relg 175 discussion board two


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Part One: Most Surprising Thing You Learned about the “Road to Religious Freedom”

1. What is the most interesting thing you learned about the history of religious establishment, persecution and freedom in the past two weeks? You can discuss just one thing (fact, period of time, law, person, etc) or more than one!

In your response to this question, you should include at least one quotation from the Weeks Two or Three readings.

Part Two: Which reading have you found the most interesting and/or the most confusing in the past two weeks?

1. Which of the readings did you find the most interesting, surprising, or confusing over the past two weeks? Why did the reading stand out to you? Please include at least one direct quotation from that reading that highlights the reason why you chose that reading passage. Do you have any additional questions about that reading?Your initial discussion board response must be at least 500 words long and contain one direct quote from the readings. Your initial response is due by midnight on Friday, November 3. Your response should focus on answering the specific questions asked above and not just general information from the week’s course material.

An Act for establishing religious Freedom.

Written by Thomas Jefferson in 1777 and passed by the Virginia State Legislature in 1786

Whereas, Almighty God hath created the mind free;

that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, who being Lord, both of body and mind yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do, that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time;

that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor, whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the Ministry those temporary rewards, which, proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the instruction of mankind;

that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry, that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence, by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages, to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right, that it tends only to corrupt the principles of that very Religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed, these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way;

that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy which at once destroys all religious liberty because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own;

that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that Truth is great, and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them:

Be it enacted by General Assembly that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities.

And though we well know that this Assembly elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of Legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding Assemblies constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare that the rights hereby asserted, are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.….

