The Constitutional Principle: Separation of Church and State
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Study Guide:
Separation of Church and State

This is the longest and most complete collection of evidence on this site. Because of space limitations the following is a combination of commentary and URLs for further facts, documentation and commentary.

Thus there will be some duplication of items. For that I apologize.

Author, etc.


Part I

The Beginning

Question:Separation of church and state, the principle, where can it be found, or can it be found in the Constitution?

Answer: Directly, the unamended constitution, Article VI, Section III

" but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

Then, indirectly the entire document (unamended constitution) as a whole.

One might consider the following:


Study Guide for The Roots of American Democracy

Study Guide for Separation of Church and State


May 29, 1787,

constitutional Convention, Philadelphia, Penna.

Mr. CHARLES PINCKNEY laid before the House the draft of a plan of government, to be agreed upon between the free and independent States of America:-

ART. VI . . . .The Legislature of the United States shall pass no law on the subject of religion, nor touching or abridging the liberty of the press [n]or shall the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus ever be suspended, except in case of rebellion or invasion.

Source of Information

Debates on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution in the Convention Held at Philadelphia in 1787, Jonathan Elliot, Vol. V. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company (1888) p 128-131. The Complete Bill of Rights, The Drafts, Debates, Sources, and Origins, Edited by Neil H. Cogan. Oxford University Press (1997) p 72.

Commentary:

The words. "Mr. P. plan." are omitted in the transcript, and what purports to be the plan itself is here inserted.

Madison himself did not take a copy of the draft nor did Pinckney furnish him one, as he did a copy of his speech which he Later delivered in the Convention and which is printed as a part of the debates (session of Monday. June 25). Many years later, in 1818, when John Quincy Adams. then

Secretary of State, was preparing the Journal of the Convention for publication, he wrote to Pinckney, requesting a copy of his plan, end, in compliance with this request Pinckney sent him what purported to be the draft, but which appears to have been a copy of the report of the Committee

of Detail of August 6. 1787, with certain alterations and additions. The alleged draft and Pinckney's letter transmitting it were written upon paper bearing the water-mark. "Russell & Co. 1797."

The Pinckney draft was not debated; it was neither used in the Committee of the Whole nor in the Convention. It was however referred to the Committee of Detail, which appears to have made some use of it, as exracts from it have been identified by J. Franklin Jameson and an outline of it discovered by Andrew C. McLaughlin, among the papers and in the handwriting of James Wilson, a delegate from Pennsylvania, deposited with the Pennsylvania Historical Society. 995680---27-------9)

Source of Information

Notes of the Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787, Reported by James Madison, Bicentennial Edition. With an introduction by Adrienne Koch. W. W. Morton & Company New York * London, Reissued as a Norton paperback 1987, original introduction copyright 1966, Ohio University Press, pp 33.

Additional Commentary:

See footnotes page 270 "The Constitution's Forgotten Religion Clause: Reflections on the Article VI Religious Test Ban" by Daniel L. Dreisbach, Journal Of Church and State , Volume 38 Spring 1996 Number 2


Tuesday August 30th, 1787

in Convention (Philadelphia)

Mr. PINKNEY moved to add to the art:-"but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the authority of the U. States."

Mr. SHERMAN thought it unnecessary, the prevailing liberality being sufficient security against such tests.

Mr. GOV. MORRIS and Gen. PINKNEY approved the motion. The motion was agreed to nem: con: then the whole article; N.C. only no-& Maryland divided.

Source of Information

Bicentennial Edition, Notes of the Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787, Reported by James Madison, With an introduction by Adrienne Koch. W. W. Morton & Company New York * London, Reissued as a Norton paperback 1987, original introduction copyright 1966, Ohio University Press, pp 561.


Charles Pinckney wished to guarantee religious freedom in the Federal Constitution by providing that "The legislature of the United States shall pass no law on the subject of religion"--a proposal which, though referred to the committee on detail, was apparently dropped, as we do not hear of it again until it appears in slightly revised form in the first amendment of the Bill of Rights of two years later.


Article VI, Section III: The No Religious Test Ban Clause (Separation clause) Part I: Introduction

Part II: The Constitutional Convention

Part III: The Pennsylvania State Ratifying Convention

Part IV: The Connecticut State Ratifying Convention and The Massachusetts State Ratifying Convention

Part V: The Virginia State Ratifying Convention

Part VI: The North Carolina State Ratifying Convention

Some Thoughts on Religion and Law

"They divided power among the three branches of the Federal Government, through Federal state separation of power, through Church state separation of power, a division which is recognized in the Constitution even before the First Amendment in the Religious Test Oath Clause."

Excerpt from The federalist Society For Law and Public Policy Studies. Charitable Choice, Remarks of Professor Marci Hamilton


Original Intent: Introduction What intent, whose intent?

Original Intent? Part II Excerpts from correspondence of members of the First Federal Congress -- January 2, 1789 to June 30, 1789

Original Intent? Part III Excerpts from correspondence of members of the First Federal Congress -- July 5, 1789 to August 18, 1789

Original Intent? Part IV Excerpts from correspondence of members of the First Federal Congress -- August 19, 1789 to October 2, 1789

Dangers and Comments on "We the People;" Factions, Including Religious Sects, & Denominations; Local & State Governments; Majority v. Minority; Common Law and Other Things of Importance


First Federal Congress

March -September 1789

Chaplains and Congress

Chief Justice Burger, I Would Like You To Meet Mr. Madison

Discrepancies>

The Political Move That Backfired


The Legislative History of the Establishment Clause:

Congressional Debates: Religious Amendments, 1789

From The House of Representatives

"The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious beliefs, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience in any manner or in any respect be infringed."
(Civil rights, establishment, rights of conscience, broad word establishment used )
Not accepted

"No religion shall be established by law, nor shall the equal rights of conscience be infringed."
(Establishment and conscience, broad word establishment used)
Not accepted

"Congress shall make no laws touching religion , or infringing the rights of conscience."
(Establishment and conscience, broad word establishment used)
Not accepted

"Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or to prevent the free exercise thereof, or to infringe the rights of conscience."
(Establishment, free exercise, conscience, broad word establishment used)
Not accepted

Submitted to the Senate:

"Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, nor shall the rights of conscience be infringed."
(Establishment, free exercise, conscience, broad word establishment used)
Not accepted

"Congress shall make no law establishing one religious sect or society in preference to others, nor shall the rights of conscience be infringed"
(Establishment of a preference, conscience, narrow non preference use of establishment)
Not accepted

"Congress shall not make any law, infringing the rights of conscience, or establishing any religious sect or society."
(establishment of a preference, conscience, narrow non preference use of establishment)
Not accepted

"Congress shall make no law establishing any particular denomination of religion in preference to another, or prohibiting free exercise thereof, nor shall the rights of conscience be infringed."
(preference establishment, free exercise, conscience, narrow use of non preference reference to establishment)
Not accepted

"Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
(Establishment, free exercise, back to broad use of establishment)
Not accepted

Submitted Back to the House:

"Congress shall make no law establishing articles of faith or a mode of worship, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion."
(establishing preference, free exercise, back to narrow non preference use of the word establishment)
Not accepted

Joint House/senate Language:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
(establishment, free exercise, back to broad)
Accepted.

What can be said with any degree of certainty?

We do know for sure that it was to prevent the later use of the "necessary and proper" wording from being used as a doorway to make laws regarding religion. We know that because Madison mentions that.

We do know that it was to prevent a sects, denominations, religions from combining and establishing religions, forcing others to go along with the program. We know that again because Madison mentions it.

We know the obvious, that is it was meant to prevent the government from establishing religion, a religion, a sect, a denomination as the "official" religion of the nation.

We also know that Congress was prevented from making an law RESPECTING an establishment of religion. We know that because those words were eventually chosen to be used.

We know that several non preferential proposals were made and all lost out to the more broad, less defined word establishment, but even that word did have meaning that applied in this country.

"Of the eleven states that ratified the 1st Amendment, nine (counting Maryland) adhered to the viewpoint that support of religion and churches should be voluntary, that any government financial assistance to religion constituted an establishment of religion."

