Is Alexander Aan “Daniel Isaac Eaton” all over again?

An Indonesian man is facing prison for publishing a Facebook he doesn’t believe in God. He has been threatened with prison, but he has also found a large degree of support.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you probably know that 200 years ago, A British man named Daniel Isaac Eaton was sentenced to prison and the pillory for publishing a “Deist” track by Thomas Paine.

Daniel Isaac Eaton, portrait from trial
Daniel Isaac Eaton

Continue reading Is Alexander Aan “Daniel Isaac Eaton” all over again?

The old man and the pillory

As Daniel Isaac Eaton was dragged to the pillory, he knew it would be useless to resist. Eaton saw a crowd gather, some estimates say as many 50,000 onlookers gathered round. There were too many people to determine what kinds of things they’d brought to throw at him.

Eaton knew London well, and he knew what happened to those who were stuck in the pillory. One hour would be a long spell, seemingly much longer than six months in prison. Sweat began to drip from his bald head. Strangers continued to pass by and gather round. Continue reading The old man and the pillory

The sentence for the pamphlet

Daniel Isaac Eaton waited in Newgate prison to find out what his fate would be.

Before Eaton could be convicted, a Mr. Prince Smith filed an affidavit in Eaton’s defense.

In addition to other words of common sense, Mr. Prince Smith told the court that “It was quite impossible to maintain the fear of God by force; and religion ceased to be the fear of God when it became the fear of man.” Continue reading The sentence for the pamphlet

Social Networking, Book Burning, and the rooster who lost his head

Daniel Isaac Eaton had been in trouble with the law before.   (That is, before the blasphemy case.)

Cockerel and hen from woodcut
A 19th century cockerel or Chanticleer based on an image from John George Wood’s “The illustrated natural history”

Once upon a time, in a little kingdom in far away Europe, there lived a cockerel by the name of Chanticleer, King Chanticleer. This rooster was a descendent of the Chanticleer in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Nun’s Priest’s Tale, and a distant uncle of the King Chanticleer which featured in 1911 song by Nat D. Ayer.

Only this Chanticleer was a gamecock which sprung from the imagination of John Thelwall in 1793. Continue reading Social Networking, Book Burning, and the rooster who lost his head

Daniel Isaac Eaton, Thomas Paine’s publisher, accused of blasphemy

The prosecution mounted a brilliant case against Thomas Paine’s publisher. The first witness the attorney General called was Henry Ben Raven, who, as stated earlier, had purchased a copy of Thomas Paine’s book from Daniel Isaac Eaton’s shop. Continue reading Daniel Isaac Eaton, Thomas Paine’s publisher, accused of blasphemy

The Ghost of Thomas Paine haunts the Church of England

Portrait of Thomas Paine in front of booksWhen Richard Dawkins recently claimed that Christians were “not really Christian at all”, he wasn’t breaking new ground.

Over 200 years ago, Thomas Paine, that oft-quoted American patriot, wrote a pamphlet that said basically the same thing.

Continue reading The Ghost of Thomas Paine haunts the Church of England