Blanche Mays was born in Jonesboro, AR. Graduated Jonesboro High School in 1920. Taught in South Elementary School. Graduated Jonesboro Baptist College, Graduated Ouachita Baptist College in 1929. Taught Jonesboro Jr. High School for 9 years.

In 1939 she became manager Baptist Book Store in Little Rock, AR. After 9 years she went to Nashville, served as supervisor of 23 Baptist Bookstores east of the Mississippi River.

Tiring of traveling and living out of a suitcase, she asked to again become manager of a bookstore. She was named manager of the Louisvile Baptist Bookstore, where she served until her retirement in 1968.

She was active for a number of years, reviewing books among other activities.

Blanche died February 10, 1995 at age 92.


The Sunday School Board takes pleasure in presenting this essay. For the second year we have offered various prizes for essay work in our Baptist schools and colleges. The purpose of this is twofold; first, through interest in an essay contest to lead the students to think through for themselves outstanding Baptist positions as they are to be faced in the modern world. We believe it is well worth while to have these questions fairly considered as a part of their student life.

A second purpose is that the publication of such an essay as this, which we are sending out, will be read by a multitude of students with much more eagerness because it comes out of such a contest. We covet a wide understanding of the questions discussed by the students in all our schools at the formative stage of their lives, and while other convictions are crystallizing it is a pleasure to have the feeling also that this essay, aside from the conditions stated above, is well worth while from its own intrinsic merit.

The Department of Student Work of the Sunday School Board has a direct contact with college life which makes it possible to render such a service in our Baptist schools. It is through this department that this essay contest has been promoted, and through it the decision of the judges was announced.

(signed) I. J. Van Ness

Executive Secretary








Miss Blanche Mays, Ouachita College,

Arkadelphia, Ark.


A. Meaning of Separation of Church and State

The relationship which should exist between church and state has long been a question of vital importance in both secular and church history. But the Baptists must be given credit for upholding and establishing complete separation of church and state. The separation of church and state includes more than freedom of conscience; it includes more than toleration. It is a phase of religious liberty. Freedom of conscience is beyond the control of any civil authority. Toleration is merely a concession, for the time, of the right of an individual to worship as he pleases. This concession implies the superiority of an established church which may withdraw the concession at the will of the sovereign granting it. Any union of church and state places a premium upon one form of religion. Toleration, although granted, is insufficient, for it may be withdrawn at any time.1

B. The Contribution of Baptists

Baptists claim the honor of contributing this principle, complete separation of church and state, to Christian thought. Baptists believe that the Union of church and state is contrary to the teachings of the New Testament, contrary to natural justice, and destructive to both church and state. This has been one of the outstanding principles for which Baptists have contended. Because of this belief, men have been rejected, despised, reviled, persecuted, and put to death. Freedom of conscience and toleration were unknown, and religious liberty was only an idea until Baptists made it a reality where church and state were completely separated.

1"Toleration is negative, liberty positive; toleration is a favor, liberty a right; toleration may be withdrawn by the power which grants it, liberty is as inalienable as conscience itself; toleration is extended to what cannot be helped and what may be in itself objectionable; liberty is a priceless gift of the Creator."--Schaff, p. 81, V, VI.





It has been no easy task, and we, who live in the United States today, hardly realize the value of religious liberty. We did not pay the price for this. No law restrains any man from worshiping God in any manner which his conscience dictates; no law compels him to contribute to the support of any church of which he does not approve.

C. Separation of Church and State Fundamental With Baptists

This teaching of a few Baptists, once despised and hated, has now become a fundamental principle of our law, as stated in the constitution of the United States. To appreciate the change that has been wrought by this idea in American religious and civil life, and to understand better the part that Baptists have played in the establishment of this principle, a study of the development of the idea must be made.



A. Lacking In Ancient History

This idea of religious liberty was lacking in the nations of ancient times. The individual of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Syria was subject to the will of the king in both religious and civil matters. Ancient republics never recognized religious liberty. Socrates thought that impiety should be punished with death. It was fully agreed by all pagan nations that the state had the right to regulate all matters connected with religion and that the citizen was bound to obey.

B. In the First Three Centuries

At the time of Jesus' birth, religious liberty was unknown. At a very early date, however, Christians acknowledged and proclaimed religious liberty. Tertullian, a writer in the early church, declared to the heathen that everybody has the right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience. It is an inalienable and natural right belonging to everyone. He says:

"It is a fundamental right, a privilege of nature, that every man should worship according to his own convictions; one man's religion neither harms











nor helps another man. It is assuredly no part of religion to compel religion--to which free will and not force should lead us--the sacrificial victims even being required of a willing mind. You will render no service to your gods by compelling us to sacrifice. For they can have no desire of offerings from the unwilling, unless they are animated by a spirit of contention, which is a thing altogether undivine."2 Justin Martyr (second century) held similar opinions. Lactantius (fourth century) said: "Religion cannot be imposed by force; the matter must be carried on by words rather than by blows, that the will may be affected. Torture and piety are widely different: nor is it possible for truth to be united with violence, or justice with cruelty. Nothing is so much a matter of free will as religion."3

C. No Union of the Apostolic Church and State

The apostolic church appeared as a free and independent organism. The first three centuries afford no trace of a union of church and state, either in the way of hierarchial supremacy of Erastian subordination. "The apostles honor civil authorities as a divine institution for the protection of life and property, for the reward of the good and the punishment of the evil-doer; and they enjoin, even under the reign of a Claudius and a Nero, strict obedience to it in all civil concerns; as, indeed, their heavenly Master himself submitted in temporal matters to Herod and to Pilate, and rendered unto Caesar the things that were Caesar's"4

D. Persecution Begins

In spiritual matters, the early Christians allowed nothing to be prescribed or forbidden to them by the authorities of the state. They suffered imprisonment, insult, persecution, and death for their principle--"Obey God rather than men." These first three centuries prove that Christianity can flourish under oppression and persecution.

