On this day in 1697, Scottish medical student Thomas Aikenhead, 18 or 19 years old, was hanged to death for blasphemy, in Britain's last execution for blasphemy. The young Edinburgh student was found guilty of denying the trinity, and was convicted on the testimony of five "friends" to whom he had confided his strong religious doubts. Evidence against him were "atheistic" books in his possession. The Church of Scotland urged his "vigorous execution."
“ . . . it is a principle innate and co-natural to every man to have an insatiable inclination to the truth, and to seek for it as for hid treasure. . . ”
— Thomas Aikenhead, letter to friends on date of execution, Jan. 8, 1697
This is more than 300 years ago, but it should not be forgotten. It was a capital offense for a young man to have "strong religious doubts." And they murdered him for it, at the vigorous urging of the Church of Scotland.