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Friday, June 22, 2007

Baptists and Religious Liberty

Baptists and others who love religious liberty will gather on the steps of the Capitol next weekend to to show support for the separation of church and state. This rally will be held in conjunction with the General Assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and is sponsored by the Baptist Joint Committee. Don Byrd of Blog from the Capital has more:
On a Sunday afternoon in May 1920, a 53-year-old Baptist preacher from Dallas, Texas, climbed the east steps of the U.S. Capitol to address a throng of some 10,000 onlookers in town for the meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. His purpose — to rally support for religious liberty and its constitutional corollary, the separation of church and state.

The crowd heard a masterful call for true religious liberty, not the veiled contempt expressed in the “mere toleration” of others’ religious views. “Toleration is a concession, while liberty is a right,” the speaker said.

That sermon delivered by George W. Truett has continued to have a profound impact on Baptists and others for decades, including Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Texas, who received the text of the sermon from a friend more than a decade ago. The sermon “haunted” and “inspired” Edwards and caused him to change his political priorities. Edwards is now one of the fiercest champions of religious liberty on Capitol Hill.

Edwards will be on hand, as well as Rep. Robert C. Scott, D-Va., and a host of other religious and educational leaders representing an array of Baptists, as the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty hosts a Baptist Unity Rally for Religious Liberty at 8 a.m. on Friday, June 29. The event will be held at Fountain Plaza of Upper Senate Park, adjacent to the U.S. Capitol and the Russell Senate Office Building.

Leaders from across the country will celebrate Truett’s contribution to religious freedom and the Baptist distinctive of religious liberty for all by reading excerpts of Truett’s sermon.

For text of the sermon, titled “Baptists and Religious Liberty,” visit the Baptist Joint Committee Web site at http://www.bjconline.org/resources/pubs/pub_truett_address.htm .

Count me in! I'll likely be worthless and half-awake at 8am. But I'll be there.

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