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TexasBred
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Postby TexasBred » Mon Jan 12, 2015 10:11 am

Protestant American has not always believed in "religious freedom".


The history of Colonial England in America is one of great irony: The same Protestant groups who fled England in pursuit of toleration and religious liberty brought with them an utter hatred for the Church. They installed laws and customs that excluded Catholics from all aspects of public life for over a century and a half.

This reality makes the story of Catholics in the first days of Maryland all the more remarkable. From its founding, Maryland was intended to be a place where Catholics were welcomed and permitted to share in the dream of a new life which brought so many others to America. What happened to the Catholics who pursued that dream is a reminder that the freedoms we take for granted today were hard-won by those who came before us.
A Haven for Catholics

As children used to learn in American schools, the first permanent English settlement was made in 1607 at Jamestown, Virginia. Other colonies soon followed along the Atlantic seaboard. In 1620, a group of Pilgrims—ardent Puritans who rejected what they considered Roman influences in the Church of England—left England to escape religious conformity. They sailed from England on the famed Mayflower, arrived at Plymouth, Massachusetts, and set about to forge a place for themselves. These two groups, in Virginia and Massachusetts, proved the vanguard of what became the 13 colonies.

The religious toleration that was a hallmark of most of the colonies did not extend to Catholics. Most of the inhabitants of the colonies had grown up in a world filled with animosity for the Church of Rome and were conditioned to fear and despise the Catholic Church by Elizabethan propaganda and England’s struggle against the Catholic powers of Europe. Not surprisingly, then, anti-Catholic laws, disabilities, and hatred permeated almost all of the English colonies. One remarkable exception was Maryland.

Maryland is rightly honored as the one place in the colonies where Catholics could live in comparative religious freedom in America. But even there the freedoms enjoyed by Catholics proved fleeting.

Credit for the Catholic colony belongs to one man: George Calvert, First Lord Baltimore. A talented English business leader and a friend to Kings James I and Charles I, Calvert in 1624 converted to Catholicism. The decision cost him his seat in Parliament and his state office, but he resigned them willingly because he believed so firmly in the truths of the Church. His winning personality also helped him retain favor at the royal court. This proved crucial, as Calvert soon felt the harsh penal laws against Catholics and he committed himself to aiding his fellow believers. One of those ways was through a colony in the New World.

While historians are of differing opinions as to whether Calvert was concerned first and foremost with a commercial enterprise or with a sanctuary for Catholics, the idea of a colony for Catholics soon took shape. The first chosen site was in Newfoundland, but this proved financially impractical (and the winter utterly intolerable). Ironically, too, the fledgling colony was attacked by the nearby Catholic French. Virginia was the next possibility, but the furious resistance of the Protestants blocked the scheme. Undaunted, Calvert petitioned for a charter to start a colony north of Virginia, but he died in April 1632. A few months later, on June 20, 1632, a charter for the Maryland Colony was granted to his son, Caecilius (or Cecil) Calvert, Second Lord Baltimore. The colony was named in honor of Charles I’s queen, Henrietta Maria.

On March 25, 1634, two small ships, the Ark and the Dove, landed at St. Clement’s Island in southern Maryland. On board were the colony’s first settlers, led by Leonard Calvert, Cecil Calvert’s younger brother. The group consisted of 17 gentlemen, their wives, and their households. Most of the servants were Protestants. The first Catholic Mass in the colonies was said by Jesuit Fr. Andrew White; other Jesuits in the group included Fr. John Altham and Br. Thomas Gervase.
Freedom of Religion

But Maryland was not exclusively for Catholics. Calvert was a realist, and he knew that the long-term chances of the colony were better if it observed genuine religious liberty. Calvert was also not stupid. He was aware that from the start the Catholics—even in a Catholic colony—would be outnumbered by Protestants. This meant that that toleration of Catholics would always be precarious, even in a colony founded by them. Prior to their departure to America, then, the first colonists for Maryland were cautioned by Lord Cecil about how they should behave. He declared:

His lord requires his said governor and commissioners that in their voyage to Mary Land they be very careful to preserve unity and peace amongst all the passengers on ship-board, and that they suffer no scandal nor offense to be given to any of the Protestants . . . and that for that end, they cause all acts of Roman Catholic religion to be done as privately as may be, and that they instruct all the Roman Catholics to be silent upon all occasions of discourse concerning matters of religion and that the said governor and commissioners treat the Protestants with as much mildness as justice will permit.

