Friday, June 3, 2011

Quote of the day: American independence and religious liberty

"When I signed the Declaration of Independence I had in view not only our independence from England but the toleration of all sects."

- Charles Carroll of Carrollton, letter to G.W. Parke Custis, February 20, 1829, quoted in The Essential Wisdom of the Founding Fathers, edited by Carol Kelly-Gangi (Fall River Press:  2009), pg. 31. 

Carroll (1737-1832), a member of the Maryland planter aristocracy, was the only Roman Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence.


Angie Van De Merwe said...

I think this is pertinant to today's "culture wars", because when public policy is defined on "God's will", it becomes dangerous in today's world of religious ideology.

Religion systemizes "faith" in such a way that it inevitably politicizes it. And when the metaphysical becomes the definer of policy, then our country is headed down some stormy, turbulant roads, that paved the way to heresy trials..and other such things that men determined not by the "real world", but a supernatural one...the "real" becomes a matter of imagination, and speculaton, and not a matter of "real world" realities...

Our nation needs to focus on the problems at home, before we loose the ability to survive.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Mark: A very good reason Charles Carroll wrote that.

By the mid-1700s, Maryland had been swamped with demographic majority of [Virginia, I believe] Protestants, who set about persecuting Catholics.

Carroll's father wrote him:

"Maryland is no longer a fit place for a Catholic to live in."

Fascinating bit of little-known history.

Maryland was converted into a Royal colony, and a governor was sent over from
England. Encouraged by the English government, the new provincial authorities
now began a reign of bigotry and intolerance that ended only with the
Revolutionary War. Catholics in Maryland were deprived of every vestige of the
religious freedom they had extended to others. It became a penal offense for
them even to send their children to France to be educated in the Catholic faith.
The purpose was to drive the Catholics out of Maryland entirely. Charles
Carroll, father of Carroll of Carrollton, wrote, "Maryland is no longer a fit
place for a Catholic to live in."