Daily Riches: The Alternative to Religious Liberty (Robert J. Morgan)

“For years England had seesawed between Catholic and Protestant mandates, depending on the monarch in power. When the king was Catholic, Protestants were burned. When Protestant, Catholics died. In both situations, Puritans and non-Anglicans (Dissenters) were hunted down with such vengeance that they finally rebelled. King Charles I was beheaded, his young son fled to France, and a Puritan government was installed. But the people missed their monarchy, and in 1658 young Charles II headed home from France promising religious liberty. He entered London on his thirtieth birthday, May 29, 1660. Twenty thousand soldiers escorted the young king through flower-strewn streets. Trumpets blared, crowds cheered, bells pealed from every tower. His love life and his dubious faith in God made him the most scandalous leader of his time. But his easy smile and approachability caused few to dislike him. Some did. In 1661 a pack of religious fanatics known as Fifth Monarchy Men tried to overthrow him and set up a kingdom awaiting the return of Christ. They failed, but the experience left Charles more suspicious of Dissenters than ever. Such preachers as John Bunyan found themselves languishing in prison, and a series of laws put the screws to Dissenters. Five different acts were passed: (1) the Corporation Act of 1661 excluded all Dissenters from local government; (2) the Act of Uniformity in 1662 required all ministers to use The Book of Common Prayer as a format for their services. It was this act that drove 2,000 preachers from their pulpits in a single day; (3) the Conventicle Act of 1664, aimed primarily at Baptists, forbade religious meetings by Dissenters; (4) the Five Mile Act of 1665 prohibited dissenting ministers from coming within five miles of any city or town in which they had ministered; and (5) the Test Act of 1673 excluded Catholics from civil and military positions. Baptists, Catholics, Quakers, Presbyterians, and Congregationalists all found themselves again under the lash. In the jail. At the stake.” Robert J. Morgan

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given …
And he will be called …Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 9:6

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you read this story as a frightening example of the legislation of religious bigotry and prejudice? …as violence fueled by fear and intolerance?
  • Is defending the your own religious liberty and that of others who differ from you (like Muslims) important to you? If not, why not?
  • Can you imagine Jesus treating religious bigotry, hatred and intolerance as virtuous?
  • Are you thinking, “This could never happen here?”

Abba, deliver us from the evil one. As people of faith, may we be known as people of love.

For More: On This Day by Robert J. Morgan

_________________________________________________

Thanks for reading/following my blog! –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: Religion, Violence … and Hope (Dan Clendenin and Jonathan Sacks)

“Human beings cannot live without a group identity, and religion might be the most powerful of them all.  By definition, groups require an Us and a Them. …’You’re either for us or against us.’ There’s no middle ground, no subtlety or nuance, only black and white, in and out. By nature, we extend altruism toward my In group, and hostility toward my Out group. Here again the Hebrew revelation subverts our natural inclinations by commending a radical role reversal. Do not oppress the stranger, the people outside your group. Why? Because you know what it’s like to be oppressed as a stranger in a strange land (Exodus 22.21). The Hebrew word ger (alien, immigrant) occurs 92 times in the Jewish Scriptures, along with similar words like toshav (migrant), zar (stranger or outsider), and nocri (foreigner). Don’t oppress the stranger, have mercy on them, remember that you too were once aliens. ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people,’ says Leviticus 19:18, ‘but love your neighbor as yourself.’ Protect the weak, care for widows and orphans, help the poor, speak up for those who have no voice. Do justice, love kindness. Don’t long for power, for you can’t impose faith or truth by force. Religion … is an anti-politics that lives without power. Instead, it persuades by example. Demographers tell us that people of religion will increase in the coming decades, whereas secular populations will decrease. Problems of religiously motivated violence are here to stay, at least in some form. We must reclaim our common humanity that takes precedence over our religious differences. …Ironically, whereas the roots of human violence are found in religion, so too is its subversion, for the original Abrahamic promise was that ‘through you all the families of the earth will be blessed.’  To bless the Other, not to curse him, is the sign and spirit of true faith.” Dan Clendenin

 “In that day Egypt and Assyria … will move freely between their lands, and they will both worship God. In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth. For the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will say, ‘Blessed be Egypt, my people. Blessed be Assyria, the land I have made. Blessed be Israel, my special possession!’” Isaiah 19:23-25

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Do you think in terms of “us” and “them?”
  • Does your political or religious group encourage hate for outsiders?
  • Isaiah reminds us God loves and will bless not only Israelis, but Egyptians and Assyrians. Are you determined to love without borders?

Abba, make my faith subversive to the kingdom of violence.

For More: Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence by Jonathan Sacks

_________________________________________________

Thanks for following and sharing my blog. – Bill