"Religious matters are to be separated from the jurisdiction of the state, not because they are beneath the interests of the state but, quite to the contrary, because they are too high and holy and thus are beyond the competence of the state."
"God has appointed two kinds of government in the world, which are distinct in their nature, and ought never to be confounded together; one of which is called civil, the other ecclesiastical government."
Isaac Backus, colonial Baptist from New England, "An Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty." The entire piece is now available online.
In America, we now live in a time when many members of the majority faith (Christianity) believe that the government should show favoritism toward the majority faith.
Just this weekend I engaged in a spirited conversation with a Christian who insisted that Christian-only prayers and religious displays should be allowed in government-sponsored venues and buildings, such as public schools and courthouses. Those of other faith persuasions, she declared, should just "put up with it" and "look the other way" or not pay attention to government-mandated displays of Christian faith, instead of protesting in the court system.
Our Baptist forebears believed that government-mandated or favored faith was false faith. Only voluntary faith, made possible by freedom of conscience, could be true faith.
The same is true today. Thanks to our faithful Baptist ancestors who did not "put up with" government-mandated "Christian" religion, America today is a land of religious freedom and separation of church and state where we celebrate freedom of conscience and are able to freely exercise our faith in private and public.