Tag: freedom of religion
Globally there are 19 major religions, divided in turn into 10,000 religious groups. Each group claims to be the holder of the Truth. If one of them really holds the Truth, that means there are about 9,999 false religious groups.
One in seven Christians is a victim of persecution worldwide and one in sixteen Christians dies every day for their faith, according to a report published by the Open Doors organization, revealing that Christian persecution has reached the highest level in the last three decades.
Richard Dawkins is arguably the world’s best-known atheist. His 2006 book The God Delusion was a runaway success and widely influential. That’s why theologian Alister McGrath was surprised when a young man told him he became a Christian after reading The God Delusion.
It is no coincidence that the first Baptist church in the United States, the first synagogue, and the first Quaker assembly house are all located in the small American state of Rhode Island. Their existence is due to the influence of Roger Williams, who resolutely upheld the principle of freedom of conscience more than 100 years before it was invoked in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
When the Scottish reformer John Knox, Calvin’s disciple, wrote in 1560 in favour of the death penalty for heretics, he was attacking Sebastian Castellio in particular. John Knox did not know then that he was attacking the father of the idea of religious freedom in Christianity.
“For men’s religion to God is between God and themselves. The king shall not answer for it. Neither may the king be judge between God and man. Let them be heretics, Turks, Jews, or whatsoever, it appertains not to the earthly power to punish them in the least measure. This is made evident to our lord the king by the scriptures.” These are the words that sum up the revolutionary thinking of the Englishman Thomas Helwys, a pioneer of the Baptist Church from the early 17th century.
Seventh-day Adventists consider the issue of religious freedom to be essential to their mission. “Separation of church and state offers the best safeguard for religious liberty and is in harmony with Jesus’ statement in Matthew 22:21: ‘Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s’.”
That fateful day of June 1st, 1660, was not the first time Mary Dyer wound up at the gallows. The previous time, with her hands tied and her face covered by the handkerchief of her former pastor, Reverend John Wilson, she had escaped death by the skin of her teeth, after a death sentence that had already killed two of her dear friends was revoked.
In The Legacy of John Calvin, David W. Hall divides leaders into two categories. Some predict the future, and others change it. Calvin, Hall said, is in the second category.