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From America to the World: Protestant Christianity's Creation of Religious Liberty

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Abstract

Half the population of the world to this day still has not experienced religious freedom. Religious persecution often still occurs at many places in the world. Research studies show that there is a direct correlation between religious freedom and economic prosperity. "Prosperity is the result of freedom, therefore the best way to improve the economic prosperity of a nation is to ensure freedom for its citizens." This article will first elaborate models of the relationship between church and state, and then explain the basic principle of the Bible regarding religious freedom. It further explains why incarceration of religious freedom or of conscience by the state is wrong, despite the reasons of protecting its citizens from false religion or from a cult. This paper will also explore religious persecution from the time of early church until the birth of Protestantism, and then speaks about the struggle and the protection of religious freedom. Furthermore this article goes into what underlies the constitutional protection of religious freedom in America, and then browse through the struggle and the protection of religious freedom as a struggle of the world. KEY WORDS: religious freedom, religious conflict, heresy, early church, Protestantism, religious freedom in the United States of America.
FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD:
PROTESTANT CHRISTIANITY’S CREATION OF
RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
Dr. Peter A. Lillback
Presiden & Professor Westminster Theological Seminary, USA
ABSTRAK: Setengah penduduk dunia hingga saat ini masih
belum menikmati kebebasan beragama. Penganiayaan karena
agama masih kerap terjadi di banyak tempat di dunia ini. Pada
sisi lain, hasil-hasil penelitian melaporkan bahwa ada pengaruh
langsung antara kebebasan beragama dan kemakmuran
ekonomi. "Kemakmuran adalah hasil dari kebebasan, karena itu
cara terbaik untuk meningkatkan kesejahteraan ekonomi suatu
bangsa adalah dengan memastikan kebebasan bagi warganya."
Tulisan ini pertama-tama akan menguraikan mengenai model-
model hubungan gereja dan negara, dan kemudian
menjelaskan dasar Alkitab mengenai kebebasan beragama.
Selanjutnya tulisan ini menjelaskan mengapa pembelengguan
kebebasan beragama atau hati nurani oleh negara adalah salah,
meski dengan alasan untuk melindungi warga dari agama yang
salah, atau bidat. Tulisan ini juga akan menelusuri
penganiayaan karena agama dari jaman gereja mula-mula
sampai pada kelahiran aliran Protestan, dan kemudian
memaparkan mengenai perjuangan dan perlindungan
kebebasan beragama. Selanjutnya tulisan ini memaparkan apa
yang mendasari perlindungan kebebasan beragama dalam
konstitusi Amerika, dan kemudian menelusuri perjuangan dan
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 9
perlindungan kebebasan beragama itu sebagai perjuangan
seluruh dunia.
KATA KUNCI: kebebasan beragama, konflik agama, bidat, gereja
mula-mula, protestanisme, kebebasan beragama di Amerika Serikat.
ABSTRACT: Half the population of the world to this day still
has not experienced religious freedom. Religious persecution
often still occurs at many places in the world. Research studies
show that there is a direct correlation between religious
freedom and economic prosperity. "Prosperity is the result of
freedom, therefore the best way to improve the economic
prosperity of a nation is to ensure freedom for its citizens." This
article will first elaborate models of the relationship between
church and state, and then explain the basic principle of the
Bible regarding religious freedom. It further explains why
incarceration of religious freedom or of conscience by the state
is wrong, despite the reasons of protecting its citizens from false
religion or from a cult. This paper will also explore religious
persecution from the time of early church until the birth of
Protestantism, and then speaks about the struggle and the
protection of religious freedom. Furthermore this article goes
into what underlies the constitutional protection of religious
freedom in America, and then browse through the struggle and
the protection of religious freedom as a struggle of the world.
KEYWORDS: religious freedom, religious conflict, heresy, early
church, Protestantism, religious freedom in the United States of
10 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
America.
Observers of America have long noted the American quest
for liberty as well as the apparent connection between liberty
and faith in the history of the United States.1 In 1835, for
example, Tocqueville's Democracy in America was published, in
which the well-known French political analyst commented that
Americans believed religion "indispensable to the maintenance
of republican institutions."2 In 1922 G. K. Chesterton (1874-
1936), called the United States ‚a nation with the soul of a
church.‛3 In this study, we review the arduous Protestant
pursuit of religious freedom as it matured in the American
context to become a universal human right.4
Religious liberty has foundational significance for western
civilization.5 The United States in particular has affirmed that
personal liberty is incomplete without religious liberty.6 An
exemplar is American President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s ‚Four
Freedoms‛ address. On January 6, 1941 he outlined his hopes
for world freedom:
In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look
forward to a world founded upon four essential human
freedoms.
The first is freedom of speech and expressioneverywhere in
the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship
God in his own wayeverywhere in the world. The third is
freedom from wantwhich, translated into world terms, means
economic undertakings which will secure to every nation a
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 11
healthy peacetime life for its inhabitantseverywhere in the
world. The fourth is freedom from fearwhich, translated into
world terms, means a worldwide reduction of armaments to
such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will
be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against
any neighboranywhere in the world. . . Freedom means the
supremacy of human rights everywhere.7
Sixty years later, American President George W. Bush declared
on May 7, 2001,
It is not an accident that freedom of religion is one of the central
freedoms in our Bill of Rights. It is the first freedom of the
human soul: the right to speak the words that God places in our
mouths. We must stand for that freedom in our country. We
must speak for that freedom in the world.8
Yet religious liberty is recognized more broadly than just in the
West, as it is a founding commitment of the United Nations.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted on December
10, 1948 proclaims:
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and
religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or
belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others
and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in
teaching, practice, worship and observance.9
12 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
Religious liberty’s global character is reinforced by the fact that
it became a tenet of the Roman Catholic faith at the Second
Vatican Council. Pope John Paul II, for example, said in his
Message for the World Day of Peace, January 1, 1988, ‚Every
violation of religious freedom, whether open or hidden, does
fundamental damage to the cause of peace, like violations of
other fundamental rights of the human person.‛10
The absence or diminishing of religious liberty tend to
foster tyranny through the suppression of individual liberty.
This is because religious liberty is a safeguard against
governmental encroachment of power over its citizens. The
development of religious liberty emanating from the Judeo-
Christian tradition, well illustrates this. According to Adrian
Karatnycky of Freedom House,
The correlation between Christianity and freedom at the end of
the twentieth century is very strong<Christian countries, at
this stage of human development, are about six times more
likely to be free and democratic, as they are to be non-
democratic and suffer from serious abridgements in human
rights.11
In another context Karatnycky declared,
Of the 81 countries that we rate as free in our survey, 74 are
majority Christian. Of the seven free countries that are not
majority Christian, one is Israel, which is part of the Judeo-
Christian civilization. Two others, Mauritius and South Korea,
have very large Christian communities, and in some cases
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 13
growing Christian communities, more than a third of their
population. Of the four free countries that don’t have strong
relations to the Judeo-Christian tradition, one is Mali, which is
predominately Muslim. Another is Taiwan, where nearly half
the population is Buddhist. Another is Mongolia, which is
traditional Buddhist. And finally there is Japan, which observes
both the Buddhist and Shinto traditions.12
There has been a commitment to religious toleration in other
traditions as well according to Ninan Koshy,
Twenty-three centuries ago King Ashoka, patron of Buddhism,
recommended to his subjects that they should act in accordance
with a principle of toleration. ‘Acting thus, we contribute to our
creed by serving others. Acting otherwise, we harm our own
faith, bringing discredit upon the others. He who exalts his
own belief, discrediting all others does so surely to obey his
religion with the intention of making a display of it. But
behaving thus, he gives it the hardest blows. And for this
reason concord is good only in so far as all listen to each other’s
creeds and live to listen to them.’ 13
THE VARYING RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN CHURCH
AND STATE
Church and state have related in various ways in the
history of the West. Philip Wogman14 offers four basic types of
church-state relationships:
14 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
1. Theocracy: the state is under the control of religious
leaders or institutions for religious purposes.
2. Erastianism: the church when under the control of the
state has been termed ‚Erastianism‛ (after the
sixteenth-century Swiss German, Thomas Erastes).
3. Separation of church and statefriendly: religious and
political institutions are legally separate but not hostile
to each other.
4. Separation of Church and stateunfriendly: religious
and political institutions are legally separate and in an
antagonistic relationship.
Ancient, Medieval and Reformation Christianity generally
vacillated between Wogaman’s theocratic and Erastian
categories.15 Post-reformation Christianity in the West generally
has favored what Wogman has termed a friendly separation of
church and state. In more recent years with the emergence of
secularism and Marxism, an unfriendly separation of church
and state has manifested itself. It is ironic that the language of
‚separation between church and state‛ does not appear in US
Constitution or the First Amendment, but this phrase was part
of the Constitution of the former U. S. S. R.:
In order to ensure to citizens freedom of conscience, the
church in the U.S.S.R. is separated from the State, and the
school from the church. Freedom of religious worship and
freedom of anti-religious propaganda is recognized for all
citizens.‛16
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 15
Yet in 1928, Anatolii Lunarchskii, a former Soviet Minister of
Education offered this astute comment aimed at the
governmental coercion of religious belief, ‚Religion is like a
nail, the harder you hit it, the deeper it goes into the wood.‛ 17
A 1986 UN study done by Elizabeth Odio Benito, the
Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights,
presented a more detailed taxonomy of church and state issues,
identifying eight distinctive relationships between church and
state18:
1. State religions.
2. Established churches.
3. Neutral or secular states as regarding religion.
4. No official religion.
5. Separation of church from state.
6. Arrangements with the Roman Catholic Church.
7. Protection of legally recognized religious groups.
8. Millet system, recognizing a number of religious
communities.
With these general categories in mind, let us next summarize
some of the leading biblical reasons for the Christian
commitment to religious liberty.
BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY AND RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
From a biblical view, freedom is a creation ordinance, that
is, it is grounded in the fabric of reality by divine creation. This
can be seen in Adam’s relationship to God’s rule. Adam, as
God’s image bearer, was given the freedom of personal choice
16 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
to follow God or to disobey God’s rule in the Garden of Eden.
Adam in essence was given the right to be wrong. There were
consequences to being wrong, but God did not prevent Adam’s
choice to set aside God’s call upon his life.
Israel had a separation of religious rule from political rule.
The tribe of Levi was the source for the priesthood. The tribe of
Judah was the source for the monarchy. This enabled there to be
a religious culture not totally dominated by the state. Further,
Israel, although a theocracy especially in the era of the judges,
nevertheless had a constitution, namely, the Ten
Commandments. The most powerful Being in the universe
bound Himself in covenant with His people. This covenant of
God had implications for the covenant of His people with one
another. These covenantal duties to God and to each other were
thus summarized in the constitution of God’s people, namely,
the Ten Commandments. The first table of the Commandments
or the law addressed religion. The second table of the law
addressed justice. This structure suggested a distinction
between ‚church‛ and ‚state‛ but this distinction did not mean
that these entities were autonomous. Both church and state had
authority that was limited by expressed duties. The two tables
of the Ten Commandments implied a separation of powers
between church and state and a limitation of the powers of each
by expressed duties. Leviticus 25:10 pointed toward civil liberty
when in the Jubilee year Israel was commanded to ‚Proclaim
liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.‛
This had the effect of restoring to individuals lost liberties that
had occurred by debt and other mistakes.
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 17
Early Christianity grew merely by preaching, persuasion
and missions, that is, by the power of speech. This emphasizes
the importance of free speech. When told not to speak any more
in the name of Jesus Christ, the apostles declared in Acts 5:29,
‚We must obey God rather than man.‛ Jesus’ teaching
authorized no use of the sword or the state’s coercive power to
advance his faith. Matthew 22:15-22 asserts that both Caesar
and God have their respective prerogatives that must be
properly addressed. Verse 22 declares, ‚Render to Caesar the
things that are Caesars, and to God the things that are God’s.‛
Jesus’ Golden Rule taught in Matthew 7:12, ‚Do unto others as
you would have them do unto you,‛ when applied to the public
square, creates freedom. One who does not want to be
persecuted for his own faith should not persecute another for
his faith.
Ultimately, then, Christianity seeks freedom not mere
‚toleration‛ or bare ‚harmony‛. There are several texts that
advocate freedom in Scripture.19 The following are worth
underscoring here:
a. Isaiah 61:1, ‚The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me<to
proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the
prison to those who are bound.‛
b. John 8:32, ‚You will know the truth, and the truth will
set you free.‛
c. 1 Corinthians 7:21, ‚If you can gain your freedom, avail
yourself of the opportunity.‛
d. 2 Corinthians 3:17, ‚Where the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is freedom‛
18 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
e. Galatians 5:1, ‚For freedom Christ has set us free; stand
firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of
slavery.
Founding President of the United States, George Washington,
emphasized to the Hebrew Congregation on August 17, 1790
that the Jewish people did not possess mere toleration under
the new government, but full religious freedom:
It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by
the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the
exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the
government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no
sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they
who live under its protection should demean themselves as
good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual
support.<May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who
dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of
the other inhabitants, while every one shall sit in safety under
his own vine and fig-tree, and there shall be none to make him
afraid.20
President George W. Bush on July 4, 2001 came to
Independence Hall in Philadelphia to celebrate 300 years of
Religious Liberty in Philadelphia and 225 years of American
Independence. His remarks on this occasion recognized the
connection between humanity’s creation by God and America’s
experience of religious liberty:
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 19
A wonderful country was born [July 4, 1776] and a
revolutionary idea sent forth to all mankind: Freedom, not by
the good graces of government, but as the birthright of every
individual. Equality, not as a theory of philosophers, but by the
design of our Creator. Natural rights, not for the few, not even
for the fortunate, but for all people, in all times.21
BASIC QUESTION OF RELIGIOUS LIBERTY: SHOULD
THE GOVERNMENT PROTECT PEOPLE FROM
RELIGIOUS “ERROR”?
The issue of the government’s role in protecting people
from what is deemed to be religious error emerges in the
English speaking world with John Wycliffe of Oxford
University who lived in the 1400’s.22 Often called ‚the morning
star of the Protestant Reformation‛ he was first to translate the
Bible into the English language. His followers became known
as the ‚lullards‛ because of their whispering witness of their
faith due to fear of persecution. As persecution mounted
against his movement, Wycliffe’s bones were exhumed, ground
to dust and cast into the sea. Thus he was an object of the
Roman Catholic inquisition even after his death. The issue at
the heart of the inquisition was to root out religious error in
order to preserve what was believed to be religious truth for the
seemingly noble end of the salvation of human souls.
By the 1700’s, after centuries of religious persecution in
England, this perspective began to change. John Locke (1632-
1704), a British Christian philosopher, argued in A Letter
Concerning Toleration,
20 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
<the care of souls is not committed to the civil magistrate, any
more than to other men. It is not committed unto him, I say, but
God; because it appears not that God has ever given any such
authority to one man over another, as to compel any one to his
religion.23
A portion of his concluding prayer in A Letter Concerning
Toleration reflects a growing understanding of the distinction
between the work of the state in civil matters and the work of
the church in the concern for spiritual salvation,
God Almighty grant . . . that the Gospel of Peace may at length
be preached, and that civil magistrates, growing more careful to
conform their own consciences to the law of God and less
solicitous about the binding of other men’s consciences by
human laws, may, like fathers of their country, direct all their
counsels and endeavours to promote universally the civil
welfare of all their children, . . . and that all ecclesiastical men . .