All right, so in this video lecture, we’re going to move along to the next step, the next stage in our story, on the road to religious freedom. So last week, we talked about how there was an established religion, established church, denomination of Christianity in majority of the original 14 colony. And that oftentimes led to religious intolerance, to persecution of religious minorities. But now, in this video lecture, we’re going to talk about how very early on, there were experiments with religious freedom. There were individuals and collections of people who were starting to see sort of the issues with having established religion and laws that regulated religious belief and practice. Right? Because in many of the colonies, that’s what the law did, right? We had an established religion, whether it was the Church of England or the Puritan, you know, religious dissenters from England. There were laws on the books that said, you know, this is the religion that you have to believe in. These are the specific beliefs within Christianity that you have to hold. This is the church that you have to be a member of, and this is how often you have to go to church, or this is your tax money, how to go to help support the land owned by this church, the buildings owned by them, the salaries of the ministers, priests, etc. So some people in the colonies were starting to question that and saying, well, maybe we don’t have to, and we shouldn’t exactly follow the sort of societal norms of Europe, right? Because we saw in Europe how established religion, excuse me, and especially the goal of the plan to sort of have a land that is unified by one religious tradition, one denomination of Christianity, and to try to, like, legally enforce that, that that’s just going to lead to dissent, and it’s just going to lead to conflict and warfare, right? For all those 150 years of war that we talked about last week. So early experimenters, early supporters of the idea of religious freedom, that government should not be regulating religious belief or religious practice, etc. That’s what we’re going to look at today. So three folks, three individuals, you can see their pictures here above me, up here. Directly above me is William Penn, who we’re going to talk about first, he establishes the colony of Pennsylvania, which is established as a holy experiment in religious freedom. Then right here we have Roger Williams, Roger Williams establishes the Rhode Island colony, which also has religious freedom. And for this week, you guys were reading a speech by him, or sorry, the introduction from the book that he wrote about his justification for designing this colony in that way. And then right next to me, I will do the wrong way. No, that way, this way. Right next to me, this is Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson was a virginian who lived in the colony of Virginia, which was established as a colony of the Church of England. So the Church of England would be official established religion established church in that state, but he very much wanted to change that. So he is actually the author of the statute of religious freedom that eventually becomes part of the Virginia State Constitution that you also wrote this week. Okay, so first experimenter is this man directly, but meaning William Penn. So William Penn was born in England. His family, you know, goes to the Church of England. They are part of this official official legal religion, but as a young man, actually in college, he converts to the Quakers or the religious society friends. And this is a sort of a, it’s another Protestant breakaway group. So it’s kind of in some ways it’s similar to the Puritans, but they’re also dissentered, meaning that they are a group of Christians who dissent with the Church of England. They do not believe that the Church of England is doing Christianity right, but they’re pretty radical for a couple of reasons. I think we’ve talked a little about this already. Oh, yeah, we did because talk about the persecution of Quakers. Quakers are quite different from other Christians. And oftentimes this led to their persecution in England and the U.S. They don’t believe in priests or ministers. There’s no hierarchy. There’s no clergy in their, they call their services needing instead of a service or a mass. And the idea is that everyone just sort of sits in a circle and fits in silence, and they wait for God to get to them. And they believe that any human being can receive a message from God or from the Holy Spirit, they were also sort of became early targets of persecution because they believe that women could be teachers, but also received messages. So women would stand up in meetings as well and give teachings and messages about God and Christianity and ethics. And this was something that was definitely very different from other forms of Christianity at the time, made this very target for persecution. They also, you know, from very, very early on in American history, they were very opposed to slavery, very vocally opposed to slavery. They were also very vocally opposed to the treatment of Native Americans, right, sort of taking the land, giving them some just compensation and force it in a violent way, which they were treated. Anyways, William Penn becomes a quaker back in England. He experiences persecution. He’s actually arrested at some point for being quaker right against the law in England to be anything else other than the Church of England. So he’s sort of having all these issues back in England. Well, it turns out that the King of England owed his father a bunch of money, not exactly sure why, but basically the state, the crown, owes a bunch of money to his dad. His dad passes away. That inheritance comes to him. And he actually, you know, sort of asks the crown says, you know, instead of receiving like a lump sum of money, could you actually repay me and my family in the form of land in the colonies? I would actually like to go to the colonies, and I would like to set up a colony there. So could you just like gift me the equivalent amount of land in colonies for what you owe my dad. And they said, yes, that’s fine. So he decides, I’m going to set up a colony. I’m going to set up like, you know, a place in the colony. I mean, it’s a very large tract of land, right? It becomes pencil. And he decided that this is going, he’s going to offer it up as sort of a safe haven for British quakers, right? And he’s part of this religious movement that’s being persecuted or being arrested. And he said, well, I’m going to sort of create this area where any quakers can come. And it’s