The Constitutional Principle: Separation of Church and State
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Sundays Excepted
Year of Our Lord

First Paragraph

Author, etc.

QUESTION: Are you aware of the signature element of those documents? Didn't they all say "in the year of our lord"? Do you think that means some sinister thing?

ANSWER: That was a standard form signature for public documents during that time frame and for many years after that. It does not change a secular document into any kind of religious document. It doesn't compare to Congress taking a secular document and adding the words "under God" to it with the religious intent that their own words reveal It doesn't compare to state written and/or mandated prayers, teacher or student led prayers in classrooms of govt ruin schools during class time.

QUESTION: Isn't Sunday being recognized as a Christian day of rest and thus a recognition of and union with Christianity in the Constitution? ..

ANSWER: If one is going to try and advance some sort of official connection, union, or alliance between church and state, religion and government created by the above in the Federal Constitution, then one has to do some serious explaining why it wasn't recognized by so many [it wasn't until 1830 that anyone suggested a religious connection for "Sundays Excepted" and 1833 before anyone tried to use "In the year of our Lord," as anything other than a standard and formal way documents were frequently dated.] as the following examples demonstrate:

There is nothing in the historical record of the debates in Congress that indicates that Joseph Story in his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States of America, doesn't mention the words "Sundays Excepted," nor give any explanation of them. You will not find any explanation of those words or mention of those words in any primary source material -- i.e., records of debates, newspaper articles, letters, private journals and diaries, etc., of the time.

Thus, you are left with speculation, and you can speculate till the cows come home. But speculation is not evidence, speculation is not proof, speculation is just that, speculation, i.e. guessing. Your guessing is no better than the guessing of others on this matter.

For more, see: The "Sundays Excepted" Clause

In a Usenet Newsgroup, the argument was made that:

"The Constitution says in the Year of our Lord; thus, it is a Christian document."

Steve Krulick, a frequent poster in some of the Newsgroups, made a valid point when he replied in this manner:

"The use of conventional dating practice doesn't have any bearing on the actual body of the document, from the Preamble through the Articles. The word God is not mentioned once, and this was a marked departure from comparable documents that preceded it, enough to have the Const declared "Godless" by many contemporaries. Clearly THEY didn't think a dating convention was enough to bestow any Christian blessing on the document."

"(That most important documents up to that time were effusive with divine references, acknowledging God's mercy and Providence, seeking divine favor and support, the absence of ANY similar phrases was shocking by comparison, and didn't go unnoticed by those who DID want such language included.)"

"The word SUNDAY is also mentioned; this was one of the pagan days, devoted to worship of the Sun (Latin dies solis, meaning "sun's day": the name of a pagan Roman holiday). Conventional usage also includes dedication and acknowledgment of the Moon and Monday being sacred to the Moon Goddess; Tuesday for Tiu or Tyr, Norse god of war (Mars); Woden (Odin, Mercury); Thor (Jupiter); Frigg (Venus); Saturn on Saturday."

"If you wish to persist in your silliness, then acknowledge that the Const, by mentioning Sunday, is a pagan Roman document; mention of the months of March (God Mars), January (God Janus) confirm this, and outweigh the single AD reference; plus, THEY are IN the body of the Const, not appended."

"You may wish to consider that every time a professing Christian mentions any of the above named days or months, he is recognizing and honoring those pagan deities. Or you can drop your silly claim."

To round the above out just a tiny bit let me add the following:

(1) Sunday literally means "The Day of the Worship of the Sun", but was shortened to "Sunday" for convenience. Monday likewise means "The Day of the Worship of the Moon".

These names, since they are shortened derivatives of pagan names dedicating each day to a different idol, are incompatible with Christianity, as far as use within the Church is concerned.

(2) The calender used by the world today is even worse yet and should be exposed for what it is. Some people try to candy coat the fact that it is a pagan calender by calling it a 'civil' or 'common' calender but make no mistake, it is pagan to the core!

Everything about this calender is pagan in origin from the beginning of the year at solstice of the sun (celebration of sun-worship tied in with Christmas), to the naming of each month and day after a pagan god, and even the changing of the day at midnight

(3) Does it bother you to go to church on "Sunday," a day named by idolatrous pagans who worshipped the Sun as a god? It should! What about Bible Study on "Wednesday" night? "Wednesday" was named after Wodin, a warlike god worshipped by primitive Scandinavians (who today are notorious atheists and have the highest suicide rate in the world). In fact, if you go down the list of the days of the week and the months of the year, ALL of the names, every one of them, have pagan roots. THERE IS NOT ONE SINGLE CHRISTIAN NAME IN ALL OF THE DAYS OF THE WEEK AND MONTHS!

Richard Heritage on

(4) The first reform of the pagan calendar in Europe was in 45 BC by Julius Caesar, with further reforms in 8 BC by Caesar Augustus, the first Roman emperor and successor of Julius Caesar.