. walking peaceably and modestly in the apostles’ steps . . . may
apply themselves wholly to promote the salvation of souls.24
American founding father Thomas Jefferson’s rejected the
notion that the force of government should be used to protect
people from spiritual error: ‚It is error alone which needs the
support of government. Truth can stand by itself.‛25 In
Jefferson’s mind, the quest for spiritual truth requires the risk of
religious error, because truth will ultimately prevail and be
known.
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 21
Twentieth century Christian theologian Reinhold Niebuhr
explained,
The history of free societies proves conclusively that the dictum
that ‚errordoes not have the same rights as the ‚truth‛ is a
very dangerous one, not because it is not possible to distinguish
between truth and error, but because in the endless conflicts of
interest in a society, it is dangerous to give any interest group
the monopoly to define the ‚truth‛. So much truth rides into
history on the back of error, and so much ‚error‛ is but a
neglected portion of the whole truth, which is an error only in
the degree that it has been overemphasized in order to get itself
heard and when acknowledged and restored to the whole,
ceases to be an error and becomes a part of the truth.26
Thomas Jefferson as Governor of Virginia, along with the help
of fellow Virginian James Madison, established the commitment
to Religious liberty in his state and thus helped it take root in
America. Jefferson’s 1786 ‚Act for Establishing Religious Freedom
declares,
Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all
attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens,
or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of
hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of
the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body
and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either,
as was in his Almighty power to do; that the impious
presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as
22 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
ecclesiastical, who being themselves but fallible and uninspired
men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting
up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true
and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on
others, hath established and maintained false religions over the
greatest part of the world, and through all time; <.Be it enacted
by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to
frequent or support any religious worship, place or ministry
whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or
burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on
account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall
be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion
in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise
diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.27
Jefferson’s concern to protect the conscience is seen in his
famous letter where he writes of the ‚wall of separation
between Church and State‛. In his letter to a committee of the
Danbury Baptist Association, Connecticut, January 1, 1802,
Jefferson declared:
<Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely
between man and his God, that he owes account to none other
for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of
government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate
with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people
which declared that their legislature should ‚make no law
respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free
exercise thereof,‛ thus building a wall of separation between
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 23
Church and State. Adhering to the expression of the supreme
will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see
with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which
tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has
not natural right in opposition to his social duties<28
PERSECUTION FROM THE ANCIENT CHURCH TO
PROTESTANTISM
The story of religious liberty in the West and its
uniqueness in world history cannot be understood without an
appreciation of the rise of the Protestant tradition beginning in
the sixteenth century as well as the religious persecution that
has been the norm for most nations throughout history. Western
civilization includes a continual display of religious
persecution.29
Our study begins with a survey of religious persecution in
the history of the West. It then develops how different branches
of the Protestant faith helped to establish the first expressions of
religious liberty in North America, with its culmination in the
First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Religious Persecution in the Ancient and Medieval Church.30
The Roman Empire granted legitimacy to some religions
but not to others as reflected in the titles of Religio Licita and
Religio Illicita. The resulting persecution of illegitimate religions
led to profound suffering for Jews and early Christians. The
pre-conversion Saul of Tarsus recorded in the biblical book of
24 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
Acts of the Apostles reflects a spirit of persecution of early
Christians. Yet, as the early church father Tertullian (c.160/70-
c.215/20) wrote, ‚The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the
Church.‛31 The unflinching testimony of those martyred for
their faith created new believers even more committed to
sustaining the growth of the church.
The toleration of Christianity (AD 313) by Emperor
Constantine (c.274-337) and the subsequent establishment of
Christianity as the religion of the Roman Empire in the
Byzantine Era resulted in the use of the coercive power of the
state to further the Christian faith. Sadly, triumphant
Christianity, the religion formerly persecuted, began to
persecute others, including those within the Christian fold who
disagreed with prevailing beliefs. Ninan Koshy writes,
Constantine’s Edict of 313 provided for individual freedom of
conscience, for full rights to Christianity on equality with other
recognized religions and for the restoration of church property
which had been confiscated. Favour led to privilege, which
turned to prestige; and the church soon became very powerful.
Then the church and the state turned on the heretics. The codes
of Theodosius and Justinian forbade heretics to build churches,
to assemble for religious purposes or to teach their doctrines
even in private. They were denied rights of bequest,
inheritance, even of contract. Death was prescribed for those
who lapsed from Christianity into pagan rites. . . . some of these
measures in the codes of Theodosius and Justinian appealed to
medieval and early modern state on into the Reformation.32
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 25
Further M. Searle Bates points to the historic attempts to justify
persecution by appeal to the Bible,
Already men were at work to support from the scriptures the
measures of compulsion and punishment which they desired to
inflict by state authority or other means. The Old Testament
was then and thereafter to be searched for passages prescribing
death penalties for idolatry, blasphemy and apostasy which
could be inflicted upon heresy as well. The New Testament
provided little material penalties but was richer in the content
and destructive support of strict orthodoxy. From the two
Testaments taken together, the dogmatist, the bigot, the man of
faction, the literalist, the bureaucrat, the sadist have been able to
justify their will, that day until now.33
The Medieval Period saw the long hegemony of the Church over
the European State. As noted above, this resulted in protests by
political theorists such as John Wycliffe (c.1329-1384). The issue
at the heart of the inquisition was to root out religious error in
order to preserve what was believed to be religious truth for the
noble end of the salvation of human souls. John Hus (1373-
1415), a learned man of Prague, was burned at the stake 600
years ago in 1415 for criticizing the wrongs committed by those
in authority in the Church. Many others met a similar fate.
26 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
The General Reality of Religious Persecution in the Era of the
Protestant Reformation.
The story of Martin Luther reveals that he was liable to
persecution and death from the Roman Catholic powers due to
his non-conventional convictions regarding the Word of God.
At the Imperial Diet of Worms on April 18, 1528 Luther
declared: "Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain
reasonI do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for
they have contradicted each othermy conscience is captive to
the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to
go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I
cannot do otherwise. God help me, Amen."34
The Diet of Worms was a specially called imperial
congress where Luther defended the doctrines that were at the
heart of the Reformation. The Church and Emperor wanted
Luther to recant his teachings. Due to his excommunication by
the church before Luther was invited to Worms, he had already
in essence been declared a heretic. On his journey to Worms,
Luther was welcomed in all of the towns he went through,
preaching along the way. He arrived in Worms on April 16 and
was also cheered and welcomed by the people. Luther
appeared before the Emperor twice. At each time he was told
to recant. But Luther refused since he did not see any evidence
that his teachings were unbiblical.
When Luther was dismissed, he was not arrested because
he had a letter of safe conduct which guaranteed three weeks of
safe travel. He left for home on April 25. But when Luther and
his protecting princes departed, the emperor imposed an
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 27
Imperial Act wherein Luther was declared an outlaw. This
meant that he could be slain by anyone without fear of reprisal.
So Elector Friedrich the Wise had Luther kidnapped on May 4th
to assure Luther's safety. Luther was taken to the Wartburg
Castle where he remained for ten months, where in three
months’ time he had translated the New Testament into
German.
But the power of the written word and of a free press in
changing the reality of religious persecution was soon
recognized by Luther and reforming writers. From Martin
Luther in Germany to John Foxe in England, the power of the
printed word became a tool to challenge religious persecution
and unbridled power: ‚As his rift with the Vatican grew, Luther
soon came to embrace the new technology as ‘God’s highest
and extremest act of grace’ by which the Gospel was ‘driven
forward’; or as John Foxe would later put it in his Book of
Martyrs: ‘God hath opened the press to preach, whose voice the
pope is unable to stop with all the puissance of his triple
crown.’‛35 So the struggles between the Catholic tradition and
its reforming rivals increased. At the beginning of the
Seventeenth Century, Europe was engulfed in what came to be
known as the ‚wars of religion‛.
The violence and sufferings resulting from the absence of
religious liberty that spread throughout Europe during this era
was captured by English Puritan poet John Milton’s sonnet
entitled ‚On the Late Massacre in Piedmont‛ in 1655. It tells the
story of the Waldensians, a religious group that started around
1210 and continues until today. Their flight from persecution
28 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
began in the 1200’s. They found a safe haven in the Swiss and
Italian Alps where they clung to their religious beliefs
grounded on the Bible and especially the gospels. Later in the
early seventeenth century they joined the Reformed Churches
that followed the teachings of John Calvin. So, their sufferings
intensified as they were now identified as Protestants. John
Milton’s lyrical lament reveals the atrocities perpetrated on the
Waldensians and that their persecution had become known as
far away as England:
Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints, whose bones
Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold;
Even them who kept thy truth so pure of old,
When all our fathers worshiped stocks and stones,
Forget not: in thy book record their groans
Who were thy sheep, and in their ancient fold
Slain by the bloody Piedmontesse, that rolled
Mother with infant down the rocks. Their moans
The vales redoubled to the hills, and they
To heaven. Their martyred blood and ashes sow
O’er all the Italian fields, where still doth sway
The triple Tyrant; that from these may grow
A hundredfold, who, having learnt thy way,
Early may fly the Babylonian woe.36
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 29
THE REFORMED TRADITION: JOHN CALVIN AND
RELIGIOUS LIBERTY.
The relationship between church and state that developed
in the early Reformation era of religious conflict was
summarized by the Latin maxim ‚Cuius Regio, Eius Religio‛,
‚Whose Region, His Religion‛. In other words, only the King’s
conscience in matters of religion would be recognized. The
persecuted, various scholars as well as religious leaders began
to wonder how the view that religious liberty belonged only to
the powerful could be changed, so all could share in its
blessings? This was especially true of the French Huguenots,
Protestant followers of Calvin, who greatly suffered under
Roman Catholic opposition and persecution.
Calvin’s theology developed clear conceptions of the
relationship of church and state. In the 1543 edition of his
Institutes, Calvin declared his preference for the republican
form of government:
For if the three forms of government which the philosophers
discuss be considered in themselves, I will not deny that
aristocracy, or a system compounded of aristocracy and
democracy (vel aristocratian vel temperatum ex ipsa et politia
statum) far excels all others.37
Calvin’s theology separated church and state, but assumed and
provided for their mutual interaction.38 For him alienation
between them would have spelled disaster. John McNeill
states,
30 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
His concentration on Biblical studies and his labor and care for
the church did not eradicate his political interest but gave to it a
new dimension; the magistrate became, for man’s earthly order
of life, a vicar of God. It need not surprise us to find that from
his Commentary on Seneca’s Treatise on Clemency of 1532 until
that hour in 1564 when from his deathbed he urged the
magistrates of Geneva so to rule as to ‘preserve this republic in
its present happy condition,’ his writings are strewn with
penetrating comments on the policies of rulers and illuminating
passages on the principles of government.39
An eminent Catholic historian, E. Jarry, emphasizes that in the
political domain, Calvinist ideas are at the origin of the
revolution which from the 18th to the 19th centuries gave birth
and growth to the parliamentary democracies of Anglo-Saxon
type.40 Philip Schaff, church historian, wrote: ‚The principles of
the Republic of the United States can be traced through the
intervening link of Puritanism to Calvinism, which, with all its
theological rigor, has been the chief educator of manly
characters and promoter of constitutional freedom in modern
times.‛41 Thus Calvin helped to foster the development of the
republican form of government with its emphasis on freedom.
However, even though exiled and constantly endangered
because of his own deep faith, Calvin supported the civil
magistrate of Geneva, Switzerland in the heresy trial that led to
the execution of the Spanish physician and anti-Trinitarian
Miguel Servetus (1511-1553). In 1562, in the midst of a religious
war in France, a small yet significant anonymous book was
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 31
published entitled Advice to a Desolate France. Written by a
Protestant professor of Greek at the University of Basel,
Sebastian Castellio (1515-1563), the book was considered ‚full
of error by a Church Council at the time and ordered to be
destroyed. Only four copies are known to have survived.
Castellio argued that the ‚forcing of consciences‛ in
matters of religion created the maladies of war-torn France:
I find that the principal and effective cause of your malady, that
is to say of the sedition and war which torment you, is the
forcing of consciences<As one had for a long time forced and
tried to force the consciences of the Evangelics < they
themselves, in their treaty entered into at Orleans, stress
sufficiently clearly that they are fighting for religion,
considering that of the three reasons for which they say they are
taking up arms, the first is the Honour of God. As such, one
must conclude that the cause of this war is the forcing of
consciences... Consequently, < the advice which I am giving
you<is that you should cease the forcing of consciences and
stop persecution, not to mention the killing of a man because of
his faith<.
Castellio’s advice to France to ‚cease the forcing of consciences
and stop persecution, not to mention the killing of a man
because of his faith‛ fell on deaf ears.
John Calvin had earlier argued for religious liberty and
had written, ‚It is criminal to put heretics to death. To make an
end of them by fire and sword is opposed to every principle of
humanity.‛ But upon assuming leadership in Geneva, he
32 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
altered his view in response to the disorder that threatened
Geneva by those who opposed his strong theological
perspectives. This inconsistency was trenchantly spotlighted by
Castellio, who wrote,
Let all of my readers compare Calvin’s original declaration
with his writings and his deeds today and it will become plain
that his present and his past are as unlike one another as light
and darkness. Because he has had Servetus put to death, he
now wishes to execute in like manner all who differ from
himself. He, the lawmaker, repudiates his own law, and
demands the death penalty for dissentients<.42
Calvin’s theological followers ultimately returned to his earlier
view that opposed the execution of heretics. In fact, nineteenth
century European Calvinists, led by Emile Doumergue, erected
an ‚expiatory monument‛ at the site where Servetus was
burned.43 So Calvin was a man in the middle between Medieval
Constantinan persecution and the advancing concern for
liberty.44
THE FRENCH HUGUENOTS’ CONTRIBUTIONS TO
RELIGIOUS LIBERTY.
The Huguenots, or French Protestant followers of Calvin,
faced episodic war and constant overt or indirect persecution as
they and Catholics opposed each others religious beliefs and
social and political policies. Philippe Duplessis-Mornay was a
distinguished Huguenot theologian and statesman who moved
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 33
Calvinistic thought forward to political liberty. Mornay’s
studied law at Heidelberg, and Biblical languages at Padua. He
became active in the political, military and theological concerns
of the Huguenot movement. He escaped the St. Bartholomew's
Day Massacre by seeking refuge in England. Upon return to
France he closely served Henry IV, the Protestant King who
ultimately became the Catholic King of France by converting to
Catholicism.
Mornay’s leadership was broadly recognized, and earned
the epithet of the "Huguenot pope". With King Henry’s
abjuration of the Protestant faith, Mornay could no longer serve
the Catholic monarch. Leaving public service he joined the
faculty of the Academy of Saumur. Mornay’s legacy on the
development of political liberty in the West was substantial:
From the being of God, to whom all men owe respect, Mornay
inferred civil rights and liberties. The authority of kings was
limited by the authority of God.< For Mornay, the sovereign
was only the supreme delegate of the nation. Beza came out
with the concept of a contract. It was adopted by all Huguenot
writers on current public topics, but Mornay made it basic in
politics: kingship was founded on a contract whose conditions
were dictated by the people. Mornay < fixed some Huguenot
political concepts which passed abroad and are to be found at
the roots of our modern democracies. < not all < had clearly
perceived the principle of separation of powers, but Mornay
had certainly suspected its importance. He claimed excusive
legislative authority for the States General and executive power
34 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
for the king. Whereas he may not have perfectly understood
this principle, Mornay caught sight of the fact that if the
legislative power is the same as the executive, there are then no
bounds to the executive power. The only safeguard of the
liberty and security of persons is to be found in the separation
of political powers. With imposing gravity, Mornay < set forth
the four great principles: sovereignty of the nation, political
contract, representative government, and the separation of
powers that really makes up all our modern constitutions.45
Huguenot theologian Moses Amyraut (1596-1664) would later
teach at the theological school in Saumur, France which had
been so strongly marked by the legacy of Mornay.46 Some years
later, Amyraut would welcome William Penn as a student.47 It is
interesting to note that Amyraut was unwilling to kneel before
the French King during a scheduled appearance before the king
to state the French Reformed Church’s complaints concerning
alleged violations of the Edict of Nantes. Amyraut pointed out
that this sort of humility was contrary to the terms of the Edict.
