When the Past Becomes the Present:
the Burden of History and the Price of Liberty
An Essay taken From Conscience to Liberty: Diverse Long Island Families
in a Crucible that Gave Rise to Religious Freedom
Essay by © Margery Boyden, Scudder Association Foundation Historian
Shared with permission to the Scudder Association Foundation, March 9, 2022
Freedom Square Kharkiv, before March 1, 2022
Freedom Square Kharkiv, after a missile strike, March 1, 2022
Tanks are again menacing, and bombs are falling, and people are again fighting for their liberties or fleeing for their lives. Images recall horrific pasts, giving clarity to present chaos, reminding of millions who have fought for freedom or have been refugees in search of freedom. For millennia, there have been countless exiles from war or persecution, or soldiers engaged in the age-old struggle over whether humans may have freedom to choose life, liberty, and peace, or be trampled into submission to the will of tyrants. Now, in an unthinkable rerun, it is most painful for Ukrainians suffering a grim repeat of their prior history. Tanks are again menacing, and bombs are falling, and people are again fighting for their liberties or fleeing for their lives. Images recall horrific pasts, giving clarity to present chaos, reminding of millions who have fought for freedom or have been refugees in search of freedom. For millennia, there have been countless exiles from war or persecution, or soldiers engaged in the age-old struggle over whether humans may have freedom to choose life, liberty, and peace, or be trampled into submission to the will of tyrants. Now, in an unthinkable rerun, it is most painful for Ukrainians suffering a grim repeat of their prior history. To understand the present carnage in Ukraine, one must look to the complicated past. Excerpts from the Afterword of my recent book have chilling relevance to this current conflict in the Ukraine. I now quote from pages 726–732, 748–749 and 754–755:
1660sa religious exile, the immigrant , adjoining. Emma’s words beckon with a compassionate spirit of inclusion, While not all who suffer can be adequately accommodated within its borders, Americans can care to relieve suffering at home and abroad humane, .
The United Nations Refugee Agency in June 2019 announced, “We are now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record, 70.8 million,”  due to religious persecution, war, corruption, and violence. [Updated to 82.4 in June 2021 and growing daily.] For our planet and its people, it is now urgent to remove from our world’s history the barbaric burdens perpetuated by “man’s inhumanity to man”—to not retreat from the gains that have been made over the last 500 years by recreating unnecessary burdens for people of faith that were heroically removed by the U.S. Bill of Rights nearly 250 years ago (or by the 1948 U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights).
Knowing that full liberty for all was more than could be achieved by just one generation, Dr. Nathaniel Scudder’s pen implored those who follow to continue to investigate the truths of religious and civil liberties articulated by his founding generation, and those who have benefitted in any way from their labors and sacrifices should not forget or slack or rest until true freedom reigns at home and abroad. No generation has a free ride to continual blessings of freedom.
With visibly, staggering consequences of 21st century “man’s inhumanity to man” filling refugee camps and displacing unprecedented millions from their homes around the world, this is no time to quench the spirit within faith communities or their resources. These make significant voluntarily sacrifices to administer relief. Spirit ignites conscience to see and feel this empathy.
“The story of ‘Man’s inhumanity to man’ is the burden of History…but [has] never been so degrading and humiliating as those which have bound the larger freedom of worship.” If those who seek to bind the larger freedom of worship in the United States succeed, they will impede a significant portion of voluntary humanitarian outreach happening at home and globally.
Observations and Reflections about the Price and Prize of Liberty
If I were asked what I learned from writing this book, and from the people within its pages, I have learned to not take liberty for granted. History of the past 500 years is a formidable witness that religious persecution begins with intolerance, bigotry and religious discrimination against a particular religion or people of faith or even religion in general. Historically, religious prejudice easily escalates into marginalizing, then persecution and violence. In the 20th century wars and genocides, prejudice affected many millions. It is a global problem today. History repeatedly shows that religious freedom is the most effective antidote to this destructive pattern.
