Death Sentence for Any Christian Opposing the Trinity in America!?

As I write this, today is the anniversary of The Maryland Toleration Act. This Act, passed on April 21, 1649, was a law granting religious freedom to Trinitarian Christians.  This act is hailed as the start of great freedom for Christianity as it allowed Catholics, Presbyterians, and other Christians who were not Anglican to live and worship freely in Maryland.  The law was revoked in 1654, then reinstated, then repealed permanently in 1692.  As the first law that supposedly allowed total religious freedom in British North America, it is hailed as a forerunner in the writing of the first amendment.

But I say supposedly because while the Act allowed freedom of worship for all Trinitarian Christians in Maryland, Maryland, it sentenced to death anyone who denied the divinity of Jesus[1]  What kind of religious freedom is that?

Today people are shocked at the militancy of some in the Muslim world.  The treatment of non-Muslims by radical Muslims includes torture and death.   But I rarely hear Christians talk about how radical militancy was the norm for Christianity all over the world, including this country (U.S.A.) up until just a few centuries ago.  The torture and death of disagreeing Christians by the militant Catholic Church are legendary during the period called the Inquisition, but its terror touched more years than just that of the Inquisition.  And while the Reformation did reform some aspects of the Church, enforcement of religious law with torture and death was not one of them.  Martin Luther and other reformers were advocates of killing believers who professed such supposed atrocities as the wrong mode of baptism, Unitarianism, and other “heresies” supposedly worthy of death.  The Maryland Toleration Act is another example of Christendom, this time the Anglican Church, inflicting the death penalty on those that disagree with Trinitarianism.  Whatever freedom was gained by non-Anglican Trinitarians was not worth the price of killing Unitarians.

The opposing view to Trinitarianism is called Unitarianism.  It should not be called anti-trinitarianism any more than Pro-Life supporters should be limited to being called anti-abortion activists.

There is no evidence that Original Christians believed in the Trinity.  As Jews, they would have revolted at the thought of it.  This doctrine of the Trinity may be called “foundational” now but it wasn’t even conceived at the “founding” of Christianity.  There were crucial doctrines that the original disciples were interested in promoting.  The atoning death of Christ, his resurrection, and immanent return were clearly promoted.  That Jesus was a real man, and not an apparition was important.  The receiving of the holy spirit was so critical that the elders at Jerusalem sent envoys of Apostles and disciples when they heard that people believed the word, but didn’t receive the spirit. These were the orthodoxy criteria for original, primitive Christianity.  The trinity wasn’t even an afterthought to them.  Would you kill the original Christians too?

The Roman Church that institutionalized Christianity into militant Christendom tried to get an undecided body of believers to reconcile the Unitarianism vs. Trinitarianism debate by outlawing Unitarianism way back starting with the council of Nicea.  It has never worked.  As much as Christendom has banned and outlawed Unitarianism to the point of capital punishment there have been proponents of Unitarianism springing up regularly over the ages because the Trinity has never been what some Christians sense spiritually as truth, or see as scriptural and in fact see as unscriptural.

The mere fact that it has been a supposed Christain doctrine to remove this belief by killing the advocates of it is not only not Christian, but it also makes it suspect! People have complained about radical jihadist Muslims and other extremists from other religions. This needs to be recognized.

When is the persecution of Unitarians by people who call themselves Christian going to end?  I see liberal Christians who embrace openly practicing LGBTQ+ persons as church leaders more accepted in the Christian community than Unitarians only because the LBGTQ+ inclusive churches include the Trinity in their statements of belief.  That is crazy.

I thank God that The Maryland Toleration Act was repealed and that its anti-Unitarian hate was not the model for the freedom of religion that we enjoy.

Nowhere in Jewish literature is any concept of God other than a single person.  There is nothing in the Gospels or Acts that indicates that these Jews who started Christianity, Jesus and his disciples, differed from that concept.  This is discussed more in In Original Christianity the Deity of Christ and the Trinity Were Not Promoted.

As such, it looks original Christians would have been labeled as heretics and persecuted for their lack of adherence to this doctrine.  And in Maryland in 1649 they could have been killed.

[1] The Maryland Toleration Act 1649,

© copyright 2011-23 Mark W Smith, all rights reserved.  Revised 1/13/2023.

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