In the several decades after their arrival in the New England states in the late 1780s, Methodists were the objects of a wide variety of attacks, some of them mutually contradictory. Their preachers were accused of being pickpockets, horse thieves, and sexual predators, while on the other hand some converts were mocked for their excessive moral seriousness. They were suspected alternatively of being agents of the English crown, spies for the French government, and Jeffersonian radicals. Further, to some it seemed that their episcopal form of government and ecclesiastical tribunals functioned as a sort of shadow government undermining the political institutions of the nation. They were attacked for their Arminian theology, in defense of which they vigorously condemned Calvinist doctrine. They were mocked as enthusiasts and fanatics whose preachers, pretending to an immediate divine calling, inflamed the passions of their listeners and whose gatherings degenerated into bedlams of disorder, confusion, and moral scandal. They were disturbers of churches, transgressing parochial boundaries, sowing disorder, and fracturing the covenant relationship between minister and flock, all of which recalled memories of the upheaval accompanying the awakenings of the 1740s. They were unlearned rustics not fit to instruct people in divinity, but they were also sly enough to worm their way into the hearts and minds of people by shrewdly hiding their true intentions and prejudicing their hearers against the standing ministers.