On p. 72, Metaxas praises Roger Williams as a champion of religious liberty. This is correct. Indeed, Rhode Island, the colony Williams helped found, was a place where religious freedom flourished. Yet later in the book, Metaxas sings the praises of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and John Winthrop’s “City on a Hill” as a model of American exceptionalism (more on that in a later post). In the process, he completely ignores the fact that Williams was thrown out of Massachusetts Bay largely because of religious differences with the government. (So were a bunch of other people, including Anne Hutchinson). So much for religious freedom. Metaxas can’t have it both ways.
In fact, there were only a few places in British-America where religious freedom “was paramount.” The colonies of Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and parts of New York celebrated religious freedom.
In New England, the colonies of Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth (before its merger with Massachusetts in 1691), and Connecticut all had state churches in which Congregationalism was the “established” religion. In some cases, these established churches were “manifestly monstrous and destructive to individual freedom.” Mary Dyer, for example, was one of four Quakers executed for their faith by the champions of John Winthrop’s “City on a Hill.”
Thursday, July 7, 2016
Fea: "Review of Eric Metaxas, 'If You Can Keep It': Part 3"
Check it out here.