Bravo to the author of the Wednesday letter, “Despite ad, not a religious holiday.” I too was disturbed by the full-page Fourth of July advertisement arguing that the United States must be a “Christian” nation.
I am particularly concerned about the efforts of some conservative Christian groups to equate their brand of religion with patriotism. The implicit conclusion of the ad was that adherents to other religions and the unchurched are somehow suspect as citizens.
The ad referenced selected historical quotes, but failed to mention that the “freedom of religion” clause in the First Amendment to the Constitution was heavily supported by the conservative, evangelical Baptists of the 18th Century, who were often deprived of civil rights and privileges by the official, state-endorsed, Anglican Church of Colonial times. James Madison, who played a major role in framing the First Amendment, had witnessed first-hand the persecution of Baptists in Virginia and was therefore committed to ending all religious discrimination in the newly-formed United States.
How ironic that some of today’s spiritual heirs to the early Baptist tradition are attempting to curtail freedom of religion in the public square by conflating Christianity with patriotism.
Francis J. Lynch