After a fifteen day stand-off, Cardinal Richelieu and the King
acquiesced to Amyraut’s insistence on standing in the King’s
presence, as was the custom when Catholic clergy spoke to the
King. He thereby won the lasting respect of the Cardinal.48
The Edict of Nantes was negotiated by Huguenot Du-
Plessis Mornay and French King Henry IV and signed on April
13, 1598. The Huguenots would later lose these liberties by the
Revocation of the Edict of Nantes on October 22, 1685. Their
ongoing persecutions brought Huguenot immigrants to
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 35
America including the families and ancestors of American
patriots Paul Revere, John Jay, Elias Boudinot, and Alexander
Hamilton.
THE ENGLISH PURITANS’ AND NON-CONFORMISTS’
ROLES IN DEVELOPING RELIGIOUS LIBERTY.
One impetus for the development of religious liberty was
the experience of the English Puritans and Non-conformists.
They emerged in the era of the reformation of the English
Church and after the English Civil War that was fought
between Protestant Anglicans loyal to the King and Protestant
Puritans. The Puritan army was victorious and ultimately
beheaded King Charles I. Some twenty years later, the
monarchy was restored under Charles II along with the re-
establishment of the Anglican Church. Puritans and other non-
conforming Protestants, unable to support the Anglican way of
worship, faced the return of state sanctioned persecution. The
Anglican Puritans hoped to see the Church purified, and so
their opponents dubbed them ‚Puritans‛. The name of
contempt stuck and was embraced as a badge of honor.
A pre-English Civil War Non-Conformist who advocated
religious liberty was Thomas Helwys. Richard Groves writes,
In 1612 Thomas Helwys, an English country gentleman whose
theological and ecclesiological interests had led him to identify
first with the Puritans, then with the Separatists, and finally,
along with John Smyth, to help establish the first Baptist
church, returned to England from exile in Holland. With him
36 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
Helwys brought a manuscript titled ‘The Mystery of Iniquity,’
in which he set forward for the first time in English the notion
of liberty of conscience, or freedom of religion. Shortly after
settling in Spittalfield, near London, Helwys published his
book. Though it was hardly a bombshell at the time of
publication, it probably cost Helwys his freedom and perhaps
even his life.49
Helwys explained why forcing a man’s conscience in religious
matters was both tyrannical and illogical,
And we bow ourselves to the earth before our lord the king in
greatest humbleness, beseeching the king to judge righteous
judgement herein, whether there be so unjust a thing and of so
great cruel tyranny under the sun as to force men’s consciences
in their religion to God, seeing that if they err, they must pay
the price of their transgressions with the loss of their souls. Oh,
let the king judge, is it not most equal that men should choose
their religion themselves, seeing they only must stand
themselves before the judgement seat of God to answer for
themselves, when it shall be no excuse for them to say we were
commanded or compelled to be of this religion by the king or
by them that had authority from him?50
Thomas Helwys wrote again in 1615 another work entitled
Objections: Answered by way of Dialogue, wherein is proved By the
Law of God; By the law of our Land; And By his Majesties many
testimonies, That no man ought to be persecuted for his religion.51
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 37
Because of the persecution of religion, John Bunyan’s
(1628-1688) famous allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress (1678, 1684), was
written in jail (intermittently from 1660 to 1672) after the
restoration of the monarchy and the Anglican Church. Bunyan
as a conscientious Non-Conformist could not submit to the
liturgy prescribed by the law of England. He was convicted as
a criminal, even though he sought to be a devout Christian. In
1666, the middle of his prison-time, Bunyan wrote Grace
Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, in which he declared, ‚The
Almighty God being my help and shield, I am determined yet
to suffer, if frail life might continue so long, even till the moss
shall grow upon my eyebrows, rather than violate my faith and
principles.‛ John Owen, a powerful preacher and the best-
known of all the Puritan writers, said that he would gladly have
exchanged all his learning for Bunyan’s power of touching
men’s hearts.52
The English Puritans, generally ordained clergymen of the
Anglican Church, also wrestled with the idea of the liberty of
conscience. This is evident in the studies of conscience by
William Perkins (1558-1602), William Ames (1576-1633) and
John Owen (1616-1683).53 The Puritan conscience struggled
with conformity to the English Church’s government and
worship and sought when possible to reform it along more
biblical lines. The conflict between Anglicans and Puritans led
to the English Civil War.
Thomas Jefferson’s remarks in his Notes on the State of
Virginia, also recognized the Anglican persecution of
Presbyterians in their North American colonies:
38 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
The first settlers in this country were emigrants from England,
of the English church, just at a point of time when it was
flushed with complete victory over the religious of all other
persuasions. Possessed, as they became, of the powers of
making, administering, and executing the laws, they shewed
equal intolerance in this country with their Presbyterian
brethren, who had emigrated to the northern government.54
The need for religious liberty in America was discerned by
John Owen and other nonconformists in England. The reports
received in England of persecution by American
Congregationalists of Baptists in their midst, made the
complaint against religious persecution in England by English
Congregationalists less compelling, or even hypocritical. So on
March 25, 1669, fearing the loss of some gains in religious
liberty recently won, Dr. Owen along with twelve others sent a
letter to the Governor of the Colony of Massachusetts. The
occasion was the formation of a Baptist Church in Boston on
May 28, 1665 which admitted into membership people who had
been excommunicated by the Congregational Church, the
established state church. The General Court was afraid ‚that
matters might grow from small beginnings into a new ‘Munster
tragedy’ and so they passed various laws for the restraint of the
Baptists. These proved to be an embarrassment to the
Nonconformists in Old England and so the letter came to be
written, but it produced no immediate relaxation of the laws.‛55
Owen and others wrote,
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 39
We shall not here undertake (in the least) to make any apology
for the persons, opinions and practices of those who are
censured among you. You know our judgement and practice to
be contrary unto theirs, even as yours; wherein (God assisting)
we shall continue to the end. Neither shall we return any
answer to the reason of the reverend elders, for the justification
of your proceedings, as not being willing to engage in the
management of any the least difference with persons whom we
so much love and honour in the Lord. But the sum of all which
at present we shall offer to you is, that though the court might
apprehend that they had good grounds in general warranting
their procedure (in such cases) in the way wherein they have
proceeded, yet that they have any rule or command rendering
their so proceeding indispensably necessary, under all
circumstances of fines or places, we are altogether unsatisfied;...
We leave it to your wisdom to determine whether, under all
these circumstances, and sundry others of the like nature that
might be added, it be not advisable at present to put an end
unto the suffering and confinements of the persons censured,
and to restore them to their former liberty. You have the
advantage of truth and order; you have the gifts and learning of
an able ministry to manage and defend them; you have the care
and vigilancy of a very worthy magistracy to countenance and
protect them, and to preserve the peace; and (above all) you
have a blessed Lord and Master, who hath the keys of David,
who openeth and no man shutteth, living for ever to take care
of his own concernments among his saints; and assuredly you
need not be disquieted, though some few persons (through
40 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
their own infirmity and weakness, or through their ignorance,
darkness and prejudices) should to their disadvantage turn out
of the way, in some lesser matters, into by-paths of their own.
We only make it our hearty request to you, that you would
trust God with his truth and ways so far, as to suspend all
rigorous proceedings in corporal restraints or punishments, on
persons that dissent from you and practise the principles of
their dissent without danger, or disturbance to the civil peace of
the place.56
THE ENGLISH CIVIL WAR AND THE WESTMINSTER
CONFESSION’S STATEMENT ON CHURCH AND STATE.
The Westminster Assembly was an ecclesiastical synod
called by the Pro-Puritan British government to reform the
church. The historical context of the Westminster Confession
enables us to understand the Confession’s doctrine of the
relationship of Church and State.
The historical forces that led to the Westminster Assembly
began in 1625 when Charles I ascended to the English throne.
Charles I continued his father James I’s religious persecution of
the Puritans in England and the Presbyterians in Scotland. But
Charles met such strong opposition in Scotland to his program
of religious unification that he eventually had to convene the
Parliament to raise men and resources to govern the unruly
Scots. In fact, in 1637, the Scottish National Covenant was
signed, that abolished the Anglican Episcopal form of church
government.
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 41
But to the King’s surprise and anger, the English people
elected a Parliament with a majority of Puritans, which the King
then dissolved, calling for another election. The second
Parliament, however, had an even greater number of Puritans.
But when Charles ordered it to dissolve, Parliament refused,
forcing Charles to field an army to compel the Parliament to
obey him.
Soon the Puritan Parliament called upon the Scottish
Presbyterians to join them. Their army led by Oliver Cromwell
defeated Charles I, who having been convicted as a tyrant, was
beheaded in 1649. The Commonwealth was established and
Oliver Cromwell became the Lord Protector of England and
Scotland. Cromwell ruled from 1648 until 1660.
During the more than five years of civil war, the
Westminster Assembly convened by Parliament, sought to
reform the Church of England. They began their work at the
Westminster Abbey in London, on July 1, 1643. After giving up
the attempt to rework the Anglican Church’s Thirty-Nine
Articles of Religion, they began the production of a new
Confession of Faith. The Westminster Confession of Faith was
finished by year’s end in 1646, and approved by Parliament in
1648.
The victorious Puritans, however, were not prepared to
recognize religious liberty for all since they desired to replace
one Protestant State Church with another Protestant
establishment. Nevertheless, the Puritan theologians had begun
to wrestle with the necessity of providing for the liberty of
42 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
conscience. This is evident in Chapter XX of The Westminster
Confession of Faith concerning the liberty of conscience:
God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from
the doctrines and commandments of men which are in anything
contrary to his Word, or beside it, in matters of faith or worship.
So that to believe such doctrines, or to obey such
commandments out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of
conscience: and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an
absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of
conscience, and reason also (XX.2).
Yet in Chapter XXIII, in spite of Chapter XX’s explicit
commitment to the liberty of conscience, the Assembly
reaffirmed the historic view that the magistrate oversees the
theology of his state church and thus the King governs in
matters of religion:
The civil magistrate may not assume to himself the
administration of the Word and sacraments, or the power of the
keys of the kingdom of heaven; yet he hath authority, and it is
his duty, to take order that unity and peace be preserved in the
Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire, that all
blasphemies and heresies be suppressed, all corruptions and
abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed, and
all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and
observed. For the better effecting whereof, he hath power to
call synods, to be present at them and to provide that
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 43
whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of
God (XXIII. 3).
This position was consistent with the fact that the Westminster
Assembly had been called to do its work of reformation by the
will of Parliament.
With Cromwell’s death, no one was able to lead
Parliament and Charles II ascended to his fathers throne.
Charles II, who possessed Roman Catholicism sympathies,
sought to avenge his executed father, and returned to the earlier
practice of persecuting Puritans, Non-Conformists and
Presbyterians. The Anglican persecution of Scottish
Covenanters lasted from 1665 to1688 until the Act of Toleration
was passed with the accession of Protestants William and Mary
to the throne. In 1689, The Act of Toleration was passed in
England, permitting a greater degree of religious liberty in
England. The Act permitted Nonconformists the freedom of
worship as well as their own places of worship if they pledged
oaths to the throne and rejected the Roman Catholic doctrine of
Transubstantiation. So while Protestant dissenters from the
Church of England were included, Catholics were not. The
Church of Scotland remained Presbyterian.
During this time, John Locke, a professor and philosopher
at the University of Oxford, began to ponder religious liberty.
In 1689, the year of adoption of the Act of Toleration, he
published A Letter Concerning Toleration. He concluded that
religious persecution was inconsistent with the Christian
Gospel. He wrote, ‚The toleration of those that differ from
44 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
others in matters of religion, is so agreeable to the Gospel of
Jesus Christ, and to the genuine reason of mankind, that it
seems monstrous for men to be so blind as not to perceive the
necessity and advantage of it in so clear a light.‛
Locke argued for religious freedom in three essays on
toleration. However, he excepted atheism and Roman
Catholicism from his plea for toleration, not on religious
grounds, but due to state policy. Locke thought that Roman
Catholics were dangerous to the public peace because a
Catholic professed allegiance to a foreign prince. The atheist
was excluded because, on Locke's view, the existence of the
state depends upon a contract, and the moral obligations of
contracts, as of all moral law, depend upon the divine nature.
Slow progress was being made in the direction of religious
liberty.
ROGER WILLIAMS AND THE BEGINNINGS OF
RELIGIOUS LIBERTY AT PROVIDENCE PLANTATION IN
RHODE ISLAND
Flight from the Wars of Religion and Religious
persecution prompted colonization of the New World by
religious groups. The Pilgrims and Puritans established the
New England Congregationalists. Roman Catholics settled in
Maryland. South Carolina was the home of the French
Huguenots. Colonies in search of economic growth also
brought their religious faiths. New York welcomed Swedish
Lutherans and Anglicans while Virginia established the
Anglican Church. But the liberty of conscience longed for in
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 45
the New World for the persecuted was not granted to others:
New England persecuted Quakers, Baptists; Virginia
persecuted Quakers, Baptists.
Colonial America’s immigrants’ differing backgrounds
necessitated a government that tolerated diverse religious
views. The governor of the royal colony of New York reported
in 1687 concerning the religious situation there:
New York has first a chaplain, belonging to the fort, of the
Church of England; secondly, a Dutch Calvinist; thirdly, a
French Calvinist; Fourthly, a Dutch Lutheran. Here be not
many of the Church of England; few Roman Catholics;
abundance of Quaker preachers, men and women especially
Singing Quakers, Ranting Quakers, Sabbatarians, Anti-
Sabbatarians; some Anabaptists; some Jews, in short, of all sorts
of opinion there are some, and the most part none at all.57
Religious liberty in England, however, was nearly non-existent.
James Hutson explains,
Puritan ministers who refused to conform were fired from their
pulpits and threatened with ‚extirpation from the earth‛ unless
they and their followers toed the line. Exemplary punishments
were inflicted on Puritan stalwarts; one zealot, for example,
who called Anglican bishops ‚Knobs, wens and bunchy popish
flesh,‛ was sentenced, in 1630, to life imprisonment, had his
property confiscated, his nose split, an ear cut off, and his
forehead branded S.S. (sower of sedition).58
46 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
The spirit of religious persecution carried over to the new
world. Thomas Jefferson wrote of Anglican and Presbyterian
persecution in the colonies in his Notes on the State of Virginia,
The first settlers in this country were emigrants from England,
of the English church, just at a point of time when it was
flushed with complete victory over the religious of all other
persuasions. Possessed, as they became, of the powers of
making, administering, and executing the laws, they shewed
equal intolerance in this country with their Presbyterian
brethren, who had emigrated to the northern government.59
Rhode Island, however, was the first experiment in
religious liberty. It was established with the planting of the
Providence Plantation by Roger Williams in 1636. Williams had
been persecuted in New England for his Baptist beliefs.60 In a
deed of 1661, Williams stated his purpose in establishing his
colony: ‚I desired it might be for a shelter for persons distressed
for conscience.‛ Subsequently, the Baptist Confessions of Faith
developed a strong emphasis on the ‚soul liberty‛ of believers
and emphasized the separation of Church and State.
