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Letter: A great recommendation

Thanks to Bill Wishart for singling out John M. Barry’s excellent Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul (the title of which was apparently truncated by an overzealous headline writer) as a history book of note (Monitor Forum, July 25).

More than simply the promoter of “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Roger Williams established the principal of separation of church and state in the New World; not because he was anti-religious, as Barry notes, but because Williams believed that “mixing church and state corrupted the church.”

At a time when Massachusetts Bay Puritans were flogging and hanging Quakers for their faith, Williams provided sanctuary in Rhode Island, even though he deeply disagreed with Quaker doctrine.

He equally welcomed Roman Catholics, Jews and Muslims.

In Barry’s words, Williams “always saw the soul as an uncertain searcher, and it was always the difficulty in finding the truth which underlay his revulsion at those who proclaimed certainty, whose monstrous partiality left no room for the possibility of their own error.”

Words to consider at a time when so many seek false security in the absolute.

BYRON O. CHAMPLIN

Concord

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