To help insure religious peace, the decree of Calvert was used as the basic modus vivendiin the early years. In effect, before Roger Williams had even fled the intolerant atmosphere of Massachusetts and set up Rhode Island as a haven from the Puritans, Calvert had established Maryland as a place where people of all faiths were welcome.

After five years, a more formal document proved desirable, so in 1639, the Maryland Assembly decreed that “Holy churches within this province shall have all their rights and liberties.” The decree was a timely one: In England the political and religious situation was fast deteriorating. Relations between King Charles I and Parliament, always strained, erupted in 1642 in bloody civil war. The grim conflict raged until 1649 when the king was deposed and beheaded, after which the rabid anti-Catholic Oliver Cromwell emerged as Lord Protector from 1653 until his death in 1658.

The colonies in America were themselves convulsed by the upheaval in England, and Calvert’s support of King Charles put Maryland at risk of attack by its Protestant neighbors. The assault came in 1645, led by a Protestant trader and tobacco dealer named Richard Ingle. After his dealings with the Catholic leaders of Maryland soured, he fled the colony and secured support from nearby Protestants and returned with a small anti-Catholic army and the less-than-subtly-named ship Reformation. Ingle attacked St. Mary’s City in 1645 and caused nearly two years of utter chaos. Jesuit priests were seized and sent in chains to England, and Catholic property was plundered and burned. Hated by Catholic and Protestant Marylanders alike, Ingle was given the title of “that ungrateful Villagine.” Most Marylanders considered him nothing less than a pirate. At last, Calvert returned with an army in 1646 and restored some semblance of order.

A Diminishing Toleration

To ease the religious situation and encourage settlers to invest in rebuilding the devastated colony, in 1649 the Maryland Assembly passed the “Acts Concerning Religion,” generally called the Act of Toleration. Its goal was to prevent religious strife from destroying Maryland. Its terms were fairly simple but still striking. It prohibited the molestation of anyone who professed belief in Jesus Christ and it guaranteed freedom to worship. Written in plain legal language, the decree nevertheless anticipated the principles of religious toleration that became the bedrock of the United States’ approach to religion.

Sadly, the situation in England and the colonies only grew worse in the years after the beheading of King Charles I. The Commonwealth of England that existed from 1649 to 1660 was marked by a return to severe anti-Catholicism, and the same spirit was encouraged in the colonies. In 1654, Protestants overthrew the proprietary government of Maryland. The new regime outlawed the Catholic faith and repealed the Act of Toleration of 1649. Only in 1658 was the Calvert family able to regain control and re-institute the Toleration Act. During the Restoration period and the reign of King Charles II (1661-1685), the Calverts remained in fragile control of the colony. With the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688-1689 and the overthrow of the Catholic King James II, however, the Calverts’ days were numbered. Within two years, Maryland had been seized and declared a royal colony. In 1692 Anglicanism was decreed the official religion of state.

In 1704, the Assembly passed “An Act to Prevent the Growth of Popery within this Province” targeting the Jesuits in Maryland. It forbade any “Popish Bishop, Priest, or Jesuite” from proselytizing, baptizing any person other than those with “Popish Parents,” or saying Mass. By another statute in 1704, Mass could be said only in private homes. Additional laws prohibited Catholics from practicing law and from teaching children. Severe taxes were imposed on hiring Irish “Papist” servants as a move to discourage Irish immigration. In 1718, Catholics were stripped of their right to vote as all voters were required to take various test oaths that included deliberately anti-Catholic declarations.
Cradle of Faith

