Background Material on Servetus Affair of 1553
1. Founding of USA and Its Constitution
Calvin revealed himself at Geneva, especially in the Servetus Affair, as less than an advocate of free speech and the freedom of religion. Yet, modern Calvinists claim our USA revolution was a Calvinist Revolution. Calvinists also claim the Christians who led our Revolution were Calvinists. Are these claims true? No.
2. Was The Spirit for Religious Freedom Among Calvinists or Anti-Calvinists?
The first demands for freedom of religion in America were made in the 1657 Remonstrances by English citizens within the Dutch Republic. Even though article 13 of the Dutch Constitution protected the freedom of religion, the Calvinists had usurped that, and had persecuted those who resisted the Dutch Reformed Church in the Netherlands. By 1657, the Calvinists had extended this Calvinist persecution to Boston and New Amsterdaam (N.Y.) -- Dutch colonies. Thus, the 1657 Remonstrances was the first seed of religious liberty planted in America. It was specifically planted against Calvinist encroachment on the guaranteed freedom of religion in the Dutch Constitution of 1579. Thus, to say our revolution was Calvinist is absurd. We copied almost all of the Dutch Republic's institutions, but they were all formed prior to the usurpation of Calvinism in the Netherlands to take control. But to say our revolution, and its major concern over freedom of religion was spearheaded by the one denomination known for religious persecution, and which used the state to encroach on the freedom of religion in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire (all state-imposed Calvinist churches in the colonies) is exceedingly silly.
3. The Servetus Affair Teaches The Intent of the First Amendment
Jefferson mentioned four times the Servetus Affair in his writings. In the First Amendment, Jefferson unquestionably desired to separate church from state in the sense violated at Geneva in 1553. One can only understand Jefferson's rationale for the First Amendment, and his words about separation, when one reads Jefferson's attacks on Calvin's behavior in the Servetus Affair.
4. Books in the Public Domain on Servetus Affair
Chauffpierre, Life of Servetus, 1771 [Calvin Apologist]
Hodges, Impartial History of Michael Servetus, 1724 [Calvin critic]
Wright, An Apology for Dr. Michael Servetus, 1809 [Calvin critic]
"Servetus," Encyclopedia Britannica, 1888 [neutral]
Mann, Cursory Remarks...or an Apology for the Private Right Judgment...by Michael Servetus, 1775 [Calvin critic]
5. Calvin's Subversion of Geneva in 1555 and Responsibility For Later Killing of Heretics
Calvin set the precedent of killing heretics in Geneva in 1553. This was then used in 1555 to kill political opponents, and gain hegemony over Geneva. This tactic was repeated again in 1581 to subvert the young Dutch Republic which guaranteed religious liberty in its Constitution. Calvinists usurped the laws of the Netherlands, and then created a de facto state church out of the Dutch Reformed Church. They then persecuted and killed Christians who dissented from their views. They did this in the Council of Dort in 1619, and then again with the Boston Martyrs in 1659-1661. This tendency to kill anyone who was suspected of being different also led to the Salem Witch Trials, again perpetrated by Calvinist Puritans trying to imitate the Geneva Republic. For a detailed analysis, see this webpage hosted here.
6. Calvin's Moral Responsibility for Catholic Slaughter of Calvinists
Calvin bears moral responsibility for the Catholic decision to kill Calvinists in the Netherlands and in France between 1568 and 1572 while leaving the Lutherans alone. This is because Lutherans did not believe in persecuting heretics, while Calvin, due to the Servetus Affair of 1553, endorsed killing heretics in 1554 as a means of deflecting the charge of murder over killing Servetus. Calvin's failure to admit his failing led to this poor excuse. The consequent message to Catholics was that they were in danger if the French Huguenots or the Calvinists of the Netherlands rose in influence because then they were a threat to kill Catholics as heretics. The Catholics then predictably made a pre-emptive strike on the Calvinists of France in 1572 (at least 25,000 were killed) and the Netherlands in 1568 (20,000 were killed). For a detailed analysis, see this webpage hosted here.
7. Lord Acton's Example Of A Christian's Duty To Expose Murder On Religious Pretexts
Lord Acton was a Catholic who 300 years after the St. Batholomew's Massacre felt compelled to expose the Pope and his cardinals' responsibility for the murder of 25,000 to 100,000 French Huguenots. Lord Acton believed that because the Catholic Church claimed it was upolding true doctrine, it was important to remember it committed mass murder. It needed to repent. Lord Acton is an excellent example that Calvinists should imitate with respect to Calvin's role in killing Servetus. No matter how much time has gone by, it is imperative that those who claim to be the heirs of someone who turns out to be a murderer need to confess the crime, and seek repentance from all those following the criminal's doctrines and who honor his memory. For extensive analysis on Lord' Acton's exposure, see this webpage hosted here.