I just finished reading Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, the pamphlet that inspired American independence. There is so much in it still relevant today. The last paragraph of the work:
“And here without anger or resentment I bid you farewell, sincerely wishing, that as men and christians, ye may always fully and uninterruptedly enjoy every civil and religious right; and be, in your turn, the means of securing it to others; but that the example which ye have unwisely set, of mingling religion with politics, may be disavowed and reprobated by every individual inhabitant of America.”
Paine’s finale for revolutionary thought on this continent is the separation of church and state. The “mingling religion with politics” was his greatest inspiration, faith in the individual, that no man should be held above another for superficial, superstitious, or imaginary reasons. Many state constitutions banned church leaders from running for public office. The founders knew the via ad Roma, and didn’t wish to take it.