The Romans gave one day of the week to each planet known to them, considering the sun and moon as planets.

(5) Pagan names were given to the months of the year.

  1. JANUARY: Named for Janus, the Roman mighty one of portals and patron of beginnings and endings, to whom this month was sacred. He is shown as having two faces, one in front, the other at the back of his head, supposedly to symbolize his powers.
  2. FEBRUARY: This name is derived from Februa, a Roman festival of purification. It was originally the month of expiation.
  3. MARCH: It is named for Mars, the Roman mighty one of war.
  4. APRIL: This name comes from the Latin APRILIS, indicating a time of Fertility. It was believed that this month is the month when the earth was supposed to open up for the plants to grow.
  5. MAY: This month was named for Maia, the Roman female deity of growth or increase.
  6. JUNE: This name is sometimes attributed to June, the female mighty one of the marriage, the wife of Jupiter in Roman mythology. She was also called the "Queen of heaven" and " Queen of mighty ones." The name of this month is also attributed to Junius Brutus, but originally it most probably referred to the month in which crops grow to ripeness.
  7. JULY: Named for the Roman emperor Julius Caesar, this is the seventh month of the Gregorian year.
  8. AUGUST: Named for Octavius Augustus Caesar, emperor of Rome; the name was originally from augure, which means, "to increase."
  9. SEPTEMBER: This name is derived from the Latin septem, meaning "seven."
  10. OCTOBER: This name comes from the Latin root octo, meaning "eight."
  11. NOVEMBER: This name is derived from Latin novem, meaning "ninth."
  12. DECEMBER: This name is derived from the Latin decem, meaning "ten."

(6) Pagan names were given to the days

  1. The First Day: Sunday was named after the Sun god.
  2. The second Day: Monday was named after the moon goddess
  3. The Third Day: Tuesday was named after the god Tyr.
  4. The Fourth Day: Wednesday was named after the god Odin.
  5. The Fifth Day: Thursday was named after the god Thor
  6. The Sixth Day: Friday was named after the goddess Frigga
  7. The Seventh Day: Saturday was named after the god Saturn

Pagan Holidays [as listed at]

SAMHAIN October 31

YULE December 21 (Winter Solstice)

IMBOLC February 2

OSTARA March 21 (Spring Equinox)


MIDSUMMER June 21 (Summer Solstice)


MABON September 21 (Fall Equinox)

Sabbath laws that existed during this time period were pretty strict. Why, even President George Washington was once detained by the Sabbath police for traveling on Sunday. Do you really think that if they were trying to somehow establish a connection or recognition of religion, God, Jesus Christ, Christian religion, Christian sabbath that they would be so lax, when laws existing then were so strict?

Exactly what recognition was being given to Sunday? Was there any requiring it to be a day of worship, pious, humiliation, prayer, or even of rest? No there wasn't.

There are some facts that fly in the face of any real recognition of Sunday as being the Christian Sabbath in the Constitution of it having are real significance in that direction aside from those mentioned above. There are the various debates etc that revolved around Sunday mail delivery and post offices being open on Sunday from 1810 into the 1830s. Also the various letters, etc that were sent to Congress during the same period. Also the debates in the latter portion of the 1800s over Sunday laws etc. A very good item to study is the appearance of A.T. Jones before Congress in the late 18--s

To the information I have already offered you I will add the following little item, because it too supports the idea that all this religious stuff was added after the founding period and not by the founders and their contemporaries.

In fact, "Sundays Excepted," "Year of Our Lord" (a common form of dating official papers etc of that time) "are endowed by their Creator with (inherent) certain (inalienable) unalienable rights; " all became "issues," i.e. took on their "religious connections," after the founding period by people who came later--people who were not generally part of the founders, framers or their contemporaries.

To many of that time period, the Constitution was a "Godless" document, so much so in fact, that as early as 1787-88 suggestions were circulating about adding an amendment to the preamble of the Constitution mentioning God or Christianity or Jesus Christ. Such efforts to amend the Constitution continued at various times throughout the 1800s and 1900s.

Those facts alone pretty much shoots down any accepted idea that the two phrases you selected to offer from the Constitution recognizes Christianity or religion, connects the Constitution to Christianity or religion, etc.

A "Christian Country and Christian People"

The first source of the Christian nation concept during the nineteenth century came from the notion that the American nation and its democratic system were based on Christian principles. This notion was derived from popular belief that the first settlers had been guided to the new land by the providential hand of God which had in turn protected and nurtured the colonies in their development into a nation. These providential influences guided the Founding Fathers in creating the new government and found their way into the nation's organic documents. Thus, central to this argument was the belief that Christian principles provided the foundation for the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and for American democracy itself. Because of these origins, the state had a special obligation to promote Christian principles as a way of preserving both democratic and religious institutions.

This view of America's Christian nationhood was widely shared in varying degrees throughout the nineteenth century, especially during the antebellum period, and is even espoused today. What is so remarkable about this perspective is that it was not generally shared by the founders and their contemporaries, but instead developed through a melding of America's religious heritage with evangelical aspirations for America's millennial role.