going to be freedom of religion. So he decides that in this land, in this area, even though technically he owns it, he can like run it anyway he wants. He actually decides, no, I’m going to set it up as sort of this model society that I think should sort of model the way the rest of society should be run. So he actually sort of writes his own constitution. He invites people to come and he said that in this, you know, in this colony, in this place, everyone is going to have a freedom of religion. They have a freedom to believe and practice a basic bit. And so this means that not just Quakers, but actually many people from different religious backgrounds start to come to what becomes pencil. So there are Quakers. There are a lot of Quakers, of course, about some of the original intentions to give Quakers a safe haven in a place where they could go to practice their particular form of Christianity. But also other people for other Puritans, right? Massachusetts Bay colony is such a strict and rigid Puritan colony and anyone who does not follow their exact rules is being banished, is being exiled. Or sometimes people are just, they just disagree with helping for being run there so they voluntarily leave. So they got a lot of people from the Massachusetts Bay colony who were just not happy with what was going on there. And other people is about Catholics, other Protestants who wanted that freedom of religion, right? There’s a place in the colonies where anyone can go and practice their religion. He’s also very well known for the fact that he dealt barely with the Native Americans there. He’s very strongly believed it was wrong that other settlers and colonists were simply taking the land away from the Native Americans who had lived there, dealing with barely with them, dealing violently with them. So he actually made treaties with all of the tribes that land that he was gifted, being a sort of coincided myth, and reimbursed them. So reimbursed them on their own terms for the land. So he didn’t think it was appropriate that the land was just taken without referring with the local people there. So he, for the most part, had very positive relations with the local Native Americans and tribes. And he had this religious toleration. So this is the law of the land. Is that anyone, anyone is allowed to come? They do have, they do have a set of government there. It’s actually one of the earliest and more democratic, democratic forms of government among the colonies. Everyone is allowed the right to vote. It’s a very peaceful, very egalitarian society. It ends up kind of changing over time, basically. There’s all these political events going on, the beginning of England, back home, and people who are boiled to the crown, not boiled to the crown. So it eventually changes over time. And unfortunately, William Penn actually has to go back to England to deal with sort of some family and legal stuff. And he never makes it back to Pennsylvania. He ended up having a stroke while in England and dying while he’s over there. But beginning in 1681, he stepped up this land of Pennsylvania, and the law of the land is religious toleration. So Pennsylvania eventually becomes, you know, a full-fledged colony. It eventually becomes a state. And it never had an established religion. So William Penn’s holy experiment absolutely was a success in the sense that they never decided to have an established religion. This was very successful. And it was one of the models, really, that the founding fathers looked to when codifying the freedom of religion within the liberal rights that we’ll talk about next week. The second example is a man named Roger Williams. And Roger Williams was also a British man born in England, comes over to the colonies. He’s actually a Puritan. So he converts to the Puritan faith, right, the dissenters who want to purify the church in England. And he actually lives in the Massachusetts faith colony. But as we mentioned previously, from last week’s video lecture, he very quickly kind of runs a foul of the government in the Massachusetts faith colony. When he doesn’t agree with sort of the logical beliefs and practices, he doesn’t think that they’re sort of truly, you know, living with Puritan lifestyle, following this Puritan theology. So he does have some religious disputes with them. But he also, similar to William Penn, he also, as soon as he gets there, some very strongly disagreements with the Indian Americans are being treated. He said, there are people who are you live here, right, we need to work with them, we need to cooperate with them, and we need to repay them for the land that we are not living on. Right, it wasn’t necessarily that we shouldn’t be here, but he said we need to deal fairly and justly with them and any land that we use that was originally part of their territory, they need to be compensated for that. Right, that’s only fair. This is something that the government of Massachusetts faith colony did not agree with. So he kind of keeps funny heads with them, and he’s eventually exiled, right, this is not the need for Massachusetts faith colony. We’re not following our rules. We are criticizing us all the time. They kick him out. He’s not the only one who’s kicked out right, we talked about the in Hutchinson already, but there are also lots of other human, not as famous people who get exiled right. Anybody who runs the power of the government of Massachusetts faith colony is kicked out. So Roger Williams is exiled, he ends up being exiled with a couple of families. I think some of them were also exiled, some of them decided to leave with him or sympathize with what his beliefs were and what he was saying. So they leave and they eventually end up settling in the area that becomes more violent, and it becomes actually the city of Providence for an island. It’s named that because Roger Williams, I believe that it’s Providence, got Providence that brings him to that place, so he leads him there. He has very, he had very positive relations also with the local Indian American tribes. The East Coast wants to deal fairly with them. He does want to sort of set up a settlement there, but he’s going to reimburse them for the land that they’re going to use, so he does pay them for the land that he’s going to use. And for the most part, for the rest of his life, he’s going to have sort of had really close and good relations with the Native American tribes that move on with the island. And so he decides, you know what, we’re going to set up this town, we sort of decided this and we’re going to stay. We established relationships with the local Native