Subscribe to RSS - John Leland

Retreating Or Repositioning?: Southern Baptists And The ‘Culture War’

When the Religious Right started to become a prominent force in American politics in the late 1970s, its advocates had a major impact on the country’s largest Protestant denomination: the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

Younger readers may be surprised to read that the SBC, which claims 16 million members, used to be fairly moderate on social issues. It strongly supported the separation of church and state, citing historical Baptist leaders like John Leland and Isaac Backus. Read more

Superb Statute: Celebrate Religious Liberty January 16

Jan. 16 is National Religious Freedom Day.

The day was created by Congress in 1993, and every year the president issues a proclamation. (The 2011 proclamation hasn’t been released yet, but you can read the 2010 one here.) The day is designed to commemorate the passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom on Jan. 16, 1786. Read more

Leland’s Lost Legacy: Southern Baptists Honor Foe Of Church-State Separation

Poor John Leland. He must be spinning like a top in his grave in Cheshire Cemetery in Cheshire, Mass.

You may not know Elder Leland, but you ought to. He was a Baptist preacher and great stalwart of civil and religious liberty in our nation’s founding period. An ardent ally and supporter of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, he railed against government meddling in matters of faith and demanded a complete separation of religion and government. Read more