The stoning of Stephen by the Sadducees and the Pharisees caused him to become the first of a sacred host of martyrs. After a few years of rest from

2Tertullian, ad Scapulam, c. 2. as given in Christian's A History of the Baptists, p. 38.

3Lactantius, div. v. 20, p. 39--Christian: History of the Baptists.

4Schaff, pp 506-7, V, I.






persecution, King Herod Agrippa, in 44 A.D., caused a new persecution to break out. James, the elder, brother of John, was beheaded. Peter was condemned to the same fate, but was miraculously liberated. Before the end of the apostolic age, Christ's followers suffered severe persecution at the hands of Roman emperors.

E. Relation of Religion and the Roman Government

To understand the cause of these persecutions, one must know the relationship which existed between religion and the Roman government. Rome cherished a state religion, and public worship of the state deities was conducted by her magistrates. She prohibited the worship of foreign gods, and for a time this prohibition was practically absolute. As she conquered other nations, she adopted a liberal policy toward the religions of the conquered peoples. A new religion was given recognition by the senate. It was a forbidden religion until this was done; after this, it was tolerated. Christianity was, at first, supposed to be a form of Judaism, and was thus tolerated and even protected by the emperors. But soon its real status was known. It was exclusive of all other religions, and it threatened to overthrow the state religion. So it became a capital offense to accept Christianity. Christians were suspected of disloyalty because they avoided military service. Because of the secrecy with which the Christians met, the rulers feared conspiracies. Then, too, the Christians refused to offer divine honors to the emperor. All these actions were construed to mean political hostility. State policy demanded persecution. Popular opinion called for it.

Before Christianity was declared to be an illegal religion, the Romans, by their laws of justice, protected the new religion. They even protected Paul at various times. In Corinth, the Proconsul, Annaeus Gallio, protected Paul; in Jerusalem, the Captain, Lysisa, aided him; and in Caesarea, the Procurator, Festus, defended him.

F. The Edict of Milan

But when the true character of Christianity was discovered, and protection was no longer forthcoming, there broke out a series of intermittent persecutions which culminated in the famous decree













issued by Constantine in 313. It is known as the Edict of Milan. At the battle of the Milvian Bridge between the emperor, Constantine, and Maxentius, the former was victorious and attributed his success to the God of the Christians. He immediately granted full toleration to the Christians. Thus Christianity became a lawful religion. This Edict of Milan was an important event for the followers of Christ. The more significant clauses are as follows:

"Perceiving long ago that religious liberty ought not to be denied, but that it ought to be granted to the judgment and desire of each individual to perform his religious duties according to his own choice, we have given orders that every man, Christians as well as others, should preserve the faith of his own sect and religion....We grant both to the Christians and to all men freedom to follow the religion which they choose, that whatever heavenly divinity exists may be propitious to us and to all that live under our government. We have, therefore, determined, with sound and upright purpose, that liberty is to be denied to no one to choose and follow the religious observances of the Christians, but that to each one freedom is to be given to devote his mind to that religion which he may think adapted to himself, in order that the Deity may exhibit to us in all things his accustomed care and favor....And we decree still further in regard to the Christians, that their places, in which they were formerly accustomed to assemble...shall be restored to the said Christians, without demanding money or any other equivalent, with no delay or hesitation....For by this means...the divine favor toward us which we have already experienced in many matters will continue sure through all time."5

G. Importance of This Edict

This edict is important because it is the earliest known proclamation by a civil government of absolute religious liberty. However, in 319, Licinius, who was always at heart an enemy of Christianity, reversed his policy of toleration and caused the Christians to endure the severest persecutions. Four years later, Constantine conquered Licinius, and

5Eusebius: Church History, Book X, Ch. V.












caused the Christians to be tolerated again. This edict virtually closes the period of persecution in the Roman Empire.

H. The New Position of the Church

With Constantine's conversion, and with his famous edict, comes a new era of the church. Instead of an outlawed group of men and women, there is found a group favored by the emperor. His policy was at first not to interfere with the pagan religion, but he placed a premium on Christianity when he began filling the offices and the court with Christians. The conditions of the Christians were enviable. Pagan temples that were offensive to Christians were destroyed. Christian clergy were exempted from military and municipal duties, and their property was exempted from taxation. In 315, Christian slaves were emancipated. Constantine gave his sons a Christian education. Bequests to Christian churches were legalized in 321. In 325, a general exhortation was issued to his subjects to embrace Christianity. This new religion was not adopted as the religion of the state, but it was virtually given this position.

I. Constantine's Successors

The sons of Constantine, Constans, Constantinus II, and Constantius, did little credit to their Christian education and profession. Constantius went far beyond his father in his efforts to destroy paganism, but his efforts proved futile because of his methods. Constans and Constantinus II did nothing for Christianity. Julian the Apostate, who followed Constantius, opposed Christianity and proceeded at once to restore the pagan worship.

The successors of Constantine from the time of Theodosius the Great (385-395) enforced the Christian religion to the exclusion of every other. They even enforced orthodoxy to the exclusion of every form of dissent, which was punished as a crime against the state. Theodosius secured from the Roman Senate an acknowledgment that the religion of Christ was true. This manner of forcing religion did not give a true foundation for Christianity. Absolute freedom of worship is a fact logically impossible on the church-state system. The emperor, by advocating a suppression of paganism and heresy, thus favored Christianity.










J. Christianity as the Religion of the State

This elevation of Christianity as the religion of the state presents both beneficent and harmful results. Christianity was secularized. The distinction between the affairs of the state and Christianity was obliterated. Hierarchial development was stimulated by this union. The church became a persecuting power, making use of the civil authority for the suppression of dissent and paganism. On the other hand, a larger number of people were brought under the influence of Christianity. Its effect upon legislation and general morals was remarkable.

