Monday, December 21, 2009

Controversy in the "Blue-Grass"

During a month rife with remembrances from many major world religions & cultures, a man was born who challenged them all - ironically, the grandson to another who shared in the birth of contemporary religious thought.

Yesterday (December 20), in 1837, Charles Chilton Moore was born on a small farm outside Lexington, KY. His mother was the daughter of Rev. Barton W. Stone, who helped spark the Great Revival with the Cane Ridge Revival and co-founded the Christian Church, the Disciples of Christ, & the Church of Christ only a decade or two earlier. After attending Transylvania University, and graduating from West Virginia's Bethany College in 1858, Moore was ordained into his grandfather's church by 1864. But not for long!

After a short time as a pastor in Versailles, Moore resigned his pastorate to work in a series of newspapers. Eventually he founded his own in 1884. This was the nationally-known & quite controversial Blue-grass Blade (that's right - the paper turns 125 this year!). Though sporadically published for assorted reasons (not the least of which were financial & legal), the Blade vigorously challenged contemporary religious views, particularly Christianity & the Bible. Editorial contributions championed social causes of the day, including women's suffrage & prohibition. Moore's personal contributions also argued for agnosticism and, it is sometimes argued, atheism. He is even considered by some as the "Father of American Atheism."

Moore's antagonistic writings led not only to turbulent publishing runs, but also a turbulent life. He dealt with assassination attempts & even imprisonment for the Blue-Grass Blade in 1899. More specifically, for mailing obscene materials. He only served 6 months after President William McKinley pardoned him. This time did not stop his writing. Instead, it led to an autobigraphy. Even his death on February 7, 1906 (he subdued to an illness rather than another human) did not stop the controversy he began in life! The Blade continued publication for another 4 years after his death, courtesy of publisher, James Edward Hughes.

For more on the Blue-Grass Blade, including the many of the issues in its sporadic runs, visit its browsing page & title history on KDL Newspapers:

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