Here is Lord Macaulay on the Puritans:
"It was a sin to hang garlands on a Maypole, to drink a friend's health, to fly a hawk, hunt a stag, to play at chess, to wear lovelocks, to put starch into a ruff, to touch the virginals [a predecessor of the piano], to read the Fairy Queen.--Rules such as these, rules which would have appeared insupportable to the free and joyous spirit of Luther, and coutemptible to the serene and philosophical intellect of Zwingle, threw over all life a more than monastic gloom. The learning and eloqueuce by which the great reformers had been eminently distinguished, and to which they had been, in no small measure, indebted for their success, were regarded by the new school of Protestants with suspicion, if not with aversion. Some precisians had scruples about teaching the Latin grammar because the names of Mars, Bacchus, and Apollo occurred in it. The fine arts were all but proscribed. The solemn peal of the organ was superstitious. The light music of Ben Jonson's masques was dissolute. Half the fine paintings in England were idolatrous, and the other half indecent."
So those people who condemn, would limit and even ban so much pleasure simply to enforce their belief that it's for our own good - what else could we call them but New Puritans. These are the voices of the anti-consumer, the dry and pleasure free health fanatics, the people who see sex as a threat not a joy. Every day we are regaled with the patest dire warnings and every day a new call is made to the government for something to be done about these sins. Even harmless activities that look like the sin are condemned - recalling those who covered chair legs so as not to be reminded of the female form.
All these doctors, campaigners and activists who wish to order our lives for the benefit of our health are just worldly echoes of those old Puritans. We are reminded of this by Irma Kurtz:
Are health educators the new puritans? Yes, of course they are. They would cleanse and purify the new religion. The new religion is a paltry faith. It is worship of self. Religions get the puritans they deserve, and the new puritan is not much more than a rather fussy housekeeper who doesn't want cigarette ash on the carpet. Some of the new puritans, that is the medicos, are also the new priests. They are expected to intervene between mankind and the supernatural...
Since our health is placed on the highest pinnacle in this new religion, those charged with care for that health are not to be challenged even when they step beyond their knowledge. Thus, a doctor's opinion on the packaging of cigarettes is granted more value - because he is a 'priest' - than the opinion of those who understand the role of packaging or have studied its actual effect.
Those who contest these ideas, who challenge the New Puritians are condemned as the followers of Satan - in thrall to Big Tobacco, The Drinks Industry or Big Sugar. Even non-smoking, teetotal opponents are condemned as the New Puritans search for the tiniest justification for their condemnation.
Now, the New Puritans have adopted an ideology of total control - rejecting democracy and preferring instead the authority of the public health priesthood:
An urgent transformation is required in our values and our practices based on recognition of our interdependence and the interconnectedness of the risks we face. We need a new vision of cooperative and democratic action at all levels of society and a new principle of planetism and wellbeing for every person on this Earth - a principle that asserts that we must conserve, sustain, and make resilient the planetary and human systems on which health depends by giving priority to the wellbeing of all. All too often governments make commitments but fail to act on them; independent accountability is essential to ensure the monitoring and review of these commitments, together with the appropriate remedial action.
The voice of public health and medicine as the independent conscience of planetary health has a special part to play in achieving this vision.
These is little difference - other than reference to god - between this and the Puritan justification for banning the celebration of Christmas:
'More mischief is that time committed than in all the year besides ... What dicing and carding, what eating and drinking, what banqueting and feasting is then used ... to the great dishonour of God and the impoverishing of the realm.'Such is the sad, drear, judgemental world the New Puritans would have us live in: rationed celebration, the condemnation of unlicensed pleasure, the placing of contentment - wellbeing if you must - as the primary virtue. These are the tenets of New Puritans, tenets that cannot be revoked by either the choices of individuals or the exercise of democracy - they are statements of faith in the religion of self proclaimed by that religion's priesthood - the public health profession.