The great Maryland experiment was at an end, and it wasn’t until the middle of the 18th century that Catholics were permitted to practice their faith openly. Still, the courage of the Maryland Catholics had planted the faith permanently in English America. In 1708, there were 2,974 Catholics in Maryland out of a total population of 40,000. By 1785, there were 15,800 Catholics, making them the largest group of Catholics anywhere in the colonies. Out of this cradle of faith emerged some of the most important and revered figures in American Catholic history, including John Carroll, the Father of the American Church and the first bishop and archbishop of Baltimore. But Catholic Maryland also pointed the way to America’s future and the legacy of religious tolerance and pluralism. John Tracy Ellis, the famed historian of American Catholicism, wrote:

For the first time in history there was a real prospect for a duly constituted government under which all Christians would possess equal rights, where all churches would be tolerated, and where none would be the agent of the government . . . to the "land of sanctuary" came Puritans fleeing persecution in Virginia and Anglicans escaping from the same threat in Massachusetts. This policy of religious tolerance has rightly been characterized as "the imperishable glory of Lord Baltimore and of the State."
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Postby burnt » Sun Jan 18, 2015 3:12 pm

Texasbred - thanks for an interesting read that provides another perspective. Trouble is that it caused me to do hours of reading into early American religious history. There is a lot of stuff there of which most of us are ignorant. For instance, I learned that years ago Jefferson gave recognition to the Muslim “faith” and that for years, America paid a "protection tribute" to the (Muslim) States of Barbary before throwing off that bondage in the early nineteenth century.

The Catholics in that time and place certainly found themselves in a most uncomfortable and unfamiliar position - that of, as a group, being on the receiving end of grossly unjust treatment, at least as a rather cursory review of that situation would indicate.

It gives rise to the question of what might have happened had the Church of Rome adopted a broader view several hundred years earlier and allowed freedom to worship as directed by one's conscience.

The current absence of consensus, among Roman Catholics, which stems from the Vatican II discussion of free will, specifically, the right of a person not to be coerced in matters of religion, indicates that the Church of Rome has undergone (willingly or otherwise!) a very necessary re-evaluation of appropriate application of its dogmas on this issue.

Can God's grace ever be imposed on another? Is it ever right to lift the sword in the name of the King of Peace? Well, the historical record would indicate that both Catholic and Reform thinking vigorously employed "active enforcement" in both the Old and New Worlds.

There was, however, a mindset that consistently and almost invariably believed that humans should be allowed to act on their inherent will and conduct their lives according to their own conscience as guided by the Living Word. These people who were of Quaker, Anabaptist and Moravian beliefs, were a people of peace and allowed themselves to be wronged rather than take any action that might bring any form of harm to another human.

Therefore, could any one group to claim that they were the progenitor of faith or originator of religious liberty in the New World without being presumptuous or even arrogant?

Indeed, when we strip away all the rhetoric and whitewash that obfuscates the early realities of religious experience in North America, we discover some repugnant carryover from the Old World. And while there was a sea-change in who apparently held the "upper hand", it did not necessarily translate into general religious freedom. In view of that reality, is there such a thing as a "Christian nation"?

Or should the name "Christian" be reserved for the one who by virtue of the totality of his/her faith and actions earns such a distinction?

Freedom from bondage belongs to those who recognize Jesus as Lord over all!
"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root". Henry D. Thoreau.

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Postby burnt » Sun Jan 18, 2015 6:44 pm

January 18: 1562: "The Council of Trent - called by the popes to deal with the monumental problems caused by the Reformation - reconvened, following a suspension of ten years." (StudyLight.org) (A continuation of the same Council noted last week)

Do you want to adopt a prayer of complete dedication?

January 19, 1774: "Pioneer Methodist bishop Francis Asbury wrote in his journal: 'Lord, ever draw my heart after thee! May I see no beauty in any other object, nor desire anything but thee!' " (SLO)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQksth7HSeA

January 19, 1852, a party of British sailors found the body of Captain Allen Gardiner, a gentle captain who held hope for a savage people group of whom Charles Darwin despaired of bringing into "civilization". In the end, hope won out over broken human nature!

http://www.christianity.com/church/chur ... 30489.html

This always blows me away!!! -

January 20, 1669: "Birth of Susannah Annesley, "Mother of Methodism." Born the 25th child in her family, she married Samuel Wesley in 1689 and bore him 19 children, the last two being John (1703) and Charles (1707) Wesley." (SLO) Can't imagine Christmas Dinner if the whole family came home...

