"We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in." Isaiah 26:1-2.

America, a Nation of Religious Plurality?

The various American colonies were founded by unique groups, each generally holding to specific religious beliefs. Virginia was a colony which followed the Church of England (Anglican) faith; Massachusetts was Puritan; Rhode Island was established by Roger Williams as a state that supported religious freedom; it was predominately Baptist in belief. In 1681 William Penn received a land grant from the British crown as reimbursement for a debt owned to Penn's father. To this new colony, Penn introduced a religion called the Society of Friends (Quakers). Following the ideals set forth in Rhode Island, Penn established his government on the principles of religious freedom for everyone, and fair dealings with the Indians. Maryland was established as a predominately Catholic colony. From our very beginnings, America has been culturally and religiously diverse, but not always tolerant of diverse theological views.

Roger Williams preached separation of church and state. For this he was banished from Salem for his so-called heretical beliefs. He learned from experience that when the state forms laws directly opposed to the eternal laws of God, and thus strives to compel men to obey them, it is following the example set by Nebuchadnezzar, ancient king of Babylon (see Daniel 3:1-18).

As seen in ancient Babylon, when the state undertakes the control of the religious interests of the nation, a spirit of intolerance is manifested when individuals seek to practice the truth which they have found in God's Word. Those who are actuated by such a spirit of oppression can not understand what religious liberty means. The only position the State can take, and have the approval of God, is to guard the equal rights of every individual, permitting no oppression to come upon anyone because of religious belief. The government must maintain a neutral stance toward religion. Only thus can there be "one nation under God" without diminishing any person's right to freedom of religious expression. Through judicial review the neutrality of the Constitution, in some cases, has been reinterpreted in a way that it places liberty of conscience under duress.

Benjamin Franklin stated: "When a religion is good it will take care of itself; but when it can no longer take care of itself and God does not see fit to take care of it, so that it has to appeal to the civil power for support, it is evidence to my mind that its cause is a bad one."

Back to previous page

Read the Bill of Rights — Ten Guarantees for American Freedom

1st Amendment

Home | About Us | Date | Participate
Photos | Our American Heritage | Questions?

cfi©2007-2017 | Contact the Webmaster