Adherents of various religious beliefs joined Williams,
where they too could be protected. Williams offered three
positions on religious liberty: ‚That forced worship stinks in
God’s nostrils, that it denies Christ Jesus yet to come; and that
in these flames about religion, there is no other prudent,
Christian way of preserving peace in the world but by
permission of differing consciences.‛61
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 47
In a letter to the Town of Providence dated January 1655,
Roger Williams gave an illustration of his conception of the
liberty of conscience in a commonwealth,
There goes many a ship to sea, with many hundred souls in one
ship, whose weal and woe is common, and is a true picture of a
commonwealth or a human combination or society. It hath
fallen out sometimes that both Papists and Protestants, Jews
and Turks may be embarked in one ship; upon which supposal
I affirm that all the liberty of conscience that ever I pleaded for
turns upon these two hingesthat none of the papists,
Protestants, Jews or Turks be forced to come to the ship’s
prayers or worship, nor compelled from their own particular
prayers or worship, if they practice any. I further add that I
never denied that, notwithstanding this liberty, the commander
of this ship ought to command the ship’s course, yea, and also
command that justice, peace, and sobriety be kept and practiced
both among the seamen and all the passengers.62
Soon, others began to stake their claim for religious liberty in
William’s Providence Plantation. Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643)
was a daughter of a preacher and a Biblical scholar in her own
right. She challenged the Boston religious community
composed then of Calvinistic Congregationalists by holding
Bible studies for women, which then expanded to include
magistrates and scholars.63 What started as questioning of the
authority of the Congregational Church grew into a schism
threatening the political stability of the Boston colony.
48 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
Excommunicated and banished from Boston, Hutchinson
was killed by Indians in 1643. She has been credited by some
with being the first American woman to lead the public fight
for religious diversity and female equality. A memorial in her
honor reads in part ‚Banished from the Massachusetts Bay
Colony in 1638 Because of her Devotion to Religious Liberty.‛
This first successful effort at religious liberty was to be followed
by the extraordinary colony of Pennsylvania established by
another minister, William Penn.
WILLIAM PENN: VISIONARY OF RELIGIOUS LIBERTY.
William Penn was baptized in All Hallows by the Tower
in London on October 23, 1644, the son of William and
Margaret Penn. His father would become an admiral under
Charles II. William Penn fills a dramatic role in the
development of religious liberty.
Raised an Anglican, he attended Christ Church College in
Oxford at the age of sixteen, where the Puritan divine Dr. John
Owen (1616-1683) was dean and John Locke (1632-1704), a
Christian philosopher attempting to find a rational middle
ground between the doctrine of the established State Church
and the unbelief of the radical enlightenment, was a Fellow.
Also during this time Penn went to hear Thomas Loe (d. 1688),
a fiery Quaker preacher, sermonize the new gospel of the
Society of Friends.
Penn began to attend worship services at the home of Dr.
Owen after Owen was ejected as Dean following the restoration
of the King and the Anglican Church. Christ College began to
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 49
require the use of the Book of Common Prayer in its chapel
services, and the wearing of the surplice, a garment used by the
Anglican clergy. Penn bristled under the new religious
discipline at Oxford, and was eventually expelled for ‚rioting‛
with other students in the quadrangle.
Furious, Penn’s father sent him to France where he spent
some time at the Royal Court in Versailles. During this time,
Penn was forced into a sword duel in Paris, which he won.
Having taken the sword from his opponent, he allowed him to
live. Penn later remarked that the whole incident started over a
perceived insult because Penn had unwittingly failed to tip his
hat to the man earlier in the day. Penn later mused, ‚Was a
man’s life worth a hat?‛ Penn later joined the Quakers who by
conviction in this era refused to tip their hats to anyone, even
the King, since they believed that this was an expression of
worldly vanity.
Leaving Paris, he traveled to Saumur, France. There he
lived with and studied under the illustrious French Reformed
theologian, Moses Amyraut (1596-1664). Here Penn experienced
personally under the Edict of Nantes the attempts by the French
Huguenots to enjoy religious freedom in a tenuous toleration of
their faith by the Crown that supported a contrary state
religion. The theological school in Saumur, France, was where
the distinguished Huguenot statesman and advocate of
religious liberty, Philippe Duplessis-Mornay, taught. Penn
would not have known Mornay as the Huguenot leader had
passed away over twenty years before. But Penn would have
known of Mornay’s legacy.
50 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
Upon returning home, Penn studied law at Lincoln Inn in
London, and experienced the great suffering and pain caused
by the Black Death of 1665 and the great London fire of 1666.
Penn even entered into naval combat as he served for a time on
ship. But he once again encountered Thomas Loe and heard
Loe’s sermon on the theme, "There is a faith which overcomes
the world, and there is a faith which is overcome by the world."
Penn left this meeting as a confirmed Quaker, and by doing so
became a pacifist, hanging up his well-used sword once and for
all. His father could not break Penn’s convictions, and finally
drove him from home, although Penn's mother continued to
assist him with his living expenses.
Penn became a preacher for the Quakers, then a despised
sect, and generally viewed as a heretical movement that
replaced traditional worship elements by the inner light of the
Holy Spirit. His preaching of these beliefs and questioning of
other key Protestant and historic doctrines ultimately led to his
imprisonment in the Tower of London. Here Penn wrote his
classic work entitled, ‚No Cross, No Crown,‛ based on the last
words he had heard from his mentor Thomas Loe upon his
deathbed.
It was during these days of imprisonment that he
developed his dream of a place where freedom of conscience in
regard to religion would be maintained. He later noted: ‚I
abhor two principles in religion and pity them that own them;
the first is obedience to authority without conviction; and the
other is destroying them that differ from me for God’s sake.
Such a religion is without judgment, though not without teeth.‛
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 51
After nine months of experiencing the ‚teeth‛ of a state-
established religion, Penn was released from the Tower, even
more convinced that ‚we must give the liberty we ask<we
cannot be false to our principles.‛64
Penn’s work that prompted his arrest was entitled The
Sandy Foundation Shaken.65 The book seemingly questioned and
criticized doctrines important to traditional Christian faith such
as the Trinity. Before his release, Penn wrote another work,
Innocency with her Open Face, Presented by Way of Apology for the
Book entitled, The Sandy Foundation Shaken‛ clarifying that he did
not reject the deity of Christ. Therein he writes,
From whence I conclude Christ the Saviour to be God; for
otherwise God would not be himself; since if Christ be distinct
from God, and yet God’s power and wisdom, God would be
without his own power and wisdom; but inasmuch as it is
impossible God’s power and wisdom should be distinct or
divided from himself, it reasonably follows, that Christ, who is
that power and wisdom, is not distinct from God, but entirely
that very same God. . . . ‘God is light, and in him is no darkness
at all’; from whence I assert the unity of God<.66
PENN’S CHARTER OF PRIVILEGES: RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
IN PENNSYLVANIA.
Admiral Penn and his Quaker son were reconciled in spite
of their differences over religion. Although Admiral Penn never
adopted Quaker beliefs, he admired his son’s courage and
conscience. His father had good reason to admire his son.
52 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
Penn had gone to jail on various occasions for both his theology
and street preaching. He then defended himself as he was a
lawyer. His landmark case appealed to the right of Englishmen
to have a jury trial according to the Magna Charta. The judge
told the jury that the law and the facts required that Penn be
found guilty. Penn told the jury that they had the right to find
him innocent if they believed that the law was unjust. The jury
acquitted Penn and to the judge’s consternation declared that
the law was not binding as it was unjust. Penn’s trial not only
allowed him to go free, but it established the right to trial by
jury in the English speaking world.
When the Admiral died, the younger Penn became his
heir, leaving a £1500 a year income from estates in England and
Ireland. Charles II also owed the Admiral's estate £15,000 for a
monetary loan. Since the King was facing financial difficulties,
he was disposed to Penn's request to be paid by a tract of land
in America north of Maryland with the Delaware on its east; its
western limits the same as those of Maryland and its northern
boundary as far as plantable country extended. An essential
part of receiving the land was that Penn would be its
proprietary governor with the power to make its form of
government and its essential laws. This enabled Penn’s dream
of a commonwealth with religious liberty to become a reality.
Penn’s petition was received June 14, 1680, and the patent
was signed by the King on March 4, 1681. The name of the new
territory was left blank for the King to fill in. Charles chose the
name Pennsylvania. Penn said he had wanted it to be New
Wales, but accepted the name and said it was named in his
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 53
father's honor. He did not want it thought it was named for
him, saying, "For I feared lest it should be looked on as a vanity
in me."67
Penn became heir of his fathers estate and sought
payment of the royal debt to his fathers estate by a land grant,
which was granted to him. This became Pennsylvania. Penn’s
land grant received the current boundaries of Pennsylvania. He
began to publicize the opportunity for settlement with religious
liberty. Penn’s 1682 Charter had the same language of religious
liberty as in 1701. But in 1701, the final revision of Charter was
approved.
Philadelphia and Pennsylvania grew faster than any
settlement in the New World. They became the safe haven for
all religious groups, Quakers, Mennonites, Anabaptists,
Baptists, Presbyterians, Catholics, etc. For a period of time,
Philadelphia was the only place in the entire English speaking
world where religious liberty is available to Roman Catholics
since that right had been lost in Maryland.
Penn’s City of Brotherly Love was unique in its 5
emphases that would ultimately become the model for all other
US states, and the Constitution of the United States:
autonomy for the churches;
separation of the institutional church from the state;
freedom of conscience for the individual;
the informal support of religion as a creator of the
morality necessary for good citizenship;
and natural law as the intellectual basis for policies in
the colony and the state.68
54 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
William Penn’s Charter of Privileges was written on October 28,
1701, seventy-five years before the Declaration of
Independence. In his Charter, Penn gave to the new world the
freedom to worship God according to the dictates of one’s own
conscience. His Charter declares,
I doe hereby Grant and Declare that noe person or persons
Inhabiting in this Province or Territories who shall Confesse
and Acknowledge one Almighty God the Creator upholder and
Ruler of the world and professe him or themselves Obliged to
live quietly under the Civill Government shall be in any case
molested or prejudiced in his or theire person or Estate because
of his or theire Conscientious perswasion or practice nor be
compelled to frequent or mentaine any Religious Worship place
or Ministry contrary to his or theire mind or doe or Suffer any
other act or thing contrary to theire Religious perswasion.
So important were these provisions, Penn ensured that they
could never be violated. At the end of the Charter, Penn
reiterates:
But because the happiness of Mankind Descends So much upon
the Enjoying of Libertie of theire Consciences as aforesaid I Doe
hereby Solemnly Declare Promise and Grant for me my heires
and Assignes that the first Article of this Charter Relateing to
Liberty of Conscience and every part and Clause therein
according to the True Intent and meaneing thereof shall be kept
and remaine without any Alteration Inviolably for ever.
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 55
Revolutionary for its time, Penn’s Charter is the American
Magna Charta of religious liberty. Penn’s dream was that
Philadelphia would be a city where brothers would truly love
one another. The name ‚Philadelphia‛ was taken from the
Bible in Romans 12:10 and Revelation 3:7. It literally translates
from Greek as ‚the city of brotherly love‛. Penn’s city was to
be where liberties unknown elsewhere in the world would be
legislated and practiced. Hence Penn’s Charter set a new
standard for religious liberty that profoundly impacted
America’s history, as well as Presbyterian history, and provides
an example for the world today. Indeed, as reflected on a
plaque at St. Joseph’s Church in Philadelphia, for a period of
time Penn’s City was the only place in the entire English-
speaking world where religious liberty was available to Roman
Catholics. When an English priest came to Philadelphia in 1741
to assist at St. Joseph’s, he wrote: ‚We have at present all liberty
imaginable in the exercise of our business, and are not only
esteemed, but revered, as I might say, by the better sort of
people.‛69
Penn came to America twice to oversee his "holy
experiment" as he called it. He carefully planned the city of
Philadelphia before it was settled, remarking in a letter to
Robert Turner dated March 1, 1681: ‚< *the grant+ ‘tis a clear
and just thing, and my God that has given it me through many
difficulties, will, I believe, bless and make it the seed of a
nation. I shall have a tender care to the government, that it will
be well laid at first.‛70 The ‚seed of a nation‛ it did indeed
become with freedom of conscience as its first roots. The
56 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
plight of the Quakers in England motivated them to pursue
religious liberty that was afforded to them in Penn’s new
colony.71 What is known today as the American Liberty Bell
rang out American independence in July 1776. It had been
ordered in 1751 to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of
Penn’s Charter and the religious liberty it established. Fittingly,
the biblical Jubilee text of Leviticus 25:10 was placed upon the
Bell, ‚Proclaim Liberty Throughout the Land Unto All the
Inhabitants Thereof‛.
Pennsylvania’s advances in religious liberty were then
recognized to be ahead of other American colonies such as
George Washington’s Virginia.72 Jefferson wrote, ‚Our sister
states of Pennsylvania and New York, however, have long
subsisted without any establishment at all. The experiment was
new and doubtful when they made it. It has answered beyond
conception. They flourish infinitely. Religion is well supported;
of various kinds, indeed, but all good enough; all sufficient to
preserve peace and order.‛73 James Madison described the
persecution that was occurring in his own state of Virginia:
Poverty and luxury prevail among all sorts; pride, ignorance,
and knavery among the priesthood, and vice and wickedness
among the laity. This is bad enough, but it is not the worst I
have to tell you. That diabolical, hell-conceived principle of
persecution rages among some; and to their eternal infamy, the
clergy can furnish their quota of imps for such business. This
vexes me the worst of anything whatever. There are at this time
in the adjacent country not less than five or six well-meaning
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 57
men in close jail for publishing their religious sentiments, which
in the main are very orthodox. I have neither patience to hear,
talk, or think of anything relative to this matter; for I have
squabbled and scolded, abused and ridiculed, so long about it
to little purpose, that I am without common patience. So I must
beg you to pity me, and pray for liberty of conscience to all.74
EMBRACING RELIGIOUS LIBERTY, AMERICAN
PRESBYTERIANS CHANGE THE WESTMINSTER
CONFESSION.
In 1706, the first Presbytery was organized in America. By
1716 the First Presbyterian Synod was organized. Presbyterians
greatly benefited from religious liberty in Pennsylvania.
Consequently, emigration from Ireland and Scotland to
Pennsylvania intensified. A letter from 1729 explains reasons
why so many Scotch-Irish emigrated,
The Presbyterian ministers have taken their share of pains to
seduce their poor ignorant hearers by bellowing from their
pulpits against the landlords and the clergy, calling them
rackers of rents and screwers of tithes, with other reflections of
this nature which they know is pleasing to their people; at the
same time telling them that God had appointed a country for
them to dwell in (naming New England) and desires them to
depart thence, where they will be freed form the bondage of
Egypt and go to the land of Canaan etc.75
58 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
Nevertheless, Presbyterians continued to experience various
inequities in the new world as in the Colony of Virginia, where
the Anglican Church was the established religion.76
Eventually, the experience of Religious liberty in the American
Colonies enabled the Presbyterian heritage to flourish. Under
leaders such as John Witherspoon, the President of Princeton,
and the only clergyman to sign the Declaration of
Independence, the Presbyterian Church in the United States
embraced thoroughgoing religious liberty and amended its
Confession to express this new commitment. The American
edition of the Confession, adopted in 1789, affirmed that the
government should protect all faiths, not just one established
religion.
