On this day: Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses

The 24th of April, 1933 is considered to be the day Nazi Germany began their persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses, as it is the date the Bible Student headquarters in Magdeburg were seized by police. This came only a few months after Adolf Hitler came to power.

If Jehovah’s Witnesses were willing to renounce their religion they were promised freedom from persecution. Below is a Nazi renouncement document.

If Jehovah's Witnesses were willing to renounce their religion they were promised freedom from persecution. Nazi renouncement document.

From 1935 onwards, many people who kept their religion were sent to concentration camps.

The persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses continues today, with Russia outlawing the religion only days ago.

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On this day: the Butler Act is enacted

On the 21st of March, 1925, the Butler Act, a Tennessee law banning the teaching of evolution, and forcing public school teachers to acknowledge the Biblical account of the origin of humankind, came into effect.

The Butler Act 1925 Tennessee law prohibiting public school teachers denying Biblical account of man's origin. Signed into law by Tennessee governor Austin Peay. The law also prevented t

Austin Peay

Signed into law by Austin Peay, the Governor of Tennessee, it was infamously challenged in court a few weeks afterwards.

Tennessee verses John T. Scopes Trial, "Dayton, Tennessee", July 1925,  William Silverman Photographs, accession #10-042, View of trial proceedings outdoors (man taking down "Read Your Bible" sign)

The Scopes Trial.

The law stayed in effect until 1967.

 

On this day: the Irish government stands up to the Catholic Church

On the 12th of March, 1985, the government of the Republic of Ireland finally stood up to the powerful Catholic Church and legalised contraception.

feminists-on-the-platform-of-connolly-station-dublin-in-1971-prior-to-boarding-the-belfast-train-contraceptive-train-contraception-illegal-in-the-republic-of-ireland

Women leave Dublin on their protest journey to Belfast.

The 1970s saw feminists travelling to Belfast in Northern Ireland and returning home with contraceptives, risking arrest for importing illegal products. They were met by protestors upon their arrival home.

Illegal in the Republic in all circumstances until 1980, a new law allowed some contraception to be dispensed by a pharmacist to people with a doctor’s prescription.

This highly restrictive law was finally changed five years later, despite conservative opposition.

american-letter-to-complain-about-womens-rights-and-ireland-legalising-contraception

Some Americans were so outraged that “Holy Ireland” now allowed contraception, they wrote to the Prime Minister to complain.

Even so, advertising of contraceptives was still banned, and Ireland continued to have one of the highest birth rates in the developed world.

On this day: the Mountain Meadows massacre

 isaac_haightjohn_h__higbeejohndoyleleephilip_klingensmith

Some of the men who took part in the massacre.

Beginning on the 7th and ending on the 11th of September, 1857 the Mormon Utah Territorial Militia, accompanied by some Paiute Native Americans, massacred between 100 and 140 members of an emigrant party in Utah.

It is believed they were motivated to commit the crime by war hysteria, a dislike of having non-Mormon settlers in the area, and Mormon teachings that created a fear of outsiders.

 image-nancy_sephrona_huffnancy-sephrona-huff-survivor-of-the-mountain-meadows-massacre-circa-1875

Massacre survivor Nancy Sephrona Huff approximately eighteen years later. X

In an attempt to eliminate all evidence of the crime, and to ensure no witnesses could come forward, children were amongst those murdered.

Only seventeen people of the wagon train survived, all of them under the age of seven.

 john_d__lee_pre-execution_photophoto-just-before-the-execution-of-john-d-lee-for-his-role-in-the-mountain-meadows-massacre-23rd-march-1877

John D. Lee sits beside his coffin immediately before his execution. X

Only one person was ever punished for the massacre. John D. Lee was executed by firing squad on the 23rd of March, 1877, nearly two decades after the crime was committed. At the time of his death Lee had around nineteen wives and fifty-six children, and claimed he was a scapegoat. He was reinstated as a member of the Mormon church in the 1960s.