Letter to the Editor

Rhode Island's role

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dear Editor,

History buffs enjoy visiting Providence, Rhode Island, founded by Roger Williams in 1636. His statue overlooks this city.

Most history classes don't cover facts about Dr. John Clarke, a physician and a Baptist minister. His connection to Rhode Island and religious freedom is quite remarkable.

In 1636, he came to Massachusetts as a member of the Puritan sect. He became discouraged by the strictness of the Puritans and the stronghold on colonial government that they had.

Dr. Clarke and others who criticized the Puritans were banned from the Massachusetts area where they had settled. They left and settled in Rhode Island.

Their group advocated the separation of church and state. In the 17th century, this was considered as a type of treason. Roger Williams also felt the same way as Clarke and his friends.

Both Williams and Clarke traveled to England to request religious freedom and political independence for Rhode Island from King Charles I. Meanwhile, British subjects beheaded Charles I. Charles II decided he couldn't control the religion of his subjects.

July 8, 1663, the Rhode Island Charter was approved. Quakers, Jews and other religious groups headed to Rhode Island. This landmark move paved the way for the First Amendment to the Constitution and separation of church and state.

Helen Ruth Arnold,

Trenton, Nebraska

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