.

Moralistic sportswriters need to distinguish between Native American activists and paternalistic surrogates. In Cleveland, for example Mr. Saraceno’s unnamed activists are primarily officials of the United Church of Christ, an ultra-liberal Protestant denomination that moved its national headquarters there from New York in 1990 and immediately began a campaign against the Indians and Chief Wahoo. As it happens, the church is the denominational descendent of the old New England Puritans, now committed to diversity and inclusion.

Woodward’s error is in conflating “excessive moralism” with its polar oppostive today — a near total absence of the true moralism of the Puritans — faith in God Almighty and salvation through His Son’s death on the cross. The Puritans are often, if not usually, depicted in the popular culture as bigoted fascists, who tried to establish a theocracy (e.g. “The Crucible”). Yes, the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony did attempt to have a New Jerusalem, John Winthrop’s “city upon a hill” City on a hilland, more so than even their Anglican brethren in Virginia, who also had an established religion. But God was their beacon, and morality in service of God was far better than what it replaced — morality in service of king and country. For the place and time, it was as good as it got.

The Puritans were far from perfect, as even the meanest of them would have known from Scripture (Romans 3:23). Yes, they did not take kindly to “heretics” such as Roger Williams, who founded the first Baptist church in America. Yet the Puritans attempted to run their version of Jerusalem in accord with their pure Christian faith.

The point is that unlike today’s United Church of Christ they were not a dictatorship of political correctness, bowing to the winds of change. They stood for something, and, as one of their descendants in faith today, I claim there is far more about the Puritans’ approach to governance to be kept than discarded. The single, notable exception, of course, being freedom of conscience.

Kenneth Woodward, of all people, should know better than to compare the moral midgets of the UCC with the pillars of faith who were the original Puritans.

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