Sunday, March 25, 2012
March 25, 1634, 17 English gentlemen, mostly Catholic, about 200 laborers and servants, mostly Protestant, and 3 Jesuits landed on St. Clement Island to begin the settlement of a new colony to be called Maryland. They established religious freedom and separation of church and state. On April 21, 1649, this policy became law, the Act Concerning Religion, the first legislative grant of religious toleration in the New World.
In 1689 the Church of England had gained enough power to pass harsh penal laws against Catholics. They were not allowed to hold office. Worship was restricted to private residences. Soon they were made to pay a double tax and lost the right to vote. In 55 years they had lost the religious freedom that had been their dream.
Those who complain about the "lack of religious freedom" in our country today cheapen the meaning of the phrase.