The most important result of this union for us in this discussion is the inevitable consequence of a union of church and state--"the restriction of religious freedom in faith and worship, and the civil punishment of departure from the doctrine and discipline of the established church."6 During the first three centuries the church enjoyed a greater liberty within, in the development of her doctrines and institutions, by reason of her entire separation from the state. But, in this period, she gained external freedom and authority at the expense of inward liberty and self-control. The persecution of heresy was a natural result of the union of religious and civil duties and rights. Even though the church attempted to adhere to the principle of spiritual punishments, she encouraged and urged the state to apply forcible measures to heretics. This policy continued in the Roman church until the end of the sixteenth century. "Yet," says Schaff, in Volume 3, page 140, History of the Christian Church, "properly speaking, it was not until the eighteenth century that a radical revolution of views was accomplished in regard to religious toleration; and the progress of toleration and free worship has gone hand in hand with the gradual loosening of the state-church basis and with the clearer separation of civil and religious rights and of the temporal and spiritual power."

K. A Tedious History Begins

With the union of church and state begins the long and tedious history of their conflicts and their mutual struggles for mastery. From the time of Constantine, the history of the church and that of

6Schaff, V. 3, p. 138













the political and social world in Europe are so closely interwoven that neither can be understood without the other. This mutual intermixture, on the whole, was of more injury than benefit to the church and to religion. Her free and natural development was hindered by such an arrangement. This problem of relationship between church and state, between pope and emperor, between imperial and hierarchical episcopacy became the strife of history, both sacred and secular, and ran through the whole medieval age. The Church during this period yielded to the Christian emperors in general. The hierarchy, however, formed a powerful and wholesome check on the imperial papacy, and preserved the freedom and independence of the church toward the temporal power.

L. Relation of Church and State During the Middle Ages

As we turn to the Middle Ages, we discover a friendly union with a nominally Christian state. "During the Middle Ages there were three systems of jurisprudence: the Roman law, the Barbaric law, and the Canon law."7 The three were so dependent on each other that it was difficult to draw a precise line of difference. Often there were collisions in the dispensation of justice.

1. Rise of the Papal State.

This period witnessed a rapid rise in the position of the papal state. The Roman Catholic Church held the Western barbarians together as did no other bond. To the emperor, Charlemagne, is given credit for confirming the pope's authority, and for enlarging his dominion. In 773, Charlemagne, who had destroyed all power of the Lombards in Italy, recognized the pope's right to rule over the section of central Italy known as the Papal State. This section continued to exist until 1870. From 773 on, the pope was not only a religious leader, but also a political ruler of influence. The establishment of the Holy Roman Empire and the recognition of the Papal State by Charlemagne are the two outstanding events of the period around 800. With these events, canon law became more influential and important. Charlemagne possessed a strong sense concerning his duty as protector and

7Schaff, V. iv, pp 387-8











defender of the church. He was unable to add much to his control of ecclesiastical affairs. He often admonished the pope concerning even spiritual and doctrinal matters.

After Charlemagne's death in 814, his empire was broken up, but his immediate successors maintained practically the same control in affairs of the church. The popes were always on the alert and, at every opportunity, made themselves more independent. Their aim was to secure more power in imperial politics and in the administration of justice. In fact, the movement of the age was toward papal ascendancy. The pious believed in the superiority of the church to the state and were ready to help the church gain this supremacy. During this period the priests were declared to be inviolable and were freed from secular control. Any infringements upon the personal or property rights of the priesthood were declared to be sins against the ordinance of God. The priesthood was looked upon as comprising definite grades of official dignity, from the clergy to the pope. The church was thus being unified.

2. Conflicts Came Between the Two Powers.

The Holy Roman Empire which Charlemagne had established had its rights and obligations to the church. The Romans had planned that no conflict could exist between the two sovereignties. But disorder came. Conflicts between princes and popes were numerous. In 1073, Gregory VII advanced a new theory concerning the relations of church and state. He believed that the one who was supreme in eternity was supreme on earth. He thought that he had been raised to this place. He made claims over most of the countries of Europe. He did not wish to destroy secular power, but merely to subordinate it to his power. He tried to free it from the corrupting dependence on the state. He came into conflict with Henry IV of Germany but the church won, and the king was excommunicated, and driven from his country. A large part of the history of the period from 1049 to 1294 was occupied by the popes in the effort to realize the papal theocracy and to enforce papal jurisdiction. England, Poland, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Aragon, Naples, Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily, great portions of Central Italy were for a













longer or shorter time, fiefs of the Apostolic see. Other nations were reminded constantly that Rome was the center of divine authority.

3. A New Conception of the Pope's Authority.

Another conception was formed by 1294. All civil authority should be subordinated to the pope. To give away crowns, to absolve subjects from allegiance, to depose kings and princes, to demand tribute, to invade the realm of the civil court, to usurp its powers and authorities, to annul a nation's code--these were the powers of the papacy. The supremacy of the pope over the state and church was a fixed conviction in the mind of the public.

4. Decline of the Papacy.

From 1294 to 1517, a general decline of the papacy was caused by a new spirit, nationalism, which was adverse to papal dominion. This change was noted when Boniface VIII failed in some of his political attempts. Philip II of France came into direct conflict with the pope and finally brought the pope into submission to him. This contest between Philip and Boniface resulted in an investigation of the relations of the church to the state. Varied opinions were held by the state officials, the church authorities, and the public. Some said the two were separate, some said one, and some said that the other was supreme.

But in the meantime the papacy had begun its "Babylonian Captivity." The popes for the period 1305-1375 were virtually vassals of France, whose interests they served. This captivity caused an alienation between England and the papacy in England. John Wycliffe in England led the opposition to the political pretensions of the papacy. Church and state tried to curb him, but through his efforts the soil of England was prepared for the Reformation. His influence spread to the Continent, where it aided Martin Luther in the preparation of Europe for the Reformation. United forces soon curbed the influence of the reformers, who were forced to wait a short time for the development of their plans.