Source of Information

The First Freedoms, Church and State in America to the Passage of the First Amendment, by Thomas Curry, page 220.


House Rejected the Senate Version, Senate Would Not Accept The House Version, Thus Six men, in a joint House-Senate Committee, with no records of their discussions, debates, arguments, votes, etc took this:

"Congress shall make no law establishing religion, or to prevent the free exercise thereof, or to infringe the rights of conscience."

and this

"Congress shall make no law establishing articles of faith or a mode of worship, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion."

and created this:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof'."

The joint committee left no records of their deliberations. The full House nor Senate never voted on the Joint House-Senate Committee's final draft. The congressional action was completed. That final draft became the Religious Clauses of the Bill of Rights

The six men on that committee were

From the House

Chairman Madison

Sherman

Vining

From the Senate

Chairman Ellsworth

Carroll

Paterson

September, 10-19,1789--First Federal Congress (Amendments)

Commentary

On September 10, 17&19, the House received the Senate's message that it had agreed to the House amendments, "with several amendments; to which they desire the concurrence of this House." The House considered the subject on September 19 and 21. On the latter date, they voted on the Senate changes. "some of which they agreed to, and disagreed to others." The House then resolved that "a committee of conference was desired with the Senate, on the subject matter of the amendments disagreed to." Madison, Sherman, and Vining (the three members who had played the largest part in the House debate) were appointed managers on the part of the House, and Oliver

Ellsworth, Charles Carroll, and William Paterson as Senate conferees. Some of the problems dealt with by the conferees may be seen in Madison's letter to Pendleton (Sept 23, 1789).[see below]

On September 23. Madison made the Conference Report to the House. It provided that the House would accept all the Senate amendments, and provided for three further changes. The first was a minor alteration in the amendment on representation. The third gave the final form to the Sixth Amendment and reincluded in it the right to a jury trial of the locality (though not restricted to the vicinage) which the Senate had omitted. The second change made by the Conference Committee was of great importance--to replace the weakened Senate version of the religious freedom guarantee by the simple yet strict prohibitions of what are now the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment. Without a doubt, this final version of the first guarantee of the First Amendment was written by Madison; it repeats his earlier House version which the Senate had diluted. As Irving Brant puts it, "Of all the versions of the religious guarantee, this most directly covered the thing he was aiming at--absolute separation of church and state and total exclusion of government aid to religion." Madison's success in having the Conference Committee adopt his version of the religious freedom guarantee marked a fitting culmination of his role in the Bill of Rights debate.

On September 24, the House voted 37 to 14 to agree to the Conference Report. On the same day, Ellsworth made the Conference Report to the Senate. The next day, the Senate concurred in the amendments as voted by the House and acquiesced in a House resolution requesting the President to transmit copies of the amendments to the states. September 25 (the day on which the congressional approval was completed) is celebrated as the anniversary of the Bill of Rights. The form in which the amendments finally passed Congress appears (infra p. 1164). Apart from the first two Articles (which failed of state ratification), these amendments (renumbered to reflect the non-ratification of the first two) now constitute the federal Bill of Rights.

Source of Information

The Bill Of Rights: A Documentary History, Vol. II, Bernard Schwartz, Chelsea House Publishers, in association with McGraw Hill Book Company, N.Y. Toronto, London, Sydney (1971) pp 1159.


Madison to Pendleton, 1789*

Sept. 23, 1789

Dear Sir,

The pressure of unfinished business has suspended the adjournment of Congs. till Saturday next. Among the articles which required it was the plan of amendments, on which the two Houses so far disagreed as to require conferences. It will be impossible I find to prevail on the Senate to concur in the limitation on the value of appeals to the Supreme Court, which they say is unnecessary, and might be embarrassing in questions of national or Constitutional importance in their principle, tho' of small pecuniary amount. They are equally inflexible in opposing a definition of the locality of Juries. The vicinage they contend is either too vague or too strict a term, too vague if depending on limits to be fixed by the pleasure of the law, too strict if limited to the County. It was proposed to insert after the word Juries, "with the accustomed requisites," leaving the definition to be construed according to the judgment of professional men. Even this could not be obtained. The truth is that in most of the States the practice is different, and hence the irreconcileable difference of ideas on the subject. In some States, jurors are drawn from the whole body of the community indiscriminately; in others, from large districts comprehending a number of Counties; and in a few only from a single County. The Senate suppose also that the provision for vicinage in the Judiciary bill, will sufficiently quiet the fears which called for an amendment on this point. On a few other points in the plan the Senate refuse to join the House of Reps.

*The Writings of James Madison, Vol. 5, p. 424.


As far as I am aware, only one of those six men ever wrote anything about intent, meaning etc of those clauses and that man was Madison.

Thus, what that man said would shed some light on what those words were supposed to have meant: how broad or narrow those words should be applied, i.e. to only prevent the establishment of a "national" religion (what did Madison mean when he used the word national), or only to prevent the rise of one Protestant Christian denomination over other Protestant Christian denominations, or to only prevent an establishment of religion, or to allow non-preferential aid and support to religion/religions equally, or to truly separate religion (church) and Govt (state)


Part II

Some Contemporary Evidence that Church State separation was accomplished by the unamended constitution


1789

Representative Thomas Tucker on Church and State, September 1789

Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses Only Reinforced Separation of Church and State:


1790

As it is not the province of civil government to establish forms of religion, and force a maintenance for the preachers, so it does not belong to that power to establish fixed holy days for divine worship. That the Jewish seventh-day Sabbath was of divine appointment, is unquestionable; but that the Christian first-day Sabbath is of equal injunction, is more doubtful. If Jesus appointed the day to be observed, he did it as the head of the church, and not as the king of nations ; or if the apostles enjoined it, they did it in the capacity of Christian teachers, and not as human legislators. As the appointment of such days is no part of human legislation, so the breach of the Sabbath (so called) is no part of civil jurisdiction. I am not an enemy to holy days, (the duties of religion cannot well be performed without fixed times,) but these times should be fixed by the mutual agreement of religious societies, according to the word of God, and not by civil authority. I see no clause in the federal constitution, or the constitution of Virginia, to empower either the federal or Virginia legislature to make any Sabbathical laws.

Under this head, I shall also take notice of one thing, which appears to me unconstitutional, inconsistent with religious liberty, and unnecessary in itself; I mean the paying of the chaplains of the civil and military departments out of the public treasury. The king of Great Britain has annually forty-eight chaplains in ordinary, besides a number extraordinary ; his army also abounds with chaplains. This, I confess, is consistent with the British form of government, where religion is a principle, and the church a creature of the state ; but why should these plans of proud, covetous priests, ever be adopted in America ? If legislatures choose to have a chaplain, for Heaven's sake, let them pay him by contributions, and not out of the public chest. . .

For chaplains to go into the army, is about as good economy as it was for Israel to carry the ark of God to battle: instead of reclaiming the people, they generally are corrupted themselves, as the ark fell into the hands of the Philistines . . .It is happy for Virginia, in a political point of view, that there are several societies, nearly of a size ; should one attempt to oppress another, all the rest would unite to prevent it. And the same may be said of the United States; more than twenty religious societies are in them, which render it almost impossible for one order to oppress all the others. This is a greater security for religious liberty than all that can be written on paper. If two or three of the most popular societies in the Union should unite together, the other societies would have cause to fear, from the consideration, that the many generally oppress the few; but if things in future, emerge as they have heretofore, we have more reason to believe, that the present societies will split and subdivide, than we have to believe, that parties, now at variance, will ever unite. O, Virginia! O, America !-a people favored of the Lord !-may the goodness of God excite our obedience. There are yet remaining some vestiges of religious oppression, but they are chiefly theoretical. It may be said, that in substance, the different societies enjoy equal liberty of thinking, speaking, and worshipping, and equal protection by law. Perhaps there is not a constitutional evil in the states, that has a more plausible pretext, than the proscription of gospel ministers; I say in the states, for most of them have proscribed them from seats of legislation, &c. The federal government is free in this point: to have one branch of the legislature composed of clergymen, as is the case in some European powers, is not seemly-to have them entitled to seats of legislation, on account of their ecclesiastical dignity, like the bishops in England, is absurd. But to declare them ineligible, when their neighbors prefer th em to any others, is depriving them of the liberty of free citizens, and those who prefer them, the freedom of choice.

