Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council went on Fox and Friends on Monday to talk about his crusade to make sure that religious owners of companies can deny their employees contraception coverage in their insurance policies and he made a rather ironic reference to the Pilgrims.
“This administration has not confined their attack on religious liberties simply to the workplace,” Perkins agreed. “It’s really started in the military. I mean, this administration, the Obama administration, I believe, all evidence would suggest, they’re on a search-and-destroy mission as it pertains to religious liberty.”
“Why do you think the administration wants this fight?” co-host Brian Kilmeade wondered.
“I think this administration has a very narrow view of the First Amendment, that first freedom, the freedom of religion,” Perkins explained. “I think they see religious freedom as fine with it as long as it’s in the four walls of a church. But if it comes into workplace, the marketplace, if it comes into the public square, it’s not welcome.”
“But the reality is, the founders saw us with an aggressive ability to live our lives according to our faith,” he added. “I mean, that’s why the Pilgrims came here.”
No, they didn’t. We hear this all the time, that the Pilgrims came to America for religious freedom. But that simply isn’t true. They came here for their own religious freedom and for the right to deny it to others. They came here to establish a theocracy and that is exactly what they did in the Plymouth Colony. Indeed, it was the imposition of a very limited kind of religious freedom — more than they wanted — by the British crown that destroyed the Plymouth Colony.
From 1620, when the Mayflower landed, the Pilgrims were allowed to run the Plymouth Colony as the Puritan theocracy that they wanted, expelling “heretics” — that is, Christians of the wrong brand — and imposing Biblical law on inhabitants. But starting in 1664, the British crown began to diminish their authority to do so, first by ruling that one need not be a member of the Congregational Church in order to be a citizen of the colony. This was important because there was a wave of immigration beginning in 1650 that included lots of non-Pilgrims and non-Puritans (the first is a subset of the second).
In 1691, a new royal Charter merged the Plymouth Colony with the Massachusetts Bay Colony to create the new Province of Massachusetts Bay and that charter allowed religious freedom for all Christians other than Catholics. The Pilgrims had allowed religious freedom only for Pilgrims (not even for all Puritans; they were Puritan separatists, as opposed to the Puritan accommodationists of the Mass Bay Colony who believed in reforming the Church of England rather than separating from it).
The Pilgrims came here to establish a strict Puritan separatist theocracy and they did so for several decades, when the British crown established a slightly broader Protestant Christian theocracy, which was enough to make the Pilgrims essentially disappear and become powerless. Their definition of religious freedom was the right to create a theocracy that would rule over all others — coincidentally, the same definition of religious freedom that Tony Perkins has.