Baptists fought tax-exemption
1765 – Rev. Noah Alden, A great-grand son, of the Mayflower, John Alden, was the preacher during the great revival at Stafford, CT. when he preached a sermon which resulted in the conversion of the leader of a group of frivolous young people by the name of Beil Ledoyt. Ledoyt spoke to his merrymaking friends about his experience with such power that they, too, came under strong conviction. The former leader secured a schoolhouse, to which many of his former buddies came to mock but remained to pray. They stood ‘like men amazed’ while Ledoyt spoke to a crowded auditorium with such convincing force that some forty young people received Christ. Ledoyt became an outstanding gospel preacher. In Feb.1766 fifteen of those who had been baptized by immersion formed a Baptist church in Woodstock, over which Ledoyt became the pastor. Also that same year, Alden was installed as Pastor of the Separate Baptist church in Stafford. When they refused to pay religious taxes, many were imprisoned. In fact, a similar case became known as the “Stafford Case.” The State Church boys finally passed a law “exempting” the Baptists and Quakers from the “religious tax” which was used to support the Presbyterian clergy or for the building or upkeep of their meeting houses, if they could prove that they were regular attendees and givers to their own church. Some Baptists who were members of a church many miles away in Wellington, CT., but could not attend regularly, won their court case. The Judge, who was Episcopal, said, “how long would a Baptist…have to stay home before he would become a Presbyterian?” [This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 672-74. William G. McLoughlin, ed., The Diary of Isaac Backus (Providence, R.I.: Brown University Press. 1979) 2:733-34.
Prepared by Dr. Greg Dixon