Source of Information

Excerpts from "The Virginia Chronicle," by John Leland, 1790. The Writings of John Leland, Edited by L.F. Greene, Arno Press & The New York Times N Y (1969) pp.91-124) Originally published as: The Writings Of The Late Elder John Leland Including Some Events In His Life, Written By Himself, With Additional Sketches &c. By Miss L.F. Greene, Lanesboro, Mass. New York Printed By G.W. Wood, 29 Gold Street, 1845.


1791

It may further be observed, that all the states now in union, saving two or three in New England, have no legal force used about religion, in directing its course or supporting its preachers. And moreover the federal government is forbidden by the constitution to make any laws establishing any kind of religion. If religion cannot stand, therefore, without the aid of law, it is likely to fall soon in our nation, except in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

V. The federal constitution certainly had the advantage, of any of the state constitutions, in being made by the wisest men in the whole nation, and after an experiment of a number of years trial, upon republican principles; and that constitution forbids Congress ever to establish any kind of religion, or require any religious test to qualify any officer in any department of the federal government. Let a man be Pagan, Turk, Jew, or Christian, he is eligible to any post in that government. So that if the principles of religious liberty, contended for in the foregoing pages, are supposed to be fraught with the same. But the separate states have not surrendered that (supposed) right of establishing religion to Congress. Each state retains all its power, saving what is given to the general government by the federal constitution. The assembly of Connecticut, therefore, still undertake to guide the helm of religion: and if Congress were disposed yet they could not prevent it by any power vested in them by the states. Therefore, if any of the people of Connecticut feel oppressed by the certificate law, or any other of the like nature, their proper mode of procedure will be to remonstrate against the oppression and petition the assembly for a redress of grievance.

Source of Information

Excerpts from "The Rights of Conscience Inalienable; and Therefore Religious Opinions Not Cognizable by Law," by John Leland, 1790. The Writings of John Leland, Edited by L.F. Greene, Arno Press & The New York Times N Y (1969) pp.175-192) Originally published as: The Writings Of The Late Elder John Leland Including Some Events In His Life, Written By Himself, With Additional Sketches &c. By Miss L.F. Greene, Lanesboro, Mass. New York Printed By G.W. Wood, 29 Gold Street, 1845.


1794

Q. What have, you to say about the Federal Constitution of America?

A. It is a novelty in the world: partly confederate, and partly consolidate-partly directly elective, and partly elective one or two removes from the people; but one of the great excellencies of the Constitution is, that no religious test is ever to be required to qualify any officer in any part of the government. To say that the Constitution is perfect, would be too high an encomium upon the fallibility of the framers of it; yet this may be said, that it is the best national machine that is now in existence.

Source of Information

Excerpts from The Yankee Spy, by Jack Nips ( John Leland), 1794. The Writings of John Leland, Edited by L.F. Greene, Arno Press & The New York Times N Y (1969) pp.215-229) Originally published as: The Writings Of The Late Elder John Leland Including Some Events In His Life, Written By Himself, With Additional Sketches &c. By Miss L.F. Greene, Lanesboro, Mass. New York Printed By G.W. Wood, 29 Gold Street, 1845.


April 14, 1800

The Gazette

Philadelphia

Monday Evening, April 14.

The condition of Church and State in America is such as to fill every considerate mind with the most unhappy sensations. In spite of that vanity and fastidiousness which led the Federal Convention, in founding their government, to preclude any connection, it will appear in the end, even by our own deplorable example, that a strict and indissoluble alliance of religion to government has been ordained in the nature of things. Though formally sundered by Constitution and laws; together they decline and together (it would seem) they are likely to perish.

Source of Information

The Gazette of the United States, April 14, 1800.Jan 1, 1800 TO Dec.31, 1800 MFILM N.S. 10953 AP2.05


January 1833

"The remaining part of the clause declares, that 'no religious test shall ever be required, as a qualification to any office or public trust, under the United States.' This clause is not introduced merely for the purpose of satisfying the scruples of many respectable persons, who feel an invincible repugnance to any test or affirmation. It had a higher object; to cut off for ever every pretence of any alliance between church and state in the national government. The framers of the constitution were fully sensible of the dangers from this source, marked out in history of other ages and countries; and not wholly unknown to our own. They knew, that bigotry was unceasingly vigilant in its own stratagems, to secure to itself an exclusive ascendancy over the human mind; and that intolerance was ever ready to arm itself with all the terrors of civil power to exterminate those, who doubted its dogmas, or resisted its infallibility."

Commentaries on The Constitution of The United States, by Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, Vol III, (1833) pg 705.


Commentary on Religious Tests and the Constitution

[Rev.] Linn's call for a religious test echoed a similar debate held at the constitutional and ratifying conventions of 1787-1789.3 Opposing each other then were delegates with fundamental differences in their conception of religion's proper place in American public life. On one side were those stressing that America was a Christian nation and should be led by Christians. On the other were those emphasizing that the nation was a haven of religious freedom and should separate matters of state and issues of faith. The latter argument prevailed and resulted in a constitutional ban against religious tests. But, while the Constitution guaranteed a secular state, to many Americans who considered religion central in their lives, especially defenders of Protestant orthodoxy, the issue was not settled. They discovered during the presidential campaign of 1800 the means and a forum for attaining their goal: a voterimposed religious test to be won in the arena of public opinion. This essay explores that heated and, often, acrimonious contest.

For the orthodox ministers who led the fight, the year 1800 represented their best opportunity since 1787 to argue that a Christian nation must have Christian leaders.4 . . . The Federalist-dominated Congress capitalized on the outsized fear of foreign intrigue and restricted the free speech provisions of the First Amendment by passing the Sedition Act, aimed squarely at Jeffersonian newspaper editors. Some hoped that the current atmosphere would permit a similar curb on freedom of religion. While a few persons pondered ways to either amend or circumvent constitutional safeguards protecting religion from state interference, most opted to take their case directly to the people and seek a voter-imposed religious test that would bar Jefferson from the White House.

Historians have analyzed the religious question in 1800 from several perspectives. One scholar viewed it as a profound "political struggle between rationalist Christianity and Protestant orthodoxy." In this interpretation, the combatants fought over what was "true" faith and which expression would best provide American society with a firm moral base.5 To another, the matter was one between "secular humanists" who wanted no discussion of religion at all in matters of state but were not necessarily antireligious and those religious leaders who wished to present the campaign as one for the survival of orthodox Christianity in the republic.6 And yet another, borrowing from Jefferson's own analysis of the campaign, conceived of the fight over religion as narrow-minded sectarian bigotry.7

3. For the debate over religious tests at the constitutional and ratifying conventions, see Daniel Dreisbach, "The Constitution's Forgotten Religion Clause: Reflections on the Article VI Religious Test Ban," Journal Of Church and State 38 (Spring 1996): 261-96; Morton Borden, Jews, Turks, and Infidels (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1984); John M. Murrin, "Religion and Politics in America from the First Settlements to the Civil War," in Religion and American Politics: From the Colonial Period to the 1980s, ed. Mark A. Noll (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 19-43; Jackson Turner Main, The Antifederalists: Critics of the Constitution, 1781-1788 (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1961); James H. Smyhe, "Protestant Clergy, the First Amendment, and Beginnings of a Constitutional Debate, 1781-1791," in The Religion of the Republic, ed. Elwyn A. Smith (Philadelphia, Penn.: Fortress Press, 1971), 116-53; and Edwin Gaustad, "Religious Tests, Constitutions, and a 'Christian Nation'," in Religion in a Revolutionary Age, eds. Ronald Hoffman and Peter J. Albert (Charlottesville, Va.: University Press of Virginia, 1994), 218-35.