Source of Information:

The Rhetoric And Reality of The "Christian Nation" Maxim in American Law, 1810-1920 by Steven Keith Green A unpublished dissertation submitted to the Faculty of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of History. Chapel Hill, 1997 p 22.

Below is a good summation of the mind set of some in those times [Primary and secondary information]



When the wording of the new constitution began to be published and read by the public, a conflict arose over what many perceived as a rejection of religion. They saw the no religious test clause and the lack of any references to God, Jesus, Christianity, etc. as dangerous, a threat to what many felt was a necessary union between government and religion.

Source of Information:

The No Religious Test Ban Clause (Separation clause)

January 1, 1787

"The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.. . . Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind. The experiment is made, and has completely succeeded: it can no longer be called in question, whether authority in magistrates, and obedience of citizens, can be grounded on reason, morality, and the Christian religion, without the monkery of priests, or the knavery of politicians."

Source of Information:

Excerpts from the Preface, Grosvenor Square, January 1, 1787. A Defence of the Constitutions of the Government of the United States of America, By John Adams, LL. D. And a Member of The Academy of Arts and Sciences at Boston. All nature's difference keeps all nature's peace. Pope. London: Minted for C. Dilly, in the Poultry. M.DCC.LXXXVII.


[The above pertains to the state constitutions as they existed in 1786. However, if Adams felt that the state constitutions had no higher source, the new U S Constitution couldn't be any different. ]

October, 1787

An anonymous writer in the Virginia Independent Chronicle cautioned in October 1787 about "the pernicious effects" of the Constitution's general disregard of religion," its "cold indifference towards religion."

Thomas Wilson, also of Virginia, insisted that the "Constitution is de[i]stical in principle, and in all probability the composers had no thought of God in all their consultations."

Source of Information:

The Godless Constitution, The Case Against Religious Correctness. By Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore. W. W. Norton & Company New York/London.(1996) pp 33-34.

The No Religious Test Ban Clause (Separation clause) Part II

November 1787

The prohibition of religious tests was seen by many opponents as the operative sign of the Constitution's more basic flaw--its general godless quality, its seeming indifference to religion.

Disputants around America complained, as the writer "Philadelphiensis" did in November 1787, of the framers' "silence" and indifference about religion."

Source of Information:

The Godless Constitution, The Case Against Religious Correctness. By Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore. W. W. Norton & Company New York/London.(1996) pp 33.

January 10, 1788

An Antifederalist writer warned in a Boston newspaper on January 10, 1788, that since God was absent from the Constitution, Americans would suffer the fate that the prophet Samuel foretold to Saul: "because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee."

Source of Information:

The Godless Constitution, The Case Against Religious Correctness. By Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore. W. W. Norton & Company New York/London.(1996) pp 34-35.

The No Religious Test Ban Clause (Separation clause) Part IV

[A suggested amendment to the Constitution to add God to it]

February 11, 1788

. . . When the clause in the 6th Article, which provides that "no religious test should ever be required as a qualification to any office Or trust, etc." came under consideration, I observed I should have chose that sentence, and anything relating to a religious test, had been totally omitted rather than stand as it did; but still more wished something of the kind should have been inserted, but with a reverse sense so far as to require an explicit acknowledgment of the being of a God, His perfections,

and His providence, and to have been prefixed to, and stand as, the first introductory words of the Constitution in the following or similar terms, viz.:

*We the people of the United Slates, in a firm belief of the being and perfections of the one living and true God, the creator and supreme Governor of the world, in His universal providence and the authority of His laws: that He will require of ail moral agents an account of their conduct, that all rightful powers among men are ordained of, and immediately derived from God, therefore in a dependence oil His blessing and acknowledgment of His efficient protection in establishing our Independence, whereby it is become necessary to agree upon and settle a Constitution of federal government for ourselves,* and in order to form a more perfect union, etc., as it is expressed in the present introduction, do ordain, etc.

And instead of none, that no other religious test should ever he required, etc. And that supposing, but not granting, this would be no security at all, that it would make hypocrites etc.;: yet this would not be a sufficient reason against it, as it would be a public declaration against, and disapprobation of, men who did not, even with sincerity, make such a profession, and they must be left to the Searcher of Hearts; that it would, however, be the voice of the great body of the people and an acknowledgment proper and highly becoming them to express on this great and only occasion, and, according to the course of Providence, one means of obtaining blessings from the Most High. . .

Source of Information:

Letter written by William Williams to the Printer American Mercury and published in same on February 11, 1788. It was also published in the Connecticut Courant March 3, 1788.The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, Vol. III. Ratification of the Constitution by the States, Pennsylvania, Edited by Merrill Jensen, Madison State Historical Society of Wis, 1978, pp 588-590.

