I had finished reading the historical biography of Roger Williams. In his life and times, he was unquestionably a Calvinist Puritan as were many of his fellow settlers in the New World. But unlike the majority of the Puritans, Mr. Williams did not agree with civil government weighing in on matters of God. The only actions that civil government had any right to do, involved criminal acts within society itself. When Mr. Williams finally founded Rhode Island, it became the first state to recognize religious freedom for its majority citizens. People incidentally, who had been outcast from increasingly rigid, factually totalitarian Puritan colonies.
Some four hundred years later, Roger Williams arguments are indeed still relevant. I can think of what the prophet and priest Samuel ultimately heard from God. Precisely, to set up a king (secular government) over men, was to displace God himself. It wasn’t Samuel who would ever fear being out of a job. So, what have churches done since the two books of Samuel were written? Studiously ignored them. Samuel as an Old Testament argument, provides plenty of evidence of why you don’t create a symbiotic relationship between the spiritual and the secular. Mr. Williams was quick to point out, that anything run by men was easily corruptible. Thus to join the church to the state, could and would corrupt the church. Biblically, Mr. Williams would have been right on target. Also given the facts of the Puritan colonies: personal ambitions, avarice, totalitarian hostility to differences of religious opinion, totalitarian hostility to new Christian sects; it would have to be Mr. Williams who would ultimately fight one heck of a battle, to guarantee that his Rhode Island colony would survive. To be the first state, ultimately, that argued on the behalf of religious freedom. No other Puritan colony would have cared to make an equal argument.
Which brings us to the 26th February edition of the Coeur d’Alene Press. I think that I did not have much of an issue with the official editorial, “Freedom to put it in writing.” (also discussed on http://www.spokesman.com/blogs/hbo) for the 26th of February 2014. The “religious freedom” argument to not serve “sinners” in one’s business establishment; actually sounds similar to the dredging up of a more Puritan era. “Sin” by New Testament standards, even by post biblical standards, actually included heresy. But of course, in this case, the reference is to openly gay and lesbian people. Well, how about people who had been jailed for theft and murder? People who faced various charges of vice? They too are factual sinners, with arrest records and convictions to prove it. Why not deny these other sinners an opportunity to do business with a company, operating on a “religious conscious?” Otherwise, wouldn’t it become exceedingly hypocritical? It must, of course.
Then there is the Larry Kettle letter following the editorial, “Muslims: Obama wrong —again.” It is Roger Williams who actually made the first (in the American colonies) argument for a separation of church and state. If he had not won the argument on the behalf of Rhode Island, would a James Madison have fared much better by the 1770s to the 1780s? It is highly doubtful. The separation of church and state has religious freedom as its basis. Mr. Williams had put it very well: to be free to believe or not believe, in brief. This applying to a variety of Christian sects, known to exist by the 17th century, would equally apply to any and all non Christian beliefs existing in this nation today. By separating church and state, the state is duly informed that it can not judge the souls and minds of men. No more than it can govern speech. Mr. Williams would know that a little too well, he faced Puritan forms of tyranny that threatened his very life.
I don’t intend to transcribe Mr. Kettle’s letter, instead as a rebuttal, I’ll ask these questions: What if Mr. Williams had not successfully fought for religious freedom? What if Calvinist Puritanism had continued to the present era? And then answer thusly, I wouldn’t know what Mr. Kettle’s religion actually is, but if say he were a Catholic, he’d not be allowed an opportunity to practice his belief openly. If his views were decidedly Quaker, he’d have no opportunity to worship openly. And so it goes… You can be sure that Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and etc. would not have been permitted entrance into what ever this country had become. Mr. Kettle should actually thank these historical figures for what they did on his behalf. After that, pass it on.
As an after thought, we all know about what “Communism/Socialism” has come to mean politically, in this country today. What it would mean to refugees from such systems, seeking asylum in this nation today. Well, people like Ayn Rand, for one. But instead of pointing fingers at the usual suspects, such as Karl Marx for creating totalitarian think, try reading the various history books with respect to the Puritans. The Puritans invented the collective plus an absolute need for conformity. If Ms. Rand had known more about American history, she could have exchanged her “fear of socialism” with “her fear of Puritanism.” That is seriously, not funny and fully intentional. Karl Marx, Lenin, and etc,. had nothing on what people creating religious totalitarianism could do. Mr. Kettle is free to speak, because of Roger Williams and James Madison. Pass it on.