Religious Tolerance and Freedom…Thank Ben Franklin!

Dear Reader:

The name Ben Franklin always conjures up in my mind adjectives like brilliant, witty, earthy, curious/scientific, patient, folksy, foxy, and flirty. (He really was quite the ladies man even in his old age. Historian and one of the authors of the special Time magazine on the Founding Fathers– Walter Issacson…even called him (humorously) an “incorrigible flirt, going so far as proposing marriage to Madame Helvetius, a free-spirited widow of the French Court.”

The one thing I didn’t know about Benjamin Franklin that surprised me was the great legacy (he left behind) in his belief of religious tolerance. America wasn’t born with that idea…it had to be acquired over time. (The Puritans certainly were intolerant of anybody else but another Puritan.)

Franklin didn’t like the religious intolerance he saw in Boston and by moving to Philadelphia, he was soon surrounded by Lutherans, Moravians, Quakers and Jews, as well as Calvinists. They were all living side by side in the “City of Brotherly Love.”

Ben Franklin did not subscribe to a particular religious sect….he simply believed in God, believed in leading a virtuous life, serving the country he loved and hoped to achieve salvation through good works.” He even built a new hall in Philadelphia expressly for the use of “any preacher of any religious persuasion who might desire to say something.”

By the end of his life Franklin had contributed to the building funds of “every religious sect in Philadelphia.

In 1788 during the July 4th celebrations that year… Benjamin Franklin was confined to his bed. In his honor the parade route went right under his window. “For the first time as pre-arranged by Franklin, “the clergy of different Christian denominations, with the rabbi of the Jews, walked arm in arm.”

Amazingly when “he was carried to his grave two years later, his casket was accompanied by all the clergymen of the city, everyone of them, of every faith.”

Ben Franklin was one of those rare people whose actions in life matched his words. He modeled what “religious freedom and tolerance” should look like in daily life in this amazing country he helped found and love.

So until tomorrow…One of my favorite quotes on tolerance that I try to remind myself of when confronted with an “intolerant’ thought…about someone I think is being “intolerant” is this one.

Mollie took the children to the aquarium so Dad could sleep….coming off a night shift and sent me these fun pictures.

Eva Cate made it over to Boo’s yesterday so I told her she could cut the ribbon on the new, secure tree house flooring. (Since she was the one who almost fell completely through the old rotten floor which we didn’t know was that bad until that scary incident.)





About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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