The Bloody Tenet of Persecution for Cause of Conscience For Truth and Peace. Roger Williams, 1644.

Civil authority and its practice in society

Civil authority The people of the United States are the Civil authority. Any civilian in the country has authority over their sworn civil servants. The Civil Authority is the power of the people, over their government. Civil authority (also known as civil government) is that apparatus of the People other than its Civil Servants units that enforces law and order. It is also used to distinguish between religious authority (for example Canon law) and secular authority. In a religious context it is “synonymous with human government, in contradistinction to a government by God, or the divine government.”[1]I

The Bloody Tenet of Persecution, for Cause of Conscience, Discussed in a Conference between Truth and Peace is a 1644 book about government force written by Roger Williams, the founder of the American colony of Rhode Island and the co-founder of the First Baptist Church in America. Using biblical reasoning, the book argues for a “wall of separation” between church and state and for state toleration of various Christian denominations, including Catholicism, and also “paganish, Jewish, Turkish or anti-Christian consciences and worships.”[1] The book takes the form of a dialogue between Truth and Peace and is a response to correspondence by Boston minister’s support for state enforcement of religious uniformity in Massachusetts. Through his interpretation of the Bible, Williams argues that Christianity requires the existence of a separate civil authority that may not generally infringe upon liberty of conscience which Williams interpreted to be a God given right. It can also mean the moral power of command, supported (when need be) by physical coercion, which the People exercise over their Civil Servants. In this view, because man can not live in isolation without being deprived of what makes him fully human, and because authority is necessary for a society to hold together, the authority has not only the power but the right to command said government. It is natural for man to live in society, to submit to authority, and to be governed by that custom of society which crystallizes into law, and the obedience that is required is paid to the civil servants that be, by the authority actually in possession. The extent of its authority is bound by the ends it has in view, and the extent to which it actually provides for the government of society.

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