In 1845, the Baptist Preacher John Leland wrote (in case you can’t read the image…):
“The government should protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another. The liberty I content 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.”
I’ll forgive him for not adding in atheists ;-).
As a kind of follow up, Russell Moore, a modern day evangelical Christian, writes in his recent article:
Make no mistake. A government that can shut down mosques simply because they are mosques can shut down Bible studies because they are Bible studies. A government that can close the borders to all Muslims simply on the basis of their religious belief can do the same thing for evangelical Christians. A government that issues ID badges for Muslims simply because they are Muslims can, in the fullness of time, demand the same for Christians because we are Christians.
We are in a time of war, and we should respond as those in a time of war. But we must never lose in a time of war precious freedoms purchased through the blood of patriots in years past. We must have security and we must have order. But we must not trade soul freedom for an illusion of winning.
Russell then discusses Leland:
The Revolutionary-era Baptist preacher John Leland repeatedly included “the Turks” in his list of those included in the sorts of religious freedoms he was demanding from the politicians of his time (including Thomas Jefferson and James Madison). This was despite the fact that there were virtually no Muslims to speak of in the colonies or in the new republic. Leland included them specifically and intentionally anyway. He wanted to make it clear that his concept of religious freedom was not dependent on a group’s political power. He chose the most despised religious minority of the time, with no political collateral in his context, to make the point that religious freedom is a natural right bestowed by God, not a grant given out by the government.
I’d like to add that there is a striking similarity in the authoritarian quality of both the #LudicrousRight and the #RegressiveLeft as of late. Those of us, whether originally Dems or Reps, who value protecting the liberty of the individual — that makes equality possible, and safety ethical — may want to join up against both the old parties and start our own…
You can read Russell’s full article HERE.
Now go lift something heavy,