Michael X. Mockus
Michael X. Mockus
Mockus in 1917
Mykolas Ksaveras Mockevičius
October 26, 1864
|Died||October 23, 1939 (aged 74)|
Michael X. Mockus (October 26, 1864 – October 23, 1939) was a Lithuanian-American Unitarian minister. Mockus is remembered for having been convicted in nationally publicized trials for having violated Connecticut and Maine state laws prohibiting blasphemy as a result of his public challenges of certain points of orthodox religious belief.
Biography[change | change source]
Mockus was born on October 26, 1864 in Lithuania. In 1916 he was charged with blasphemy in Waterbury, Connecticut. In 1917 he gave a series of lectures in Maine and was arrested and found guilty of blasphemy. The Supreme Judicial Court of Maine did not overturn his conviction.
Connecticut[change | change source]
In 1916, Mockus gave a lecture to the Lithuanian Freethought Association in Waterbury, Connecticut in the Lithuanian language. He was charged with blasphemy under the 1821 affirmation of the 1642 blasphemy law. He was the first person convicted under the law and was sentenced to 10 days imprisonment. He retained Theodore Schroeder of the Free Speech League as his attorney.
Maine[change | change source]
In 1917, Mockus gave a series of lectures in Maine on atheism. He made the following eight statements:
(1) "Mary (meaning the Virgin Mary) had a beau. When her beau called one evening (both being young) he seduced her. He brought her a flower and put her in a family way. No woman can give birth to a child without a man." (2) "The father of Christ was a young Jew and was no Angel Gabriel. Any girl who wants a child can call a Gabriel or some John." (3) "Religion, capitalism, and government are all damned humbugs, liars, and thieves. Those three classes combine into one organization. (4) "All religions are a deception of the people." (5) "A young man came to Mary during the night, and, coming near her with a flower in his hand, took her by the hand and said: 'Sh; sh.' Look how the priests teach you, the falsifiers, thieves. It is not possible that he could be of the Holy Ghost, there must be a man. A young Jew was the father of the Christ. No woman can have a child without a man; that never happened and never can happen." (6) "You see the Trinity (pointing to a picture of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which he had caused to be thrown upon a screen), God the Father, Ghost, and Son, a young Jew, but that old man never was and never can be; if he was God from the Ghost, then where did that belly button come from which is sprouted like a button? Bear in mind that the black army is a trinity, clergy, capitalism, and government; they govern the world together." (7) "There is no truth in the Bible; it is only monkey business. Religion, capitalism, and government are a black army and only profiteer from the poor people. You see here (pointing to a picture of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which he had caused to be thrown upon a screen) scarecrows. Here is God the Father, Son, and Ghost, a whole Trinity, just as the priest, capitalists, and government. How can the Holy Ghost be God when she is afraid a cat will kill her? And do you believe in these scarecrows?" (8) "You see this fool (pointing to a picture of Jesus Christ upon the cross, with the private parts of his body covered with a cloth, which he had caused to be thrown upon a screen) and you believe in Him. The women were sorry for the holy thing and covered the holy thing, while the rest of the body was left uncovered."
Mockus was arrested under Maine's blasphemy law which reads: "Blasphemy may be committed either by using profanely insolent and reproachful language against God, or by contumeliously reproaching Him, His creation, government, final judgment of the world, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, or the Holy Scriptures as contained in the canonical books of the Old and New Testament, or by exposing any of these enumerated Beings or Scriptures to contempt and ridicule, and it is not necessary for the state to prove the doing of all of them."
Mockus was found guilty by a jury trial in 1917 for his eight statements. His appeal went before the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine on March 25, 1921 as State v. Mockus and his conviction was upheld.
References[change | change source]
- Theodore Schroeder (1919). Constitutional Free Speech Defined and Defended in an Unfinished Argument in a Case of Blasphemy. Free Speech League.
- "State v. Mockus". Atlantic Reporter. 1921.
- Leonard Williams Levy (1995). Blasphemy: Verbal Offense Against the Sacred, from Moses to Salman Rushdie. UNC Press Books.