The Constitutional Principle: Separation of Church and State
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State Constitution (Religious Sections) - New York

Please note that we have excerpted only those sections dealing with religion
Research and editing by Jim Allison

NEW YORK CONSTITUTION OF 1777

ARTICLE VIII. That every elector, before he is admitted to vote, shall, if required by the returning-officer or either of the inspectors, take an oath, or, if of the people called Quakers, an affirmation, of allegiance to the state.

ARTICLE XXXV. And this convention doth further, in the name and by the authority of the good people of this state, ordain, determine, and declare that such parts of the common law of England, and of the statute law of England and Great Britain, and of the acts of the legislature of the colony of New York, as together did form the law of the said colony on the 19th day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five, shall be and continue the law of this state, subject to such alterations and provisions as the legislature of this state, shall, from time to time make concerning the same. That such of the said acts, as are temporary, shall expire at the times limited for their duration respectively.

That all such parts of the said common law, and all such of the said statutes and acts aforesaid, or parts thereof, as may be construed to establish or maintain any particular denomination of Christians or their ministers, or concern the allegiance heretofore yielded to, and the supremacy, sovereignty, government, or prerogatives claimed or exercised by, the King of Great Britain and his predecessors, over the colony of New York and its inhabitants, or are repugnant to this constitution, be, and they hereby are, abrogated and rejected. And this convention doth further ordain, that the resolves or resolutions of the congresses of the colony of New York, and of the convention of the state of New York, now in force, and not repugnant to the government established by this constitution, shall be considered as making part of the laws of this state; subject, nevertheless, to such alterations and provisions as the legislature of this state, may from time to time, make concerning the same.

ARTICLE XXXVIII. And whereas we are required, by the benevolent principles of the rational liberty, not only to expel civil tyranny, but also to guard against that spiritual oppression and intolerance wherewith the bigotry and ambition of weak and wicked priests and princes have scourged mankind, this convention doth further, in the name and by the authority of the good people of this state, ordain, determine, and desire, that the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall be forever hereafter be allowed, within this state, to all mankind: PROVIDED That the liberty of conscience, hereby granted, shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness, or justify practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of this state.

ARTICLE XXXIX. And whereas the ministers of the gospel are, by their profession, dedicated to the service of God and the care of souls, and ought not to be diverted from the great duties of their function, therefore, no minister of the gospel, or priest of any denomination whatsoever, shall, at any time hereafter, under and preference or description whatever, be eligible to, or capable of holding, any civil or military office or place within this state.

ARTICLE XL. . . . That all such of the inhabitants of this state being of the people called Quakers as, from scruples of conscience, may be adverse to the bearing of arms, be therefrom excused by the legislature; and do pay to the State such sums of money, in lieu of their personal service, as the same may, in the judgment of the legislature be worth . . .

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NEW YORK CONSTITUTION 1822

The religious clauses of the 1777 constitution were amended to read as follows:

ARTICLE VII, SECTION III. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall be forever hereafter be allowed, within this state, to all mankind: but the liberty of conscience, hereby secured, shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness, or justify practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of this state

ARTICLE VII, SECTION IV, And whereas the ministers of the gospel are, by their profession, dedicated to the service of God and the care of souls, and ought not to be diverted from the great duties of their function, therefore, no minister of the gospel, or priest of any denomination whatsoever, shall, at any time hereafter, under and preference or description whatever, be eligible to, or capable of holding, any civil or military office or place within this state.

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The restrictions against Ministers, Priests, etc holding office or serving in the military was finally ended with the 1846 constitution.


 
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