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RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE.

Covington, GA., Jan. 15, 1860.

Religious intolerance in all arbitrary and despotic governments, is where the administration of the temporal government of the nation, and the administration of the religious government of the church, so called is vested, or exists in one man, and so united together as to form a Church and State religion, and no class of religionists, who may dissent from the established religion of the government, are suffered to exist without persecution. Among the barbarous nations of the earth, it has existed, and still continues to exist, and also among the more civilized and enlightened nations, its existence is more or less manifest. The large majority of wars among nations has been, directly or indirectly, religious wars. In fact man is a religious being in some sense, either innately or by tradition, probably both. And the religion of man, when fully exhibited, is opposition to God’s government, and the peaceable principles of Christ the Branch, and is cruel, unrelenting, and murderous in its nature and operation.

The arrogated right of Kings, Emperors, Despots, the Crowned Heads, to dictate to men in religious matters, is the fruitful source of all the persecution the church of Christ has endured. It is very true that some of the governments of the earth, even where a system of religion is established by law, will tolerate, or allow, or in other words, will not prohibit or hinder others to enjoy a certain degree of religious privileges under restrictions and taxations. This is a mitigation of religious intolerance, while the assumed right to prohibit on the part of those in authority, is still retained.

At an early period of time the spirit of religious intolerance, was clearly exhibited, when Cain killed his brother. Cain was a religionist, and because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous, he would not suffer him to live. That same spirit was manifested by the self-righteous incorrigible Israelites and Jews against the Prophets, Christ and the Apostles. It was also manifested by the Pagan government of Rome for three hundred years, and was transferred to the Papal church, or in other words was changed in its external appearance, when Constantine, nominally, as a christian, assumed the temporal government of Rome. The Nicene council, in the fourth century, under the dictation of Constantine, showed the same murderous intolerance towards the Donatists and Novationists {the only true followers of Christ at that time} as they did against Arius and his followers. As the writings of Arius were destroyed, no one knows what he believed only as we have it stated by his enemies. However the followers of Arius, when they had the power, persecuted those who endorsed the creed of the council of Nice. Not only the Papal church has carried out the spirit of intolerance and persecution, but those who protested {called Protestants} against the church of Rome, have also manifested it not only in Europe, but in the Eastern, or New England States and in Virginia. The Greek church, which is under the control of the Autocrat of Russia, the Emperor Alexander, who is the head of that church in the administration of government in that Empire, moves upon the same principle of intolerance. Mahomet and his followers exercised by the same spirit, conquered the most of Asia, the north of Africa, and a small part of Europe. Whatever form or phase that spirit may assume in its external appearance, it remains the same in principle.

A species of religious intolerance exists in our own beloved country, though it is more to be seen in the Northern and Eastern, or New England States, than in the South. Bigotry, and sectional fanaticism, under the lead of an ambitious clergy, and political demagogues, are making rapid strides upon our civil, religious, and social rights. As an illustration of this principle, when the temperance movement was first introduced in Maine it appeared very harmless and inoffensive as though it might do a great deal of good, but it was soon hitched on to the professed church by the voluntary act of its members, and made a test of church membership, as though the church of Christ was not a temperance society of itself, and then hitched on to the State by Legislative enactment, which constituted Church and State temperance. In this way, and under the influence of the same spirit of intolerance, vigorous efforts are made to undermine, and overthrow our dearest rights and privileges.

The church of God, in all ages, have suffered all manner of persecution from the devotees of religious intolerance, and they still suffer the ignominy, scorn, and derision of their enemies. A disposition to vilify, misrepresent, and bring into absolute contempt, the faithful heralds of the cross, and the meek and quiet followers of Jesus, is among the prominent marks of the intolerance of the age.

Joseph L. Purington.