4. On religion and the campaign of 1800, see Mark A. Noll, One Nation Under God? (New York: Harper and Row, 1988), 74-89; Charles F. O'Brien, "The Religious Issue in the Presidential Campaign of 1800,"Essex Institute Historical Collections 107 (January 1971): 82-93; Constance B. Schulz, "`Of Bigotry in Politics and Religion': Jefferson's Religion, the Federalist Press, and the Syllabus," The Virginia Magazine of Biography and History 91 (January 1983): 73-91; Charles O. Lerche, Jr., "Jefferson and the Election of 1800: A Case Study in the Political Smear," William and Mary Quarterly 5 (October 1948): 467-91; Fred C. Luebke, "The Origins of Thomas Jefferson's Anti-Clericalism," Church History 32 (September 1963): 344-56; and L. H. Butterfeld, "Elder John Leland, Jeffersonian Itinerant," Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society 62 (October 1952): 214-29.

5. See O'Brien, "The Religious Issue in the Presidential Campaign of 1800."

6. John Murrin, "Religion and Politics in America from the First Settlements to the Civil War," inReligion and American Politics, ed. Noll, 19-43.

7. Schulz. "Of Bigotry in Politics and Religion."

Source of Information

"God-And a Religious President . . . Or Jefferson and No God": Campaigning for a Voter-Imposed Religious Test in 1800, Frank Lambert, pp 770-71 Journal Of Church and State , Volume 39 Autumn 1997 Number 4


Part III

Some Contemporary Evidence That the Constitutional Principle of Church State Separation Was Known and Recognized


February 2, 1790

. . . a very interesting debate in the House of Representatives, February 2, 1790, when the question of the Federal census was under consideration. The bill, as reported, provided for the enumeration of farmers, mechanics, and other groups, but did not include the learned professions. Theodore Sedgwick of Massachusetts (1746-1813) suggested that it should "specify every class of citizens, into which the community was divided, in order to ascertain the actual state of the society." Mr. Madison, in his reply, said:

The gentleman from Massachusetts has asked, why the learned professions were not included? I have no objection to giving a column to the general body. I think the work would be rendered more complete by the addition, and if the decision of such a motion turned upon my voice, they shall be added. But it may nevertheless be observed, that in such a character they can never be objects of legislative attention or cognizance. As to those who are employed in teaching and inculcating the duties of religion, there may be some indelicacy in singling them out, as the General Government is proscribed from interfering, in any manner whatever, in matters respecting religion; and it may be thought to do this, in ascertaining who, and who are not ministers of the Gospel. Conceiving the extension of the plan to be useful however, and not difficult, I hope it may meet the ready concurrence of this House. (295)

Footnote:

295. Gales, Joseph, Sr. Debates and Proceedings of the Congress of the United States (Washington , 1834) I, 1106-1108

Source of Information

Church and State in the United States, Anson Phelps Stokes, D.D., L.L.D, Harper & Bros, N Y (1950) Vol. I, p. 346


1790

Excerpts from "The Rights of Conscience Inalienable; and Therefore Religious Opinions Not Cognizable by Law," by John Leland, 1790.

1. Every man must give an account of himself to God, and therefore every man ought to be at liberty to serve God in that way that he can best reconcile it to his conscience. If government can answer for individuals at the day of judgment, let men be controlled by it in religious matters; otherwise let men be free.

4. Finally, religion is a matter between God and individuals, religious opinions of men not being the objects of civil government nor any ways under its control.

It has often been observed by the friends of religious establishment by human laws, that no state can long continue without; that religion will perish, and nothing but infidelity and atheism prevail.

Are these things facts? Did not the christian religion prevail during the three first centuries, in a more glorious manner than ever it has since, not only without the aid of law, but in opposition to all the laws of haughty monarchs? And did not religion receive a deadly wound by being fostered in the arms of civil power and regulated by law? These things are so.

From that day to this we have but a few instances of religious liberty to judge by' for in almost all states civil rulers (by the instigation of covetous priests) have undertaken to steady the ark of religion by human laws; but yet we have a few of them without leaving our own land.

The state of Rhode Island has stood above 160 years without any religious establishment. The state of New York never had any. New Jersey claims the same. Pennsylvania has also stood from its first settlement until now upon a liberal foundation; and if agriculture, the mechanical arts and commerce, have not flourished in these states equal to any of the states I judge wrong.

It may further be observed, that all the states now in union, saving two or three in New England, have no legal force used about religion, in directing its course or supporting its preachers. And moreover the federal government is forbidden by the constitution to make any laws establishing any kind of religion. If religion cannot stand, therefore, without the aid of law, it is likely to fall soon in our nation, except in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

To day that "religion cannot stand without a state establishment" is not only contrary to fact (as has been proved already) but is a contradiction in phrase. Religion must have stood a time before any law could have been made about it; and if it did stand almost three hundred years without law it can still stand without it.

The evils of such an establishment are many.

1. Uninspired fallible men make their own opinions tests of orthodoxy, and use their own systems, as Procrustes used his iron bedstead, to stretch and measure the consciences of all others by. Where no toleration is granted to non-conformists either ignorance and superstition prevail or persecution rages; and if toleration is granted to restricted non-conformists the minds of men are biassed to embrace that religion which is favored and pampered by law (and thereby hypocrisy is nourished) while those who cannot stretch their consciences to believe any thing and every thing in the established creed are treated with contempt and opprobrious names; and by such means some are pampered to death by largesse and others confined from doing what good they otherwise could by penury. The first lie under a temptation to flatter the ruling party, to continue that form of government which brings the sure bread of idleness; the last to despise that government and those rulers that oppress them. The first have their eyes shut to all further light that would alter the religious machine; the last are always seeking new light, and often fall into enthusiasm. Such are the natural evils of establishment in religion by human laws.

2. Such establishments not only wean and alienate the affections of one from another on account of the different usages they receive in their religious sentiments, but are also very implicit, especially in new countries; for what encouragement can strangers have to migrate with their arts and wealth into a state where they cannot enjoy their religious sentiments without exposing themselves to the law? when at the same time their religious opinions do not lead them to be mutinous. And further, how often have kingdoms and states been greatly weakened by religious tests! In the time of the persecution in France not less than twenty thousand people fled for the enjoyment of religious liberty.

3. These establishments metamorphose the church into a creature, and religion into a principle of state; which has a natural tendency to make men conclude that bible religion is nothing but a trick of state. Hence it is that the greatest part of the well informed in literature are overrun with deism and infidelity: nor is it likely it will ever by any better while preaching is made a trade of emolument. And if there is no difference between bible religion and state religion I shall soon fall into infidelity.

4. There are no two kingdoms or states that establish the same creed or formularies of faith (which alone proves their debility). In one kingdom a man is condemned for not believing a doctrine that he would be condemned for believing in another kingdom. Both of these establishments cannot be right--but both of them can be, and surely are, wrong.

5. The nature of such establishments, further, is to keep from civil office the best of men. Good men cannot believe what they cannot believe; and they will not subscribe to what they disbelieve, and take an oath to maintain what they conclude is error: and as the best of men differ in judgment there may be some of them in any state: their talents and virtue entitle them to fill the most important posts, yet because they differ from the established creed of the state they cannot--will not fill those posts. Whereas villains make no scruple to take any oath.

If these and many more evils attend such establishments--That were and still are the causes that ever there should be a state establishment of religion?

The causes are many--some of them follow.

1. The love of importance is a general evil. It is natural to men to dictate for others; they choose to command the bushel and use the whip-row, to have the halter around the necks of others to hand them at pleasure.

2. An over-fondness for a particular system or sect. This gave rise to the first human establishment of religion, by Constantine the Great. Being converted to the christian system, he established it in the roman empire, compelled the pagans to submit, and banished the christian heretics, built fine chapels at public expense, and forced large stipends for the preachers. All this was done out of love to the christian religion: but his love operated inadvertently; for he did the christian church more harm than all the persecuting emperors did. It is said that in his day a voice was heard from heaven, saying, "Now is the poison spued into the churches." If this voice was not heard, it nevertheless was a truth; for from that day to this the christian religion has been made a stirrup to mount the steed of popularity, wealth and ambition.

3. To produce uniformity in religion. Rulers often fear that if they leave every man to think, speak and worship as he pleases, that the whole cause will be wrecked in diversity; to prevent which they establish some standard of orthodoxy to effect uniformity. But is uniformity attainable? Millions of men, women and children, have been tortured to death to produce uniformity, and yet the world has not advanced one inch towards it. And as long as men live in different parts of the world, have different habits, education and interests, they will be different in judgment, humanly speaking.