So in Philadelphia, American Presbyterianism proclaimed that
it no longer supported governmentally enforced religion, but
instead advocated religious liberty. A comparison of the
original version of the Presbyterian Westminster Confession of
Faith, and the altered American text reveals striking differences.
The 1647 original affirms that the magistrate has coercive power
in religious matters:
The civil magistrate may not assume to himself the
administration of the Word and sacraments, or the power of the
keys of the kingdom of heaven; yet he hath authority, and it is
his duty, to take order that unity and peace be preserved in the
Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire, that all
blasphemies and heresies be suppressed, all corruptions and
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 59
abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed, and
all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and
observed. For the better effecting whereof, he hath power to
call synods, to be present at them and to provide that
whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of
God (XXIII. 3).
The American Presbyterian version, however, disagrees by
affirming a commitment to religious liberty. The altered
Westminster Confession of Faith asserts:
Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the
administration of the Word and sacraments; or the power of the
keys of the kingdom of heaven; or, in the least, interfere in
matters of faith. Yet, as nursing fathers, it is the duty of civil
magistrates to protect the Church of our common Lord, without
giving the preference to any denomination of Christians above
the rest, in such a manner that all ecclesiastical persons
whatever shall enjoy the full, free, and unquestioned liberty of
discharging every part of their sacred functions, without
violence or danger. And, as Jesus Christ hath appointed a
regular government and discipline in his Church, no law of any
commonwealth should interfere with, let, or hinder, the due
exercise thereof, among the voluntary members of any
denomination of Christians, according to their own profession
and belief. It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the
person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual
manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretense of
religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse,
60 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
or injury to any other person whatsoever: and to take order,
that all religious and ecclesiastical assemblies be held without
molestation or disturbance (XXIII. 3).
James H. Smylie, editor of the Journal of Presbyterian History,
explains,
Since 1729 the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Larger
and Shorter Catechisms had been the confessional standards of
American Presbyterianism. When the General Assembly
constituted itself, the commissioners did not deliberate long on
alterations. The standards were altered in those places which
provided for the freedom of the denomination from the
interference by the civil authority. Thus, the words ‚and by the
power of the Civil Magistrate‛ were dropped from Chapter
XX.4; and XXXI.2, giving the civil magistrate power to call
synods, was dropped altogether. The commissioners rewrote
completely Chapter XXIII.3, on the relation of the civil
magistrate to the administration of the word and Sacrament
and the keys of the kingdom . . . Presbyterians deleted from the
Larger Catechism, question 109, that ‚tolerating a false
religion‛ was a sin against the Second Commandment. The
significance of these changes may be seen by comparing the
standards at these points to what they were in 1729. . . .77
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 61
RELIGIOUS LIBERTY IN THE US CONSTITUTION AND
THE BILL OF RIGHTS.
The pursuit of legal protections for religious liberty
advanced to Virginia, with the help of James Madison and
then Governor Thomas Jefferson. In 1786, Jefferson’s ‚An Act
for Establishing Religious Freedom‛ became state law. Then
in 1787, delegates from the newly independent states met in
Philadelphia at the Constitutional Convention. While
protections for religious liberty did not arise in the framing
of the Constitution, there was sensitivity for religious
differences. Thus the U.S. Constitution prohibits tests of
religion for service in the federal government. Even the form
of the swearing of the oath of office in the Constitution
provides the alternative ‚to affirm‛ to protect the beliefs of
Quakers, Anabaptists and other traditions which consider
taking oaths to be unscriptural.
On December 15, 1791, the First Amendment was
ratified. This established constitutional guarantees for
religious liberty by mandating:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of
religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or
abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right
of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the
Government for a redress of grievances.78
The drafting of the First Amendment was led by James
Madison and several others. And in this process a Protestant
62 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
minister made a significant call for religious liberty by way
of an American Bill of Rights. Madison received a letter
dated February 28, 1788 entitled ‚John Leland’s Objections
to the Constitution without a Bill of Rights‛. Reverend
Leland was a Baptist minister. He wrote:
What is clearest of all Religious Liberty, is not sufficiently
secured, No Religious test is Required as a qualification to
fill any office under the United States, but if a Majority of
Congress with the President favour one System more then
another, they may oblige all others to pay to the support of
their System as much as they please, and if oppression does
not ensue, it will be owing to the Mildness of
Administration and not to any Constitutional defence, and
if the Manners of People are so far Corrupted, that they
cannot live by Republican principles, it is Very Dangerous
leaving Religious Liberty at their mercy.79
Twenty iterations of the language for the First Amendment
ensued in the Congressional debate before the final version that
we now know as the First Amendment was sent to the House
on September 24, 1789.80 Not once in any of those twenty
attempts to write the language of the First Amendment did the
phrase ‚separation of Church and State‛ appear. The word
‚conscience‛, although not appearing in the final form, occurs
in twelve of the proposed iterations. Thus, it is evident that the
motivating concern of the drafters of the First Amendment was
to protect conscience from government, not to protect
government from religion. Within two years, the ten
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 63
amendments known as the Bill of Rights were approved,
providing the foundation for the protection of the fundamental
rights and liberties enjoyed in America.
Religious liberty continued to advance in the United
States. Thus various historic denominations re-wrote their
creeds and forms of governments so that they would reflect the
American Federal Constitutional system of the non-
establishment of religion with the free exercise of religion. The
state churches of New England and other states were eventually
disestablished to conform to the freedom of religion on the
federal level. Many state constitutions included the language of
‚protecting the right of conscience‛.
Deep satisfaction for the establishment of American
religious liberty can be seen in President George Washington’s
August 17, 1790 letter to the Jewish Congregation in Rhode
Island. America’s first President under the Constitution
celebrated religious liberty when he wrote:
The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to
applaud themselves for having given to Mankind examples of
an enlarged and liberal policy, a policy worthy of imitation. All
possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of
citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if
it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another
enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For
happily the Government of the Unites States, which gives to
bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only
that they who live under its protection should demean
64 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their
effectual support<81
A little over twenty years after the ratification of the First
Amendment, James Madison continued to celebrate the success
of the American First Amendment and its provision for
religious liberty. He wrote to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822,
It was the belief of all sects at one time that the establishment of
Religion by law, was right & necessary; that the true religion
ought to be established in exclusion of every other; and that the
only question to be decided was which was the true religion.
The example of Holland proved that a toleration of sects,
dissenting from the established sect was safe & even useful.
The example of the Colonies, now States, which rejected
religious establishments altogether, proved that all Sects might
be safely & advantageously put on a footing of equal & entire
freedom. . . .82
RELIGIOUS LIBERTY IN THE GLOBAL WORLD.
Religious liberty as an ideal has to be worked out in
specific contexts. Thus in the United States, there have been
many denominations and academic institutions who have
struggled with the application of religious freedom. Thus
debates have arisen in regard to the discipline of a members
beliefs in light of a church’s creed, or the limits of academic
freedom. Efforts to define the boundaries of religious liberty
have continued to arise in America as the limits of religious
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 65
liberty have been tested in the courts.83 Instances of such legal
debates have included:
Episcopalians the right to have an alien working as a
pastor in light of immigration laws
Mormons the legitimacy of polygamy
Amish home schooling, regulations on vehicles
Jehovah Witnesses blood transfusions, pledge to flag
Church property rights and taxation of religious
institutions
Prayer, scripture, Ten Commandments in schools and
public places
Pacifism and conscientious objector status
There has been a substantial interest of the United States in
human rights issues beyond its own borders. The issue of
world-wide religious freedom was highlighted throughout the
1980s and 1990s by a growing awareness of human rights
abuses abroad. The result was a call for more articulate United
States human rights policies. This call brought into focus the
plight of many around the world who are struggling to
preserve their freedom of conscience with respect to worship in
the face of fierce opposition from those in political power.
In the 1990s, religious organizations began to lobby
Congress to focus on religious persecution abroad. Ultimately,
in 1998 the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) was
passed unanimously by both Houses of Congress and was
signed by President Clinton. The Act had its foundation in the
American passion for religious liberty and the conviction that
66 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
it was the birthright of every human being.‛84 As a direct result
of this Act, the Office of International Religious Freedom was
established and in May, 1999 the first Ambassador at Large for
International Religious Freedom was sworn into office.
In its first report, delivered in 2000, the Office noted, ‚the
vast majority of the world’s governments have committed
themselves to respect religious freedom < *many+ affirming the
right of every human being ‘to have or to adopt a religion or
belief of his choice.’‛85 The report also found however, that
there is often a large gap between word and deed, leading to
religious persecution, stigmatization of minority religions as
‚sects‛, or legal restrictions on religious practices. A strong
heritage of protecting religious liberty has allowed the United
States to accept, and aim to meet, the standards of the Universal
Declaration on Human Rights86 and other international
instruments designed to set standards by which the
international community can measure its progress in the area of
religious liberty. ‚The United States acknowledges and accepts
its responsibility to meet these standards in the safeguarding
and protection of religious liberty.‛87 Yet there is a growing
concern that the current administration has diminished the
importance of religious liberty in America’s international policy
concerns.88
Religious liberty has been embraced by leading religious
bodies as well. Thus the Amsterdam Declaration of Religious
Liberty of the World Council of Churches states that religious
liberty has the following four rights:
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 67
1. Every person has the right to determine his own faith
and creed.
2. Every person has the right to express his religious
beliefs in worship, teaching and practice and to proclaim
the implications of his beliefs for relationships in a social
or political community.
3. Every person has the right to associate with others and
to organize with them for religious purposes.
4. Every religious organization formed or maintained by
action in accordance with the rights of individual persons,
has the right to determine its policies and practices for the
accomplishments of its chosen purposes.89
The WCC Declaration also offers appropriate corresponding
limitations to these four rights:
1. The liberty of conscience, or right to determine one’s
belief is practically subject to no legal limitation at all.
2. The liberty of religious expression is subject to such
limitations, prescribed by law as are necessary to protect
order and welfare, morals and the rights and freedoms of
others.
3. The liberty of religious association is subject to the same
limits imposed on all associations by non-discriminatory
laws.
4. Similarly, the corporate religious freedom is limited by
the provisions of non-discriminatory laws passed in the
interest of public order and well-being. 90
68 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
Moreover, an event with vast significance for religious liberty
worldwide was the promulgation in 1965 of the document
Declaration of Religious Freedom or Dignitatis Humanae by the
Second Vatican Council. Its significance lies in the immense
worldwide influence of the Roman Catholic tradition, not only
in history, but in contemporary international affairs. Its
powerful language declares that the Roman Catholic Church
rejects the persecution of minority faiths, and that it is
committed to universal religious liberty and the liberty of the
conscience.91
Dignitatis Humanae states:
A sense of the dignity of the human person has been impressing
itself more and more deeply on the consciousness of
contemporary man, and the demand is increasingly made that
men should act on their own judgment, enjoying and making
use of a responsible freedom, not driven by coercion but
motivated by a sense of duty. The demand is likewise made
that constitutional limits should be set to the powers of
government, in order that there may be no encroachment on the
rightful freedom of the individual and of associations. This
demand for freedom in human society chiefly concerns the
quest for the values proper to the human spirit. It concerns, in
the first place, the free exercise of religion in society. This
Vatican Council takes careful note of these desires in the minds
of men. It proposes to declare that they are greatly in accord
with truth and justice. . . .
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 69
This Vatican council declares that the human person has a right
to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be
immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social
groups and of any human power, in such wise that in religious
matters no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his
own conscience, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or
in association with others, within due limits. The council
further declares that the right to religious freedom has its
foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this
dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by
reason itself. This right of the human person to religious
freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby
society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right.92
However, there are still many nations with state mandated
religions. Civil governments led by exclusive religious beliefs
and practices are incompatible with the principles of religious
liberty.93 Religious liberty cannot be fully embraced with
established theocracies.94
Thus half the world continues to face persecution marked
by untold tragedy because of hostilities toward differing faith
perspectives. Sadly, much of the world still does not enjoy the
religious freedom that Americans and many others experience
on a daily basis.95 As a case in point, a recent news magazine in
the United States reported the growing worldwide murder of
Christians by Muslims.96
70 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
There is an established connection between political
freedom and religious belief,97 and between religious liberty
and economic prosperity. If mercy and justice in the face of
human suffering were not reasons enough, this link between
religious liberty and a nation’s economic prosperity should
propel us to work to advance religious and civil liberty. The
Index of Economic Freedom makes it clear that ‚prosperity is
the result of freedom, and the surest way to improve the
economic well-being of a nation is to ensure freedom for its
citizens.‛98
So in conclusion, it is my hope that Indonesia will pursue
the path of religious liberty in all of its fullness rather than a
truncated view of religious toleration or the difficult to define
concept of ‚religious harmony‛. For after all, one man’s
harmony may be another man’s dissonance. One man’s peace
may be another man’s persecution. The solution for this tension
is freedom coupled with mutual respect. As William Penn once
told the British Parliament, ‚We must give the liberty we ask
and cannot be false to our principles though it were to relieve
ourselves.‛99 To say it another way, ‚The freedom we desire for
ourselves, we must grant to others as well.‛
Religious liberty has traversed a long and difficult journey
to become a global value. But the story of its journey from
America to the world manifests that Protestant Christianity has
been a vital force in recognizing this core human freedom in
nations worldwide.
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 71
1 For general studies on the history of religion in America, see
Sydney E. Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People (New Haven:
Yale University Press, 1979); Edwin S. Gaustad, A Documentary History of
Religion in America to the Civil War (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993); William
W. Sweet, The Story of Religion in America (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House,
1973).
2 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America Book I Chapter 17
quoted in Virginia.edu, accessed May 19, 2015,
http://xroads.virginia.edu/~Hyper/DETOC/religion/ch1_17.htm.
3
James H. Hutson,
Religion and the Founding of the American Republic
(Washington: Library of Congress, 1998), 1
4 The following outline may be of help to understand the
development of religion in America. Religion and the Founding of the
American Republic by James H. Hutson
1607
Virginia founded. Church of England planted in British
North America
1620
Plymouth settled by Pilgrims
1629-30
Massachusetts Bay Colony founded. Congregationalism
planted in British North America
1634
Maryland founded. Roman Catholic Church planted in
British North America
1636
Roger Williams expelled from Massachusetts. He found
Rhode Island as a haven for religious dissidents
1654
Jews, fleeing religious persecution in Brazil, arrive in New
York City.
1659-62
Quakers hanged in Massachusetts, persecuted in Virginial
victims of the prevailing belief in enforced religious
uniformity.
1681
William Penn, leader of the Quakers, receives a charter for
Pennsylvania; Penn establishes religious liberty in the colony
1683
Members of the German sects begin arriving in Pennsylvania,
attracted by religious liberty.
1689
English Parliament passes the Toleration Act which improves
the conditions of dissenters throughout the American colonies
72 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
ca. 1735-45
The Great Awakening, a religious revival throughout the
English-speaking world, invigorates and polarizes religious
life in America.
1755
Separate Baptists, a product of the Great Awakening, begin
proselytizing in the South.
1758
Presbyterian Church, split by the Great Awakening into the
New Side and Old Side, reunites.
1766
First Methodist meeting (in New York City) in the American
colonies
1776
American independence declared.
1780
Massachusetts Constitution adopted; state support of religion
provided.
1784
Methodist Episcopal Church established
1786
Jefferson's Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom passed by
the Virginia Assembly; state support of religion prohibited.
1787
U.S. Constitution adopted; religious tests for public service
under the federal government prohibited.
