Today, in Providence, Rhode Island, I toured some of its historical sites and reviewed its history. One of the interesting things to me was that Providence was first platted by Pastor Roger Williams. He settled the site with his followers.
Most of the first diagrams of many U. S. settlements put a church in the middle of a square with the community surrounding it. Williams was so determined to keep religion out of government, the first plat of Providence had no spot for a church. Even though a Christian preacher, he saw the dark side of religion in the earliest of U. S. history.
Roger Williams was not in the first wave of European settlers but came along soon after. One of the first things that bothered him was treatment of Indians. He set about learning about them and their language.
His conclusion was that the Church of England had no business converting natives to Christianity. He expressed this opposition while in Boston and was eventually driven out ending up in what is now Providence.
It is interesting that today Rhode Island is has among the lowest church membership and participation in the United States. I was surprised today how many empty or converted to other use churches I saw.
It is also a very cosmopolitan place with only about 35% of the population being white. I’ve read that Hispanic and black churches will lead the faith back to growth. That is not happening in Providence.
I think the founding fathers would be pleased with today’s Providence, RI.