and saw for myselfIt protects the core of self-identity and integrity of millions while protecting rights of all. Having known the effect on my own family’s history, I was intrigued to learn more, 20th century
frequently to one another“observing ,usingLanguage was the biggest barrier. In their native land,
could wedto become established in. They were delighted tointimidatitssynagogue’s and generous
,is different than theirs
 governmental times of fear and
, a woman ofgreat integrity and skill, appreciateor political spin I saw for myself . These results validated words of Alecksandr Solzhenitsyn that I was enjoyingThe next step is hatred of believers. behind e experienced as he lived through it. His description is athat
consequences for forgetting God were severe. Thedkilled brought aboutdeadliestwereSeeingdestructivenessit is puzzling stillold . in The Opium of the Intellectuals: adds, in what has been called his masterpiece of political reflection, argues:that man would always operate without self-interest as a core motive. Aron warns that rulers who more likely
After dissolution of the Soviet Union, Alexander Yakolev, “the intellectual father of glasnost,” validated the words of Solzhenitsyn. In his official capacity, he “shone a spotlight on the horrors of Soviet history, exposing the secrets of the Gulag, the mass executions, the millions who died in slave camps and prisons.” Yakolev’s investigations found that “More than 85,000 Orthodox priests were shot in 1937 alone,” all part of the plan to rid the U.S.S.R of religion. For those who observed these times, the term “freedom from religion” rightly has sinister meaning.
I,and with the specter of atomic war also hanging its pall over all of humankind during his era, Sohlzenitsyn
of personal and global uncertainty, when we realize that .He need to make
evidence and.I also saw some who had been denied access to religion resolutely reaching for the “warm hand of God.” S,,religious,religious Imagine my surprise when we toured the Kremlin grounds and visited five churches still standing within its walls. Now serving mostly as museums, they reveal the aged heart of Russian culture.
giftmightscriptures to afind six months previously,could in that moment feel thatGod’s word had to bless her lifefor that warm hand is connected to the arm of mercy that has a mighty power to lift, to heal and to comfort and to deliver. Many who have taken that outstretched arm of mercy attest that it offers inner peace, life, liberty, and happiness that surpass all earthly understanding. In times of adversity, it is the one hand and arm with endless supply.
consequencesversion—especially freedom of Choicedescribes inviting and inclusive of the Author true . For even to them, merciful,  The choice to take that hand or not belongs to each person. some of
in other countries a better life for Now up to fourteen of have left records and accounts to ….
Reflecting on what I have learned from my immigrant friends reminds me to be grateful for the sacrifices and labors of many preceding generations that produced the good we do have. Ingratitude focuses us on resentment for what we, or our predecessors, suffered or for what we don’t have yet, inviting negative passions that may prevent positive outcomes. Ingratitude obscures one’s ability to see with compassion that most others also feel pain…. Most of us have suffered injustices or have ancestors who did. Will we dwell on these negatives and retaliate, or will we let these memories serve to remind all of us that:
Liberty is very fragile and highly prized by all who have ever been without it.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt reminds us:
Our modern democratic way of life has its deepest roots in our great common religious tradition, which for ages past has taught to civilized mankind the dignity of the human being, his equality before God, and his responsibility in the making of a better and fairer world.
Everywhere in the world there are men of stout heart and firm faith now engaged in a great spiritual struggle to test whether that ancient wisdom is to endure, or whether it must give way to the older, discarded doctrine that some few men shall dominate multitudes of others and dictate to them their thinking, their religion, their living. This conflict has found its most terrible expression in a war which has now engulfed a large portion of humanity. In its more peaceful aspects, the same struggle also pervades all efforts of men of good will who are seeking through democracy the way to the world to come.
In teaching this democratic faith to American children, we need the sustaining, buttressing aid of those great ethical religious teachings which are the heritage of our modern civilization. For ‘not upon strength nor upon power, but upon the spirit of God’ shall our democracy be founded.
— Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1940
Scudder descendant and
President of the United States of America
End of Quote, From Conscience to Liberty
Were my eye-opening experiences of nearly 30 years ago relevant to the current evil business of Putin’s “denazification” of a peaceful Ukraine? A Ukraine which allows for religious freedom and a Jewish president.
