A Louisiana Tech history professor recently presented results of his research on religious dissidents in 16th century England at a meeting of the Sixteenth Century Society and Conference in St. Louis, Mo.

Dr. Hankins' paper was titled “Craft, Conscience and Religious Ambivalence: Dutch and French Calvinists alongside English Catholics in Sixteenth-Century Southeastern England.”

His paper argued that, although the Anglican Church was the only legal religion in late-16th century England, resident Catholics and immigrant Calvinists continued to serve in local government and to work in profitable trades. This participation by religious dissidents in the English government and economy was with the full knowledge of royal and church officers.

Hankins also argued that the two “extreme” religious groups survived and prospered in Protestant England because of the valuable skills and competent administration they employed. In other words, Hankins said, Catholics and Calvinists were both part of the process of creating a powerful state in early modern England.

He was was featured on a panel sponsored by the H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich. Much of the research for his paper was done during a six-week summer residency at the Meeter Center as a 2008 recipient of a Faculty Research Fellowship.

Written by Reginald Owens