Religious Liberty: An Emotional Issue Still Not Settled
When Baptists set forth a call for religious liberty, they were seeking freedom to hold their religious beliefs as an alternative to the doctrines of the established church. But there was a risk involved. Total freedom of religion could become freedom from religion. For many religious liberty really means the opportunity to choose what form of religion one wants, assuming that biblical Christianity is correct and will in the Providence of God always predominate. It must be asked whether any Christian, most of all the Baptists, could by choice want to live in a society where “secular humanism” is the prevailing world view. A variety of statements by Baptists on religious liberty both historical and contemporary consider the subject area.
Roger Williams fled Massachusetts and founded Rhode Island colony in pursuit of religious liberty.
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 be 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 God’s Spirit, the Word of God.
God requires not a uniformity of religion to be enacted and enforced in any civil state; which enforced uniformity, sooner or later, is the greatest occasion of civil war, ravishing of conscience, persecution of Christ Jesus in his servants, and of the hypocrisy and destruction of millions of souls.
The permission of other consciences and worships than a state professeth only can, according to God, procure a firm and lasting peace …
Source: (1644) The Bloudy Tenant of Persecution
Thomas Helwys ...