Is conformity of sentiments in matters of religion essential to the happiness of civil government? Not at all. Government has no more to do with the religious opinions of men than it has with the principles of the mathematics. Let every man speak freely without fear--maintain the principles that he believes--worship according to his own faith, either one God, three Gods, no God, or twenty Gods; and let government protect him in so doing, i.e. see that he meets with no personal abuse or loss of property for his religious opinions. Instead of discouraging of him with proscriptions, fines, confiscation or death; let him be encouraged, as a free man, to bring forth his arguments and maintain his points with all boldness; then if his doctrine is false it will be confuted, and if it is true (though ever so novel) let others credit it. When every man has this liberty what can he wish for more? A liberal man asks for nothing more of government.

The duty of magistrates is not to judge of the divinity or tendency of doctrines, but when those principles break out into overt acts of violence then to use the civil sword and punish the vagrant for what he has done and not for the religious phrensy that he acted from.

5. The ground work of these establishment of religion is clerical influence. Rulers, being persuaded by the clergy that an establishment of religion by human laws would promote the knowledge of the gospel, quell religious disputes, prevent heresy, produce uniformity, and finally be advantageous to the state, establish such creeds as are framed by the clergy; and this they often do the more readily when they are flattered by the clergy that if they thus defend the truth they will become nursing fathers to the church and merit something considerable for themselves.

What stimulates the clergy to recommend this mode of reasoning is,

1. Ignorance--not being able to confute error by fair argument.

2. Indolence--not being willing to spend any time to confute the heretical.

3. But chiefly covetousness, to get money--for it may be observed that in all these establishments settled salaries for the clergy recoverable by law are sure to be interwoven; and was not this the case, I am well convinced that there would not be many if any religious establishments in the christian world.

If the citizens of this state have any thing in existence that looks like a religious establishment, they ought to be very cautious; for being but a small part of the world they can never expect to extend their religion over the whole of it, without it is so well founded that it cannot be confuted.. . . Let it suffice on this head to say, that it is not possible in the nature of things to establish religion by human laws without perverting the design of civil law and oppressing the people.

The certificate law [In Conn. at the time] supposes, 1. That the legislature have power to establish a religion: This if false. 2. That they have authority to grant indulgence to non-conformists: this is also false, for religious liberty is a right and not a favor. 3. That the legitimate power of government extends to force people to part with their money for religious purposes. This cannot be proved from the new testament.

V. The federal constitution certainly had the advantage, of any of the state constitutions, in being made by the wisest men in the whole nation, and after an experiment of a number of years trial, upon republican principles; and that constitution forbids Congress ever to establish any kind of religion, or require any religious test to qualify any officer in any department of the federal government. Let a man be Pagan, Turk, Jew, or Christian, he is eligible to any post in that government. So that if the principles of religious liberty, contended for in the foregoing pages, are supposed to be fraught with the same. But the separate states have not surrendered that (supposed) right of establishing religion to Congress. Each state retains all its power, saving what is given to the general government by the federal constitution. The assembly of Connecticut, therefore, still undertake to guide the helm of religion: and if Congress were disposed yet they could not prevent it by any power vested in them by the states. Therefore, if any of the people of Connecticut feel oppressed by the certificate law, or any other of the like nature, their proper mode of procedure will be to remonstrate against the oppression and petition the assembly for a redress of grievance.

Source of Information

"The Rights of Conscience Inalienable; and Therefore Religious Opinions Not Cognizable by Law," by John Leland, 1790. The Writings of John Leland, Edited by L.F. Greene, Arno Press & The New York Times N Y (1969) pp.175-192) Originally published as: the Writings of the Late Elder John Leland Including Some Events in His Life, Written by Himself, with Additional Sketches &C. By Miss L.f. Greene, Lanesboro, Mass. New York Printed By G.W. Wood, 29 Gold Street, 1845.


March 5, 1798

GENERAL + A U R O R A + ADVERTISER

MONDAY MARCH 5, 1798


Take notice! Something very like this happened on the 4th of March, 1797. The American Constitution has no relation to the Christian religion: Yet Mr. Adams, before taking his oath of office, made a long exordium to this purpose: viz, that, although the constitution makes no distinction in favour of the Christian religion, yet that he (Mr. Adams) in nominating to public offices would always have a special eye to that point. This truth was thereafter sent to the press.

In July or August last, when the author of the history of 1796 or in plain terms. when Hamilton came to Philadelphia to vindicate his character by a confession of adultery, this identical and most Christian president invited him to a family dinner with Mrs. Adams. Such is his selection of company for the entertainment of his wife! Oh, Johnny! Johnny!

Source of Information

General Aurora Advertiser, March 5, 1798. MFILM N.S. 12516 HF5862.A9


May 9, 1798

GENERAL + AURORA + ADVERTISER

PHILADELPHIA

WEDNESDAY, MAY 9. 1798

The other papers of this city have chosen to be silent this day, because the President has recommended a fast. We do not follow their example:

Because there is nothing in the constitution giving authority to proclaim fasts .

Because, if any such power can be considered, by implication, as vested by the constitution, it would rather belong to the Legislators.

Because prayer, fasting, and humiliation are matters of religion and conscience, with which government has nothing to do, but which every individual is to attend to at such times, and in such manner, as he shall deem fit.

And Because we consider a connection between state and church affairs as dangerous to religious and political freedom and that, therefore, every approach towards it should be discouraged.

Source of Information

General Aurora Advertiser, May, 9, 1798, Philadelphia, Penna. MFILM N.S. 12516 HF5862.A9


1800

A
Solemn Address
to
Christians & Patriots,
upon the
Approaching Election
of a
President of the United States
in Answer to a Pamphlet, Entitled,
"Serious Confiderations," &C.


New-York;
Printed by David Denniston.
1800.


D E D I C A T 1 O N
To the Reverend Dr. Linn
"Thou shalt not bear false-witness against thy neighbour."
-The ninth commandment.

TO M Y R E A D E R S

In the ensuing observations, I shall consider your duties as christians and as patriots. I shall make it my task to establish the following propositions.

1st. That it is your duty, as christians, to maintain the purity and independence of the church, to keep religion separate from politics, to prevent an union between the church and the state, and to preserve your clergy from temptation, corruption and reproach.

Timoleon

We have years and volumes-we have a world of experience before us, in the sufferings and the miseries of ages-we read a lesson too impressive to be resisted: both as christians and as men, we are powerfully conjured to reject all attempts to promote an union between the church and the state-the very idea of such a union is insupportable. Neither directly or indirectly should we suffer it to be effected.

Religion and government are equally necessary, but their interests should be kept separate and distinct. No legitimate connection can ever subsist between them. Upon no plan, no system, can they become united, without endangering the purity and usefulness of both -the church will corrupt the state, and the state pollute the church. Christianity becomes no longer the religion of God-it becomes the religion of temporal craft and expediency and policy. Instead of being the sacred guide to lead mankind to heaven, it becomes the prostituted instrument of private cupidity and personal ambition. I am not to be told there is no longer danger in such an alliance; the danger has always existed, and as long as men retain their passions and vices, will exist in all its force.

Source of Information

Excerpts from "A Solemn Address to Christians & Patriots, Upon The Approaching Election of a President of the United States," Political Sermons of the American Founding Era, 1730-1805, Edited by Ellis Sandoz, Liberty press, pp. 1481-1528.


APRIL 14, 1800

THE GAZETTE

PHILADELPHIA

MONDAY EVENING, APRIL 14.

The condition of Church and State in America is such as to fill every considerate mind with the most unhappy sensations. In spite of that vanity and fastidiousness which led the Federal Convention, in founding their government, to preclude any connection, it will appear in the end, even by our own deplorable example, that a strict and indissoluble alliance of religion to government has been ordained in the nature of things. Though formally sundered by Constitution and laws; together they decline and together (it would seem) they are likely to perish.

