Monday, November 29, 2004

Thanksgiving in Maryland

Supposedly, a commitment to secular education and a reduction of religious content in the classroom requires Maryland to strike mention of the religious aspects of the first Thanksgiving from the lesson plan.

A commitment to secular education and the separation of church and state require that it be taught.

The English colonies prospered because a broad section of the wealth and society of England were committed in the Americas. English colonies were not operated as a royal business, as with Spanish and French colonies, but as thriving communities living under the English Crown.

This was uniquely possible in the English colonies because of the religious repression in England during the 17th century. As the Crown and Parliament settled on one faction of one denomination, discordant groups were urged to either submit or take exile. Because the area of contention was personal conscience, the dispute affected all social and economic classes. Great Catholic lords, and Quaker friends of Court, as well as Puritan merchants and clerks sought refuge in America.

The various colonies were not beacons of tolerance. They determined to create intolerant communities of the untolerated, isolated in the wilderness. Any who dissented could leave, and expulsion was a formal penalty in some places.

But the similar problems of an import economy, unwelcome environment, and hostile neighbors, as well as common origins, provided a framework for cooperation among the colonies. They came to work together directly, because issues of religious contention could be put aside to resolve civic concerns, so long as individual conscience was firmly respected.

The guarantees of individual liberties and ban on government interference on religion are so strong in this country, because religious liberty was once prized above all other concerns. That is a simple lesson that deserves to be taught, not ignored out of cowardice.

2 comments:

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southern living at home catalog said...

I don't read *that* many blogs – but it's exciting how much you pick up about southern colonies! I remember learning a theory about southern colonies in one of my psychology classes which said that people prefer things to either be either new and simple, or familiar and complex. Blogger, do you think that applies here?