Today in Christian History

July 8

July 8, 1115: French monk Peter the Hermit dies. Several argue that Peter the Hermit launched the crusades. Supposedly, he visited Jerusalem on a pilgrimage in 1093 and returned to Pope Urban II with a plea to do something to stop the Muslims from harassing Christian pilgrims. Two years later Urban II pronounced the First Crusade at the Council of Clermont and Peter the Hermit became one of the crusade's dominant preachers. After leading a failed "pre-crusade" in which Muslims slaughtered his entire army of 20,000 peasants, Peter joined the main army of the First Crusade (see issue 40: The Crusades).

July 8, 1896: At the Democratic National Convention, fundamentalist William Jennings Bryan gives his famous speech supporting "the little man" of American life. "You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold," he shouted (see issue 55: The Monkey Trial and The Rise of Fundamentalism).

July 8, 1741: Colonial Congregational minister Jonathan Edwards preaches his classic sermon at Enfield, Connecticut: "You are thus in the hands of an angry God; 'tis nothing but his mere pleasure that keeps you from being this moment swallowed up in everlasting destruction" (see issue 8: Jonathan Edwards and issue 77: Jonathan Edwards).

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July 19, 1692: Puritan magistrates convict and hang five women for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts. By September, 20 people had been executed on charges brought by 15 young girls (see issue 41: The American Puritan).

July 19, 1848: More than 300 men and women assemble in the Wesleyan Chapel at Seneca Falls, New York, for the first formal convention to discuss "the social, civil and religious condition and the rights of women." The event has been called the birthplace of the women's rights movement. ...

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