1788-89
Protestant Episcopal Church established; ties with Church of
England cut; Presbyterian Church also established on a new
footing.
1789
Bill of Rights passed by Congress; proscribes congressional
"establishment" of religion and congressional interference
with the "free exercise thereof"
1800
Major revivals in Kentucky which spread east and initiate a
long period of evangelical dominance in American religion.
1816
African Methodist Episcopal Church established.
1830
Joseph Smith founds Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day
Saints (Mormons).
1832
Disciples of Christ established.
1833
Massachusetts becomes the final jurisdiction to renounce state
support of religion.
1835
Tocqueville's Democracy in America published, in which the
famous French commentator observed that Americans
considered religion "indispensable to the maintenance of
republican institutions."
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 73
5 See M. Searles Bates, Religious Liberty: An Inquiry (New York:
International Missionary Council, 1945); Giovanni Miegge, Religious Liberty
(New York: Association Press, 1957); Cecil Northcott, Religious Liberty (New
York: Macmillan Company, 1949); James E. Wood, ‚Religions and Religious
Liberty.‛ Journal of Church and State Vol. 33, No. 2 (1991).
6 For studies of religious liberty in America, see Denise Lardner
Carmody and John Tully Carmody, The Republic of Many Nations (New York:
Paragon House, 1990); Sanford H. Cobb, The Rise of Religious Liberty in
America (New York: Macmillan Company, 1902); M. Stanton Evans, The
Theme Is Freedom: Religion, Politics, and the American Tradition (Washington:
Regnery Publishing, Inc., 1994); James H. Hutson, Religion and the Founding of
the American Republic (Washington, Library of Congress, 1998); Gary E.
McCuen, Religion and Politics: Issues in Religious Liberty (Hudson, Wisconsin:
Gary E. McCuen Publications, 1989). For studies of religious liberty in the
American revolutionary era, see Bernard Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the
American Revolution (Cambridge: Belknap, Harvard, 1992); Franklin P. Cole,
They Preached Liberty: An Anthology of Timely Quotations from New England
Ministers of the American Revolution on the Subject of Liberty. (Ft. Lauderdale:
Coral Ridge Ministries, n. d.); J. William Frost, A Perfect Freedom Religious
Liberty in Pennsylvania (University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State
University Press, 1993).
7 Franklin D. Roosevelt, ‚The Four Freedoms‛, 1941 State of the Union
Address, Speech, Umd.edu, accessed May 19, 2015,
http://voicesofdemocracy.umd.edu/fdr-the-four-freedoms-speech-text/.
8 George W. Bush, ‚May 7, 2001 Speech‛ quoted in ‚Issues of
Democracy Religious Freedom as a Human Right,‛ Electronic Journals of the
U.S. Department of State Vol. 6 No. 2 (November 2001), USEmbassy.de,
accessed May 19, 2015, http://usa.usembassy.de/etexts/soc/ijde1101.pdf.
9 Preamble of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article
18, cited from ‚Issues of Democracy – Religious Freedom as a Human Right‛
Electronic Journals of the U.S. Department of State Vol. 6 No. 2 (November
2001), USEmbassy.de, accessed May 19, 2015,
http://usa.usembassy.de/etexts/soc/ijde1101.pdf.
10 Pope John Paul II, ‚Religious Freedom: Condition for Peace‛,
Message for the 1988 World Day Peace, Vatican.va, accessed May 19, 2015,
http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/messages/peace/documents/hf_jp-
74 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
ii_mes_19871208_xxi-world-day-for-peace.html.
11 Adrian Karatnycky, ‚Religious Freedom and the New
Millennium‛ (given at the International Coalition for Religious Freedom
Conference on ‚Religious Freedom and the New Millennium,‛ Berlin,
Germany, May 29-31, 1998), 111.
12 See Adrian Karatnycky, ‚The Changing Landscape of Religious
Freedom‛, (given at the International Coalition of Religious Freedom
Conference on ‚Religious Freedom in Latin America and the New
Millennium,‛ San Paolo, Brazil, October 10-12, 1998), http://www.icrf.com.
13 Ninan Koshy, Risk Books Series: Religious Freedom in a Changing
World, (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1992), 51.
14 Philip Wogaman, Christian Perspectives on Politics, (London: SCM,
1988), 188.
15 For studies of the history of religious liberty, see Roland H.
Bainton, The Travail of Religious Liberty (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press,
1951); William R. Estep, Revolution Within the Revolution (Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans, 1990); Douglas F. Kelley, The Emergence of Liberty in the Modern
World: The Influence of Calvin on Five Governments from the 16th Through 18th
Centuries (Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing, 1992).
16 Starting with the Bolshevik rise to power in 1917, followed by the
Communist Regime under Stalin and Khrushchev, until the fall of the Berlin
Wall, the Church and religion in the Soviet Union suffered an unending
barrage of attacks on the structural and ideological underpinnings of the
Church. Legal and propaganda attacks destroyed the infrastructure of the
church and credibility and status of the clergy. The infamous Stalin purges
successfully decimated the ranks of the clergy, as well as religious
institutions, and houses of worship. In spite of Khrushchev’s statements that
the Soviet Union continued to support ‚full freedom of conscience and
religion‛, the reality was far different. Perhaps truer to the communist view
of liberty is the quote attributed to Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, ‚It is true that
liberty is precious—so precious that it must be rationed.‛ Attributed and
quoted by Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Soviet Communism: A New Civilization?
(1936), 1036.
17 Harwood L. Childs et.al., eds., ‚The Effectiveness of Soviet Anti-
Religious Propaganda‛ in The Public Opinion Quarterly Fall 1967, Vol. XXXI,
No. 3 (Princeton University Press, 1967), 375.
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 75
18 Elizabeth Odio Benito, Study on the Current Dimensions of the
Problems of Intolerance and Discrimination on Grounds of Religion or Belief,
(United Nations, Commission on Human Rights, 1986).
19 A review of a concordance of the Bible will show that terms such
as free, freedom, liberty and their related concepts occur over a hundred
times in the Scriptures.
20 Writings of Washington, Vol. 31 (August 17): 1790.
21 George W. Bush, Remarks at Independence Day Celebration in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Speech, (July 4, 2001), GPO.gov, accessed May 19,
2015, http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PPP-2001-book2/html/PPP-2001-book2-
doc-pg823.htm.
22 For original sources and classic historical works on the need for
religious liberty, see Erik & Crosby Bruun, Jay, eds., Our Nation’s Archives
(New York: Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers, 1999); Sebastian Castello,
Wouter Valkhoff, trans. Advice to Desolate France. (Shepherdstown, West
Virginia: Patmos Press, 1975); Jacob Duché, ‚The Duty of Standing Fast In
Our Spiritual and Temporal Liberties, A Sermon, Preached in Christ Church
July 7th, 1775 Before the First Battalion of the City and Liberties of
Philadelphia‛ (Philadelphia: Printed and Sold by James Humphrey, Junior,
1775); Thomas Helwys, Richard Groves, ed. A Short Declaration of the Mystery
of Iniquity. (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 1998); Thomas
Helwys, ‚Objections Answered. Number 603‛ in The English Experience: Its
Record in Early Printed Books Published in Facsimile (New York: Da Capo
Press, 1973); Thomas Jefferson, Notes On the State Of Virginia in Thomas
Jefferson, Writings, ed. Merrill D. Peterson (New York: Literary Classics of the
United States, Inc., 1984); Thomas Jefferson, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed.
Julian P. Boyd (Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1950); Journal of
the Proceedings of Congress, 1774 (Philadelphia: Printer for the Library
Company of Philadelphia, 1974); Roy P. Basler, ed., ‚Abraham Lincoln,‛ in
The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick: Rutgers University
Press, 1953); John Locke, A Letter Concerning Toleration, Latin and English
texts revised and edited with variants and an introduction by Mario
Montuori. (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1963); John Locke, The Works of
John Locke, A New Edition, Corrected In Ten Volumes (London: Printed for
Thomas Tegg; W. Sharpe and Son, 1823; Reprinted by Scientia Verlag Aalen
Germany, 1963); John Milton, Milton in The Cambridge Edition of the Poets
76 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
Horace E. Scudder and William Vaughn Moody eds. (Boston: Houghton,
Mifflin and Company, 1899); James Madison, in The Complete Madison: His
Basic Writings, ed. Saul K. Padover (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1953);
James Madison, The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the
Constitution of the United States of America, Reported by James Madison, A
Delegate from the State of Virginia (Greenwood Press Publishers, Westport,
Connecticut); Jedidah Morse, A Sermon Preached at Charlestown November 29,
1798 On the Anniversary Thanksgiving In Massachusetts - with an appendix
designed to illustrate some parts of the discourse; exhibiting proof of the
early existence, progress, and deleterious effects of French intrigue and
influence in the United States, 2nd Edition (Cornhill, Boston: Samuel Hall
Printing No. 53, 1799); John Owen, The Correspondence of John Owen (1616-
1683), Peter Toon ed. (Cambridge and London: James Clarke & Co. Ltd.,
1970); William Penn, The Papers of William Penn, Richard S. Dunn & Mary
Maples Dunn eds. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987);
William Penn, The Select Works of William Penn Volumes I, II, III (New York:
Kraus Reprint Co., 1971); William Penn, The Witness of William Penn,
Frederick B. Tolles & E. Gordon Alderfer eds. (The Macmillan Co., 1957);
Robert Gordon Smith, ed., One Nation Under God: An Anthology for Americans
(New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1961); George Washington, The Papers of
George Washington: W. W. Abbot and Dorothy Twohig, eds. (Charlottesville:
University Press of Virginia, 1988, 1996); George Washington, The Writings of
George Washington, John C. Fitzpatrick, ed. (Washington: United States
Government Printing Office, 1940); Roger Williams, The Bloody Tenet of
Persecution in The Compete Writings of Roger Williams, Perry Miller, ed. (New
York: Russell & Russell, 1963).
23 John Locke, A Letter concerning Toleration (1689) William Popple,
trans., Constitution.org, accessed May 19, 2015,
http://www.constitution.org/jl/tolerati.txt.
24 Ibid.
25 Merrill D. Peterson, ed., ‚Notes On the State Of Virginia‛ in
Thomas Jefferson, Writings (New York: Literary Classics of the United States,
Inc., 1984), 286.
26 Reinhold Niebuhr, ‚The Commitment of the Self and the Freedom
of the Mind‛ in Religion & Freedom of Thought (New York: Doubleday &
Company, 1954), 59.
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 77
27 William R. Estep, Revolution within the Revolution The First
Amendment in the Historical Context 1612-1789 (Grand Rapids, Michigan:
William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company), 194-195.
28 Similarly in his letter to the members of the Baltimore Baptist
Association, October 17, 1808, he writes:
<In our early struggles for liberty, religious freedom could not
fail to become a primary object. All men felt the right, and a just
animation to obtain it was exhibited by all. I was one only among the
many who befriended its establishment, and am entitled but in common
with others to a portion of that approbation which follows the
fulfillment of a duty.
Excited by wrongs to reject a foreign government which directed
our concerns according to its own interests, and not to ours, the
principles which justified us were obvious to all understandings, they
were imprinted in the breast of every human being; and Providence ever
pleases to direct the issue of our contest in favor of that side where
justice was. Since this happy separation, our nation has wisely avoided
entangling itself in the system of European interests, has taken no side
between its rival powers, attached itself to none of its ever-changing
confederacies. Their peace is desirable; and you do me justice in saying
that to preserve and secure this, has been the constant aim of my
administration. The difficulties which involve it, however, are now at
their ultimate term, and what will be their issue, time alone will disclose.
But be it what it may, a recollection of our former vassalage in religion
and civil government, will unite the zeal of every heart, and the energy
of every hand, to preserve that independence in both which, under the
favor of heaven, a disinterested devotion to the public cause first
achieved, and a disinterested sacrifice of private interests will now
maintain<..
29 ‚Examples of religious persecution have clearly not been restricted
to any one era or to any one religion: the conflict over Ikhnaton’s
monotheism in Egypt, the suppression of the Canaanites by the Israelites,
the execution of Socrates, the crucifixion of Jesus, the martyrdom of
Christians by the Roman emperors, the condemnation of heretics and
schismatics by the Christian church, the intolerance of Muslim invaders, the
crusades of Christians against Muslims, the repeated persecutions and the
78 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
pogroms against Jews by Christians, the persecution of Protestants by
Catholics, the persecution of Catholics by Protestants, the Catholic and
Protestant attacks on Anabaptists and other free churches, the persecution of
‘witches’ and Quakers in early Massachusetts, the persecution of Baptists in
New England and Virginia, the persecution of Catholics throughout colonial
America, and, in more recent decades, the repeated harassment of non-
conventional faiths such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Worldwide Church
of God, the Church of Scientology, and the Unification Church.‛ James E.
Wood Jr., ‚Religions and Religious Liberty‛, Journal of Church and State, Vol.
33, No. 2 (1991): 225.
30 For a fuller treatment, see Peter A. Lillback, Proclaim Liberty: A
Broken Bell Rings Freedom to the World (The Providence Forum, 2001).
31 Tertullian, ‚Apologeticum,‛ Tertullian.org, accessed May 19, 2015,
http://www.tertullian.org/works/apologeticum.htm.
32 Ninan Koshy, Religious Freedom in a Changing World, Risk Books
Series, (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1992), 53.
33 M. Searle Bates, Religious Liberty, an Enquiry (New York:
International Missionary Council, 1945), 135.
34 Martin Luther, Imperial Diet of Worms (1521), accessed May 19,
2015, http://www.luther.de/en/worms.html.
35 In Benson Bobrick, Wide as the Waters: The Story of the English Bible
and the Revolution It Inspired (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001), 87.
36 John Milton, ‚On The Late Massacre in Piedmont‛ (Sonnet in 1655)
in Milton by William Vaughn Moody, 77.
37 John T. McNeill, ‚Calvinism and European Politics in Historical
Perspective‛ in Calvinism and the Political Order, George L. Hunt, ed.
(Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1965), 36-37. Also see John T. McNeill,
‚The Democratic Element in Calvin’s Thought‛ in Church History 18, No. 3
(1949): 153171.
38 John T. McNeill, The History and Character of Calvinism (New York:
Oxford University Press, 1954); Stefan Zweig, The Right To Heresy: Castellio
Against Calvin (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1951).
39 John T. McNeill, ‚Calvinism and European Politics in Historical
Perspective in Calvinism and the Political Order, George L. Hunt, ed.
(Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1965), 23-24.
40 Paul T. Fuhrmann, ‚Philip Mornay and the Huguenot Challenge to
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 79
Absolutism‛ in Calvinism and the Political Order, George L. Hunt, ed.
(Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1965), 50.
41 Philip Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, vol. I, p. 218, n. 1;
42 Stefan Zweig, The Right To Heresy: Castellio Against Calvin (Boston:
The Beacon Press, 1951), 179.
43 John T. McNeill, The History and Character of Calvinism (New York:
Oxford University Press, 1954), 176.
44 For a helpful discussion of Calvin’s ‚backward‛ look to the
Medieval and Constantinian persecution of heretics, and his ‚forward‛ look
preparing the way for the pursuit of political liberty and resistance to
tyranny, see Douglas F. Kelly, The Emergence of Liberty in the Modern World:
The Influence Calvin on Five Governments from the 16th Through 18th Centuries
(Phillipsburg, N. J.: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing, 1992), 26-32.
45 Paul T. Fuhrmann, ‚Philip Mornay and the Huguenot Challenge to
Absolutism‛ in Calvinism and the Political Order, George L. Hunt, ed.
(Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1965), 63-64.
46 For background on the work of Moses Amyraut see the following:
Brian G. Armstrong, Calvinism and the Amyraut Heresy: Protestant
Scholasticism and Humanism in Seventeenth-Century France (Madison: The
University of Wisconsin Press, 1969); Francois Laplanche, Orthodoxie et
Predication: L’oevre d’Amyraut et la Querelle de la Grace Universelle (Paris:
Presses Universitaires de France, 1965); Samuel Mours, Le Protestantisme en
France au Dix-Septieme Siecle (Paris: Librairie Protestante, 1967); L. J. Meteyer,
L’Academie Protestante de Saumur (Paris: La Cause, 1933).
47 For studies on the relationship of William Penn and Moses
Amyraut see the following: Rene Fillet, ‚Relations entre La Touraine et la
Pennsylvanie au XVIIe: Moyse Amyrault et William Penn‛ in Bulletin de la
Societe d’etude Anglo-Americaines de XVIIe et XVIIIes. No. 37, Universite de
Lille III, (November 1993): 121-140; P. Gourdin, ‚William Penn un etudiant
saumurois ignore‛, in Bulletin de la Societe des Lettres Sciences et Arts du
Saumurois, No. 127, 1978, 45-50; Sturgis Samuel Booth, The Huguenot Source
of Penn’s Ideal of Religious Tolerance (Philadelphia: no-publisher, 1956).
William Penn told his biographer, William Sewell, author of the work, The
History of the Rise, Increase and Progress of the Christian People Called Quakers,
that he had lived in the home of Amyraut while studying in Saumur. Sewell
writes, ‚He had been trained up in the University of Oxford, and was
80 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
afterwards, by his father, sent into France, where, for some time, he lived (as
himself once told me) with the famous preacher Moses Amyraut.‛ Cited in
Charles F. Jenkins, Remember William Penn, 1644-1944, Chairman
(Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: William Penn Tercentenary Committee,
Department of Public Instruction, Pennsylvania Historical Commission,
1944), 24.
48 See Armstrong, Calvinism and the Amyraut Heresy, 77-78.
49 In Thomas Helwys, A Short Declaration of the Mystery of Iniquity
(1611/1612), ed. Richard Groves (Macon Georgia: Mercer University Press,
1998), vii.
50 Helwys, Mystery of Iniquity, 37.
51 See Thomas Helwys, Objections Answered (New York: Da Capo
Press, 1973).
52 See Joel Beeke and Randall J. Pederson, Meet the Puritans.
53 See L. John Van Til, Liberty of Conscience: The History of a Puritan
Idea (Nutley, N. J.: The Craig Press, 1972).
54 In Thomas Jefferson, Writings, ed. Merrill D. Peterson (New York:
Literary Classics of the United States, Inc., 1984), 283.
55 Peter Toon, ed., The Correspondence of John Owen (1616-1683)
(Cambridge and London: James Clarke & Co. Ltd., 1970), 145.
56 In Toon, The Correspondence of John Owen, 145-146.
57 Winthrop S. Hudson, The Story of the Christian Church (New York:
Harper & Brothers), 83-84. James Madison actually believed that this
diversity of religious expression in America was a good thing, and that it
tended to protect religious liberty. He writes, ‚Where there is such a variety
of sects, there cannot be a majority of any one sect to oppress and persecute
the rest. . . . The United States abound in such a variety of sects, that it is a
strong security against religious persecution.‛ Virginia Convention, June 12,
1788. In Padover, The Complete Madison, 347.
58 Hutson, Religion and the Founding of the American Republic, 4.
59 Notes on the State of Virginia, Chapter 17,
http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/JEFFERSON/ch17.html.
60 See Cyclone Covey, The Gentle Radical: A Biography of Roger Williams
(New York: The Macmillan Company, 1966); James E. Ernst, The Political
Thought of Roger Williams (Port Washington, N. Y.: Kennidat Press, Inc., 1966);
Edwin S. Gaustad, Liberty of Conscience: Roger Williams in America (Grand
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 81
Rapids: William B. Eermans Publishing Company, 1991).
61 Sanford Cobb, The Rise of Religious Liberty in America (New York:
The Macmilliam Company, 1902), 427.
62 Ibid.
63 See, for example, Winnifred King Rugg, Bianca A. Leonardo, eds.,
Anne Hutchinson: Unsung Heroine of History (Progressive Press, 1996).
64 Cobb, The Rise of Religious Liberty, 441.
65 In The Select Works of William Penn - Vol. I (New York: Kraus
Reprint Co., 1971), 129-156.
66 William Penn and George Whitehead, The Christian Quaker, and His
Divine Testimony Stated and Vindicated (Philadelphia, PA: Joseph Rakestraw,
1824), 94.
67 William Penn, ‚Letter to Richard Turner,‛ May 1, 1681 cited from
Trent and Wells, eds, Colonial Prose and Poetry (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell
& Co., 1901), Bartleby.com, last modified 2010, accessed May 19, 2015,
http://www.bartleby.com/163/208.html.
68 J. William Frost, A Perfect Freedom, Religious Liberty in Pennsylvania
(Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1993), 4.
69 Robert H. Wilson, Freedom of Worship: Meeting Houses, Churches and
Synagogues of Early Philadelphia (Philadelphia: Old Philadelphia Churches
Historical Association, Inc., 1976), 15.
70 Cited in Charles Michael Boland, Ring in the Jubilee (Connecticut:
The Chatham Press, Inc, 1973), 13.
71 Their story as told by Thomas Jefferson in Notes on the State of
Virginia, 283 is as follows: ‚The poor Quakers were flying from persecution
in England. They cast their eyes on these new countries as asylums of civil
and religious freedom; but they found them free only for the reigning sect.
Several acts of the Virginia assembly of 1659, 1662, and 1693, had made it
penal in parents to refuse to have their children baptized; had prohibited the
unlawful assembling of Quakers; had made it penal for any master of a
vessel to bring a Quaker into the state; had ordered those already here, and
such as should come thereafter, to be imprisoned till they should abjure the
country; provided a milder punishment for their first and second return, but
death for their third; had inhibited all persons from suffering their meetings
in or near their houses, entertaining them individually, or disposing of books
which supported their tenets. If no capital execution took place here, as did
82 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
in New-England, it was not owing to the moderation of the church, or spirit
of the legislature, as may be inferred from the law itself; but to historical
circumstances which have not been handed down to us. The Anglicans
retained full possession of the country about a century. Other opinions
began then to creep in, and the great care of the government to support their
own church, having begotten an equal degree of indolence in its clergy, two-
thirds of the people had become dissenters at the commencement of the
present revolution. The laws indeed were still oppressive on them, but the
spirit of the one party had subsided into moderation, and of the other had
risen to a degree of determination which commanded respect.‛
72 George Washington wrote a private letter to Sir John Sinclair from
Philadelphia on December 11, 1796 and said, ‚Pennsylvania is a large state,
and from the policy of its founder, and of the government since; and
especially from the celebrity of Philadelphia, has become the general
receptacle of foreigners from all countries, and of all descriptions; many of
whom soon take an active part in the politics of the State; and coming over
full of prejudices against their own governments, some against all
government, you will be enabled, without any comment of mine, to draw
your own inference of their conduct.‛ In The Writings of George Washington -
Vol. 35, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick (Washington: United States Government
Printing Office, 1940), 325-326. Washington had received an interesting
letter several years earlier on June 23, 1760 from Andrew Burnaby who was
writing to him from Philadelphia. Burnaby wrote, ‚Philadelphia is beyond
my Expectation; and when I consider that it contains near 20,000 Inhabitants
of Many Nations and Religions; that it Employs one Year with Another 350
vessels; that it has a well regulated Police; and is in beauty, Trade, Riches, not
inferiour to many cities in Europe, I am lost in Admiration of that Great Man
Mr Penn, who by his Wisdom and vast foresight, has been able to
Accomplish such things.‛ In W. W. Abbot, ed., The Papers of George
Washington: Colonial Series 6 (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia,
1988), 439.
73 Notes on the State of Virginia, 286.
74 Padover, The Complete Madison, 298.
75 Journal of Presbyterian History Volume 52Number 4 (Winter 1974):
313.
76 Consider ‚The Memorial of Hanover Presbytery‛ written on
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 83
October 24, 1776:
To the honorable the General Assembly of Virginia:
The Memorial of the Presbytery of Hanover humbly represents, that
your memorialists are governed by the same sentiments which have inspired
the United States of America, and are determined that noting in our power
and influence shall be wanting to give success to the common cause. We
would also represent that dissenters from the Church of England in this
country have ever desirous to conduct themselves as peaceable members of
the civil government, for which reason they have hitherto submitted to
several ecclesiastical burdens and restrictions that are inconsistent with
equal liberty. But, now when the many and grievous oppressions of our
mother country have laid this continent under the necessity of casting off the
yoke of tyranny and forming of independent governments upon equitable
and liberal foundations, we flatter ourselves that we shall be freed from all
incumbrances which a spirit of domination, prejudice, or bigotry hath
interwoven with most other political systems. This we are the more strongly
encouraged to expect by the Declaration of Rights so universally applauded
for the dignity, firmness, and precision with which it delineates and asserts
the privileges of society and the prerogatives of human nature, and which
we embrace as the magna charta of our commonwealth, that can never be
violated without endangering the grand superstructure it was designed to
maintain. Therefore we rely upon the declaration, as well as the justice of
our honorable legislature, to secure us the free exercise of religion according
to the dictates of our consciences. And we should fall short of our duty to
ourselves, and the many and numerous congregations under our care, were
we upon this occasion to neglect laying before you a statement of the
religious grievances under which we have hitherto labored, that they may no
longer be continued in our present form of government.
It is well known that in the frontier counties, which are justly
supposed to contain a fifth part of the inhabitants of Virginia, the dissenters
have borne the heavy burdens of purchasing glebes, building churches, and
supporting the established clergy, where there are very few Episcopalians,
either to assist in bearing the expense or to reap the advantage, and that
throughout the other parts of the country there are also many thousands of
zealous friends and defenders of our state who, besides the invidious and
disadvantageous restrictions to which they have been subjected, annually
84 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
pay large taxes to support an establishment from which their consciences
and principles oblige them to dissent. All which are confessedly so many
violations of their natural right, and in their consequences a restraint upon
freedom of inquiry and private judgment.
In this enlightened age, and in a land where all of every
denomination are united in the most strenuous efforts to be free, we hope
and expect that our representatives will cheerfully concur in removing every
species of religious as well as civil bondage. Certain it is that every argument
for civil liberty gains additional strength when applied to liberty in the
concerns of religion, and there is no argument in favor of establishing the
Christian religion but what may be pleaded with equal propriety for
establishing the tenets of Mohammed by those who believe the Al Koran; or,
if this be not true, it is at least impossible for the magistrate to adjudge the
right of preference among the various sects that profess the Christian faith
without erecting a chair of infallibility which would lead us back to the
Church of Rome.
We beg leave farther to represent that religious establishments are
highly injurious to the temporal interests of any community. Without
insisting upon the ambition and the arbitrary practices of those who are
favored by government, or the intriguing, seditious spirit which is
commonly excited by this as well as every other kind of oppression, such
establishments greatly retard population, and consequently the progress of
arts, sciences, and manufactories: witness the rapid growth and
improvement of the northern provinces compared with this. No one can
deny that the more early settlement and the many superior advantages of
our country would have invited multitudes of artificers, mechanics, and
other useful members of society to fix their habitation among us, who have
either remained in their place of nativity or preferred worse civil
governments and a more barren soil, where they might enjoy the rights of
conscience more fully then they had a prospect of doing it in this. From
which we infer that Virginia might have been the capital of America, and a
match for the British arms without depending on others for the necessaries
of war, had it not been prevented by the religious establishment. Neither can
it be made to appear that the gospel needs any such civil aid. We rather
conceive that when our blessed Savior declares his kingdom is not of this
world he renounces all dependence upon state power; and as his weapons
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 85
are spiritual, and were only designed to have influence upon the judgment
and heart of man, we are persuaded that if mankind were left in quiet
possession of their unalienable rights and privileges, Christianity, as in the
days of the apostles, would continue to prevail and flourish in the greatest
purity by its own native excellence and under the all-disposing providence
of God.
We humbly represent that the only proper objects of civil
government are the happiness and protection of men in the present state of
existence, the security of the life, liberty, and the property of the citizens, and
to restrain the vicious and encourage the virtuous by wholesome laws
equally extending to every individual; but that the duty which we owe our
Creator and the manner of discharging it can only be directed by reason and
conviction and is nowhere cognizable but at the tribunal of the Universal
Judge. Therefore we ask no ecclesiastical establishments for ourselves,
neither can we approve of them when granted to others. This indeed would
be giving exclusive or separate emoluments or privileges to one set of men
without any special public services, to the common reproach and injury of
every other denomination. And for the reasons recited we are induced
earnestly to entreat that all laws now in force in the commonwealth which
countenance religious domination may be speedily repealed; that all of
every religious sect may be protected in full exercise of their several modes
of worship, and exempted from all taxes for the support of any church
whatsoever, further than what may be agreeable to their own private choice
or voluntary obligation. This being done, all partial and invidious
distinctions will be abolished, to the great honor and interest of the state,
and every one be left to stand or fall according to merit, which can never be
the case so long as one denomination is established in preference to others.
That the great sovereign of the Universe may inspire you with unanimity,
wisdom, and resolution, and bring you to a just determination on all the
important concerns before you, is the fervent prayer of your memorialists.
77 ‚Presbyterians and the American Revolution: A Documentary
Account‛ in Journal of Presbyterian History Volume 52 Number 4 (Winter
1974): 473-474.
78 ‚First Amendment‛ in Transcription of the 1789 Joint Resolution of
Congress Proposing 12 Amendments to the US Constitution, Bill of Rights,
accessed May 19, 2015,
86 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html
79 Estep, Revolution within the Revolution, 201.
80 See John Witte Jr., Religion and the American Constitutional
Experiment (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 2000), 64-72. The twenty
iterations leading to the First Amendment:
1. Congress shall make no laws touching religion, or to infringe the
rights of conscience. (6/21/1788)
2. That religion, or the duty which we owe to our creator, and the
manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not
by force or violence, and therefore all men have an equal, natural and
unalienable right to the free exercise of religion according to the dictates of
conscience, and that no particularly religious sect or society ought to be
favored or established by law in preference to others. (6/26/1788)
3. That the people have an equal, natural, and unalienable right
freely and peaceably to exercise their religion, according to the dictates of
conscience; and that no religious sect or society ought to be favored or
established by law in preference to others. (7/26/1788)
4. That any person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms ought to
be exempted, upon payment of an equivalent to employ another to bear
arms in his stead. (8/1/1788) (this clause added to the above)
5. The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious
belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the
full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or any pretext
infringed. (6/8/1789 as part of James Madison’s initial draft for a Bill of
Rights)
6. No state shall violate the equal right of conscience, or the freedom
of the press, or the trial by jury in criminal cases. (6/8/1789 as part of James
Madison’s initial draft for a Bill of Rights)
The following three clauses were presented in an initial draft of the
Bill of Rights, drafted by a committee of eleven representatives duly
appointed by the House following Madison’s urging:
7. No religion shall be established by law, nor shall the equal rights
of conscience be infringed (7/28/1789)
8. No person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms
9. No State shall infringe the equal rights of conscience, nor the
freedom of speech or of the press, nor of the right of trial by jury in criminal
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 87
cases.
Additional iterations:
10. Congress shall make no laws touching religion or infringing the
rights of conscience.
