CLS over at Classically Liberal has written an incredibly well-thought-out and eloquent essay on the importance of free speech and the separation of church and state.
The forefathers of modern libertarianism, the classical liberals, first campaigned for freedom of conscience. They wanted to limit the power of the state because the state was the instrument by which intolerant church policies were imposed on the public. The church, preferring to not have blood on its hands directly, left the killing to the state. So the state imposed theological order at the point of the gun—or more accurately at the time, at the point of the sword. Transgressors would be identified and executed, often at the stake. But what the state was doing was entirely at the behest of the church. The church is pretty much a toothless dog when it doesn’t have access to state power. It can bark but it can’t bite.
It brings me great comfort to find smart people who agree with me. Considering the nonsense going on in the United States right now, it’s nice to know there are at least some rational minds still at work.