The No Religious Test Ban Clause (Separation clause) Part V


Is Christianity part of English Common Law

Joseph Story's ongoing war with Thomas Jefferson

Joseph Story's Commentaries of the Constitution

Two Views: James Madison's and Joseph Story's

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..." ( I also note that he is 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.


We formed our Constitution without any acknowledgement of God; without any recognition of his mercies to us, as a people, of his government, of even his existence. The [Constitutional] Convention, by which it was formed, never asked, even once, his direction, or his blessing upon his labours. Thus we commenced our national existence under the present system, without God.

Source of Information:

A Discourse in Two Parts, Reverend Timothy Dwight, 2nd ed. (Boston: Flagg & Gould, 1813), p 24. As quoted in 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


The NRA (National Reform Association) and the Christian Amendment


In the words of America's most distinguished church historian of the nineteenth century, Philip Schaff, 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 It's Practical Effects, Philip Schaff, Arno Press, New York Times Company, New York: (1972) pp. 39-40.

[Original Publication]

Title: Church and State in the United States: or, The American idea of religious liberty and its practical effects, with official documents / by Philip Schaff. New York & London : G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1888.


and finally the various attempts to add a "Christian" amendment or otherwise amend the Constitution to get religion, Christianity, God, Jesus, etc into it that can be found at the following:

Chronology of Religious Measures Introduced in Congress between 1888 - 1910

Religious Measures in Congress 1888 - 1949


The following are excerpts from James E. Wood, Jr.'s very fine article that appeared in the Journal of Church and State 29 (Spring 1987), which sums this up quite nicely.

The only reference to religion in the original Constitution, Article VI is written in the form of an unequivocal denial of any place to be given to religious considerations in determining qualifications for public office. The prohibition applied at this time, of course only to federal office, not state or local. The adoption of this proposal in effect, precluded the possibility of any church-state union or the establishment of a state church in the absence of any religious test for public office.

Source of Information:

James E. Wood, Jr., " 'No Religious Test Shall Ever Be Required': Reflections on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution," Journal of Church and State 29 (Spring 1987): 200.

The adoption of the ban on religious tests by the Constitutional Convention of 1787 was historically without precedent. For centuries, some form of religious belief, at least in a Supreme Being, or some formal religious affiliation, had been a well-established requisite for holding public office throughout the world. Even John Locke, of all political philosophers perhaps the one who most influenced Thomas Jefferson and the American Founding Fathers, particularly James Madison, in his Letter Concerning Toleration denied the right of public office to atheists and Catholics. "Those are not at all to be tolerated," Locke wrote, "who deny the being of God."

Source of Information:

James E. Wood, Jr., " 'No Religious Test Shall Ever Be Required': Reflections on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution," Journal of Church and State 29 (Spring 1987): 201.

The elimination of religious tests for public office by the Constitutional Convention of 1787 represented a major achievement for the future course of American church-state relations. Article VI not only removed the basis for any preferential treatment of one religion over another for holding public office, but also denied the right of any preferential status of religion over nonreligion in matters of one's political participation in the life of the Republic. William Lee Miller appropriately noted in his recent historical review of religion and the Constitution, The First Liberty: Religion and the American Republic, that "in the framing of Article VI ...the new nation was electing to be nonreligious in its civil life." On the subject of religion, Miller finds "more striking than what the Federal Constitution did include is what it did not." Unlike other legal documents of the period and throughout history, there art no references in the Constitution to the Deity, to God, to "Providence." or even to the Creator, as in the case of the Declaration of Independence, which, unlike the Constitution, was not a formal legal document.

The prohibition of any religious test for public office came not only out of a religious pluralism that was rampant at the time of the nation's founding, but also out of the concept of the new Republic as a secular state. The very exclusion of any religious test for office was itself a profound acknowledgment of the secular character of the new Republic, to use Miller's phrase, "to be nonreligious in its civil life."

The secular state, by its very nature, is a limited state in which the people have denied the jurisdiction of civil authority over religious affairs. The secular state is not born out of hostility to religion, any more than Article VI, as noted earlier, is to be viewed as adverse to religion. In the words of America's most distinguished church historian of the nineteenth century, Philip Schaff, 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."

As a secular state, America is a nation in which neither religion nor irreligion enjoys any official status and where no church or religion is to enjoy any advantages or to suffer any disadvantages because of an establishment of religion. Religious identity is made irrelevant to one's rights of citizenship, e.g., the right to vote and to hold public office. One's religion or irreligion may not be made the basis of political privilege or discrimination. At a time when there is a resurgence of the notion of a "Christian America" in the body politic, the Bicentennial of the Constitution is an especially appropriate time to reflect on the meaning and significance of church and state in American public life. In doing so, proper attention needs to be given to the importance of Article VI in America's body politic and nationhood. In recent years, the growing tendency of candidates for public office to stress their religious credentials, to use religion to serve their own political purposes, and to use political means for the advancement of religious interests needs to be seen in the context of America as a secular state--"to be nonreligious in its civil life."