Americans, we reimburse them for this land, but our colony, our settlement is going to be different from the Massachusetts faith colony. Because we are going to allow freedom of conscience. We are going to let anyone believe and practice religion as they see fit. So his experiences in the Massachusetts faith colony really help to solidify this view of Roger Williams. So he’s one of the earliest proponents related to Roger Williams first because historically he becomes first, but really willing and sort of more well known, more famous. So I talked about him first, but Roger Williams really, I mean, this is this is the first, the first area in the colonies that is set up explicitly intentionally as a place where anyone can come and really practice and believe in their own religion. And he Roger Williams does a lot, he writes a lot, he writes an entire book about why it is wrong for the government to try to control and restrict religious practices through small excerpts of this week. And he is actually the individual who comes, I don’t know if I’m not mistaken, but he is the first in print to use the phrase hedge or wall of separation between church and state. So he very strongly believes that civil government should have nothing to do with religion, that this state, the government has no business telling people what they have to believe, making that a law, enforcing that, and also telling people what church they have to remember, how they have to practice their religious tradition and things like that. He actually thinks that this is incredibly corrosive to religion. So Roger Williams is absolutely a devout Christian, a devout Puritan Protestant Christian. But his experience in the master’s of spirituality basically shows him or convinces him that when people, like when religious figures, right, priests, ministers, pastors are put into positions of civil authority, right, when those forms of authority are combined into one, it is a corrosive negative detrimental force to the religion itself. So when Roger Williams interestingly, when Roger Williams starts to talk and write and speak about, this topic speaks up the same thing. He begins to speak and write about creating this wall or this hedge of separation between religion and government. He is really focusing on how that is done to protect religion, right, that if you start letting sort of you government and politics and politicians and law and the state become, you sort of get their, get their hooks into religion, right, saying, okay, we are, this is part of what we’re supposed to do as the government, we’re supposed to establish an official religion, tell everybody what to believe, tell everybody what to do. He said, that is the worst possible thing to have into religion and the religion is going to be corrupted because people aren’t going to believe and practice in the same way as if they were free to do so. Right, he thinks it’s incredibly sort of twisted and immoral for a government to tell people what they have to believe in their conscience. Right, so his, his main phrase, what everyone here has freedom of conscience to believe and practice religion as they choose, that when individuals are free to decide what they believe for themselves, to follow the belief, speak about this belief and practice their religion, that is actually what really purifies religion and what makes religion. And stronger is when people feel that no, I have come to this decision on my own, I want to believe and practice this religion because I have simply been convinced on the merits of the religious belief and practice themselves. So he, he very much wanted to protect religion and thought that government getting involved in it is what makes the religion correct and what makes people, you know, just sort of go through the motion and not really believe in it, not really do it with any sort of, you know, pure heart or good intention, because they’re just doing it because they have it too. And so according to him, that’s sort of what he experienced in the Massachusetts state colony and that’s why very, very strong it came to believe. No, civil government and religion should be completely separate, they should have nothing to do with each other. This protects, this also protects the government and politics because people, you know, they’re just, they’re, they’re limited in their scope, they’re limited to what they can do effectively. Right, that a civil government, they can tell people, you know, how to behave, how to treat other people, but they can’t regulate conscience. They can’t enforce religious beliefs. And when they try to do that, they are pretending that that’s possible, when it’s not possible, and they are actually eroding those religious beliefs that they are trying to protect and support. So very, very strongly, very strong proponent of this. And again, also important because he was really a template, right? He was someone that Thomas Jefferson, another of the family fathers looked to and said, look, these ideas, we agree with these ideas and they worked. I said, you should also note that the experiment in Rhode Island was also very much a success. People also, they came from many different religious backgrounds. It was a thriving, thriving quality. It was a growing quality and it was a relatively peaceful colony. Roger Williams also, you know, he sort of moves away from the Puritan Church. He actually become the Baptist and is known as establishing the first Baptist Church in the US. And that’s, and that was in Rhode Island. So that’s also sort of what he’s very well known for is setting up an establishment in the very first Baptist Church in the US. Okay, so William Penn, Roger Williams, right, then a little bit later on, right, oh, I shouldn’t put the date in here. But it’s in 17, I’m not putting it here, 17, 77. So, you know, we’re talking 100 years later here, right? Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers also comes very strongly to believe that government has no right, has no business establishing a particular religion, trying to enforce and regulate religious belief and conduct and church. He’s a church membership or religious membership. And he actually writes, he writes a law called the statute on religious week. So in 17, 77, Thomas Jefferson, he is a virginian, he lives in Virginia. And he’s learning about these other experiments and we’ll talk about moving towards the revolutionary war, freedom and starting to think about, you know, actually, we may very well be setting up our own independent society here. And within the States, we’re doing that as well. Virginia really should be a place where everyone has the freedom to believe and practice religion as they choose. And so Virginia was a colony that hadn’t established religion, the Church of England, but Thomas Jefferson disagreed with, right, he himself, part of this world will talk more about Thomas Jefferson as the author of the definition of independence as well as presidents will talk more about his religious beliefs, but Thomas Jefferson definitely has an unorthodox religious belief. He did not comfortably fit into any of the Protestant or Christian denominations of the time. He had his own Bible, he came with his own Christian Bible. So he very much personally had some nontraditional or unorthodox views on God, religion and Christian religion, particularly there. So maybe because of sort of external factors, as well as internal factors, religious freedom is very important to Thomas Jefferson and he’s one of the strongest advocates during the formation of the United States government that there should be no established religion and even farther than that protection of religious freedom needs to be enshrined in the illegal code of this country. And he starts in Virginia, he starts with the statute of religious freedom. The statute of religious freedom disestablishes the Church of England from Virginia. It is everyone the freedom of religion to believe and practice religion as they fit. It protects people from persecution, discrimination, harassment based on their religious beliefs. And it also sort of connected to the disestablishment of religion, says that no public money can go to fund the promotion of any particular religious position. So he writes it in 1787, but it doesn’t really go anywhere. It’s considered a little bit too progressive, too radical, especially to disestablish a religion to disestablish a Church that can be so innocent and controversial. Virginia had already had an established Church for a very long time and disestablishing a Church is also very difficult because of financial reasons. When you have an established Church, it means that there of course is sort of an official relationship between the government and the Church. It also means that tax money goes to support that religious tradition, right? Houses of worship are very large and oftentimes very expensive buildings, right? To build a church, to maintain a church, you know, to pay the taxes on it on the land that it’s built on inside the Trigger. And to pay the salaries of ministers, priests, things like that, everyone who you know who works there, it means that tax fair money is going to do that right. So nobody really has to worry about that money being raised to be a three -voluntary method. So, but the statute of religious freedom basically just kind of doesn’t go anywhere. It’s introduced into the Virginia State Legislature, but it actually is about 10 years. It gets that forgetful to 80, 87, or 89. But we’ll say it’s about 10 or more years before it actually becomes ratified before it actually becomes official law in Virginia. And it really only becomes ratified because another politician, Patrick Henry, proposes another bill, another law that says that tax fair money is going to pay the salaries of teachers of religion at the University of Virginia. So another politician introduces a bill, a law that says you know what, we have University of Virginia. There are some sort of teachers on payroll who are also ministers with the Church of England, and they are teaching courses on Christianity. And really that tax fair money should also be paid their salary, right? It goes to pay for the church, the church building of the ministers. But, you know, it could also go to pay the salary of these professors, right? These teachers who are teaching the Christian religion, and that’s where something really public good. And Thomas Jefferson is very strongly opposed to this bill because it’s sort of re-or further intervention, the establishment of religion. And right, tax fair money going to pay not just for ministers, but also teachers of Christianity who are just professors who are teaching about Christianity. And so Thomas Jefferson very much opposed to it, and also James Madison is very much opposed to it. So he, he actually very much supports, is synthesizing Thomas Jefferson’s cause, and says no, this bill should not be passed, right? We are trying to move towards greater religious freedom towards disestablishment of religion, and if this bill passes, then we just, if it would make it that much harder to ever disestablish the Church of England or the Anglican Church from Virginia. So he actually, Thomas Jefferson is not really able to participate in legal proceedings, that much because he is still at this time. But James Madison really takes up the cause and says, you know what, not only should you not vote for Patrick Henry’s bill, but we need to re-take up and discuss Thomas Jefferson’s original statute of religious freedom. And we need to pass that instead. We need to vote no on this, and we need to point on the past of the statute of religious freedom. And so if he really takes up this cause, he gives a very famous speech that published in a pamphlet called memorials and remonstrates against religious assessments where he sort of very forcefully argues the case for religious freedom. He’s very convincing, he’s able to do what Thomas Jefferson was able to do previously, and he wins everyone to his cause, he finally gets the statute of religious freedom passed. It’s sometimes the late 1780s, I think it would be a good back year. But finally, it does get passed, and the language in the statute of religious freedom is basically taken almost work forward and put into the bill of rights. That, you know, enshrines religious freedom in the United States, right, freedom from, from established religion and the freedom to practice, practice and believe in the religion as they personally fit. So it’s a very important piece of this road to establishing religious freedom in our federal law……….

week 3 so you’re reading for this week, you have four readings, again, this week. The first one is the next three articles in the U.S. Constitution. So over the next few weeks, including last week, this week, and next week, we’re going to read through the entire U.S. Constitution. It’s a little bit lengthy, so I’ve divided it up into a couple different sections. So make sure that you read through that. It’s important for sort of, you know, some baseline foundational understanding of American government and politics, and of course, we’ll be

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