Baptists then and now

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Here’s what Baptists used to sound like:

Your petitioners believe that all mankind are entitled to equal rights and privileges, esp. the rights of conscience…and that all human laws which obliged a man to worship in any lawfully prescribed mode, time, or place or which compel him to pay taxes or in any way to assist in the support of a religious teacher unless on his voluntary contract, are unjust and oppressive.

Here’s what they tend to sound like now:

The dust is settling on the “bipartisan” stimulus bill and one thing is clear: it is anti-religious.

Yes, both the House and Senate bills have a provision that prohibits federal dollars for higher education construction grants to be used for:

“…modernization, renovation, or repair of facilities–used for sectarian instruction, religious worship…or a school or department of divinity; or in which a substantial portion of the functions of the facilities are subsumed in a religious mission.”

You would think the ACLU drafted this bill…

Actually, it would be nice to think that that provision in the bill was drafted–or at least supported–by the sectarian heirs of the first passage above, taken from “The Remonstrance and Petition of a Convention of Elders and Brethren of the Baptist denomination assembled at Bristol [CT] on the first Wednesday of February, 1803.” Those elders and brethren wanted no part of Connecticut’s Standing Order, which provided tax monies for the support of religious institutions, including their own. Not until 1818 were they able to prevail on the state to do away with its religious establishment. 

As for the second passage, that comes from erstwhile Baptist pastor and GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, seeking to gin up partisan opposition to the stimulus bill among his bloggy flock. Yes, there are Baptists who still cleave to the old-time separationist faith–yo, Joint Committee!–but they are way too few and far between.  

Update: For the record, the prohibitions on spending for religious facilities is standard education bill boilerplate going back to the 1960s. Steve Benen has Huckabee and company dead to rights, backed up by pdfs of earlier bills.