Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Now that's one cool Baptist

Excerpts from the writings of John Leland (1754-1841), Baptist minister from Massachusetts and Virginia:
  • The notion of a Christian commonwealth should be exploded forever...Government should protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another. The liberty I contend for is more than toleration. The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence, whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians.

  • Truth disdains the aid of law for its defense — it will stand upon its own merits.

  • 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.

  • Resolved, that slavery is a violent deprivation of rights of nature and inconsistent with a republican government, and therefore, recommend it to our brethren to make use of every legal measure to extirpate this horrid evil from the land; and pray Almighty God that our honorable legislature may have it in their power to proclaim the great jubilee, consistent with the principles of good policy.
I wish he were around today to smack some sense into Ralph Reed, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and James Dobson. (And Bill Dembski, who teaches at a Baptist Seminary while authoring "Vice Strategies.")

My how times have changed. I like the second quote the best. The "Vice Strategy" is sort of the opposite. Something like: "We must embrace the law to defend the truth, which is weak and in constant need of judicial support."

My fellow Baptists: separation of church and state is a good thing. We used to proclaim it until relatively recently. We can even lay claim to having invented it.

(Hat Tip: Ed Brayton)

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