Christians have been whinging about hurt feeling for decades

Christians have been whinging about hurt feeling for decades

In this week’s Freethinker bulletin I had the pleasure of sharing a with readers a booklet entitled The Freethinkers’ Pictorial Text-Book.

It was published in 1896 and illustrated in most part by Watson Heston, whose work appeared regularly in The Truth Seeker.

I was immediately struck by the fact that his illustrations are as relevant today as they were when they were first published.


And I was especially amused by the top illustration which shows that, far from being a new trend, complaints by Christians that freethinkers are out to hurt their feelings have been voiced for more than a century.

According to Wikipedia, Watson Heston (September 25, 1846 – January 27, 1905) was an American editorial cartoonist who peaked in popularity during the Golden Age of Freethought in the late 19th century.


Born in Ohio, he spent most of his life in Carthage, Missouri. He published cartoons satirising the Republican party in People’s Party publications, and his cartoons satirising religion in general and Christianity in particular, appeared in The Truth Seeker, Etta Semple’s Free-Thought Ideal, and other regional papers.

Later, he would write and illustrate The Old Testament Comically Illustrated (1892) and The New Testament Comically Illustrated (1898), which caricature scenes from the Bible. In 1890, Heston published a critique of the involvement of religious clergy in politics, calling for strict separation of church and state.

The Bible Comically Illustrated was published in 1900 by Truth Seeker Company and sold at least 10,000 copies. Few copies of this book or his earlier works survive, as most were apparently destroyed by those who did not appreciate such blasphemy. His works can be found on sale from time to time, with the asking prices usually reaching $2,000.

I am grateful to Robert Heston, a relative of Watson Heston, for sending me the link to The Freethinkers’ Pictorial Text-Book. It the best festive season present I’ve had in years.

Note: Since launching the weekly bulletin 77 weeks ago, we have built up an impressive database of subscribers, but are aiming to attract many more readers. So, if you haven’t already subscribed, I would urge you to do so. Just go to the foot of the home page and enter your email address in the subscription panel.

10 responses to “Christians have been whinging about hurt feeling for decades”

  1. Broga says:

    Christians still think they are being treated badly despite the Queen, the Archbishop of Canterbury and David Cameron supporting them at Christmas.
    Although, in view of the mind numbing platitudes these three unloaded when given the freedom of the air perhaps Christians have a right to feel badly treated. The BBC made sure, of course, that Vincent Nichols had air time.

  2. barriejohn says:

    The cartoons are spot-on, and just as relevant today as they were then, but this is all deeply depressing. We are saying the same things that rationalists were saying over a hundred years ago, and we don’t seem to have moved forward one little bit.

    A little bit optimistic, I’m afraid!

  3. Cali Ron says:

    OT: Not able to get online yesterday, but wanted to wish all my friends on Freethinker a happy Yule and Winter Solstice. Keep on not keeping the faith!

  4. 1859 says:

    How can I get a copy of The Freethinker’s Pictorial Text-Book? Has it recently been re-published?

  5. Health and Safety says:

    Get your copy here …pdf, kindle, …

  6. barriejohn says:

    Some smug old geezer was preaching on TV this morning, and he actually had the audacity to claim that atheists are “celebrating myths” at this time of the year! I then had a look at Bob Hutton’s blog and read: “When people say that this world and all it’s workings simply came about by chance, they show themselves to have a mind set of a small child who gives outlandish explanations for matters he cannot understand” (I’m not making it up). Yes – he has, by dint of that tired old argument about a watch putting itself together, “established beyond doubt that there is a God”(he doesn’t say which one, though). Again – is there any hope of us, as a species, advancing while people employing logic like this are taken seriously?

  7. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: I don’t suppose he tackled the “who designed the designer” question. Suggesting a designer merely complicates the question of existence. And why should Christians feel able to decide that their God just sprang into existence or was always there and yet they reject evolution.

    There are questions to which we do not yet know the answer. We may never know them. We humans think we are super intelligent. In the terms of the cosmos we might fall into the irredemiably stupid and backward category. Looking at the destruction, now verging on species suicide, we have wrought on the planet the stupid and backward category seems plausible to me.

    The problem for Mr Hutton and those who share his opinions is that he does not dare to think.

  8. barriejohn says:

    Many thanks to BBC News subtitles for lifting my spirits yet again. According to them, persecution of Christians in Surrey amounts to genocide. I didn’t realize that things had got THAT bad!

  9. 1859 says:

    @ Health & Safety: Thanks – just found and ordered a physical copy via Abebooks. Seems like the only place where there are copies is Delhi, India. Only £18. Hope it arrives