Publication of An Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty
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Isaac Backus
Time Period
In 1773, Backus published a collection of his sermons as An Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty. In the pamphlet, Backus recounts the special taxes and fines levied against Baptist ministers simply because they were not apart of the "established," or official, church of each colony. Backus believed that Christians had forgotten a central tenet of the faith and so posed this question for proponents of established churches: "Now who can hear Christ declare, that his kingdom is, not of this world, and yet believe that this blending of church and state together can be pleasing to him?"

Backus' call for disestablishment is a legacy of the Baptist emphasis on individual soul liberty that goes back to Roger Williams and the founding of Rhode Island. It also anticipates Thomas Jefferson's famous statement about erecting a "wall of separation" by nearly three decades.
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Baptist Religious Events and People in American History
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Backus, Isaac
The First Great Awakening

An Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty, title page- Internet Archive

Isaac Backus portrait- Internet Archive- from Early History of Brown University by Reuben Aldridge Guild
Web Source(s)
The full text of the sermon is available online.
Web Page Contributor
Paul Matzko
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in History

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