Source of Information:

"No Religious test Shall Ever Be Required: Reflections on the Bicentennial of the U. S. Constitution", James E, Wood, Jr. Journal of Church and State 29, Spring. 1987, Number 2 pp 206-207.


The propriety and constitutionality of Christian political activism was the subject of rancorous debate in the late 1820s and early 1830s. The defeat of the anti-Sunday mail campaign strengthened the conviction of many religious citizens that infidelity and radical secularism had gained ascendancy in national politics under a banner of liberal political reform. This was a bitter reversal for religious traditionalists who believed that the United States was a Christian nation, and it impressed upon them the urgency of mobilizing all their resources, including a potential army of conservative Christian voters and partisan activists, to save the country from political atheism and to reestablish Christian values and morality in public life.

Source of Information:

Religion and Politics in the Early Republic, Jasper Adams and the Church-State Debate, Edited by Daniel L. Dreisback, The University Press of Kentucky, (1996) p. 7.


The struggle between democracy and theocracy, which seemed to have been settled when the U.S. Constitution was ratified, is far from over.. .

Although the United States was the first nation in history founded without the sanction of an official God or an official church, the national ethos of religious pluralism and equality is under attack. It is an attack rooted in struggles between advocates of democratic values and the established theocracies of 17"' and 18th century colonial America. Much of the contemporary Christian Right is looking back to what their religious and political ancestors lost when the Constitution was ratified. . .

From the persecution of Quakers, Jesuits, and "witches" in the Massachusetts Bay Colony during the 1600s through the bitter Presidential election campaign of 1800, and the advent of the Christian

Right in the 1980s, an animating, underlying theme of the American experience has been the struggle between democratic and theocratic values. The descendants of the losing side have not forgotten. Self-proclaimed "orthodox" Christians have opposed democracy, pluralism, and religious freedom for hundreds of years. Having regrouped after losing most of the major battles since the ratification of the Constitution, they are attempting a comeback.

Historian John Wilson observes that the historic "tensions between temporal and spiritual life in America" were far from settled with the adoption of the First Amendment.3 The religious diversity of the U.S. today would astound the framers of the Constitution. Wilson believes this diversity exacerbates the issues of the proper relationship between church and state. Issues like the right to an abortion, or even the rights to freedom of speech, of association, and freedom from unwarranted search and seizure, appear settled to most Americans, but Constitutional rights are fragile things and subject to the prevailing mood of enforcement, or the interpretation of the latest majority on the Supreme Court. In the 19th century, there was a de facto Protestant establishment in the U.S. However, the Christian Right of the day, according to author Robert Boston, "acknowledged the secular nature of the Constitution, and called for amending it to include references to God or Christianity. The Christian Right of today has generally abandoned this strategy and in the face of all available evidence, insists that the Constitution was somehow written to afford special protection to Christianity."4

This change in political strategies over time reflects the regrouping of the theocrats after a steady two century decline. A principal catalyst is the advent of the politically oriented theology of Christian Reconstructionism-the effort to replace Constitutional law with "God's law." However outlandish it appears, it is one of the most significant, but least remarked-upon events in modem politics -and it is the driving ideology of the resurgent Christian Right. Not only is Reconstructionism explicitly anti-democratic and anti-pluralist, but adherents of other religions are viewed as heretics at best, and unfit to hold public office. So narrowly intolerant is the movement of Reconstructionism that even those who profess Christianity but hold differing religious or theological views are often castigated as "antiChristian" and agents of Satan.

3. John Wilson, "Church and State in America," in James Madison on Religious Liberty, Robert S. Alley, editor, Prometheus Books, 1985. p. 99.

4. Robert Boston, Why the Religious Right is Wrong About Separation of Church & State, Prometheus Books, 1993. p. 87.

Source of Information:

Eternal Hostility, The Struggle between Theoracy and Democracy. Frederick Clarkson. Common Courage press, (1997) pp 2-7.

Chronology of The Development of "Sunday's Excepted" And "Year Of Our Lord" Into a Religious Issue

MAY 8, 1830

The following preamble and resolution being under consideration, viz,

"The Sabbath is justly regarded as a divine institution closely connected with individual and national prosperity--no legislation can rightfully reject its claims; and although Congress of the United States, from the peculiar and limited constitution of the General Government, cannot by law force its observation--yet; as they should not, by positive legislation, encroach upon the sacredness of this day, nor weaken its authority in the estimation of the people--

"Therefore, it is

"Resolved, That the Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads be instructed to report a bill, repealing so much of the act on the regulation of post offices as requires the delivery of letters, packets, and papers, on the Sabbath, and further to prohibit the transportation of the mail on that day."

Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN spoke as follows:


. . . Our predecessors have acted upon a true, republican principle, that the feelings and opinions of the majority were to be consulted. And where a collision might arise, inasmuch as only one day could be thus appropriated, they wisely determined, in accordance with the sentiments of at least nine-tenths of our people, that the first day of the week should be the sabbath of our Government.

