Feature

Pure Visionary

The Life & Times of Anthony Comstock, Moral Crusader

The foes of nineteenth-century purity crusader Anthony Comstock commonly spoke in fulminations. His “free love” contemporary D. M. Bennett called Comstock “a first-class Torquemada” who had shown “the same energy, the same cruelty, [and] the same intolerance” as “the envenomed persecutors of the past centuries.” Bennett continued: “It is seriously doubted whether the church has ever had a cruel zealot in its employ who has labored with more resolution and zest than this active agent of the Young Men’s Christian Association.” Another “free love” advocate, Ezra Hervey Heywood, called Comstock “a religio-monomaniac” whom the United States . . .

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Allan C. Carlson is the John Howard Distinguished Senior Fellow at the International Organization for the Family. His most recent book is Family Cycles: Strength, Decline & Renewal in American Domestic Life, 1630-2000 (Transaction, 2016). He and his wife have four grown children and nine grandchildren. A "cradle Lutheran," he worships in a congregation of the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod. He is a senior editor for Touchstone.


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