who died in
London's Newgate Prison
, who wrote in 1612:
"The King is a mortal man, and not God, therefore he hath no power over the mortal soul of his subjects to make laws and ordinances for them and to set spiritual Lords over them."
founded the Baptist faith in England with
A Short Declaration of the Mystery of Iniquity
"If the King's people be obedient and true subjects, obeying all humane laws made by the King, our lord the King can require no more:
men's religion to God is betwixt God and themselves;
the King shall not answer for it, neither may the King be judge
between God and man."
Baptist John Murton
was thrown in the
where his opinions were censored for being against the government agenda.
referred to him in
The Bloody Tenet of Persecution For Conscience Sake
"The author of these arguments against persecution ... being committed (a) prisoner to
for the witness of some truths of Jesus ...
... and having not use of pen and ink, wrote these arguments in milk, in sheets of paper brought to him by the woman, his keeper, from a friend in London as the stopples (corks) of his milk bottle ...
In such paper, written with milk, nothing will appear; but the way of reading by fire being known to this friend who received the papers, he transcribed and kept together the papers, although the author himself could not correct nor view what himself had written ...
... It was in milk, tending to soul nourishment, even for babes and sucklings in Christ ... the word of truth ... testify against ... slaughtering each other for their several respective religions and consciences."
was found guilty of preaching religious liberty in England.
When the government sought to arrest him, he fled to Boston, Massachusetts, on FEBRUARY 5, 1631.
in Massachusetts had begun
enforcing religious uniformity,
similar to what they had fled from in England.
Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black
Engel v. Vitale,
"When some of the very groups which had most strenuously opposed the established Church of England found themselves sufficiently in control of colonial governments ... they passed laws
making their own religion the official religion
of their respective colonies."
A controversy arose in Massachusetts between a
"covenant of grace"
"covenant of works."
The "covenant of grace" leaders were
Sir Henry Vane, Rev. John Cotton, Rev. John Wheelwright
and his sister-in-law,
Rev. John Wheelwright
fled Massachusetts and founded Exeter, New Hampshire.
pastored briefly before "notorious disagreements" caused the Massachusetts General Court to censor his religious speech.
Upon hearing the sheriff was on his way to arrest him in January of 1636,
fled for weeks in the freezing winter.
He was befriended by the Indians of Narragansett, where he founded
Providence Plantation, Rhode Island
-- the first place
where church government was not controlled by state government.
A historical plaque reads:
"To the memory of
Apostle of Soul Liberty, Founder
of the State of
and Providence Plantation."
The reverse of the plaque reads:
"Below this spot then at the water's edge stood the rock on which according to tradition
an exile for the
devotion to the freedom of conscience,
wrote in 1661:
"I having made covenant of peaceable neighborhood with all the Sachems (Chiefs) and natives round about us, and having in a sense of
God's merciful providence
unto me in my distress called the place Providence ...
distressed of conscience."
physician John Clarke
, organized the
first Baptist Church in America.
A plaque reads:
First Baptist Church,
AD 1638, The Oldest Baptist Church in America, The Oldest Church in this State."
THE ORIGINAL 13 -A Documentary History of Religion in America's First Thirteen States
Soon other dissenters arrived in
Roger Williams' Rhode Island colony,
soon left again to settle in the Dutch settlement of
New York City,
where all her family was scalped and beheaded by raiding Indians in 1643.
There was only one survivor,
who was taken captive. After several years, she escaped and married inn-keeper Samuel Cole. Their descendants include three U.S. Presidents.
Sir Henry Vane
was Governor of Massachusetts 1636-1637, where he helped found
and gave support to
Due to the "covenant of grace" versus the "covenant of works" controversy,
Governor Sir Henry Vane
was not reelected, being replaced by
Sir Henry Vane
returned to England where he backed the
though he did not support the Rump Parliament which beheaded Charles I.
During the brief English Commonwealth,
helped draft for
Patent for Providence Plantation,
which was unique in
guaranteeing freedom of religion
later defended the Patent on behalf of
against a competing charter.
wrote of Vane in April of 1664:
"Under God, the great anchor of our ship is
Sir Henry Vane
... an instrument in the hand of God for procuring this island."
A statue of
Sir Henry Vane
is in the Boston Public Library with a plaque that reads:
"Sir Henry Vane
... An ardent defender of civil liberty and
advocate of free thought in religion.
He maintained that God, Law, and Parliament were
to the King."
Plantation Agreement at Providence,
September 6, 1640, stated:
"We agree, as formerly hath been the liberties of the town, so still, to hold forth
liberty of Conscience."
