Catholics and Protestants both engaged in burning Baptists
Protestant reformers were sometimes as guilty of atrocities as the Romanists against the Baptists and Anabaptists. Catholics and Protestants taught that tradition, reason and Scripture made it the pious duty of saints to torture and burn men as heretics out of pure love for their holiness and salvation. Protestantism told them that it was a sacred duty to slaughter those as schismatics , sectaries, malignants, who corrupted the Church and would not live in peace with the Reformed. The sad instances of persecution practiced against the Baptists by the Protestants in King Edward VI’s reign are in the Latin version of Foxe’s Book of Martrs but were left out of his English edition in order to protect the reputation of some of the martyrs of Queen Mary’s day who had persecuted the Baptists during Edward’s reign. John Rogers, one of Foxe’s friends, called for the death of those who opposed the baptism of infants. It was reported that Rogers declared “That burning alive was no cruel death, but easy enough.” It is believed that Foxe responded that Rogers himself may be the first to experience this mild burning. And so it was, Rogers was the first to be burned when the Catholic Queen Mary came to the throne. During the last year of Edward’s reign Humphry Middleton was cast into prison by the Archbishop. After Bloody Mary arose to power, the bishops were cast into prison and Middleton was burned at Canterbury on July 12, 1555. The time of baptism as well as the mode was debated at this time because some of the Protestants immersed. So the issue was believer’s baptism v . infant baptism. During Mary’s reign the prisons were crowded because both of these positions were anathema to the Catholic Mary. None was recorded by Baptists.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: adapted From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 285-86.
76 – March 17 Baptists and the Land of the Free
What an important date March 17, 1644, is for American freedom. It was on that date that Roger Williams obtained a free and absolute charter, entitled “The Incorporation of Providence Plantation, in the Narragansett Bay, in New-England.” The influence of our godly Baptist forefathers created in Rhode Island the only one of the thirteen original colonies that featured total religious freedom! Nine of the thirteen colonies maintained a State church, and others such as Pennsylvania and Maryland offered partial religious freedom, but only Rhode Island granted complete religious liberty. Though Baptists have been persecuted by many wherever they have existed, they have never persecuted others. When laying the cornerstone of the great Metropolitan Tabernacle I London, Mr. Spurgeon stated: “Persecuted alike by Romanists and Protestants of almost every sect, yet there has never existed a Government holding Baptist principles which persecuted others; nor, I believe, any body of Baptists ever held it to be right to put the consciences of others under the control of man. We have ever been ready to suffer, as our martyrologies will prove, but we are not ready to accept any help from the State, to prostitute the purity of the Bride of Christ to any alliance with Government, and we will never make the Church, although the Queen, the despot over the consciences of men.” Historically Baptists have always held to the principle of voluntarism, and as a result, they would rather provide total religious freedom than to dictate the religious persuasion of another. Baptists have ever championed a free church in a free state. Unfortunately today the Baptists reach out their hands to readily join with the state and are no longer the free people our forefathers fought and died for, “Soul Liberty.”
Dr. Dale R. Hart, adapted from: “This Day in Baptist History III” David L. Cummins. pp. 157 – 158