The First Fairy Tale
Dale K. Brown
By the mid-1800's, America had become the religious supermarket of the world. Every traditional faith had found a home here and many that were nontraditional were making it their home. Among those settling the wild west were thoroughly independent "unchurched" Americans. They'd come here to hunt, fish, and trap, and they took a dim view of any government, secular or religious, which arrogantly assumed it had some god-given right to interfere in their lives. To their way of thinking, people either knew the difference between right and wrong or they didn't. If they didn't they had problems no amount of preaching would cure. And if they did, what in the hell did they need to be reminded of it every week for?
Despite their seeming irreverence and lack of subservience, they weren't atheists or agnostics. They believed in a real god, of sorts, but they suspected he had a lot more important things to do with his time than dog people's footsteps twenty-four hours a day, just waiting for them to screw up. Their concept of God was a lot broader than that, hence, they chose not to affiliate themselves with any particular belief.
Many of them were "deists" who felt that the very word "religion" carried with it unfortunate connotations of strife, bigotry, and oppression. They believed a Supreme Being created everything, alright, but they believed he knew what he was doing. They were of the opinion that everything was working out just fine down here, quite according to a divine plan which was probably none of their business, anyway.
God required no hired help, that was the theory. In their view, everything was under control, so career opportunities among them for unemployed or would-be clergy were nonexistent. Naturally, this endeared them to none of the established religions whatever. If beliefs like this caught on, preachers everywhere would have to start earning an honest living. Such fears were groundless, however, for there always seemed to be a sufficient number of sheep who needed fleecing and they more than made up for those who didn't.
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