Sunday, May 14, 2006

Religious Tolerence

Now that classes are over and I can start breathing again, I can also start looking into subjects that are of more interest then the usual college classes. While driving home after finals, I decided to do something a little different and listen to an audio book called "Don't Know Much About History" by Kenneth C. Davis.

On the second disc (if I remember correctly), the author talks about the history behind religious tolerance in the U.S., from the subject of religious groups leaving their country of origin up to James Madison and our Founding Fathers writing the Constitution and the First Amendment. One subject that caught my attention was regarding a man named Roger Williams.

Williams was the person that started the settlement of Providence in what now is called Rhode Island. He had left other settlements due to his very progressive idea of religious tolerence. He believed that all religions should have the right to practice their beliefs even if other people, including himself, didn't believe in it. One example of this was how he treated the people of the Quaker religion. When no else would let the Quakers into their communities, Williams allowed them in his even though he didn't believe what they did. His beliefs led to a "war" of the written word between himself and people like John Cotton. To find out more about Williams and this subject, read this.

So what does this have to do with this blog? With today's crys of the "decline of Christian morality" because of the debates over things like taking down the 10 Commandments in court houses, the Pledge of Alligence and prayer in schools, we need to remember that the reason we have religious freedom in the U.S. is because of people like Williams, who was not afraid to stand up for the rights of others, and people like Madison, who took into consideration the writings of men in the past on the subject of religious tolerence.

Religious tolerence doesn't mean that you are being forced to believe that of another religion. It does mean that you accept that people around the world should have the right to choose their beliefs, no matter if you think that they are on the wrong path. And I would also add that it means that they have the right to go about their business without being told that their path is "wrong."

More Readings

by Roger Williams (outlines - not the whole documents)

The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution
Forced Worship Stinks in God's Nostrils

about Roger Williams

Roger Williams and "soul liberty"

on Seperation of Church and State

Memorial and Remonstrance by James Madison
The Origins of the First Amendment by Leonard Levy
Supreme Court decisions on religion


M B's Blog said...

Nice blog; you are right. Tolerance of others beliefs does not equal acceptance of anothers beliefs but allowing them the ability to practise that religion without impedence.

Sojourner said...

Thanks MB!

I would like to visit your blog if you wouldn't mind posting your URL.