11. The equal rights of conscience, the freedom of speech or of the
press, and the right of trial by jury in criminal cases, shall not be infringed by
any State.
12. Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or to prevent
the free exercise thereof, or to infringe the rights of conscience.
13. No person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear
arms in person.
14. Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or prohibiting
the free exercise thereof, nor shall the rights of conscience be infringed.
15. Congress shall make no law establishing One Religious sect or
Society in preference to others, nor shall the rights of conscience be
infringed.
16. Congress shall not make any law, infringing the rights of
conscience, or establishing any Religious Sect or Society.
17. Congress shall make no law establishing any particular
denomination of religion in preference to another, or prohibiting the free
exercise thereof, nor shall the rights of conscience be infringed.
18. Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or prohibiting
the free exercise thereof.
19. Congress shall make no law establishing articles of faith or a
mode of worship, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion, or abridging
the freedom of speech, or the press, or the right of the people peaceably to
assemble, and petition to the Government for the redress of grievances.
(9/9/1789)
20. Congress shall make no Law respecting an establishment of
Religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. (9/24/1789).
81 Writings of Washington, Vol. 31, (August 17, 1790).
82 Padover, The Complete Madison, 309.
83 For studies on religious liberty and US Supreme Court decisions,
see Lynn R. Buzzard, Samuel Erickson, The Battle for Religious Liberty
(Weston, Ontario: David C. Cook Publishing, 1982); Ronald B. Flowers, That
Godless Court? (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994);
88 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
Stephen V. Monsma, Positive Neutrality: Letting Religious Freedom Ring
(Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1993); Krishna Prasad De,
Religious Freedom Under the Indian Constitution (Calcutta: South Asia Books,
1976); John Witte, Jr., Religion and the American Constitutional Experiment
Essential Rights and Liberties (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 2000).
84 See ‚Introduction,‛ 2000 Annual Report on International Religious
Freedom (Department of State, September 5, 2000).
85 See ‚Executive Summary,‛ 2000 Annual Report on International
Religious Freedom (Department of State, September 5, 2000).
86 See above for the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human
Rights.
87 Executive Summary. See also Paul Marshall, Their Blood Cries Out
(Dallas: Word Publishing, 1997).
88 Doug Bandow, ‚Promoting Religious Liberty: Whither the Obama
Administration?‛ Huff Post-Religion, last modified May 25, 2011,
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/doug-bandow/promoting-religious-
liber_b_641534.html.
89 The World Council of Churches, Declaration on Religious Liberty,
Adopted at the First Assembly of the World Council of Churches (Amsterdam,
August 1948), accessed May 19, 2015,
http://www.religlaw.org/content/religlaw/documents/wccdecreliglib1948.ht
m.
90 Ibid.
91 The development in Roman Catholic thinking on the issue of
religious liberty in the century from Pope Leo XIII to Pope Paul II is both
remarkable and encouraging. Pope Leo XIII declared in 1888, ‚Justice
therefore forbids, and reason itself forbids, the state to be godless; or to
adopt a line of action which would end in godlessnessnamely, to treat the
various religions (as they call them) alike, and to bestow upon them
promiscuously equal rights and privileges. Since, then, the profession of one
religion is necessary in the state, that religion must be professed which alone
is true.‛ But Pope John Paul II proclaimed a century later in 1988, ‚Religious
freedom, an essential element of the dignity of every person, is a cornerstone
of the structure of human rights, and for this reason an irreplaceable factor
in the good of individuals and of the whole of society, as well as the personal
fulfillment of each individual. It follows that the freedom of individuals and
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 89
of communities to profess and practice their religion is an essential element
for peaceful human existence.‛
92 ‚Vatican II Council, ‚Declaration of Religious Freedom on the
Right of the Individual and of Communities to Social and Civic Freedom in
Religious Matters‛ in Religious Liberty by A. F. Carrillo De Albornoz, trans.
John Drury (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1967), 169-171. See also, The Pope
Speaks Magazine (Washington, D.C.), Vol. XI, 84-94. Carrillo De Albornoz’s
work Religious Liberty also includes the various statements on religious
liberty made by the World Council of Churches. For Protestant and Catholic
dialog concerning religious liberty, see Walter J. Burghardt, Religious
Freedom: 1965 and 1975, A Symposium on a Historic Document (New York:
Paulist Press, 1977); A. F. Carrillo De Albornoz, Religious Liberty (New York:
Sheed and Ward, 1967); A. F. Carrillo De Albornoz, Roman Catholicism and
Religious Liberty (Geneva: The World Council of Churches, 1959); Hans Kung,
Freedom Today, Cecily Hastings, trans. (New York: Sheed & Ward); Hans
Kung and Jurgen Moltmann, The Right to Dissent (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark
LTD, 1982); Keith J. Pavlischek, John Courtney Murray and the Dilemma of
Religious Toleration (Kirksville, Missouri: Thomas Jefferson University Press,
1994); ‚Religious Freedom in Concilium,‛ Theology in the Age of Renewal, Vol.
18 (New York: Paulist Press).
93 Ninan Koshy writes in Risk Books Series: Religious Freedom in a
Changing World (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1992), 15, ‚To the question of
whether article 306 of the penal code of Mauritania, which deals with
apostasy, conforms with UN resolutions concerning intolerance and
discrimination based on religion or belief, the government replied that
freedom of belief is guaranteed and protected in Mauritania: ‘A person can
embrace whatever beliefs he desires and no one can compel him to abandon
or change those beliefs or prevent him from manifesting a faith.’ Article 306,
it was explained, does not apply to persons who have not embraced the
Islamic faith. The reply added: ‘Apostasy from the Islamic religion, which
guarantees so many freedoms and so much security, stability and social
justice, is regarded as high treason and everyone is aware of the penalties
that states impose for this type of offence, which threatens their stability and
their very existence. . . . The precepts of this religion cannot be changed,
since the holy law on which it is based comprises moral principles in which
our society believes and any person who violates them arouses social
90 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
indignation. Consequently apostasy constitutes one of the most serious
offences against the public order and morality established by this religion.’‛
Reinhold Niebuhr underscores the difficulties inherent in bringing different
religious communities together in a common political government when he
writes, ‚It must be conceded that the religious commitments in a community
cannot be too sharply contradictory. In India, the contrast between the
Hindu and Moslem faith has made a unified national community
impossible. In our own country the wide divergences between the three
forms of faith rooted in a common scripture, were fortunately not so great as
to furnish contrasting testimony on the nature of our common life. We have,
therefore, been able to build a common life in spite of great diversity in our
religious commitments and ethnic loyalties; and the community has been
richer because of its multifarious components. It may be more important
that the religious life has been the purer, because the pretensions of each
group have been moderated by the inevitable challenge which they met in
this uncoerced togetherness. In short the ‘mind’ of each religious group was
freed by the necessity of coming to terms with other groups whose virtues
may have proved that virtue is not the monopoly of any of the other groups,
as was presupposed in their too self-righteous presuppositions, and whose
particular approaches to problems of community tended to correct
deficiencies and weaknesses in the approach of other groups.‛ Reinhold
Niebuhr, ‚The Commitment of the Self and the Freedom of the Mind‛ in
Religion & Freedom of Thought (New York: Doubleday & Company, 1954), 58.
94 For religious liberty around the world, see Elizabeth Odio Benito,
Study on the Current Dimensions of the Problems of Intolerance and
Discrimination on Grounds of Religion or Belief (New York: United Nations,
Commission on Human Rights, 1986); Harwood L. Childs, ed. ‚The
Effectiveness of Soviet Anti-Religious Propaganda‛ in The Public Opinion
Quarterly Fall 1967, Vol. XXXI, No. 3 (Princeton University Press, 1967);
Declaration on Religious Liberty, Assembly of the World Council of Churches
(Amsterdam, 1948); Karatnycky, ‚Religious Freedom and the New
Millennium‛; Karatnycky, ‚The Changing Landscape of Religious Freedom;
Walter Kolarz, Religion in the Soviet Union (London: Macmillan and Co.,
1962); Koshy, Risk Books Series: Religious Freedom in a Changing World; Paul
Marshall, Their Blood Cries Out (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1997); David E.
Powell, Anti-Religious Propaganda in the Soviet Union: A Study of Mass
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 91
Persuasion (Cambridge Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1975); The Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations on December 10,
1948.
95 In a speech by President George W. Bush given May 7, 2001 to the
American Jewish Committee entitled, ‚The First Freedom of the Soul,‛
President Bush underscored the profound need for religious liberty
worldwide:
The Middle East is the birthplace of three great religions:
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Lasting peace in the region must
respect the rights of believers in all these faiths. That’s common sense.
But it is also something more: it is moral sense, based upon the deep
American commitment to freedom of religion.
That commitment was expressed early and eloquently by our
first President, George Washington, in his famous letter to the Touro
Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island. He argued for an attitude
beyond mere tolerancea respect for the inherent and equal right of
everyone to worship God as they think best. ‚The government of the
United Sates,‛ he said, ‚which gives to bigotry no sanction, to
persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its
protection, should demeans themselves as good citizens. . . .
Leo Napoleon Levi, a Galveston, Texas lawyer and a president of
the national B’nai Brith, drafted President Theodore Roosevelt a
telegram denouncing a Russian pogrom in 1903. The Czar of Russia was
so stung by Roosevelt’s message that he formally refused to accept it.
Some Americans complained that Roosevelt had gone too far. He
replied that there were crimes so monstrous that the American
conscience had to assert itself.
And there still are. Such crimes are being committed today by
the government of Sudan, which is waging war against that country’s
traditionalist and Christian peoples. Some 2 million Sudanese have lost
their lives; 4 million more have lost their homes. Hospitals, schools,
churches and international relief stations have often been bombed by
government warplanes over the 18 years of Sudan’s civil war. The
government claims to have halted air attacks. But they continue.
Women and children have been abducted and sold into slavery.
92 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
UNICEF estimates that some 12,000 to 15,000 people are now held in
bondage in Sudan.
The story of the Exodus still speaks across the millennium; no
society in all of history can be justly built on the backs of slaves. Sudan
is a disaster area for human rights. The right of conscience has been
singled out for special abuse by the Sudanese authorities. Aid agencies
report that food assistance is sometimes distributed only to those willing
to undergo conversion to Islam. . . .
I’m pleased to say that many countries in the region show
considerable and improving respect for religious liberty: Morocco,
Tunisia, Jordan and Bahrain among them. But there are other regimes,
not only in North Africa and the Middle East, whose disrespect for
freedom of worship is seriously disturbing.
Iraq murders dissident religious figures. Iran systematically
maltreats Jews, Christians and adherents of the Baha’I faith. The
Burmese junta tortures adherents of Islam, Buddhism and Christianity.
Cuba monitors and harasses independent priests and ministers.
Afghanistan’s Taliban government has horrified the world with its
disdain for fundamental human freedoms, epitomized by its destruction
of ancient Buddhist works of art. And the newly independent republics
of Central Asia impose troubling limits on religious expression and
missionary work.
We view with special concern the intensifying attacks on
religious freedom in China. In many respects, China has made great
strides toward freedom in recent decades.<But the Chinese government
continues to display an unreasonable and unworthy suspicion of
freedom of conscience. The Chinese government restricts independent
religious expression. We hear alarming reports of the detention of
worshippers and religious leaders. Churches, mosques have been
vandalized or demolished. Traditional religious practices in Tibet have
long been the target of especially harsh and unjust persecution. And
most recently, adherents of the Falun Gong spiritual movement have
been singled out for arrest and abuse.
SOCIETAS DEI, Vol. 2, No. 1, April 2015 93
No one is a better witness to the transience of tyranny than the
children of Abraham. Fourty centuries ago, the Jewish people were
entrusted with a truth more enduring than any power of man. In the
words of the prophet Isaiah, ‚This shall be My covenant with them, said
the Lord; My spirit which is upon you, and the words which I have
placed in your mouth, shall not be absent from your mouth, nor from
the mouth of your children, nor from the mouth of your children’s
children said the Lord-from now, for all time...
It is not an accident that freedom of religion is one of the central
freedoms in our Bill of Rights. It is the first freedom of the human soul:
the right to speak the words that God places in our mouths. We must
stand for that freedom in our country. We must speak for that freedom
in the world.‛
96 Lee Habeeb, ‚Islamist War on Christians,‛ NationalReview.com, last
modified September 25, 2013,
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/359405/islamist-war-christians-lee-
habeeb.
97 According to Adrian Karatnycky of Freedom House, ‚The
correlation between Christianity and freedom at the end of the twentieth
century is very strong<Christian countries, at this stage of human
development, are about six times more likely to be free and democratic, as
they are to be non-democratic and suffer from serious abridgements in
human rights.‛ (Adrian Karatnycky, ‚Religious Freedom and the New
Millennium‛ given at the International Coalition for Religious Freedom
Conference on ‚Religious Freedom and the New Millennium‛ in Berlin
Germany, May 29-31, 1998, 111).
Further, ‚Of the 81 countries that we rate as free in our survey, 74 are
majority Christian. Of the seven free countries that are not majority
Christian, one is Israel, which is part of the Judeo-Christian civilization. Two
others, Mauritius and South Korea, have very large Christian communities,
and in some cases growing Christian communities, more that a third of their
population. Of the four free countries that don’t have strong relations to the
Judeo-Christian tradition, one is Mali, which is predominately Muslim.
Another is Taiwan, where nearly half the population is Buddhist. Another is
Mongolia, which is traditional Buddhist. And finally there is Japan, which
94 FROM AMERICA TO THE WORLD
observes both the Buddhist and Shinto traditions.‛ (Adrian Karatnycky,
‚The Changing Landscape of Religious Freedom‛, given at the International
Coalition of Religious Freedom Conference on ‚Religious Freedom in Latin
America and the New Millennium‛ October 10-12, 1998 in San Paolo, Brazil.)
www.icrf.com. There is also a historic commitment of religious toleration in
Buddhism. Ninan Koshy writes in Religious Freedom in a Changing World,
Risk Books Series (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1992), 51 writes, ‚Twenty-
three centuries ago King Ashoka, patron of Buddhism, recommended to his
subjects that they should act in accordance with a principle of toleration.
Acting thus, we contribute to our creed by serving other. Acting otherwise,
we harm our own faith, bringing discredit upon the others. He who exalts
his own belief, discrediting all others does so surely to obey his religion with
the intention of making a display of it. But behaving thus, he gives it the
hardest blows. And for this reason concord is good only in so far as all listen
to each other’s creeds and live to listen to them.’‛
98 See The Heritage Foundation home page, www.index.heritage.org.
99 Edwin Chapin Sweetser and Charles Elliott St. John, Penn and
Religious Liberty (Philadelphia, PA: Ketterlinus, 1908), 15.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
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The electronic version of this book has been prepared by scanning TIFF 400 dpi color and greyscale images of the pages of the text. Original source: A sermon, preached at Charlestown, November 29, 1798, on the anniversary thanksgiving in Massachusetts : with an appendix, designed to illustrate some parts of the discourse; exhibiting proofs of the early existence, progress, and deleterious effects of French intrigue and influence in the United States / by Jedidiah Morse, D.D., pastor of a church in Charlestown.; Morse, Jedidiah, 1761-1826.; 79, [1] p. ; 24 cm. (8vo); [Boston] :; This electronic text file was created by Optical Character Recognition (OCR). No corrections have been made to the OCR-ed text and no editing has been done to the content of the original document. Encoding has been done through an automated process using the recommendations for Level 2 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines. Digital page images are linked to the text file.