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LETTERS / I Find Myself Agreeing with Miss Carter’s Quote

Dear Editor,

As with miss Greene I find myself agreeing with miss Carter’s quote at the end of her letter. Putting aside the question as to why progressive is a slur in some republican circles I think a “regressive” like herself however has left out some of the history.

For instance was miss Carter aware that Roger Williams was charged with “heresy” and sentenced to exile by John Cotton and the Puritan leaders of Bay Colony?   His crime? The “radical” idea of separation between church and state. And the even more dangerous idea that every religion should be free to worship as they see fit over those who wanted laws based solely on the ten commandments. To quote Williams himself, from his book “The Bloody Tenent of Persecution”

Sixthly, It is the will and command of God, that (since the coming of his Son the Lord Jesus) a permission of the most Paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or Antichristian consciences and worships, bee granted to all men in all Nations and Countries: and they are only to be fought against with that Sword which is only (in Soul matters) able to conquer, to wit, the Sword of Gods Spirit, the Word of God.

I wonder how he would have felt about those who used the law as a weapon to force a religious viewpoint on us? Perhaps he would have said that authorities “cannot without a spiritual rape force the consciences of all to one worship” Or perhaps“Enforced uniformity confounds civil and religious liberty and denies the principles of Christianity and civility. No man shall be required to worship or maintain a worship against his will.”

And his actual quote Miss Carter claims to know? “When they have opened a gap in the hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the Church and the wilderness of the world, God hath ever broke down the wall itself, removed the candlestick, and made his garden a wilderness, as at this day. And that there fore if He will eer please to restore His garden and paradise again, it must of necessity be walled in peculiarly unto Himself from the world” 

This was not Williams saying the church needed protection. It was god tearing down the wall after the church makes the hole by intruding on the lives of others. And it was a specific jab at Cotton for trying to enforce a religious Theocracy upon Bay Colony. the argument is that for the church to be the paradise god intended religion must be separate from the state, only then will paradise be restored. 

Which brings us to Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists. The letter they sent was a concern that their freedom of worship was a gift from the government and not a right, therefore one the state could take away on a whim. Jefferson’s response in his letter to them?

…. the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between church and State….

What Jefferson was saying is that the “hedge” is a wall the government can not breach. And even though the exact words “church state separation” appear here and not the constitution does not change the bill of rights. Jefferson (Along with the REAL first amendment) states you have freedom to worship any way you choose. But I also have freedom from you forcing that worship (as was so recently and wrongly done through Amendment one) on me without my consent. Walls can and should work both ways. Something Roger Williams fought for and Jefferson agreed with.

The only deliberate lies I see are from those parroting right wing garbage, those written by people ignorant of history, or those of us more then willing to distort it for their own agendas. Combined with the fact that even after their “big win” so many Christians continue to see persecution around every corner (even as they inflict it on others) continues to to be the height of projection and hypocrisy. 

History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.

-Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt, Dec. 6, 1813.

Jesse Steele
Boone NC