Monday, May 10, 2010

Baptists then and now

Bruce Prescott contrasts the support of early Baptists for church/state separation with the attitudes of current Baptists who tend to favor government intervention in, and welfare for, religion:
Atheists More Conscientious than Baptists in Oklahoma

EXCERPT: When the U.S. Constitution was circulated among the thirteen original colonies for ratification, Baptists in Virginia refused to vote to ratify it until an amendment was added to secure liberty of conscience for every citizen. In a letter to George Washington, written on behalf of Virginia Baptists, evangelist John Leland explained why Baptists refused to ratify the Constitution until the First Amendment was added. He wrote:
When the Constitution first made its appearance in Virginia, we, as a society, had unusual strugglings of mind, fearing that the liberty of conscience, dearer to us than property or life, was not sufficiently secured. Perhaps our jealousies were heightened by the usage we received in Virginia under regal government, when mobs, fines, bonds and prisons were our frequent repast. (The Writings of John Leland, ed. L.F. Greene. New York: Arno Press & the New York Times, 1969, p. 53).
For early Baptists conscience was something sacred and inviolable.
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