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Stepchildren of the Reformation

In the 16th century a handful of Christians rediscovered a truth which they were unwilling to compromise and which the Christian world wasn’t ready to tolerate.

By Betsy Mayer and Pat Mudgett

“They call each other brother and sister, they curse not, they revile not, they swear not, they use no defensive armor.… They never eat or drink immoderately, they use no clothes that would indicate worldly pride, they have nothing as individuals but everything in common. They do not go to law before the magistracy and endure everything in patience, as they pretend, in the Holy Spirit. Who then would believe that under these garments lurk pure ravening wolves?” So wrote the Roman Catholic priest of Feldsberg, Austria, in 1604 about the Anabaptists in his region. 

The term “anabaptist,” or “rebaptizer,” originated in German-speaking Switzerland in the 16th century during the Protestant Reformation. Anabaptists, however, did not want to reform the church; they wanted to restore the church to its 1st-century purity as a separate entity from the state. For this reason Anabaptists were considered anarchists and enemies of

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