M. The Reformation and Its Great Influence

But in 1517 began the mightiest upheaval that the Christian world ever experienced. From 1517 until 1618, at the signing of the Peace of Westphalia,









Europe was torn between loyalty to church and loyalty to state. "The Reformation was a grand act of emancipation from spiritual tyranny and a vindication of the sacred rights of conscience in matters of religious belief."8 Martin Luther began that mighty upheaval that shook Europe to its very foundations. Even today we are feeling the far-off vibrations of that great spiritual cataclysm. The period of the Reformation was one of wars, contentions, and conflict. State was arrayed against church; the church was arrayed against state.

1. Influence on Persecution.

Even where groups gained freedom from papal authority, they persecuted and refused to tolerate religious liberty. But with the influence of Luther's teachings there came a far-reaching effect against persecution. Religious groups did not make dissenters give their lives so much as they confiscated their property, prohibited their worship, and even exiled them. In Lutheran countries, Zwinglians and Calvinists fared in this manner. In Scandinavia every religion except the Lutheran was forbidden. This was done on pain of exile, and confiscation of property. These rigid laws in Scandinavia were enforced until the middle of the nineteenth century.

2. In Switzerland and France.

The Swiss reformers were similar to the Germans in intolerance, both against Romanists and heretics. Anabaptists received no mercy. Zwingli forgot the warning of Christ to Peter, that they who take the sword shall perish by the sword. He tried to introduce by force the Reformed religion into the Catholic Forest Canons of Switzerland. Calvin, too, followed in the footsteps of these and persecuted. Calvin, as the head of both the civil and the religious forces in Geneva, caused the affairs of state and church to be closely connected. In France, the Reformed church was persecuted by the civil authorities in league with the Roman church. The Reformed church in Holland refused to tolerate the Protestant Armenians. Politics and church affairs were intermingled during the supremacy of the Calvinists there. With a change

8Schaff, V. 6, p. 950, History of the Christian Church.











in administration, they were governed by the principles of religious toleration.

3. In Scotland and England

In England and Scotland, acts of persecution and intolerance were more prevalent, but they caused a greater gain for religious liberty. At first it was a conflict between persecution and toleration. The victory of toleration then prepared the way for full religious freedom. All parties advocated liberty of conscience when they were persecuted. When they were in power, they exercised intolerance and forgot liberty of conscience. "The Episcopalians before 1689 were less tolerant than the Romanists under Queen Mary; the Presbyterians before 1660 were less tolerant than the Episcopalians; the Independents less tolerant (in England) than the Presbyterians (but more tolerant in New England); the Baptists, Quakers, Socianians and Unitarians consistently taught freedom of conscience, and were never tempted to exercise intolerance."9 Various methods of repression proved to be failures, and persecutions became more hateful and finally more impossible.

During the rule of Henry VIII in England, a substitution of a domestic for a foreign popery and tyranny occurred. Edward VI caused the Reformation to make decided progress, but still Anabaptists were not tolerated. The reign of Queen Mary sealed the doom of popery because of bloody persecutions. The country would no longer endure such treatment. Queen Elizabeth permanently established the Reformed church but excluded all dissenters. She rigidly enforced the new adoption. Ireland was treated in matters of church, as well as state, as a conquered province. An hereditary hatred of the Catholic people against their Protestant rulers has caused one of the most difficult problems of English statesmanship. The rights of the people were saved by the reign of Puritanism which ruled England from 1640 to 1660. The Long Parliament abolished the Episcopal hierarchy, banished many of the royalist clergymen, and executed Archbishop Laud and King Charles I as traitors. Episcopalians became the champions of tolerance. In the Westminster Assembly of Divines

9Schaff: History of the Christian Church, V. VI, p. 73.













(643-652) was framed a uniform creed which, on the one hand, declared the great principle of religious liberty, and, on the other hand, that dangerous heretics may be called to account "by the censures of the church, and by the power of the civil magistrate." This last phrase, "and by the power of the civil magistrate," was omitted in the American recension of the Westminster Confession. The civil authorities were assigned certain duties and powers which still unite church and state. Cromwell was one of the most liberal among the English rulers. But he limited toleration to Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists, and Quakers. For the Romanists and Episcopal Royalists he had no toleration. After Cromwell, royalty and Episcopacy were restored. Charles II took the lead in intolerance. Hideous acts were done by Charles. This period of the Restoration was disgraceful, but it led to the overthrow of the Stuarts, and helped to inaugurate a new era, in the history of religious liberty. The end of persecution came in England with the Act of Toleration under the reign of William and Mary, in 1689. Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists, and Quakers were allowed to exist on condition of conforming to thirty-six out of the thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England.

Unitarians and Roman Catholics were not included in this, and did not gain toleration in England until the nineteenth century. At the present time, the Dissenters in England labor under disabilities and disadvantages. These conditions which exist in England will continue as long as the government patronizes an established church. In addition to their own denomination, they have to support the Church of England.

N. The Conditions of Baptists In This History of Church and State

1. Inability to Trace Baptist History Before 1611.

The conditions which have existed for Baptists because of their belief concerning church and state are not easily traced. No scientific data can be procured on the subject before 1611, when the first Baptist Church of this period was organized. It is true that here and there were churches and sects that might have been described as Baptists, because













they held many principles in common with the Baptists. There were between the age of the apostles and that of the Reformation many of these bodies who resembled Baptists in their denunciation of the union of church and state. The Donatists, the Paulicians, and the Waldenses were firm believers in a separation of church and state. However, there is no ascertainable connection existing between these sects and the Anabaptist churches of the sixteenth century. This relation is still a debatable question.

2. Appearance of Anabaptists

In the sixteenth century, the Anabaptists appeared in great numbers throughout Europe. Their beliefs included a separation of state and church, and a citizenship founded on civil rather than religious considerations. They wished to secularize the state by excluding it from the sphere of religion. Religious freedom would result. Democracy in the government of church and state was the ultimate end of these beliefs. A democratic attitude was a dangerous position to assume in those days. Persecutions by the Catholics and the Protestants caused thousands of these Anabaptists to perish.

