Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Virginia Baptists Stand Tall for Historical Truth

The Baptist General Association of Virginia, in their annual meeting on Tuesday strongly affirmed their faith heritage and took a stand for historical truth:

Inaccurate history threatens religious liberty

Whereas, the Baptist principles of religious liberty and its safeguard, separation of church and state (or government neutrality toward all religions and nonreligion), are well grounded in this nation’s history, and

Whereas, the labors of Virginians, notably Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, James Madison, and the Baptist minister John Leland, were crucial in the historic events that made these two principles part of our nation’s Bill of Rights, and

Whereas, no people, Baptist or otherwise, can remain true to its principles if its knowledge or collective memory of these principles is tampered with, altered, or replaced by a false version of history, and

Whereas, the Religious Liberty Committee of the Baptist General Association of Virginia has concluded that systematic efforts have been under way in recent decades to write and teach versions of American history that minimize and sometimes deny the historic basis of one or both of the principles named above, and

Whereas, resources are available for correcting any such mistaken history, including a 1999 article by Stephen Stookey of Fort Worth, Texas,
Now therefore be it resolved, that the Baptist General Association of Virginia calls upon Virginia Baptists, and all who cherish religious liberty, (1) to redouble their efforts to know and teach the historical foundation and meaning of the two principles named above, (2) to regard it as a threat to the flourishing of religious liberty when any version of our nation’s history minimizes or denies the historical basis of either of these principles, and (3) to be diligent in resisting and correcting any such mistaken version of our history.

Thanks for Virginia Baptists for leading the way for religious liberty and separation of church and state in the 18th century, and now, again, in the 21st century.

Read the story from Associated Baptist Press.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

"The Christian Right in Context"

Richard T. Hughes, professor of religion at Messiah College and author of Christian America and the Kingdom of God, offers the first in a series of articles addressing "The Christian Right in Context."

In this first article, he outlines why "orthodox Christians" of America's Revolutionary era (which did not include Baptists and Quakers, both groups widely considered heretical by established colonial churches) were hostile to America's founding fathers, feared religious freedom, and "were insistent that the United States should become a Christian nation."

In short, "orthodox Christians" of the late eighteenth century considered America's founding fathers as liberals and heretics with a secular agenda; believed that government sanctioned and controlled religion was necessary for a healthy-functioning society and state; and did not want to relinguish their colonial theocracies.

By way of comparison, the modern Religious Right (orthodox evangelicals) has bestowed sainthood upon America's founding fathers, transforming them from secular, liberal heretics to orthodox Christians; believes that government sanctioned and controlled religion is the answer to modern moral and social ills; and advocates a return to a colonial theocratic model.

Whereas in the late eighteenth century, America's founding fathers (goaded by and allied with Baptists in particular) crushed orthodox dreams of a Christian nation, today's evangelicals (including far too many Baptists) have created mythical, orthodox national founders as a bridge to theocracy.

For national Baptists, the remarkable part of this whitewashing of history is that by marching backward to colonial theocracy, they are blotting out their own faith heritage that shaped their own nation.