Richmond, VA (PRWEB) August 3, 2006 -- Stephen Hawley Martin, author of the widely discussed new book on the Salem witch hysteria, "A Witch in the Family," said today that the similarities between Muslim extremists and the Puritans of seventeenth century New England are striking.
"For Muslims, putting God or Allah ahead of all else is paramount, and they are reminded of this five times a day when they bow toward Mecca on hands and knees, touching their foreheads to the ground in prayer," he said. "Westerners, whether Christians, Jews, or atheists, don’t do this. Because of our wealth and the emphasis we put on commerce, it isn’t hard then to see why some Muslims view us in the West, particularly in America, as bowing to the almighty dollar. For them, the World Trade Center was a symbol of this, a temple we had raised up with twin spires. In their view, the emphasis we put on money and power puts us in Satan’s camp."
How does this relate to the Salem witch hunt?
"Until 1686, Massachusetts was a theocracy with Puritanism as the official religion," Martin said. "The first of the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 5:6-21) is ‘You shall have no other Gods before me.’ The Puritans adhered to this and believed that witches were Satan’s handmaidens, and that they and Satan were actively working against the godly community the Puritans were trying to create. In Exodus 22:18 it says, ‘Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,’ so the Puritans thought they were doing God’s work by putting to death people they suspected of being witches, just as Jihadists do when they murder westerners or Jews."
The Salem witch hunt lasted from February 1692 to the fall of that year. More than 150 were accused of witchcraft, about 50 confessed, 19 were hanged, one was crushed to death, and four died in prison. Almost no one was safe from being accused.
"Not everyone in Massachusetts was in favor of the witch hunt and many believed a number of those put to death were innocent," Martin said. "The tide turned that fall, and it wasn’t long before most people realized a huge mistake had been made. The result was a backlash against religion that is perhaps one of the reasons the founding fathers felt strongly about the need for separation of church and state. Likewise, what’s needed today is a backlash by moderate Muslims against the extremists who are giving them a bad name."
The standard explanation for what happened in Salem is that certain people were accused as witches by malicious young women out to settle old family scores. Some even believe they may have done it just for fun –– others that it was for financial gain. But could these so-called "afflicted" really have faked their extraordinary symptoms? Martin, the seven-times-great grandson of one of the women hanged, doesn’t think so. One of the afflicted vomited blood in the courtroom in front of the judges and other eyewitnesses. Some had deep skin lesions that appeared to have been made by human teeth. Others coughed up pins.
A number of theories have surfaced in the past, but most would agree no fully satisfactory explanation has been put forth –– until now. Martin provides evidence that contrary to most accounts written in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, witchcraft was being practiced in seventeenth century New England
Martin said his new book is intended to transport people back to a time when just about everyone –– not only those on the radical fringe –– believed that witchcraft was real, and that Satan was actively working against God and the righteous.
"My goal is for people to understand what really happened, and what really happened is not what most of them think. I offer an explanation for the Salem witch hysteria that’s never before been put in print. I think most readers are going to find this book to be truly spellbinding."
Published by The Oaklea Press, the full title is "A Witch in the Family: An Award-Winning Author Investigates His Ancestor’s Trial and Execution." It can be purchased at the publisher’s web site, http://www.OakleaPress.com, or at Amazon.com. Search ISBN 189253844X.