3. First Baptist Church of this Period Organized.

Such opposition permitted little growth. But during the time of persecution, the Baptist managed to maintain their existence. They were driven from the Continent to England.

In 1611, the first Baptist church of this period was organized, and was composed of members who believed in the freedom of conscience, and the separation of church and state. Other churches claim an earlier origin, but there is no evidence to substantiate these claims. Churches of this type were slow in making progress. As soon as they were permitted to preach the New Testament principles, they grew rapidly.

4. The Confession of Faith.

In 1644 was issued a Confession of Faith by the Baptists of England. It was outspoken in the advocacy of religious freedom, and of good citizenship as the duty of every Christian. The








following article is worth quoting in full, as the first publication of the doctrine of freedom of conscience, in an official document representing a body of associated churches:

"XLVIII. A civil magistracy is an ordinance of God, set up by him for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of them that do well; and that in all lawful things, commanded by them, subjection ought to be given by us in the Lord, not only for the wrath, but for conscience's sake; and that we are to make supplications and prayers for kings, and all that are in authority, that under them we may live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

"The supreme magistracy of this kingdom we acknowledge to be King and Parliament....And concerning the worship of God, there is but one lawgiver...which is Jesus Christ....So it is the magistrate's duty to tender the liberty of men's consciences

(Eccl. 8:8),...and to protect all under them from all wrong, injury, oppression, and molestation....And as we cannot do anything contrary to our understandings and consciences, so neither can we forbear the doing of that which our understandings and consciences bind us to do. And if the magistrates should require us to do otherwise, we are to yield our persons in a passive way to their power, as the saints of old have done (James 5:4)."10

5. Status of Baptists in England

During the reign of Charles I in England, the Baptists had a hard struggle, but from the meeting of the Long Parliament in 1640, they enjoyed peace and rapid growth. They were supporters of the Parliament. Both religious and civil liberty were upheld by Parliament.

During the civil wars of England, begun in 1642, Baptists enjoyed toleration. The necessity of uniting all forces against the king prevented the Presbyterian Parliament from repressing the Baptists. The Presbyterians protested against a general toleration, and only the overthrow of this government prevented a serious persecution.

10Vedder: A Short History of Baptists, p. 212.










Cromwell came nearer adopting the Baptist doctrine concerning freedom in religious matters than his predecessors. Consequently, during the Protectorate, a fair measure of religious liberty was prevalent. but the Baptists realized that toleration would not continue unless the principle was made a part of the law. When Charles II came to the throne in 1660, the Baptists lost all hope of gaining this religious freedom. That year witnessed one of the most horrible persecutions ever known in England--the persecution of Thomas Harrison. A series of laws were passed against those who would not conform to the Anglican Church. Under James II, a better spirit of toleration was developed among the Protestants. His policy favoring Roman Catholics was the direct cause of this. An alliance between James and Catholicism was feared. But, as a whole, the king was lenient with Baptists and protected them.

In 1689, came the Act of Toleration, which released the Dissenters from the operation of laws passed against them since Elizabeth's reign. From that time, persecution has died away, although the principle of religious liberty has never been generally accepted in England.

6. Development of Religious Liberty in the New World.

(a) Roger Williams and his Conflict.

Separation of church and state became a struggle in America as it was in England and Continental Europe. The struggle for religious liberty began in America when Roger Williams of the Salem colony came into conflict with the Boston authorities. Williams then established a colony on the principle of liberty of conscience. It is scarcely necessary to say that, although the idea of liberty of conscience had been advocated, as has been seen, by the Antipedobaptists of the sixteenth century, and although it had been clearly described and emphasized by the General Baptists of England during the twenty years just preceding William's controversy, it had not made any impression upon the men of Massachusetts Bay Colony. This settlement in Rhode Island was the first declaration of democracy. The state was not to dictate to or disturb the church. In the charter, the word "civil"















everywhere defines the jurisdiction of the court. Religion and state were divorced. This separation was a contrast to neighboring colonies. The service that the Baptists have rendered to the world in bringing religious liberty to this continent has been fully acknowledged by all the greatest authorities in the world. This religious liberty was to be the greatest difference between the old and the new world. Williams had been completely mastered by the principles involved in the absolute separation of church and state, in the complete separation from an apostate church, and in absolute liberty of conscience. He advocated a most complete separation of the church and state when there was no historical example of such a separation. "As a founder of a State no less than as an advocate of a great principle, Roger Williams deserves the gratitude and respect of all lovers of religious and civil liberty; and it is the glory of Baptists that the first State ever founded on the principle of absolute liberty of conscience was founded by a man who then... was one of the staunchest advocates of fundamental Baptist principles."11

(b) Position of Church in other Colonies.

The struggle which started with Roger Williams was not an easy one. In the New England colonies, with the exception of Rhode Island founded by Williams, orthodox Congregationalism was the established church. All the citizens were required to support it; in Virginia, in New York, and in the southern colonies, the Episcopal church was the legal church and was fostered by the government. Maryland and Pennsylvania, who were founded on the basis of religious toleration, enacted laws against Jews, Unitarians, and infidels. Removal of such legislation was begun by Virginia in 1776. Other states followed Virginia's example. The spirit of intolerance lingered longest in New England. In 1833, the last law of an intolerant nature was taken from the statute books of Massachusetts. Now there is no state in which religious freedom is not fully recognized.

11Newman: A History of Baptist Churches in the United States, p. 73.











(c) Victory--The Constitution of the United States.

The most important step, however, in the history of religious freedom was taken by the United States when she included in her code of laws a provision which completely separates church and state. Because of their efforts, in 1789, the first amendment to the Constitution was added. It reads as follows: "Congress shall make no law, establishing articles of faith, or mode of worship or prohibiting the free exercise of religion, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition to the general government for a redress of grievances." Baptists had long struggled for this. In 1787, the goal was partly reached when the Federal Constitution was adopted in which specifications were made that a religious test was not required for one to qualify for any office or public trust. Baptist in Virginia were afraid that this did not provide sufficient provision for religious liberty.

