The Blasphemy Of Anthony Bimba

One January 26, 1926, Anthony Bimba gave a speech in Brockton, Massachusetts. Afterwards, he was placed under arrest as a criminal.

Why? Bimba was accused of the crime of blasphemy.

Anthony bimbaAn American anti-blasphemy law made it a crime to contradict Christian beliefs, and Bimba was accused of telling a crowd during his speech that, “People have built churches for the last 2,000 years, and we have sweated under Christian rule for 2,000 years. And what have we got? The government is in control of the priests and bishops, clerics and capitalists. They tell us there is a God. Where is he? There is no such thing. Who can prove it? There are still fools enough who believe in God. The priests tell us there is a soul. Why, I have a sole, but that sole is on my shoe. Referring to Christ, the priests also tell us he is a god. Why, he is no more a god than you or I. He was just a plain man.”

So great was the outrage at Anthony Bimba’s blasphemy arrest that the police in Massachusetts organized a prohibition of meetings of people seeking to help in Bimba’s legal defense.

The Christians of Massachusetts sought to use the power of government to shame Anthony Bimba into silence. Instead, they ended up proving Bimba was right. Religion was corrosive to freedom, and Massachusetts Christians were so insecure in their beliefs that they could not stand to allow any challenge to their faith to be spoken aloud.

In memory of Anthony Bimba, January 26 ought to be celebrated as a secular holiday, marking a courageous stand for freedom of speech against theocratic oppression.