I don't know if it's arrogance or ignorance that brings them to the table, but we have this separation for good reason. Although the Puritans were victims of religious persecution in Europe, the Puritans supported the European theory that sanctioned it: the need for uniformity of religion in the state. Once in control in New England, the Puritans sought uniformity through religious dominance, to be achieved by persecution. The "business" of the first settlers, a Puritan minister recalled in 1681 "was not Toleration, but [they] were professed enemies of it." Indeed, the Puritans of whom he spoke had routinely expelled dissenters from their colony, and those that defied them by returning risked death with four Quakers executed by the Puritans between 1659 and 1661, including Mary Dyer.
Participating in this religious intolerance, Thomas Jefferson, among other founding fathers, was unwilling to concede "moral superiority" to the Puritans. As such, Virginia enacted anti-Quaker laws, including the death penalty for refractory Quakers. Jefferson wrote: "if no capital execution took place here, as did in New England, it was not owing to the moderation of the church, or the spirit of the legislature."
Over time, Jefferson came to see the error of his ways and the tyranny of Religion upon those who differ from the professed State beliefs. In 1786 he wrote, and got enacted, the Virginia Bill of Religious Freedom, which said:
No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.And such was the thinking that went into the Bill of Rights (ratified in 1791). So, why bring this dusty old subject up?
Because religious differences lead to social conflict. Like it or not, we're not so superior in this country that we couldn't turn into another Belfast or Baghdad. And, in fact, we've done it in the past, starting with the Bible Riots of Philadelphia in 1844, sparked by Protestant persecution of Catholics, and continued on until the Civil War captured the attention of the United States and the Knownothing Party died. Still, it wasn't until 1871 with the massacre of 51 Catholics by the New York militia, did the religious-based rioting stop. We've also had, in the United States, the persecution of the Mormons, Jews, Seventh Day Adventists and many others at various times.
But that was in the past you say. Fair enough. But the past is one mistake away from becoming the future. And with people like these leading large religious blocks here in America, that mistake could lead to trouble. The infamous Catholic Bashing Evangelical Preacher Hagee just endorsed McCain:
...Hagee’s not too fond of the Catholic church either. From his book Jerusalem Countdown:…:
Adolf Hilter attended a Catholic school as a child and heard all the fiery anti-Semitic rantings from Chrysostom to Martin Luther. When Hitler became a global demonic monster, the Catholic Church and Pope Pius XII never, ever slightly criticized him. Pope Pius XII, called by historians ‘Hitler’s Pope,’ joined Hitler in the infamous Concordat of Collaboration, which turned the youth of Germany over to Nazism, and the churches became the stage background for the bloodthirsty cry, ‘Pereat Judea’…. In all of his [Hitler’s] years of absolute brutality, he was never denounced or even scolded by Pope Pius XII or any Catholic leader in the world. To those Christians who
believe that Jewish hearts will be warmed by the sight of the cross, please be informed—to them it’s an electric chair.
The Catholic League demanded that McCain repudiate Hagee and his endorsement, just as Barack Obama did earlier this week with Louis Farrakhan (despite the fact that Obama, unlike McCain with Hagee, never sought out or accepted Farrakhan’s endorsement) In the interview, Donohue made some extraordinary statements. He compared Hagee both to Louis Farrakhan and Bob Jones, but noted: “Hagee is far more powerful than Farrakhan is today. . . . Hagee is a major player. There’s no end to his money. He has an empire down there.” Regarding the intense 2000 media controversy when then-Gov. George Bush spoke at Bob Jones University, Donohue said: Why were they so exercised about Bob Jones? This is worse. . . . If someone said to me: who is the biggest anti-Catholic bigot in the evangelical community, I would say: hands down, John Hagee.