Witchcraft as Heresy Against the Church


“The idea of witchcraft-as-heresy remained an element of Puritan belief for most of the century. However limited, it evidently had some impact on popular belief, since opposition to the established church was mentioned in witchcraft testimony against twenty-eight women…Their witchcraft is best understood in terms of the centuries-long tendency of Christian authorities to see their adversaries–especially their female adversaries–as witches…It was their perceived dissatisfaction with the religious system–and by extension with the religiously defined social system-that linked them to their sister witches.”

The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England by Carol F. Karlsen

Although this book discusses Colonial New England and the witchcraft trials, the thing that remains the same today is that Christian authorities still view their adversaries as performing witchcraft. They may not have the authority to hand us over to the police to be burned at the stake, but they do perceive our criticism of the church as walking with Satan, or working with him hand in hand.


1 thought on “Witchcraft as Heresy Against the Church”

  1. Even if they knew the difference between witches, strong women, gals who just happen to be a bit outside the mainstream and also are therefore prone to gossip mongering,….. and nobody ever stood to benefit from the forfeiture of the supposed witch’s property (bastards) that whole witch trial episodes in the 1600’s would and should go down as both a travesty of justice and a travesty of religious reasoning. I’m not an historian, but I’m willing to bet most of the rest of what became the 13 colonies thought they were nuts!

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