Saturday, October 8, 2011

This Day in History October 9, 1635

I have very strong feelings about the story I will cover today.  It is ironic that the pianist Roger Williams passed away yesterday, but now today's history moment involves another Roger Williams.  This is a story that touched me deeply when I read about it in high school, and there are probably too many kids growing up today who do not know it!

Roger Williams (1603-1683) was born in London.  He studied to become a clergyman, and in 1630, he and his wife left for Massachusetts. He struggled to find a church where he would be content to serve as minister. He finally became an assistant minister at the Salem  church.  He had some unusual teachings that got him in trouble.  I won't go into details, but the Massachusetts authorities were not happy.

On this day in 1635, he was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  He went over to Rhode Island and founded Providence.  He worked as a farmer, an Indian trader, a civil magistrate, and even an author! His quest for spiritual perfection made him first a Baptist and then a Seeker.  I thought it was funny that he would not pray with his own wife since he didn't consider her completely regenerate.  Ladies, I don't think that would be something you should try with your husbands--I can't imagine his wife was totally happy about this.

He was the first proponent of the separation of church and state in this country.  He did work hard to pass strict but fair laws in Providence.  It was the one place in the colonies, however, where religious tolerance was acceptable.  He actually served as the president of the colony, and he worked hard to keep things fair for everyone living there.  It was in Providence that he died.

I don't know about you, but in spite of any strange views that Roger Williams had, at least he believed in the freedom of religion and the separation of church and state.  I think we as a country owe him a lot.  Although I don't like the current trend of this country that says that preaches religious tolerance unless you are a Christian.  I am certain Williams himself would be pretty unhappy by that as well.

For more information, check out this site.


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