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Nearly all instructors of geology, theology, and Bible studies: and all Unitarian ministers are subject to prosecution under a law which has been on the statute books of the State of Massachusetts since 1697.
This fact recently came to light when in the Legislature a bill of repeal proposing to do away with the old law was sponsored by a group of clergymen, among whom was C.R. Skinner 17. Upon recommendation of the Judiciary Committee the House voted a withdrawal of the repeal bill and it is expected that the Senate will act in a like manner when the proposal is brought before it this afternoon.
The law, which was passed first in 1697, was amended in 1782 and today reads as follows: "Whoever wilfully blasphemes the holy name of God by denying, cursing, or contumeliously reproaching God, His cration, government or final judging of the world, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching or exposing to contempt or ridicule the Holy Word of God contained in the Holy Scriptures shall be punished by imprisonment in gaol for not more than one year, or by a fine of not more than $300, and may also be bound to good behavior."
During the Sacco-Vanzetti trial this law, which gives practical power of arbitrary arrest was exercised for the purpose of obtaining witnesses and under it teachers of sciences denying the creation of the world as described in the Bible and the creation of man are liable to punishment.
The president of the Massachusetts Anti-Blasphemy League, which was founded about 25 years ago and has at times attained a membership of approximately 35,000 persons and of which there is a chapter at Harvard, favors the repeal of the old law.
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