Source of Information

The Gazette of the United States, April 14, 1800.Jan 1, 1800 TO Dec.31, 1800 MFILM N.S. 10953 AP2.05


JULY 31, 1800

GENERAL + AURORA + ADVERTISER

PHILADELPHIA

THURSDAY, JULY 31, 1800


FOR THE AURORA

MR. EDITOR

The prolific brains of the tories in Maryland has invented a new tale to delude the people, and to persuade them to accord with the advocates of monarchy in their attemtps to involve us in wars, and destroy our public property--They have informed the Episcopalians that the Presbyterians wish to shackle them with a religious establishment, and the same sentiment is dessiminated among the Roman Catholics.

The real state of the facts would place the opinions and proceedings of the people of every sect at peace as to an establishment.

The Presbyterians very generally remain by the ancient whig and republican principles, and have been averse to political falls and addresses to President Adams on their part.

The Congregationalists of New England are not presbyterians, they are not considered as such by the latter, and they disavow the idea that they hod the same opinions, church discipline and government. The Illuminati of New England under President Dwight, have now a mode-oppressive establishment, but the Episcopalians, Methodists, and Republicans in general, resist that tyranny. And the Illuminati are alarmed and discomfitted in every part of their country. The Presybertians wished to unite in firmer bands of association, and encrease christian unity by associating in Synods and byy a general assembly with the Congregationalists--But the creed and politics of the Iluminati were so obnoxious at home and abroad, that the progress towards coalescence is small.

Some Episcopalians, nay, very many still wish for the leeks and onions, the loaves and the fishes of the union between Church and State in England.-Witness the intricacy and correspondence of many of the Episcopal Clergy with Peter Porcupine and other British printers, and their tory politics.

In the eastern states the Episcopalians have been robbed, pillaged, and oppressed in

multiplied forms by the Illumanati. The colleges and schools they had founded or liberally endowed, have been wrestled out of their hands, and they are constantly, as far as possible, deprived of some of the most valuable rights in society.

The Roman Catholics are the constant theme of the anathemas of the illuminati, prayers, sermons, lectures in colleges, and conversation and plot, on the part of the Illuminati are seen and against the former.

The influence and operation of the establishments in Massachusetts, & Connecticut, led them to court President Adams.--He returned their courtesy, and there is too much reason, and too substantial evidence to believe, that he wished to take the benefit of this inclination in them, after an union of Church and State.

But like most bodies of men, they are also discontented with him, and are returning slowly to their right minds.

From these and ten thousand other arguments, we ought to inform every religious sect, of the real state of facts--of sects and parties, and then they will be convinced that under the administration of so honest and good man as Mr. Jefferson, men of every faith and clime will be happy.

His whole life and all his writings prove that he is no bigot, no tyrant, and no hypocrite.--he never canted about religion to gain popularity, to conceal arts and errors. He is the friend of all who love peace and pursue it. He has not delivered his fellow-citizen to be executed by a British court martial, while he was proclaiming falls in which the people have been excited to hate each other, and an opportunity been employed to sound the alarm of war, and hue and cry against republicanism. He has been busy in attending to the prosperity of his country, and not playing with their credulity, superstition or fanaticisms to exalt himself. For his love of peace and toleration, he has been vilified and the constant subject of abuse. His copy of the toleration law of Virginia, is a model fro every state--It is as valuable as the declaration of independence--both will do him immortal honor--He will be revered for his integrity, while those who have canted about religion and its institutions, at the hour of festivity with the adulterer, will be forgotten or severely animadverted upon.

Had President Adams attended less to tasting, and more to public accounts, religion and government, would have been better obeyed and more respected than at present.

The paths of true piety want no political direction, and if any body of christians revere their religion or respect their rights they ought to guard against the insiduous arts of bigotry and hypocricy.

Some men are weak enough to sacrifice their country to their bigotry--To make shipwreck of the consciences and rights to please tyrants--Such I trust is not the disposition of the people of Maryland.

Source of Information

General Aurora Advertiser, July 31, 1800, Jan. 1, 1800 -Dec. 31, 1800 MFILM N.S. 12516 HF582.A9

September 23, 1800

TO DR. BENJAMIN RUSH(1)

Monticello, September 23, 1800

. . . I promised you a letter on Christianity, which I have not forgotten. On the contrary, it is because I have reflected on it, that I find much more time necessary for it than I can at present dispose of. I have a view of the subject which ought to displease neither the rational Christian nor Diests, and would reconcile many to a character they have too hastily rejected. I do not know that it would reconcile the genus irritabile vatum(2) who are all in arms against me. Their hostility is on too interesting ground to be softened. The delusion into which the X. Y. Z. plot showed it possible to push the people; the successful experiment made under the prevalence of that delusion on the clause of the Constitution, which, while it secured the freedom of the press, covered also the freedom of religion, had given to the clergy a very favorite hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity through the United States; and as every sect believes its own form the true one, every one perhaps hoped for his own, but especially the Episcopalians and Congregationalists. The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes, and they believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly: for I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: & enough too in their opinion, & this is the cause of their printing lying pamphlets against me, forging conversations for me with Mazzei, Bishop Madison, &c., which are absolute falsehoods without a circumstance of truth to rest on; falsehoods, too, of which I acquit Mazzei & Bishop Madison, for they are men of truth.--But enough of this. It is more than I have before committed to paper on the subject of all the lies which have been preached or printed against me. . . .

Footnote

(1).Dr. Benjamin Rush, distinguished American physician and humanitarian, and Jefferson, were fellow-members of the American Philosophical Society. They corresponded frequently.

(2). The irritable tribe of priests.

Source of Information

Excerpt from letter from Thomas Jefferson to Dr. Benjamin Rush, September 23, 1800.The Works of Thomas Jefferson In Twelve Volumes, Federal edition. Collected and edited by Paul Leicester Ford. Volume X, G. P. Putnam's Sons, The Knickerbocker Press. (1905) pp 148-49.


October 6, 1800

From Benjamin Rush

Philadelphia October 6th 1800

Dear Sir

I agree with you in your Opinion of Cities. Cowper the Poet very happily expresses our ideas of them compared with the Country. "God made the Country--man made Cities." I consider them in the same light that I do Abscesses on the human body viz: as resevoirs of all the impurities of a Community.

I agree with you likewise in your wishes to keep religion and government independant of each Other. Were it possible for St. Paul to rise from his grave at the present juncture, he would say to the Clergy who are now so active in settling the political Affairs of the World: "Cease from your political labors-your kingdom is not of this World. Read my Epistles. In no part of them will you perceive me aiming to depose a pagan Emperor, or to place a Christian upon a throne. Christianity disdains to receive Support from human Governments." From this, it derives its preeminence over all the religions that ever have, or ever shall exist in the World. Human Governments may receive

Source of Information

Excerpt from letter from Benjamin Rush to Jefferson, October 6, 1800. RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 16 Oct. [1800] and so recorded in SJL. pp 321

Source of Information

The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 2nd series, Jefferson's Extracts from the Gospels, "The Philosophy of Jesus" and "The Life and Morals of Jesus." Dickinson W. Adams, Editor, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N J, (1983) pp 405-06.


MARCH 23, 1801

To Moses Robinson

Washington Mar. 23. 1801.

Dear Sir

I have to acknolege the reciept of your favor of the 3d. inst. and to thank you for the friendly expressions it contains. I entertain real hope that the whole body of our fellow citizens (many of whom had been carried away by the XYZ. business) will shortly be consolidated in the same sentiments. When they examine the real principles of both parties I think they will find little to differ about. I know indeed that there are some of their leaders who have so committed themselves that pride, if no other passion, will prevent their coalescing. We must be easy with them. The eastern states will be the last to come over, on account of the dominion of the clergy, who had got a smell of union between church and state. and began to indulge reveries which can never be realized in the present state of science. If indeed they could have prevailed on us to view all advances in science as dangerous innovations and to look back to the opinions and practices of our forefathers, instead of looking forward, for improvement, a promising ground work would have been laid. But I am in hopes their good sense will dictate to them that since the mountain will not come to them, they had better go to the mountain: that they will find their interest in acquiescing in the liberty and science of their country, and that the Christian religion when divested of the rags in which they have inveloped it, and brought to the original purity and simplicity of it's benevolent institutor, is a religion of all others most friendly to liberty, science, and the freest expansions of the human mind.