The Government of Rhode Island,
March 19, 1641, stated:
"The Government ... in this Island ... is a
Democracy, or Popular Government;
that is to say, It is in the
Body of Freemen
wrote a response to
Puritan leader John Cotton's
It was published with the title
The Bloody Tenet (Practice) of Persecution for Conscience Sake
Mr. Cotton's Letter Lately Printed, Examined and Answered in 1644
first mentioned his now famous phrase,
"wall of separation":
"Mr. Cotton ... hath not duly considered these following particulars.
First, the faithful labors of many witnesses of Jesus Christ, existing in the world, abundantly proving,
Church of the Jews under the Old Testament
in the type and the
Church of the Christians under the New Testament
in the anti-type, were both SEPARATE from the world;
and that when they have opened a gap in the
WALL OF SEPARATION, between the garden of the CHURCH and the wilderness of the WORLD
, God hath ever
broken down the WALL
removed the candlestick,
made his garden a wilderness,
as at this day.
And that therefore if He will ever please to
restore His GARDEN
and paradise again, it must of necessity be
peculiarly unto Himself
from the WORLD
and that all that shall be saved out of the world are to be transplanted out of
the wilderness of the world
unto His Church or garden
a SEPARATION of Holy from unHoly, penitent from impenitent, Godly from unGodly
was alluding to Isaiah 5:1-7, that when God's people sin, He judges them by allowing his vineyard, the church, to be trampled by an ungodly government, in the same way that when Israel sinned, God let ungodly foreigners invade and trample them.
"My well-beloved hath a
... And he
it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine ... and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.
And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem ... judge, I pray you,
betwixt me and my vineyard
... When I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? ...
... I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I WILL TAKE AWAY
thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and BREAK DOWN
thereof, and it shall be trodden down ...
... is house of Israel ... and he looked for judgment, but found oppression."
also referred to the warning to the Church at Ephesus in the Book of Revelations, "
and do the first works;
or else I
will come unto thee quickly, and
will remove thy candlestick
out of his place, except thou repent."
stated that if God's people do repent, "He will restore His garden" protecting it as
peculiarly unto Himself
from the world."
This became a foundational Baptist tenet, that the
government should be kept out of the church.
Baptist churches began in other colonies.
wrote to Robert Walsh, March 2, 1819:
was originally the established religion ...
Of other sects there were but few adherents, except the
who predominated on the west side of the Blue Mountains.
A little time previous to the Revolutionary struggle,
the Baptists sprang up, and made very rapid progress ...
At present the population is divided ... among the
Baptist minister John Leland,
who helped start the Baptist Churches in Connecticut, was instrumental in getting Baptists to support the election of
to the first session of Congress.
delivered an enormous block of cheese to
from the citizens of Cheshire, Massachusetts, in 1802, after which he was invited to
s on the topic of liberty of conscience and that the government should be separated from interfering with the church.
John Leland wrote in
Rights of Conscience Inalienable
"Every man must give account of himself to God, and therefore every man ought to be at liberty to serve God in a way that he can best reconcile to his conscience.
If government can answer for individuals at the day of judgment, let men be controlled by it in religious matters; otherwise, let men be free."
A short theological explanation is helpful to understand the mindset of these colonial founders.
The more you love someone, the more you want that someone to love you back.
God loves us infinitely and He has an infinite desire for us to love Him back. Deuteronomy 6:5 "Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might."
God does NOT
our love, as He is not incomplete in any way, but He
it. (Exodus 34:14 "the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.")
Similarly, parents do not
to have children, but they
to, and when they do, they do not
the children to thank them, but they do
some appreciation, affection, and fellowship.
are referred to as the Lord's "bride."
Hosea 2:19-20 "And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea ... I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD."
II Corinthians 11:2 "For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ."
The dilemma is this, that love, by its very nature, must be
The moment it is forced, it is no longer love - it evaporates.
God wants our love, but He refuses to force it, for if He did, our response would no longer be love. It might be submission or obedience out of fear, but not love.
Like the pull of a magnet, God uses positive and negative motivations to influence our will, blessings and the withholding of blessings, grace and the withholding of grace, but He refuses to force a person's will.
He put the tree in the garden and told Adam and Eve not to eat from it, but He gave them the choice. He gave the children of Israel the Law, explaining the blessings and the curses, and told them to "choose life," but He gave them the choice.
All the rest of creation obeys God, but
only man can choose to love
To illustrate this, if a man twists his wife's arm and says, "tell me you love me," no matter what she says, she does not love him.
But if he courts and woos her with flowers, chocolate, dinner, and with self-sacrifice provides for her, defends her, protects her, and rescues her, then if out of the abundance of her heart she says "I love you," it means something.
God is not interested in submit or I will chop your head off, instead His desire is for us, by His grace, to voluntarily choose to surrender our will.
