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Religious freedoms, a divorce, and American History

September 15, 2015

Those who know me, know I’m a history geek and an avid reader. Combine that with my Kindle and some great Kindle deals through @Kindle4Christ and other resources, I’m a reading maniac lately.

So, why the title? Interesting timing? Nope, it just seemed that we’ve gone off the collective deep end in some aspects that we truly have forgotten where we came from as a nation. Religious freedom didn’t exist as people would rather argue. Intra-denomination arguments were often bloody, not just in words but in deeds. That got me thinking even more; after all, God created us with intellect and reason as well. Shouldn’t we use them?

I had a head-hurting, wrap-your-brain- around-it revelation this morning. Amid all the celebrity style recognition lately regarding a Kentucky official refusing to issue a governmental marriage license, another thought came to mind. It’s historical, but not for what one might think. Especially if one believes that the clerk should simply have resigned. There’s a precedent for it, she may have even been more respected for it. Instead, it became a crossroads of religious freedom and personal convictions. Why? Here’s where I started grieving our collective lack of using those critical thinking skills which our Creator endowed us with. Historically, look back at where we claim our religious freedom from in both pre-colonial and post American Revolution (yeah, bear with this history geek, particularly with the rambling of church history and American history) and notice the difference.

During our Pre-colonial days, most church congregations were of some Protestant denomination. Quite a few were affilated with the Church of England (by definition, no longer Catholic due to King Henry VIII’s disagreement with the Pope). I’m going to generalize a bit, but the end result is that in the colonies, if you were affiliated with the Church of England you recognized the King as the head of your church. Both politically and religiously. If you a were part of other Protestant denominations, you were most likely considered a traitor, a criminal, a heretic (the list can go on and on) and would be persecuted as such.

After the Revolution, the Church of England (remember the King of England’s role) in “these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States” no longer held the political influence of England. Many of those churches remained linked by doctrine to the Church of England through the Anglican Communion (doctrine but not recognizing the King of England as leader of the church). Persecution of other denominations still took place. It wasn’t until the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that such provided protection to worship as we see fit.

So, taking this forward two centuries, what does this mean? Where’s the idea of religious freedom and Protestantism in American history? Where’s the mind numbing revelation amid the babble?

Simply this. Had King Henry VIII not seceeded from the Roman Catholic Church in 1534, because the Pope wouldn’t grant him a divorce, then we wouldn’t have the Protestant movement in the colonies as we know them now, and religious freedom, had we lost the American Revolution, wouldn’t be what we know it today. If you think we’re persecuted for our beliefs, I might argue otherwise. I don’t think it’s as much as persecution in our country as it is Biblical and historical illiteracy that others choose to attack. We do a horrible job defending what we can’t define.

And it can be traced back to one King, one Pope, power, politics, and a divorce.

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