Saturday, September 19, 2009

Baptists and Religious Liberty

I gave a speech at my University on Thursday entitled: Baptists, Religious Liberty and The Founding at our Constitution Day event. The gist (and when I polish the written text I'll post it here -- and there may be video!) was a brief point of Baptistic thought and how that translated into political action concerning religious liberty -- especially as Americans view it. I also highlighted three forces namely: Roger Williams (a Baptist for probably 6 months, but we'll claim him), Isaac Backus -- a Baptist preacher from Massachusetts active from after the great Awakening to serving in the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention in 1788 voting to ratify the U.S. Constitution until his death in 1806. Backus was unknown to me before doing my research... a great man of God and he faced down John and Sam Adams in his day. The final man was Elder John Leland -- also a Massachusetts Baptist who moved to Virginia in 1776 and later saved James Madison's political bacon. He was friends with both Madison and Thomas Jefferson, was an acquaintance of both George Washington and Patrick Henry.

In today's secular world people view Baptists as fundamentalists and think that we would take away liberty. The ignorance of history is breathtaking. Secularists would not have half the liberty they have without Baptists (others too, but Baptists were the first to advocate total church-state separation -- which is different than faith-politics separation and wholly dangerous. Baptists were also instrumental in the disestablishment of all Christian churches in the colonies and later the U.S.

Anyway... I hope to present it later at a Colloquium and then polish it into an article. Stay tuned.