Anaxagoras was threatened with a law against atheists, and felt compelled to leave Athens.
But he taught that the state may interfere with legal or public duties only, and not with moral or private ones; He would not have even atheists punished, though they should be expelled the country, and he came forward as an earnest opponent of the prosecution of witches and of the use of torture.
Whilst Protestant opponents put him in the list of atheists like Vanini, and the Catholics held him as dangerous as Luther or Calvin, there were zealous adherents who ventured to prove the theory of vortices in harmony with the book of Genesis.
A cry was raised "Away with the atheists.
The cry of the heathen populace in the Roman empire against the Christians was " Away with the atheists!