January 21, 1525:" History's first Anabaptist baptismal service took place in Zurich, Switzerland, when Conrad Grebel (re-)baptized George Blaurock." (SLO)

http://www.anabaptists.org/history/anastory.html
"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root". Henry D. Thoreau.

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Postby TexasBred » Mon Jan 19, 2015 2:26 pm


Not everything uttered or written by a pope, theologian, saint, council, doctor of the Church, etc. is dogma.

Not all papal writings / utterances are considered "dogma" or are protected by infallibility.

Even the greatest theologians and saints have been wrong on some points - and even popes (when not speaking infallibly) have sometimes been wrong. Clearly, one must learn to separate private opinions from true Church dogma. This is best facilitated by looking to what the Church has always held to be true.

Priests - and even bishops and cardinals - do not always expound true Catholic dogma, especially in today's age. As indicated above, one must learn to separate private opinions from true Church dogma. Again, this is best facilitated by examining what the Church has always held to be true.

Certain practices of the church - e.g. fasting regulations - (and not dogma or doctrine) are subject to change. Such changes, however, should only be made for the glory of God and for the good of the Church and of souls.
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Postby Martin Jr. » Tue Jan 20, 2015 1:46 am

Just one question: Where in the bible does it say that we should be able to worship as directed by one's own conscience?

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Postby burnt » Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:01 am

Martin Jr. wrote:Just one question: Where in the bible does it say that we should be able to worship as directed by one's own conscience?



Well Martin Jr., I'm surprised that you haven't seen it yourself!

It's right between the verses where smoking is forbidden and where we are commanded to baptize babies!

:wink:

Seriously though, what alternatives do you suggest, and what measures do you suggest to enforce them?
"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root". Henry D. Thoreau.

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Postby burnt » Tue Jan 20, 2015 7:26 am

January 20, 1758" "English founder of Methodism John Wesley wrote in a letter: 'I cannot think of you, without thinking of God. Others often lead me to Him, as it were, going round about. You bring me straight into His presence.' "

This quote from a letter written by John Wesley merits its own space in this thread. It makes me wonder - WHO was the person to whom Wesley was writing that s/he should earn such a distinction? What kind of character must that person have possessed to be such a channel into God's presence?

And from there I am faced with the question - how well I reflect the person of Christ to those around me?

It is only when one becomes emptied of all self-serving attitude that the life of Christ is clearly shown through his or her life. Thus, I'm deeply challenged...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZml99Vz6LQ
"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root". Henry D. Thoreau.

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Postby Martin Jr. » Tue Jan 20, 2015 8:09 am

As Catholics, we believe in an informed conscience. One based on long held beliefs as taught by the Apostles and the early Church.

To rely on the bible alone leaves out a lot of teaching.


As Christians, we all should be ambassadors of Christ, reflecting His goodness. I know I often fall short of that, as many do.

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Postby TexasBred » Tue Jan 20, 2015 4:39 pm

burnt wrote:
Martin Jr. wrote:Just one question: Where in the bible does it say that we should be able to worship as directed by one's own conscience?



Well Martin Jr., I'm surprised that you haven't seen it yourself!

It's right between the verses where smoking is forbidden and where we are commanded to baptize babies!

:wink:

Seriously though, what alternatives do you suggest, and what measures do you suggest to enforce them?


And those are right after the verses about "ages of accountability"

Does this still hold true of the Anabaptist?

They taught that a man was free to believe according to the dictates of his conscience, even though he may be wrong.
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Postby burnt » Tue Jan 20, 2015 9:19 pm

TexasBred wrote:
burnt wrote:
Martin Jr. wrote:Just one question: Where in the bible does it say that we should be able to worship as directed by one's own conscience?