This constitutional provision of the United States is the final outcome of a Reformation beginning in 1517 when an humble monk (Martin Luther) nailed his ninety-five theses on the church door at Wittenberg. The United States Government will never establish a state church. It will ever protect the freedom of religion because it is an inalienable right of an American citizen. Persecutions will never exist in the United States. Intolerance has no place in the life of her people. This was the destiny of the United States. This example exerts a silent, but mighty, influence over the nations of the world.

7. Religious Liberty in Other Countries.

(a) England.

No other country enjoys the freedom of religion as does the United States. England has her Established Church which is supported by all the citizens. Church and state are not separated in France. The clergy receive their salaries from the state. The bishops are nominated by the government. Appointments to higher ecclesiastical offices require the approval of the state. Under these circumstances, politics and religious matters are intermingled.









(b) Italy.

Italy is deeply influenced by the Catholic Church although it is not a part of the government, strictly speaking. A reconciliation between the pope and the temporal powers has been recently completed. The treaty is "a pact which recognizes the temporal power of the pope, adds a new state to the fraternity of nations, ends the voluntary incarceration of the 'prisoner of the Vatican,' and dissolves the 'frozen enmity' of nearly sixty years' standing between the kingdom of Italy and the Papacy."12 What effect this agreement will have on Italy and the world remains to be seen. One thing is certain. "By sacrificing its traditional Italian supremacy in this way, the church has gained perceptibly in the Orient. It will be less likely to have its representatives expelled in time of war."13 The doctrine of a free church in a free state had been proclaimed in Italy. But it is impossible to carry out the principle in a country where the religious life of the people is so integrated in their lives. This reconciliation has now placed the church and the state in a different relation to each other.

(c) Germany.

In Germany, the new constitution declares that there is no state church. The constitution proclaims the principle of liberty both in belief and conscience, and the free exercise of religion. The general laws of the state, however, remain intact, and religious liberty finds itself regulated. There is no religious condition attached to civil and political rights and duties. Force plays no part in the religious conditions. However, "there is neither complete separation nor any close union of the churches and the state. The churches are emancipated from the state, but they enjoy certain privileges."14

(d) Austria.

In Austria, religion has caused divisions in politics. The aristocracy is devoted to the church. But the Liberals have caused the passage of anti-clerical laws, the freedom of the schools from the clergy, and the establishment of civil marriage. In general, they have placed the relations between church and state on a more modern basis.

12Literary Digest, February 23, 1929, p. 7.

13New Republic, February 27, 1929, p. 39.

14Brunet, Rene, The New German Constitution, New York, Knopf, 1922.











(e) Hungary-Switzerland

Similar reforms have been made in Hungary. Freedom of worship now exists. The Jewish religion was the last to be sanctioned. Roman Catholic and Protestant cantons exist. In Switzerland, religion has been a source of division. Freedom of conscience is supposed to prevail. Civil and political rights are not based on religious beliefs. Complete separation of church and state exist except for an ecclesiastical budget.

(f) Spain, Portugal, Norway, Sweden, South America, Mexico.

Spain has a national church, the Roman Catholic. Its influence is powerful. Restricted liberty of worship is permitted the Protestants. Portugal had a state religion, Roman Catholicism, until the power of the republican government separated church and state. Norway and Sweden possess an established church. Russia possessed an established church before the war, but since the revolution in Russia conditions have been altered. Persecutions occur in spite of supposed toleration. In South America Catholicism leads in the number of followers, but no established churches are found. All religions are tolerated. Religious affairs in Mexico are unsettled. Technically speaking, no connection exists between church and state, but the state refuses to permit priests to conduct mass. Foreigners are not allowed to preach, but they are teaching natives to do the preaching. Under this condition a certain type of connection exists between the church and state.



A. The Functions of Church and State are Related

Throughout the years the Baptists have stood for this principle of complete separation of church and state. Dr. E. Y. Mullins, in The Axioms of Religion, says that the state has no ecclesiastical and the church no civic function. This sums up the beliefs of Baptists on the relationship of church and state. In the New Testament sense of the church there could be no connection between the two.













B. Statement of Baptist Principles

The principles which govern the Baptist beliefs concerning the relationship of church and state are derived from only one source, the Bible. They are consistently stated in the New Hampshire Confession of Faith and in the Abstract of Principles of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. From the Confession, we take the following:

"We believe that civil government is of divine appointment, for the interests and good order of human society; and that magistrates are to be prayed for, conscientiously honored, and obeyed; except only in things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only Lord of the conscience, and the Prince of the kings of the earth." The Eighteenth Abstract from the Principles of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary pertains to the liberty of conscience and reads as follows: "God alone is Lord of the conscience; and He hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are in anything contrary to His word, or not contained in it. Civil magistrates being ordained of God, subjection in all lawful things commanded by them ought to be yielded by us in the Lord, not only for wrath, but also for conscience's sake."

1. Purpose of Civil Government.

The source for all these statements is found in the Bible. Civil government is established for the best interests of human society. In Romans 12:1-7, we are urged to respect the civil authorities. "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath but also












for conscience sake. For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues; tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour." Civil government is for the good of all. The church is for those who are its members. The two are separate institutions. Throughout the Bible we are exhorted to be good citizens except "only in things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ."15

2. Divine Appointment of Civil Authorities.

These authorities who represent a civil government are of divine appointment. In Deuteronomy 16:18, we are commanded in this manner: "Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment." In II Samuel 23:3, are described the principle which should govern these men who are officers of the civil government. "The God of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God." With officers following a plan like this one outlined in these few, simple words, there would be no hesitancy on the part of those who follow. Instructions as to the type of men whom we place in position are given in Exodus 18: 21-23: "Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: And let them judge the people at all seasons, and it shall be that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee. If thou shalt do this thing, and God command the so, then thou shall be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace." Another exhortation is noted in Jeremiah 30:21, "And their nobles shall be of themselves, and their governor shall proceed from the midst of them; and I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me: for who is this

15New Hampshire Confession of Faith.












that engaged his heart to approach unto me, saith the Lord."

