Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Photo of the Day: A Man to be Thankful For

No, the figure memorialized in this statue was not one of the Pilgrims. In fact, Massachusetts in the early colonial era made certain that this man they regarded as a troublemaker wherever he went was not welcome.

But were it not for Roger Williams (1603-1683), you and I might not be here in the United States to celebrate Thanksgiving. I use the phrase “you and I” in the broadest possible way—Protestant, Catholic, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, nonbeliever.

The city of Providence, R.I., which I visited last month, commemorated the unconventional preacher who founded their city in 1636 as a haven for religious freedom, even for those sects with which he profoundly disagreed. 

In this 14-ft.-high statue in Prospect Terrace Park, the American theologian behind the concept of state noninterference with religious practices stands atop a hill overlooking what he could never imagine, a modern metropolis, with his right hand extended in blessing. It was a dramatic vista that mid-to-late afternoon when I visited, begging to be photographed--and I did.

This year, the world remains convulsed and in tragic disarray because people of different spiritual beliefs are not tolerated by those who control their nations. Despite all its clear imperfections, thank God that is not the case in the United States. Today, let's thank God, in addition for many other blessings, Roger Williams for helping to secure a peaceful place for religions of all kinds here.

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