I sincerely wish with you we could see our government so assured as to depend less on the character of the person in whose hands it is trusted. Bad men will sometimes pet in, and with such an immense patronage, may make great progress in corrupting the public mind and principles. This is a subject with which wisdom and patriotism should be occupied. I pray you to accept assurances of my high respect & esteem. TH: JEFFERSON

Source of Information

Letter to Moses Robinson from Jefferson, March 23, 1801. PrC (DLC) pp 324 EXTRACTS

Source of Information

The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 2nd series, Jefferson's Extracts from the Gospels, "The Philosophy of Jesus" and "The Life and Morals of Jesus." Dickinson W. Adams, Editor, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N J, (1983) pp 405-06.


May 3, 1801

"The clergy, who have missed their union with the state, the anglo men, who have missed their union with England, the political adventurers who have lost the chance of swindling & plunder in the waste of public money, will never cease to bawl, on the breaking up of their sanctuary."

Source of Information

original source for quote -Thomas Jefferson to Postmaster-General Gideon Granger, May 3, 1801, Works: Ford IX, 249,- quote appearing in The Life of John Marshall, By Albert J Beveridge Vol. III, page 15, published 1917.


October 1801-January 1802

Jefferson and the Danbury Baptist Assoc.

A Study Guide for the Words/Concept: "Separation of Church and State"


January, 25, 28, 1802

In late January 1802, both the (Boston) Independent Chronicle and the Salem Register published the full text of both the Baptists. address and Jefferson's response.(104) The Independent Chronicle also reprinted this commentary from the Salem Register:

"The Danbury Baptist Association has addressed the President of the United States, and have confirmed from his lips, their favorite truth -- that "religion is a matter which lies solely between a man and his God." This Christian sect, by attaching itself strongly to the present administration, has gained great success in every part of the Union. The accessions to it are unprecedented in any denomination which has spread itself in America." (105)

Footnotes

(104). (Boston) Independent Chronicle. 25 January 1802, 2-3; Salem Register 28 January 1802, 1.

(105). (Boston) Independent Chronicle, 28 January 1802, 2, reprinted from Salem Register, 25 January 1802, 3.

Source of Information

"Sowing Useful Truths and principles": The Danbury Baptists, Thomas Jefferson and the "Wall of Separation", By Daniel L. Dreisbach, Journal Of Church and State , Volume 39, Summer 1997, Number 3, pp 491.


October 1, 1803

Notes for annual message, Oct. 17, 1803: alterations and additions, etc [1] (3) after "assure"-are proposed "in due season, and under prudent arrangements, important aids to our Treasury, as well as," an ample etc.

Quere: if the two or three succeeding paragraphs be not more adapted to the separate and subsequent communication, if adopted as above suggested.

(4) For the first sentence, may be substituted "In the territory between the Mississippi and the Ohio another valuable acquisition has been made by a treaty etc."[3.] As it stands, it does not sufficiently distinguish the nature of the one acquisition from that of the other, and seems to imply that the acquisition from France was wholly on the other side of the Mississippi

May it not be as well to omit the detail of the stipulated considerations, and particularly that of the Roman Catholic Pastor. The jealousy of some may see in it a principle, not according with the exemption of Religion from Civil power. In the Indian Treaty it will be less noticed than in a President's speech.[4.]

Footnotes:

[1.] For TJ's third annual message to Congress, Oct. 17, 1803, see Ford, VIII, pp. 266-7.

[3.] TI's message announced the acquisition of territory by treaty from the Kaskaskia Indians; see Ford, VIII, pp. 269-70.

[4.] TJ accepted JM's suggestion to omit any discussion of Indian treaty requirements to maintain a Roman Catholic priest, leaving the stipulations in the treaty to "the competence of both houses.... as soon as the senate shall have advised its ratification"; see ibid.

Source of Information

James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, Washington, Oct. 1, 1803, Notes for annual message, Oct. 17, 1803: alterations and additions, etc.[1.], The Republic of Letters, the Correspondence between Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, 1776- 1826, Edited by James Morton Smith, Vol. II, 1790 -1804, W. W. Norton & Company, New York, London, (1995) pp 1297-98.


January 23, 1808

Religious Proclamations Unconstitutional written by Thomas Jefferson to the Rev. Mr. Millar [Emphasis in the original]

WASHINGTON, January 23, 1808

I have duly received your favor of the eighteenth, and am thankful to you for having written it, because it is more agreeable to prevent than to refuse what I do not think myself authorized to comply with. I consider the government of the United States as INDICATED BY THE CONSTITUTION FROM INTERMEDDLING WITH RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS, THEIR DOCTRINES, DISCIPLINES, OR EXERCISES. (2) This results not with religion. only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment or free exercise of religion, but from that, also, which reserves to the States the powers not delegated to the United Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the general government. It must, then, rest with the States, as far as it can be in any human authority. But it is only proposed that I should RECOMMEND, not prescribe a day of fasting and prayer. That is, that I should INDIRECTLY assume to the United States an authority over religious exercises, WHICH THE CONSTITUTION HAS DIRECTLY PRECLUDED THEM FROM. It must be meant, too, that this recommendation is to carry some authority, and to be sanctioned by some penalty on those who disregard it; not, indeed, of fine and imprisonment, but of some degree of proscription, perhaps in public opinion. And does the change in the nature of the penalty make the recommendation less a law of conduct for those to whom it is directed, I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct its exercises, its discipline, or its doctrines; nor of the religious societies, that the general government should be invested with the power of effecting any uniformity of time or matter among them. Fasting and prayer are religious exercises; the enjoining them, an act of discipline.

Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the times for these exercises, and the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and this right can never be safer than in their own hands, WHERE THE CONSTITUTION HAS DEPOSITED IT.

Source of Information

American State Papers Bearing on Sunday Legislation, compiled and annotated William Addison Blakely, Revised Edition Edited by Willard Allen Colcord. The Religious Liberty Association (1911) pages 174-175) (Original publication of letter, Works of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Ford. Vol. 5, Pages 236-37).


February 1811

Madison's vetoes: Some of The First Official Meanings Assigned to The Establishment Clause

James Madison on Separation of Church and State: Direct references to separation to be found in the writings of James Madison


June 3, 1811

"To the Baptist Churches on Neal's Greek on Black Creek, North Carolina I have received, fellow-citizens, your address, approving my objection to the Bill containing a grant of public land to the Baptist Church at Salem Meeting House, Mississippi Territory. Having always regarded the practical distinction between Religion and Civil Government as essential to the purity of both, and as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, I could not have other wise discharged my duty on the occasion which presented itself"

Source of Information

Letter to Baptist Churches in North Carolina, June 3, 1811. Letters And Other Writings of James Madison Fourth President Of The United States In Four Volumes Published By the Order Of Congress, Vol..II, J. B. Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia, (1865) pp 511-512.


July 23, 1812

"The second of these reasons is, 'the sinful character of our nation'. Notwithstanding the prevalence of Religion, which I have described, the irreligion, and the wickedness, of our land are such, as to furnish a most painful and melancholy prospect to a serious mind. We formed our Constitution without any acknowledgement of GOD; without any recognition of his mercies to us, as a people, of his government, or even of his existence. The Convention, by which it was formed, never asked, even once, his direction, or his blessing upon their labours. Thus we commenced our national existence under the present system, without GOD. I wish I could say, that a disposition to render him the reverence, 'due to his' great 'Name', and the gratitude, demanded by his innumerable mercies, had been more public, visible, uniform, and fervent."

"At the same time I have no hesitation to say, that 'the eagerness, with which public offices are hunted for', and the sacrifices of principle and conscience, which, as we have but too much reason to believe, are made, in order to acquire them, constitute a great and dreadful sin; and are a deep brand upon the moral character of our country...."

Source of Information

"A discourse in two parts: delivered July 23, 1812, on the public fast, in the chapel of Yale College by Timothy Dwight, D.D. L.L.D., President of that Seminary; Published at the request of the students, and others;" New Haven, Published by Howe and Deforest; Sold also by A.T. Goodrich and Co. No, 124, Broadway, New-York; Printed by J.Seymour, 49, John-street, New-York, p. 40.