This public recognition is accorded to the Sabbath in our Federal Constitution. The President of the United States in the discharge of the hight functions of his legislative department is expressly relieved from all embarrassment on Sunday. The business of the Supreme court, the highest judicial tribunal of the country, is by law directed to suspend its session on Sunday. Both houses of Congress, the offices of the State, Treasury, War, and Navy Departments, are all closed on Sunday. And all the States of the Union I believe, (twenty three of them certainly) by explicit legislative enactments, acknowledge and declare the religious authority of Sunday.

Source of Information:

Speech of Mr. Frelinghuysen, on the Subject of Sunday Mails, May 8, 1830, U. S. Congress, Senate, 21st Congress, 1st Session, Gales & Seaton's Register of Debates in Congress, Appendix, pp 1-4

Senator Frelinghuysen stated that both Houses of Congress are closed on Sunday. There are examples in our history when Congress was hard at work on a Sunday. I provide one example here that disagrees with that:

March 3, 1811 (Senate)

[It has to be noted that March 3, 1811, was a Sunday. Therefore, it has to be noted that Congress has at times in our nations history met in session on Sundays, the Christian Sabbath.]

A message from the House of Representatives informed the Senate that the House have passed the bill, sent from the Senate entitled "An act for the relief of Richard Tervin, William Coleman, Edwin Lewis, Samuel Mims, Joseph Wilson;" wih an amendment in which they desire the concurrence of the Senate.

The Senate proceeded to consider the amendment of the House of Representatives to the bill entitled, "An Act for the relief of Richard Tervin, William Coleman, Edwin Lewis, Samuel Mims, Joseph Wilson," and concurred therein.

Source of Information:

The Debates and Proceedings of the Congress of the United States with an Appendix containing Important State papers and The Public Documents, and all The Laws of a Public Nature; with a Copious Index. Eleventh Congress-Third Session. Comprising the Period from December 3, 1810 to March 3, 1811, Inclusive. Compiled from Authentic Materials. Washington: Printed and published by Gales and Seaton, (1853) pp 367.

FEBRUARY 13, 1833

In February 1833 the Reverend Jasper Adams, president of the College of Charleston, delivered a sermon before the South Carolina Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church. A published version of his address, entitled The Relation of Christianity to Civil Government in the United States, was distributed widely across the country.1 (page 1 )

The sermon was among the first major polemics from the embattled religious traditionalists that through skillful use of legal and historical arguments controverted the secular political vision attributed to Thomas Jefferson. Adams's tract was recognized by contemporaries, as well as by subsequent commentators, as a learned and useful dissertation.4 (page 2)

The early 1830s was a turbulent era in South Carolina and, indeed, in the nation. The ascendancy of Jacksonian democracy and a rancorous nullification debate engendered political turmoil that threatened the very soul of the Union. The appropriate role of religion in society increasingly became a subject of public controversy Adams perceived a destabilizing secular drift in American culture. A growing indifference toward, and a diminishing role for, religion were disconcerting to him. He lamented the sentiment, "gradually gaining belief among us, that Christianity has no connexion with the law of the land, or with our civil and political institutions."9 Several controversies of a specifically religious nature, which Adams referenced in his sermon, attracted public attention in the late 1820s and early 1830s and may have inspired Adams to engage his state and nation in a debate on the relation of religion to civil government. (Page 3)


1. Jasper Adams, The Relation of Christianity to Civil Government in the United States. A Sermon, Preached in St. Michael's Church, Charleston, February 13th, 1833, before the Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Diocese of South-Carolina, 2d ed. (Charleston, S.C.: A.E. Miller, 1833). The text of the second edition reaches page 64, but page numbers 2 and 3 were skipped. The actual sermon is twenty-six pages in length with footnotes, followed by thirty-six pages of endnotes, also with footnotes.

4. See, for example, B.F. Morris, Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, Developed in the Official and Historical Annals of the Republic (Philadelphia: George W Childs, 1864), pp. 237-38, 256-57, 264-65. Adams's printed sermon was noticed in publications of the time, including the Charleston, South Carolina, Gospel Messenger, and Southern Episcopal Register 10, no. 113 (May 1833): 156-58, and no. 120 (Dec. 1833): 380-81; American Quarterly Register 5, no. 4 (May 1833): 334; and Churchman 3, no. 10 (25 May 1833): 455.

9. Adams, Relation, p. 7 [42].

(Source of Information:

Religion and Politics in the Early Republic, Jasper Adams and the Church-State Debate, Edited by Daniel L. Dreisback, The University Press of Kentucky, (1996) p. 7.

