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The Virginia Baptists
Volume 75, Program 31
7/2/2007
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How much religious freedom did the first American colonists have? Michael Farris gives an answer on today’s Home School Heartbeat, as he reads from his new book, From Tyndale to Madison.

Mike Farris:
Today it’s common to view the original Jamestown settlement of Virginia as essentially nonreligious. It was true, of course, that Virginia was not settled by those seeking to establish religious liberty. For that matter, the Massachusetts Puritans were not seeking religious liberty either. The Puritans indeed sought religious sanctuary for themselves, but not religious liberty for all.

Virginia’s Anglicans and Massachusetts’ Puritans differed in some of the particulars of their doctrinal positions. Both sets of churchmen steadfastly believed in compelled religious uniformity, just like the practice back in England.

By the 1760s, the Baptists of Virginia had become the colony’s most-persecuted sect.

In 1772, the Virginia Gazette opined that the Baptists imprisoned in Caroline County were perfectly free to hold their private opinions, but when it came to preaching publicly, the legislature was likewise perfectly within its rights to establish religion and set bounds for its toleration.

In the eyes of authorities, it was the epitome of stubborn ingratitude for unlicensed Baptists to preach. Yet in the eyes of many Baptists, to merely apply for a license was to acknowledge the legitimacy of the government’s control over religion, which they decried as a surrender of God’s sole prerogative to Caesar.

I’m Mike Farris.


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From Tyndale to Madison

by
Michael Farris

From the remarkable translation work of William Tyndale to the court intrigues of Henry VIII and Thomas More, the battle for the English Bible culminates in the venerable King James Version. Also detailed is the spread of the Reformation through the eyes of Martin Luther, John Knox, and John Calvin—in their own, often surprising words. Read their incredible story.

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