3.The State Guardian of Social Order.

These passages easily prove the Baptists' belief that civil government is of divine appointment, and that it is for the common good of society. The state is a guardian of social order. Without the state there would be no order. "Each individual would be a law unto himself."16 If he were evil, woe unto his neighbors! If he were good, all would be well. Might would determine conduct if there were no government. Conflict and contention would exist among the people. The existence of civilization would be impossible. Evil-doers would cause factions and feuds. There would be no manner in which to work for a common good. Civilization could not exist without civil government. We are our brother's keeper. Man is a community creature. God made man to have wide relationships, and he set down certain principles for the state which should provide such relationships. The rights of the individual are to be protected. When a state is doing this, it is of divine appointment. The welfare of the community is to be promoted by the state. When this is being done, the will of God is being carried out. All good laws are based upon the laws of righteousness which God has prescribed for the relationships of his children.

4. Methods of Government Not of Divine Appointment.

Under these conditions, a state can be declared to be of God's appointment. The form of government has nothing to do with its divine appointment. It is civil government which has been divinely appointed. The methods which are used in the administration of a civil government may not be approved by God. Certain features of the form may not be in harmony with God's will. "What is of divine appointment is community government, government which seeks to have men sustain to each other these relations which are in harmony with his will to set forth in his law and commandments."17

16Wallace: What Baptist Believe, p. 173.

17Wallace: What Baptist Believe, pp. 175-6.














5. Why Obey the Government?

The second phase of the Confession to be noted is "that magistrates are to be prayed for, conscientiously honored, and obeyed, except only in things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only Lord of the conscience, and Prince of the king of the earth." Why do we, as Baptists, believe this? Again, we say, the Bible is our only reason, the only reason we need. In Matthew 22: 21, Christ says, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." Never did Christ teach contempt of the established government nor disobedience to the law. When he was asked the question, "Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not," the Pharisees and Herodians had wished to ensnare him. His answer proved his far-sightedness "The image superscription on the coin implied the sovereignty of Caesar. The Jews, by using the coins, in doing so were served by the Roman government. Therefore, they owed it some service in return. This service was the payment of taxes."18 This payment of taxes was only an act of honesty. As long as the government furnishes protection, courts, roads, schools, money, et cetera, it is nothing but honesty to help support the government. This payment of taxes never endorses a government.

This principle of obedience is further stressed in Titus 3: 1: Paul says, "Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates." This is observed again in 1 Peter 2: 13-17 when Peter says, "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God....Honour the king." When the laws of the state are disobeyed, and when the authorities of the civil government are not respected, God is displeased.

18Shailer Matthews: The Social Teachings of Jesus.














6. Pray for These Powers.

That we should pray for those in power is proved in 1 Timothy 2: 1-3, when Peter says, "I exhort, therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of the Lord our Saviour." This refers to anyone in power, anyone who has a position in the state, whether the head of a nation or the least influential lawmaker. Whether an interpreter of the law, an enforcer of the law or a maker of the law, he should be remembered in our prayers. The heavy responsibilities which these officers have resting upon them require prayer. They need prayers of their people because of the temptations which beset them. They need prayers because they are not infallible. They are liable to err. They need wisdom and strength which only can be received through prayer. Because they are divinely appointed by God through us, they need a close communion with God so that they may carry our God's will and plans in the civil government which has been entrusted to them.

7. A Higher Duty.

These officers are to be honored and obeyed, not for their sake, but for the sake of the offices which they hold. Lawlessness has no part in the Christian religion. Christ submitted to the laws of the state. Paul frequently expressed his view toward the government. He insisted that all should obey the laws. He was continually exalting the civil government. Christ and Paul taught these principles concerning the state. Obedience to the law is the duty of each Christian. But there are times when a higher duty must be obeyed. "We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5: 29.) Rulers are not infallible. They are susceptible to wrong-doing. Then, we have a higher duty. "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matt. 10: 28.) Nebuchadnezzar was wrong when he ordered his people to worship the golden image. The three youths, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had a













higher command than this one. Darius was wrong when he gave his order. Daniel obeyed God rather than Darius. Peter and John defied temporal power when it conflicted with their beliefs about God In Acts 4: 18-20 are found these words: "And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."

8. A Good Citizen.

A caution might well be given here. The Christian must be certain that it is conscience and not prejudice that is guiding him. Christ must be placed above all. Man must not permit petty prejudices to crowd in and take the place of Christ's commands. Christ is over all. This does not mean that temporal and ecclesiastical power should be linked together. Each person should conduct himself in such a manner that he will exemplify the commands and actions of Christ. Then he will be a good citizen.

9. The Church and State--Two Separate and Distinct Organisms.

The church and the state are two separate and distinct organisms. The church receives the same privileges from the state as does any other group organized for a high purpose. The state should not bestow any gifts or privileges upon the church at the expense of the whole community. "And if the church attempts to govern the state by seeking political power as an organization, or representation of any kind that would give it political power, the church has departed from its simple and heavenly mission and has weakened its hold upon its great task. The church as a spiritual body is to teach, transform, and inspire men, so that they shall go out into the community with clear vision and brave hearts, and by their activity as members of that community rather than as representatives speaking in the name of another organization, influence civil government to do the will of Him by whom it was appointed for its specific and divine mission among men."19

19Wallace: What Baptist Believe, p. 180.