Additional Information:

(1.) A caution regarding the book by B.F. Morris,Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, Developed in the Official and Historical Annals of the Republic (Philadelphia: George W Childs, 1864):

B. F. MORRIS a minister published in 1864 a 831 page book titled: "Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, Developed In The Official and Historical Annals of the republic. The above mentioned book contains a "bogus" quote attributed it to J. Q. Adams, but it doesn't give a source, date or anything else for the quote. John Vinci discussed the book with me via email:

To: jalison@

From: John Vinci

Date: Tue, 04 Feb 1997 22:02:47 +0000

JOHN Wrote:

I just happened to get it at a used book auction. At the time I didn't realize what a find it was.

I'II tell you right now that there aren't a whole lot of references other than maybe the authors' names. A little while back I did a little research trying to find the sources in this book, hoping to possibly republish it. It was quite a challenge. The ones that I did find were often quoted sloppily or misquoted. In the end, the book was so bad that I gave up altogether. That's not to say that I think it only has lies and error, it does have some good stuff also.

I once tried to see if the Wallbuilders [the David Barton outfit, LOL ] might want it, at which time I mentioned its inaccuracies. When they replied and told me that they had the book and that they found out the same thing. They also said that while it has its inaccuracies, it could be useful to give leads.

Sincerely Yours,


John Vinci --
Books for a Better America:
One Nation Under God:
An E-Newsletter on America's Christian Heritage.
lf you don't have web access, e-mail me and I'II put you on the list.
Colonial Hall:

A look at America's Founders

(2.) The text of the first edition of Adams sermon reaches page 56, but page numbers 1-2 were skipped. The actual sermon is twenty-five pages in length with footnotes, followed by twenty-nine pages of endnotes, also with footnotes

There were several things that prompted Rev. Jasper Adams to write, publish and send out his sermon, that introduced the first significance being given YEAR OF OUR LORD and his comments regarding SUNDAYS EXCEPTED.

Some of them were:

*Jacksonian Democracy,

*the disestablisnments in Conneticut and New Hampshire and increasing pressure to disestablish in Massachusetts,

*The Sunday Mail Controversy,

*The Thomas Cooper Controversy in South Carolina,

*The publication of a private letter from Thomas Jefferson to a friend whereby Jefferson claimed that Christianity was not part of the Common Law. The publication of this letter by the friend, not by Jefferson, created quite a stir, headed in large part by Joseph Story trying to show that Christianity was part of the Common Law.

Source of Information:

Excerpting and paraphrasing some of the sub-topics, Religion and Politics in the Early Republic, Jasper Adams and the Church-State Debate, Edited by Daniel L. Dreisback, The University Press of Kentucky, (1996) pp. 3-14.

The Rev Jasper Adams was the second person to advance the idea of Sunday's excepted (U.S. Senator Frelinghuysen in 1830 was the first) and the first to advance Year of Our Lord as having made links between the U S Constitution and religion in general or Christianity specifically. He did so 46 years after the U S Constitution was framed 45 years after it was ratified, 44 years after our government began operating under it and 42 years after the "Bill of Rights" was added to it. [EMPHASIS ADDED ]

[begin excerpt -- Note numbering, i.e. (9) are added by the me. In the original symbols were used]

In perusing the twenty-four Constitutions of the United States with this object in view, we find all of them (9) recognising Christianity as the well known and well established religion of the communities, whose legal, civil and political foundations, these Constitutions are. The terms of this recognition are more or less distinct in the Constitutions of the different States; but they exist in all of them. The reason why any degree of indistinctness exists in any of them unquestionably is, that at their formation, it never came into the minds of the framers to suppose, that the existence of Christianity as the religion of their communities, could ever admit of a question. Nearly all these Constitutions recognise the customary observance of Sunday, and a suitable observance of this day, includes a performance of all the peculiar duties of the Christian


faith.(10) The Constitution of Vermont declares, that "every sect or denomination of Christians, ought to observe the Sabbath or Lord's Day, and keep up some sort of religious worship, which to them shall seem most agreeable to the revealed will of God."(11) The Constitutions of Massachusetts and Maryland, are among those which do not prescribe the observance of Sunday: yet the former declares it to be "the right, as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly and at stated seasons, to worship the Supreme Being, the great Creator and Preserver of the Universe;"(12)- and the latter requires every person appointed to any office of profit or trust, to "subscribe a declaration of his belief in the Christian religion."(13) Two of them concur in the sentiment, that "morality and piety, rightly grounded on Evangelical principles, will be the best and greatest security to government; and that the knowledge of these is most likely to be propagated through a society, by the institution of the public worship of the Deity, and of public instruction in morality and religion."(14) Only a small part of what the Constitutions of the States contain in regard to the Christian religion, is here cited; but my limits do not permit me to cite more.(15) At the same time, they all grant the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, with some slight discriminations, to all mankind.

The principle obtained by the foregoing inductive examination of our State Constitutions, is this:--THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES HAVE RETAINED THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION AS THE FOUNDATION OF THEIR CIVIL, LEGAL AND POLITICAL


INSTITUTIONS; WHILE THEY HAVE REFUSED TO CONTINUE A LEGAL PREFERENCER TO ANY ONE OF ITS FORMS OVER THE OTHER. In the same spirit of practical wisdom, moreover, they have consented to tolerate all other religions.

