BILL MOYERS: You know, there’s an anomaly. I have to come back to this. You you– have strong opinions about politics, parties, elections. You’re registered to vote but you don’t vote. You feel stateless? You feel lost in America?
NICK GILLESPIE: You know, it’s been so long since I’ve had political heroes that I don’t worry. I was thinking about watching the piece about Regent University and the discussion about the role of religion and the state. One of my great heroes is Roger Williams, who is, like Pat Robertson, was a Baptist.
This was– the guy who– he was kicked– he was a– trained at Cambridge during the great Puritan years in the 17th century. He was a classmate of John Milton. He came to America to preach. Got kicked out of Massachusetts Bay Colony because he said, “You guys are mixing– the Lord’s work with secular government.”
And he ended up founding– he got kicked out, founded Providence, bought land from the Indians– you know, which is almost unheard of then. Created the– — colony of Rhode Island. Got a royal charter for that as a place for religious tolerance.
He came up– and this is a Baptist, who, like Pat Robertson, in his heart of hearts, thought that the pope was the antichrist– or a werewolf. You know, in the popular prejudices of the days. But articulated the absolute need to have a secular government where your religious faith was a private concern that the state could not control but it also couldn’t compel any individual to worship in a particular way. And it seems to me, you know, Roger Williams may be my last political hero.
I’m so pleased to see this on a nationally distributed TV show. Since my posts for the Blog Against Theocracy blogswarm, here and here , I’ve wondered why there isn’t more mention of Roger Williams‘s influence in the anti-theocracy movement. Williams used the Bible to show that government with absolute freedom of religion, including non-belief, is the the only just form of government.