Read e-book online A Perfect Freedom: Religious Liberty in Pennsylvania PDF

By William J. Frost

Using a large choice of sources--laws, proceedings, church files, sermons, political tracts, diaries, newspapers, and executive records--Frost strains the advance of non secular freedom in Pennsylvania from the founding of the colony as much as international struggle II.

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Extra info for A Perfect Freedom: Religious Liberty in Pennsylvania

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A colony accepting religious toleration needed to define the legal status of churches and clergy The Frames and early laws ignored the subject. Official recognition that liberty of conscience had resulted in more than one religious group came slowly. 63 In 1693 Governor Fletcher objected to a statute regulating clandestine marriages as discriminating against Anglicans (there was at this date no organized Anglican church in Pennsylvania or Delaware). 64 In 1697 this exemption was reworded to permit duly registered members of every religious society to marry, if the intended wedding received due publicity.

The law even acknowledged that a majority of PACIFISM AND RELIGIOUS LIBERTY 39 those passing the law opposed military service, but that they were unwilling to stop the majority from defending themselves. The leaders of the assembly thought that they had preserved liberty of conscience and provided for the defense of the colony. The compromise law, drafted by Benjamin Franklin, satisfied neither Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends, the Proprietary party, the Crown, or the frontiersmen threatened by Indians.

The Quaker heritage was important. Friends had experienced persecution in England and were determined to found a land in which such sufferings would not be repeated. Penn, more cosmopolitan than most other Quakers, became the founding father and his ideas became the heritage of generations of immigrants. To those who cherished his memory in the mid-eighteenth century, like Isaac Norris I and Christopher Saur, Penn stood for both civil and religious liberty. The Quakers' battles among themselves and with the Church of England also broke down restrictions.

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