Saddle Up, Progressives!

Patricia Schroeder

Happy Women’s History Month to all of us. Let me just give you one historical fact: we all know about Paul Revere, but I bet you don’t know about the Ludington sisters. Paul Revere rode his horse through Boston, but the Ludington sisters covered the entire damn state of Connecticut, and no one wrote a book about them. I feel a little bit like the Ludington sisters here today. This is a really serious time—we have to wake up and do something, whether we like it or not. I was really pleased to see that many other people at this conference are saying the same thing.

When you talk about whether or not secularism has a political agenda, I think because traditionally we’ve all been trained in a certain nonjudgmentalism (maybe ecumenical niceness?), we express our views, but we try not to be too forceful. We are able to do that because the separation of church and state is so ingrained in our history that we never had to worry much about it. It really was part of what we were about. I’m reading a book about Roger Williams, Anne Hutchinson, and the formation of Rhode Island, which was really the first place in the country with any real religious freedom. Up until then, things were really sad; I don’t think any of us would have lasted long in Plymouth or Boston in the old days. If you think that our Founding Fathers settled all of this religious liberty business early on, I must say, no, we still haven’t. There is an absolutely raging debate going on right now.

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