Land of the Violent

Have the stories of freedom in America masked a long history of violence?

As bodies were burning from a massacre at the Mystic River in Massachusetts in 1637, pious settlers gave thanks to God for the victory — and even identified that the bodies burning were a “sweet-smelling savor in the nostrils of God.” Is this really the Land of the Free?

Amanda and the Rev. Lee Butler Jr. discuss the contradictions between the U.S. ideals of freedom and the country’s violent history of slavery, lynching and massacres. In this episode, this duo argues that acknowledging this history is crucial for understanding the ongoing legacies of colonization and systemic inequality, and the importance of redefining this idea of freedom for future generations to come.


  • The Rev. Lee H. Butler Jr. is president and CEO of Iliff School of Theology in Denver.  He previously served at Phillips Theological Seminary as vice president of academic affairs, academic dean and the William Tabbernee Professor of the History of Religions and Africana Pastoral Theology. Butler is co-editor of “The Edward Wimberly Reader: A Black Pastoral Theology” (Baylor University Press, 2020); author of “Listen, My Son: Wisdom to Help African American Fathers” (Abingdon Press, 2010), “Liberating Our Dignity, Saving Our Souls” (Chalice Press, 2006) and “A Loving Home: Caring for African American Marriage and Families” (Pilgrim Press, 2000); and the author of numerous articles on pastoral care and pastoral psychology. He is a lifelong Baptist and a first-generation beneficiary of the post-civil and human rights struggle in the United States.

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