10. Experience of Baptists in 1925.

Southern Baptist have issued a statement similar to that contained in the New Hampshire Confessions and in the Abstract of Principles of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 1925, at a meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Memphis, Tennessee, a statement of the Baptist faith and message was adopted. The eighteenth article is devoted to religious liberty and reads as follows:

"God alone is Lord of the conscience, and he has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to his Word or not contained in it. Church and state should be separate. The state owes to the church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for such freedom, no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others. Civil Government being ordained of God, it is the duty of Christians to render loyal obedience thereto in all things not contrary to the revealed will of God. The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work. The gospel of Christ contemplates spiritual means alone for the pursuit of its ends. The state has no right to impose penalties for religious opinions of any kind. The state has no right to impose taxes for the support of any form of religion. A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal, and this implies the right of free and unhindered access to God on the part of all men, and the right to form and propagate opinions in the sphere of religion without interference by the civil power."

This statement clearly outlines and defines the principles of the Baptists in their beliefs on the relationship of church and state. The functions of the two are separate and distinct. When there is any over-lapping of the two, they are not fulfilling the commands of Jesus "to render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's."

11. The Separation of Church and State--a Triumph for Baptists.

Where and what is that point? There is a point at which a distinction between the functions of the











two are hard to discriminate. The appropriation of public money for use in sectarian schools is in direct violation or the principle. Another point of controversy concerns use of the Bible in the public schools. Baptist oppose it out of respect to the consciences of all others. The exemption of church property from taxation has often been contested. Views on either side are justified. The three institutions in which church and state touch each other most closely are in education, in marriage, and in Sunday as a day of civil and sacred rest. All these issues may be peacefully adjusted. The separation of the two organisms is a triumphant achievement in America.

12. Religious Liberty--a Reality.

Baptists have exerted a steady influence on the history of the church and state. The idea of mere toleration has been raised to the higher plane of freedom. Religion has been emancipated from the control of civil government. Persecutions have been abolished. A profound regard for the sacredness of conscientious conviction has been firmly rooted in the minds of the American people. Religious liberty has become a reality--a reality of which Baptists are proud because they believe it, teach it, and practice it!






























1. Andrews, A Short History of England. Allyn and Bacon, 1912.

2. Brooks, Robert C., Government and Politics of Switzerland. New York World Book Co., 1921.

3. Brunet, Rene, The New German Constitution. New York. Knopf-1922.

4. Bryce, James, The American Commonwealth. 2 Vol., N. Y. Commonwealth Publishing Co., 1908.

5. Carroll, B. H., Baptists and Their Doctrines. Philadelphia, American Baptist Publication Society, 1913.

6. Christian, John T., A History of Baptists. Nashville, Tenn. Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1922.

7. Cook,Richard B., The Story of the Baptists in All Ages and Countries. Baltimore. Wharton and Company, 1885.

8. Curtis, Thomas F., The Progress of Baptist Principles. Philadelphia. American Baptist Publication Society.

9. Dodd, M. E., Baptist Principles and Practices. Alexandria, La. Chronicle Publishing Co., 1916.

10. Fisher, Geo. P., History of the Christian Church. New York. Scribner's, 1906.

11. Fisher, Geo. P., History of the Christian Church. New York. Scribner's, 1906.

12. Polk, Edgar E., Baptist Principles. Nashville, Tenn. Sunday School Board, Southern Baptist Convention, 1909.

13. Fourth Baptist World Congress, Record of Proceedings, Toronto. Stewart, 1928.

14. Gardner, Chas. S., The Ethics of Jesus and Social Progress. New York. Doran, 1914.

15. The Holy Bible (edited by C. I. Scofield). New York. Oxford University Press, 1917.










16. Kent, Chas. F., The Social Teachings of the Prophets and Jesus. New York. Scribner's, 1917.

17. Lowell, A. Lawrence, Governments and Parties in Continental Europe. 2 volumes. Cambridge, Harvard, 1896.

18. McGlothlin, W. J., The Course of Christian History. New York. McMillan, 1925.

19. Mathews, Shailer, The Social Teachings of Jesus. 1897.

20. Mullins, E. Y., The Axioms of Religion. Philadelphia. Griffith and Rowland Press, 1908.

21. Mullins, E. Y., Freedom and Authority in Religion. Philadelphia. Griffith and Rowland Press, 1913.

22. New International Encyclopedia. V. 14, 9, 21, 19,20. N. Y. Dodd, Mead and Company, 1923

23. Newman, Albert H., A History of the Baptist Churches in the United States. Philadelphia. American Baptist Publication Society, 1915.

24. Newman, Albert H., A Manual of Church History. 2 V. Philadelphia. American Baptist Publication Society, 1908.

25. Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church. 7 volumes. New York. Scribner's 1907.

26. Vedder, Henry C., A Short History of the Baptists. Philadelphia. American Baptist Publication Society, 1907.

27. Vincent, John M., Government in Switzerland. N. Y., McMillan, 1913.

28. Wallace, O. C. S., What Baptists Believe. Nashville, Tenn., Sunday School Board, Southern Baptist Convention, 1913.















Complete Results

Prize Essay Contest

For Scholastic Year 1928-1929


A prize of $150 was offered for the best essay in each state of the South upon the subject "The Proper Relationship Between Church and State as Viewed and Held by Baptists." The contest was limited to the Junior and Senior classes of four-year colleges.

The winning paper from each state was entered in a Southwide contest in which a first and a second prize of $75 and $50 was offered.

In both State and Southwide contests all papers were entered with symbols for identification. The results of both contests are given below.



Miss Blanche Mays, Ouachita College, Arkadelphia, Arkansas.


Miss Clyde Merrill, Alabama College, Montevallo, Alabama.


Miss LaRue Johnson, Bessie Tift College, Forsyth, Georgia.

Mr. W. F. Kendall, William Jewell College, Liberty, Missouri.

Miss Sophia Woodsworth, Montezuma College, Montezuma, New Mexico

Mr. Richard Paschal, Wake Forest College, Wake Forest, North Carolina.

Mr. Hermon S. Ray, Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina.

Miss Evelyn Hensler, Baylor University, Waco, Texas.

Miss C. Elise Hill, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia.

This contest was promoted by the Department of Southern Baptist Student Work for the Baptist Sunday School Board.

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