This was the understanding of Roger Williams and the colonial founders of Rhode Island.
expressed it in his National Proclamation of Public Humiliation and Prayer, July 23, 1813:
"If the public homage of a people can ever be worthy of the favorable regard of the Holy and Omniscient Being to whom it is addressed,
it must be ... guided
only by their free choice, by the impulse of their hearts and the dictates of their consciences ...
gift of Heaven for the good of man,
freed from all coercive edicts."
THE ORIGINAL 13-A Documentary History of Religion in America's First Thirteen States
Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States,
Justice Joseph Story
"In some of the States,
constituted the predominant sect; in other,
over the subject of
is left exclusively to the
During North Carolina's Convention to ratify the U.S. Constitution,
Governor Samuel Johnston
stated, July 30, 1788:
"I know but two or three States where there is the least chance of establishing any particular religion.
The people of
In every other State, the people are divided into a great number of sects.
the tenets of the
I believe, prevail.
they are divided very much; the most numerous are the
they are as much divided as we are.
if any sect prevails more than others, it is that of the
are most numerous, though there are other sects.
there are many sects; you all know what their religious sentiments are.
So in all the
they differ; as also
I hope, therefore, that gentlemen will see there is no cause of fear that any one religion shall be exclusively established."
from establishing a religion,
the State Governments were not.
John Bouvier's Law Dictionary
(Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1889), stated in its definition of
"The Constitution of the United States provides that
'Congress shall make no law
establishment of religion
prohibiting the free exercise thereof.'
This provision and that relating to religious tests
are limitations upon the power of the Congress only ...
The Christian religion is, of course, recognized by the government, yet ... the
preservation of religious liberty is left to the States."
State of Connecticut
Congregational Christian denomination
from its founding in
Rev. Thomas Hooker
till its first state constitution in
When Baptists moved into
Danbury Baptist Association
complained to President Jefferson, October 7, 1801, of their second-class status:
Our Sentiments are uniformly on the side of Religious Liberty
is at all times and places a matter
between God and Individuals
no man ought to suffer
in name, person or effects
on account of his religious opinions
-That the legitimate
power of civil Government
extends no further than
to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor:
But Sir ... our ancient charter (in Connecticut), together with the Laws made coincident therewith ... are; that ...
what religious privileges we enjoy
(as Baptists) ... we enjoy
not as inalienable rights ..."
"Sir, we are sensible that
of the united States is
the national Legislator & also sensible that the national government
cannot destroy the Laws of each State;
but our hopes are strong that the sentiments of our beloved President, which have had such genial Effect already, like the radiant beams of the Sun, will shine & prevail through all these States and all the world till Hierarchy and Tyranny be destroyed from the Earth.
Sir ... we have reason to believe that America's God has raised you up to fill the chair of State ... May God strengthen you for the arduous task which Providence & the voice of the people have called you ...
And may the Lord preserve you safe from every evil and bring you at last to his Heavenly Kingdom through Jesus Christ our Glorious Mediator."
On January 1, 1802,
wrote back agreeing with the
Believing WITH you
is a matter which lies solely
between man and his God
he owes account to none
faith or his worship
-that the legislative
powers of government reach actions only
, and not opinions,
I contemplate with solemn reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that
their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion
prohibiting the free exercise thereof
,' thus building
a wall of separation between Church and State.
Adhering to this 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 man to all his natural rights ...
I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection and blessing of the common Father and Creator of man."
In his 2nd Inaugural Address, March 4, 1805,
"In matters of religion I have considered that
its free exercise
is placed by the Constitution independent of the powers of the General (Federal) Government.
I have therefore undertaken, on no occasion, to prescribe the
suited to it; but have left them, as the Constitution found them, under the direction and discipline of
State and Church authorities
by the several religious societies."
BACKFIRED-A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance No Longer Tolerates Its Founders' Religion
wrote to Samuel Miller, January 23, 1808:
the (Federal) government of the United States as interdicted
by the Constitution from inter-meddling with religious institutions
, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises.
This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment or free exercise of religion, but from that also which
reserves to the states
the powers not delegated to the United States (Federal government) ..."
"Certainly no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the General (Federal) government. It must then
rest with the States
as far as it can be in any human authority ...
I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct its exercises, its discipline, or its doctrines ...
Every religious society has a right to determine for itself
the times for these exercises, and the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets."
Baptist Roger Williams'
rights of conscience,
Jefferson wrote in his
Notes on the State of Virginia
"Our rulers can have authority over our natural rights only as we have submitted to them. The
rights of conscience
we never submitted, we could not submit.
We are answerable for them to our God."
THE ORIGINAL 13 - A Documentary History of Religion in America's First Thirteen States