A Discourse in Two Parts, Reverend Timothy Dwight, 2nd ed. (Boston: Flagg & Gould, 1813), p 24. The Rhetoric and Reality of the "Christian Nation" Maxim in American Law, 1810-1920, By Steven Keith Green, an unpublished Ph. D. Dissertation submitted to the Faculity of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1997) p 1.

1846

"To the 1st Article of the amendments of the Constitution of the United States, we may very well refer to ascertain the then acknowledged sense, 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.' This was, the general law for all the union, as standing under the legislation of Congress. There could be no union of church and state; no religion established by law; nor could there be any law prohibiting any man from worshiping God as he pleased."

South Carolina Supreme Court 1846, in the Case Known as City of Charleston v Benjamin.


September 17, 1856

"The manifest object of the men who framed the institutions of this country, was to have a State without religion, and a Church without politics -- that is to say, they meant that one should never be: used as an engine for any purpose of the other, and that no man's rights in one should be tested by his opinions about the other. As the Church takes no note of men's political differences, so the State looks with equal eye on all the modes of religious faith. The Church may give her preferment to a Tory, and the State may be served by a heretic. Our fathers seem to have been perfectly sincere in their belief that the members of the Church would be more patriotic, and the citizens of the State more religions, by keeping their respective functions entirely separate. For that reason they built up a wall of complete and perfect partition between the two."
Source of Information U.S. Attorney General Jeremiah S. Black, "Religious liberty, An Address to the Phrenakosmian Society of Pennsylvania College, Delivered at the Annual Commencement, 17 September 1856," in Essays and Speeches of Jeremiah S. Black (New York: D Appleton, 1885), 53 "Sowing Useful Truths and principles": The Danbury Baptists, Thomas Jefferson and the "Wall of Separation", By Daniel L. Dreisbach, Journal Of Church and State, Volume 39, Summer 1997, Number 3, pp 492.

1871

Three years after the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, Mr. Justice Bradley wrote a letter expressing his views on a proposed constitutional amendment designed to acknowledge the dependence [374 U.S. 203, 258] of the Nation upon God, and to recognize the Bible as the foundation of its laws and the supreme ruler of its conduct:

"I have never been able to see the necessity or expediency of the movement for obtaining such an amendment. The Constitution was evidently framed and adopted by the people of the United States with the fixed determination to allow absolute religious freedom and equality, and to avoid all appearance even of a State religion, or a State endorsement of any particular creed or religious sect. . . . And after the Constitution in its original form was adopted, the people made haste to secure an amendment that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. This shows the earnest desire of our Revolutionary fathers that religion should be left to the free and voluntary action of the people themselves. I do not regard it as manifesting any hostility to religion, but as showing a fixed determination to leave the people entirely free on the subject.

"And it seems to me that our fathers were wise; that the great voluntary system of this country is quite as favorable to the promotion of real religion as the systems of governmental protection and patronage have been in other countries. And whilst I do not understand that the association which you represent desire to invoke any governmental interference, still the amendment sought is a step in that direction which our fathers (quite as good Christians as ourselves) thought it wise not to take. In this country they thought they had settled one thing at least, that it is not the province of government to teach theology.

". . . Religion, as the basis and support of civil government, must reside, not in the written Constitution, but in the people themselves. And we cannot legislate religion into the people. It must be infused by gentler and wiser methods."

Source of Information

Miscellaneous Writings of Joseph P. Bradley (1901), 357-359.


February 18, 1874

U. S. House of Representatives, 43rd Congress, 1st Session

February 18, 1874

Report No. 143: Acknowledgment of God And The Christian Religion in The Constitution

Mr. Benjamin F. Butler, from the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted the following

REPORT

The Committee on the Judiciary, to whom was referred the petition of E. G. Gould and others, asking Congress for "an acknowledgment of Almighty God and the Christian religion" in the Constitution of the United States, having considered the matter referred to them, respectfully pray leave to report:

That, upon examination even of the meager debates by the fathers of the Republic in the convention which framed the Constitution, they find that the subject of this memorial was most fully and carefully considered, and then, in that convention, decided after grave deliberation, to which the subject was entitled, that, as this country, the foundation of whose government they were then laying, was to be the home of the oppressed of all nations of the earth, whether Christian or Pagan, and in full realization of the dangers which the union between church and state had imposed upon so many nations of the Old World, with great unanimity that it was inexpedient to put anything into the Constitution or frame of government which might be construed to be a reference to any religious creed or doctrine.

And they further find that this decision was accepted by our Christian fathers with such great unanimity that in the amendments which were afterward proposed, in order to make the Constitution more acceptable to the nation, none has ever been proposed to the States by which this wise determination of the fathers has been attempted to be changed. Wherefore, your committee report that it is inexpedient to legislate upon the subject of the above memorial, and ask that they be discharged from the further consideration thereof, and that this report, together with the petition, be laid upon the table.

Source of Information

http://www.vwc.edu/academic_life/csrf/articles/christian_amendment.htm


September 14, 1879

Total separation of church and state, to be guaranteed by amendment of the national Constitution; including the equitable taxation of church property, secularization of the public schools, abrogation of Sabbatarian laws, abolition of chaplaincies, prohibition of public appropriations for religious purposes, and all measures necessary to the same general end.

National protection for national citizens in their equal civil, political, and religious rights, to be guaranteed by amendment of the United States Constitution and afforded through the United States Court.

Source of Information

National Liberal Platform Adopted at Cincinnati, September 14, 1879. American State Papers Bearing On Sunday Legislation, Revised and Enlarged Edition, Compiled and Annotated by William Addison Blakely, Revised Edition Edited by Willard Allen Colcord, The Religious Liberty Association, Washington D.C. 1911, pp 170.


1888

"Secular power has proved a satanic gift to the church, and ecclesiastical power has proved an engine of tyranny in the hands of the state."

Source of Information

Dr.. Philip Schaff Church and State in the United States (1888), p. 11. American State Papers on Freedom in Religion. 4th Revised Edition. Published in 1949 for The Religious Liberty Association, Washington, D.C. First Edition Compiled by William Addison Blakely, of the Chicago Bar. (1890) under the Title American State Papers Bearing on Sunday Legislation. p. 523.


1888

The historian George Bancroft, in a letter to Philip Schaff, stated: "Congress from the beginning was as much without the power to make a law respecting the establishment of religion as it is now that the amendment has passed."(2)
Source of Information

Schaff, Philip, Church and State in the United States, Papers of the American Historical Society, 1888, p. 137.


1888

[The Constitution] "is neither hostile nor friendly to any religion; it is simply silent on the subject, as lying beyond the jurisdiction of the general government."

Source of Information Church and State in the United States: Or, the American Idea of Religious Liberty and its Practical Effects, with Official Documents / by Philip Schaff. G. P. Putnam's Sons,New York & London, 1888, pp. 39-40 [REPRINT] Church and State in the United States or The American Idea of Religious Liberty and It's Practical Effects, Philip Schaff, Arno Press, New York Times Company, New York: (1972) pp. 39-40.

1888

The American Idea of Religious Freedom


Some of The Supreme Court's Decisions in Church and State:

Most of these cases are not Establishment Clause cases, a couple are. However, they do show that Everson v Board of Education in 1947 wasn't the first time the United States Supreme Court dealt with church and state, as some people claim.

Source of Information

Church and State in the United States, by Anson Phelps Stokes (1874-1958) and Leo Pfeffer. Revised one-volume edition, Harper & Row, Publishers, (1964) pp. 104-129.


General Discussions

The Establishment Clause

Religious Freedom vs Religion

All Those Christian Presidents

A Discussion of Freedom of Religion And Freedom From ReligionThe Constitution and Separation of Church and State, Part I

The Constitution and Separation of Church and State Part II

The Constitution and Separation of Church and State, Part III

The Constitution and Separation of Church and State, Part IV

The Constitution and Separation of Church and State, Part V

The Constitution and Separation of Church and State, Part VI

The Constitution and Separation of Church and State, Part VII

The Constitution and Separation of Church and State, Part VIII

The Constitution and Separation of Church and State, Part IX

The Constitution and Separation of Church and State, Part X