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.
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