John Leland (1754 - 1841) was a Baptist Minister that lived and worked in the state of Massachusetts. Leland was committed to separation, and helped Madison win the Virginia battles for religious freedom. In addition, he helped lead the fight to ratify the Constitution in Massachusetts. His writings under the name Jack Nips in THE YANKEE SPY was an effort to gain support for separation of church and state in Massachusetts.
Is it the duty of a deist to support that which he believes to be a cheat and imposition? Is it the duty of the Jew to support the religion of Jesus Christ, when he really believes that he was an imposter? Must the papist be forced to pay men for preaching down the supremacy of the pope, whom they are sure is the head of the church? Government has no more to do with the religious opinions of men than it has with the principles of mathematics (from The Yankee Spy, John Leland writing under the pen name of Jack Nipps, Boston, 1794).
To say 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 (from The Connecticut Dissenters Strong Box, Number One, New London 1802).
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 (from The Connecticut Dissenters Strong Box, Number One, New London 1802.
In the second article [of the Massachusetts state constitution of 1780] it is said, 'is the right and duty of all men publicly, and at stated seasons, to worship the Supreme Being.' This article would read much better in a catechism than in a state constitution, and sound more concordant in a pulpit than in a statehouse (from The Yankee Spy, John Leland writing under the pen name of Jack Nipps, Boston, 1794).
...[A]nd the reason why public worship is enjoined (required) by authority, and private worship is omitted, is only to pave the way for some religious establishment by human law, and force taxes from the people to support avaricious priests. (from The Yankee Spy, John Leland writing under the pen name of Jack Nipps, Boston, 1794).
What leads legislators into this error, is confounding sins and crimes together -- making no difference between moral evil and state rebellion: not considering that a man may be infected with moral evil, and yet be guilty of no crime, punishable by law. If a man worships one God, three Gods, twenty Gods, or no God -- if he pays adoration one day in a week, seven days or no day -- wherein does he injure the life, liberty or property of another? Let any or all these actions be supposed to be religious evils of an enormous size, yet they are not crimes to be punished by laws of state, which extend no further, in justice, than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor (from The Yankee Spy, John Leland writing under the pen name of Jack Nipps, Boston, 1794).