|The Constitutional Principle: Separation of Church and State|
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|Please note that we have excerpted only those sections dealing with religion||
Until 1818 Connecticut functioned under its Colonial Charter of 1662.
Found in that charter are the following:
. . . Our said People Inhabitants there, may be so religiously, peaceably and civilly governed, as their good life and orderly Conversation may win and invite the Natives of the Country to the Knowledge and obedience of the only true GOD, and the Saviour of Mankind, and of the Christian Faith, which in Our Royal Intentions, and the adventurers free Possession, is the only and principle End of this Plantation; . . .
Nevertheless, our Will and Pleasure is, and We do hereby declare unto all Christian Kings, Princes, and States, that if any Persons which shall hereafter be of the said Company or Plantation, or any other Appointment of the said Governor and Company for the time being, shall at any time or times hereafter rob or spoil by sea or by land, and do any hurt, violence, or unlawful hostility to any of the subjects of us, or heirs. . . [it goes on to give permission to punish, such, etc.]
(Merely continued the colonial charter of 1662 in force as the organic law of the state.
The Preamble declared:
The People of this State being by the Providence of God, free and independent, have the sole and exclusive Right of governing themselves as a free, sovereign, and independent State; and having from their ancestors derived a free and excellent Constitution of Government whereby the legislature depends on the free and annual election of the people, they have the best security for the preservation of their civil and religious rights and Liberties. And forasmuch as the free Fruition of such Liberties and Privileges as Humanity, Civility and Christianity call for, as is due to every Man in his Place and Proportion, without impeachment and infringement, hath ever been, and will be the Tranquillity and Stability of Churches and Commonwealths; and the Denial thereof, the Disturbance, if not the Ruin of both.
Connecticut did not adopt a new constitution until 1818 at which time it officially disestablished religion.
The people of Connecticut, acknowledging with gratitude the good providence of God, in having permitted them to enjoy a free government do, in order more effectually to define, secure, and perpetuate the liberties, rights and privileges which they have derived from their ancestors, hereby, after careful consideration and revision, ordain and establish the following constitution and form of civil government.
DECLARATION OF RIGHTS
SEC. 3. The exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination, shall forever be free to all persons in this State, provided that the right hereby declared and established shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness, or to justify practices inconsistent with the peace and safety of the State.
SEC. 4. No preference shall be given by law to any Christian sect or mode of worship.
SECTION I. It being the duty of all men to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the Universe, and their right to render that worship in the mode most consistent with the dictates or their consciences, no person shall by law be compelled to join or support, nor be classed with, or associated to, any congregation, church, or religious association; but every person now belonging to such congregation, church, or religious association, shall remain a member thereof until he shall have separated himself therefrom, in the manner hereinafter provided. And each and every society or denomination of Christians in this State shall have and enjoy the same and equal powers, rights, and privileges; and shall have power and authority support and maintain the ministers or teachers of their respective denominations, and to build and repair houses for public worship by a tax on the members of any such society only, to be laid by a major vote of the legal voters assembled at any society meeting, warned and held according to law, or in any other manner.
SEC. 2. If any person shall choose to separate himself from the society or denomination of Christians to which he may belong, and shall leave a written notice thereof with the clerk of such society, he shall thereupon be no longer liable for any future expenses which may be incurred by said society.
[ Disestablishment, in the final analysis was the greatest single reform in the 1818 constitution. The statute of 1817, removing civil and political disabilities from all denominations. was incorporated into the first section of this article; and the Connecticut court held, in 1844, that the effect of the article as a whole was to convert all ecclesiastical bodies into private rather than public corporations, thus denying them access to state action to compel compliance with church regulations and discipline; cf. Jewtt v. Thomas Bank, 16 Conn. 511.]