Sunday, July 5, 2009

Great Article on Religious Liberty

Today in honor of our nation's birthday I preached a sermon on religious liberty. In it, I shared about John Leland, an early Baptist minister, and his influence upon James Madison in getting the clauses regarding religious liberty in the first amendment to the Constitution. There are more people I could have mentioned, however, including Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island.

One of my favorite authors, Sarah Vowell, turns her wry, sarcastic and reverent attention to Williams in an op-ed in today's NY Times. In her piece, Vowell shares a bit about Rhode Island and its founder. As is her custom, she shares many facts that they did not teach us in our American history classes. I encourage you to read it and offer thanks for "cranks" like Williams who fought for the freedom of all to worship as they please.

Also, if anyone cares to read more about Leland and other Baptists' contributions to the cause of religious liberty, I recommend an excellent and brief article by Stan Hastey. Hastey is the executive director of the Alliance of Baptists, a small group of liberal Baptists that was very influential upon my own faith journey from Southern Baptist to minister in the United Church of Christ and Disciples of Christ. If the world possessed more Baptists like Hastey and the heroes of religious liberty he tells about, perhaps I would still be a Baptist.

Grace and Peace,


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