Roger Grim is the head of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation that studies the role of restrictive religious policies by governments around the world and the effects on business and economic development. He also assists the Pew Research Center. His recent article, “Severely Restricting Religious Freedom Predicts War,” discusses the relevant role of Russia’s restrictive policies on religion to the wars in which Russia is engaged in Syria and Ukraine. Grim writes:
Russia’s military might — unleashed by Putin on Ukraine — is deplorable. Many factors contribute to this or any war: economic or territorial gain, nationalism, revenge, civil discord, religion, to name a few. One that is usually overlooked is the role of government restrictions on religious freedom…
Religion is also a motivation in Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine. This time, it’s pitting Russia’s brand of Orthodox Christianity again Ukraine’s, which has separated from the Russian hierarchy….
What I would point out is that it is not religion in general, but the government restrictions on religion that are the predictor of whether a state will be predisposed to starting a war.
In an award-winning 2007 research article (which I co-authored and which we fleshed out in a 2011 Cambridge University book), we empirically showed that it was not “religion” in general that led to violent religious persecution and conflict, but it was the level of social regulation of religion (SRI) the level of government restrictions on religion (GRI) that led to violent persecution and/or religion-related conflict.
In 2010, Brian Grim co-authored with Roger Finke, The Price of Freedom Denied: Religious Persecution and Conflict in the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion and Politics), published by Cambridge University Press. This book informs how restrictions by governments on religious freedom and dissent for conscience’s sake are “bad for business.” Since then Pew Research Center invited Grim to establish “their annual global studies to plot levels of restrictions on religion by nations that led to violent persecution and or/religion-related conflict. The Pew Research Center report in 2019 shows that of the European nations, only Russia scored “very high” for religious restrictions and hostilities in Europe.
Brian Grim’s recent article, “Severely Restricting Religious Freedom Predicts War,” offers informative links. https://religiousfreedomandbusiness.org/2/post/2022/03/severely-restricting-religious-freedom-predicts-war.html.
© 2019 Margery Boyden
 A narrative cultural history by Margery Boyden, From Conscience to Liberty: Diverse Long Island Families in a Crucible that Gave Rise to Religious Freedom, 1526–1664, v. 1, Part B, (Published by the author, October 2021), chapters 35 and Afterword. See book description at Scudder Association Foundation Family Store, Books, https://scudder.org/product/from-conscience-to-liberty/.
 Shmuliko, “Kharkov Freedom Square,” 2003, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kharkov_Freedom_Square.jpg.
 “Figures at a Glance,” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, The United Nations Refugee Agency, June 2019, https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/figures-at-a-glance.html. (Accessed 9/26/2019.) The figure in March 2022 is now over 85 million.
 See Introduction, p. 6–7. Also Salter’s History of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, 52. Example: Since 1819, more than 4 generations of Dr. Scudder’s descendants have combined efforts to equal 1100 years of service to aid India.
 Geoffrey York, “Why father of glasnost is despised in Russia,” The Globe and Mail, March 9, 2001, updated April 10, 1918, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/why-father-of-glasnost-is-despised-in-russia/article22399254/.
 Numbers 6:26, Job 22:21, Psalm 85:8, Isaiah 26:3–4, Old Testament, Holy Bible; John 14, John 16:33, Romans 8:6, 1 Corinthians 14:33, Galatians 5:22, Philippians 4:7, Hebrews 12:14, James 3:7, 18, New Testament, Holy Bible; Quran 1:2–3, 17:110, 59:22–24.
 Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “Letter on Religion in Democracy,” December 16, 1940, The American Presidency Project, University of California at Santa Barbara, https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/letter-religion-democracy. Italics added.
 Brian Grim, “Severely Restricting Religious Freedom Predicts War,” Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, March, 1, 2022, https://religiousfreedomandbusiness.org/2/post/2022/03/severely-restricting-religious-freedom-predicts-war.html. Chris Baronavski, et al. “Religious restrictions around the world, Pew Research Center, September 30, 2021, https://www.pewforum.org/essay/religious-restrictions-around-the-world/