[S]pecific laws affecting Catholics, Jews and Quakers, such as the Sunday laws and the laws relating to military service, were an attempt by the polity to address the conflict between religious freedom and civil order that Williams addressed so eloquently in his voluminous writings. Moreover, no law was ever enacted in Rhode Island prohibiting a particular religion or providing for the persecution of persons based on their faith.An interesting take on the distinctive approach to religious liberty found in Rhode Island's history. Well worth a read.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
The role of Rhode Island in the story of religious liberty
Law professor Scott Dougls Gerber has a short reflection on that topic in the Providence Journal: Law and the lively experiment in colonial Rhode Island. As Gerber points out, Rhode Island's commitment to religious liberty was far from universal (Catholics, Jews and Quakers were subject to government and social discrimination in the colony). Yet, the colony did provide for greater religious liberty protections than the other American colonies at the time, and even the official discrimination against disfavored believers was grounded in an effort to ensure social order at a minimum disruption in the lives of those considered to be subject to government sanction for their religious practices. As Gerber writes,