Well Martin Jr., I'm surprised that you haven't seen it yourself!

It's right between the verses where smoking is forbidden and where we are commanded to baptize babies!

:wink:

Seriously though, what alternatives do you suggest, and what measures do you suggest to enforce them?


And those are right after the verses about "ages of accountability"

Does this still hold true of the Anabaptist?

They taught that a man was free to believe according to the dictates of his conscience, even though he may be wrong.


Who made that statement and of what context were they speaking? You can easily understand how that would work out if the audience was comprised of either a group of hardcore criminals or people of good social conscience.

In any case, would that statement differ from the conclusion reached by the most astute, but now-deceased Roman Catholic apologist Leslie Rumble - "...we may conclude from Our Lord's words to St. Peter that it is unlawful and futile for us to attempt to spread Christianity by force, the Church, as the kingdom of heaven on earth, being not of the world." ...

- even though he occasionally chaffed at Vatican II - DIGNITATIS HUMANAE - which here stated:

"2. This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.

The council further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself.(2) This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right."

If nothing else, this certainly reminds me of the need to allow my life to be directed by the Spirit of Christ, as Martin Jr. earlier intimated, while humbly living with the knowledge that we are fallible.
"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root". Henry D. Thoreau.

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Postby burnt » Sun Jan 25, 2015 3:05 pm

January 25, 1534: "German Reformer Martin Luther gave his understanding of "conversion" in a sermon: 'To be converted to God means to believe in Christ, to believe that He is our Mediator and that we have eternal life through Him.' " (StudyLight.org)

Good words, and there is no better evidence of such a belief than when it is accompanied by a life that reflects the nature of Jesus and what he taught.

So, where is the balance between living by faith and maintaining a life that follows the teaching of Jesus? Well, have a look at what this man said a couple hundred years later:

January 26, 1779: "Pioneer American Methodist bishop Francis Asbury wrote in his journal: 'We should so work as if we were to be saved by our works; and so rely on Jesus Christ, as if we did no works.'" (SLO)

However, the question of human responsibility for one's own wrong-doing or right actions was around long before Luther or Asbury made their statements, as is shown in this article:

January 27, 417, Pope Innocent I excommunicates Pelagius...

In the 5th century, a man named Pelagius promoted the opinion that human nature was essentially good and that we could elevate ourselves by exercising severe self control. This stood in direct conflict with general human experience as well as what Jesus said to Nicodemus, the religious leader, "You must be born again", an action that means replacing our broken nature with the divine nature as a gift of the Holy Spirit. But this link explains it better -

http://www.christianity.com/church/chur ... 29693.html

On January 28, 1822 was born a future hymn writer who must have believed that "holy living" was something in which we could participate... his most popular hymn had some pretty solid advice on what one could do to enter into a life that God could bless and would lead to eternal life.

"Birth of William D. Longstaff, English philanthropist. A close acquaintance of Dwight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey, Longstaff is better remembered today as author of the hymn, "Take Time to Be Holy." " (SLO)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFApbg-wcmE

January 30, 1750: "In Colonial America, Rev. Jonathan Mayhew of Boston delivered a sermon entitled, "Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission." The sermon attacked both the divine right of kings and ecclesiastical absolutism." (SLO)

January 30, 1788: "Pioneer American Methodist bishop Francis Asbury wrote in his journal: 'Alas for the rich! They are so soon offended.' " (SLO)


January 31, 1949: "American missionary and Auca Indian martyr Jim Elliot wrote in his journal: 'One does not surrender a life in an instant - that which is lifelong can only be surrendered in a lifetime.' " (SLO)
"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root". Henry D. Thoreau.

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Postby TexasBred » Tue Jan 27, 2015 2:47 pm

burnt wrote:
"2. This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.

The council further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself.(2) This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right."

If nothing else, this certainly reminds me of the need to allow my life to be directed by the Spirit of Christ, as Martin Jr. earlier intimated, while humbly living with the knowledge that we are fallible.


This has nothing to do with "believing whatever you wish even if it's wrong". This is all about the Church's support for the protection of religious liberty from the state.
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