The Constitution of the United States contains a grant of specific powers, of the general nature of a trust. As might be expected from its nature, it contains but slight references of a religious kind. In one of these, the people of the United States profess themselves to be a great Christian nation. In another, they express their expectation, that the President of the United States will maintain the customary observance of Sunday; and by parity of reasoning, that such observance will be respected by all who may be employed in subordinate stations in the service of the United States.(16) The first amendment declares, that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" This leaves the entire subject in the same situation in which it found it; and such was precisely the most suitable course. The people of the United States having, in this most solemn of all their enactments, professed themselves to be a Christian nation; and having expressed their confidence, that all employed in their service will practice the duties of the Christian faith;--and having, moreover, granted to all others the free exercise of their religion, have emphatically declared, that Congress shall make no change in the religion of the country. This was too delicate and too important a subject to be entrusted to their guardianship. It is the duty of Congress, then, to permit the Christian religion to remain in the same state in which it was, at the time when the Constitution was adopted. They have no commission to destroy or injure the religion of the country. Their laws ought to be consistent with its principles and usages. They may


not rightfully enact any measure or sanction any practice calculated to diminish its moral influence, or to impair the respect in which it is held among the people.(17)

If a question could be raised, in regard to the soundness of the view, which has now been taken, of the relation in which our Constitutions of government stand to the Christian religion, it must be settled by referring to the practice which has existed under them from their first formation. The public authorities both in our State and National Governments, have always felt it to be required of them, to respect the peculiar institutions of Christianity, and whenever they have ventured to act otherwise, they have never failed to be reminded of their error by the displeasure and rebuke of the nation. From the first settlement of this country up to the present time, particular days have been set apart by public authority, to acknowledge the favour, to implore the blessing, or to deprecate the wrath of Almighty God. In our Conventions and Legislative Assemblies, daily Christian worship has been customarily observed. All business proceedings in our Legislative halls and Courts of justice, have been suspended by universal consent on Sunday. Christian Ministers have customarily been employed to perform stated religious services in the Army and Navy of the United States. In administering oaths, the Bible, the standard of Christian truth is used, to give additional weight and solemnity to the transaction. A respectful observance of Sunday, which is peculiarly a Christian institution, is required by the laws of nearly all, perhaps of all the respective States.(18)

Footnotes And Sermon Notes

(9) The author has not seen the new Constitution of Mississippi, and, therefore, this assertion may possibly not apply to that document.

(10) see NOTE *C*:


In Art. 7th of the Constitution of the United States, that instrument is said to have been framed, "by the unanimous consent of the States present, the seventeenth day of September, in the year of our Lord, 1787, and of the independence of the United States of America, the twelfth." In the clause printed in Italic letters, the word Lord means the Lord Jesus Christ, and the word our preceding it, refers back to the commencing words of the Constitution; to wit, "We the people of the United States." The phrase, then, our Lord, making a part of the dating of the Constitution when compared with the commencing clause, contains a distinct recognition of the authority of Christ, and of course, of his religion by the people of the United States. This conclusion is sound, whatever theory we may embrace in regard to the Constitution;--whether we consider it as having been ratified by the people of the United States in the aggregate, or by States, and whether we look upon the Union in the nature of a government, a compact or a league. The date of the Constitution is twofold;--it is first dated by the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ; and then by the Independence of the United States of America. Any argument which should be supposed to prove, that the authority of Christianity is not recognised by the people of the United States in the first mode, would equally prove that the Independence of the United States is not recognised by them in the second mode. The fact is, that the Advent of Christ and the Independence of the country, are the two events in which of all others, we are most interested; the former in common with all mankind, and the latter as the Birth of our Nation. This twofold mode, therefore, of dating so solemn an instrument, was singularly appropriate and becoming. The Articles of Confederation are dated in the same twofold way.

Again, in Art. 1, Sec. 7, c. 2 of the Constitution of the United States, provision is made, that, "if any bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their adjournment prevent its return; in which case it shall not be a law." In adopting this provision, it was clearly presumed by the people, that the President of the United States would not employ himself in public business on Sunday. There is no other way of explaining the fact, that in the case contemplated, they have given him ten business days, during which he may consider a bill and prepare his objections to it. The people had been accustomed to pay special respect to Sunday from the first settlement of the country. They assumed, that the President also would wish to respect the day. They did not think it suitable or becoming to require him, by a constitutional provision, to respect the day;--they assumed that he would adhere to the customary observance without a requirement. To have enacted a constitutional provision, would have left him no choice, and would have been placing no confidence in him. They have placed the highest possible confidence in him, by assuming without requiring it, that his conduct in this respect would be according to their wishes. Every man who is capable of being influenced by the higher and more delicate motives of duty, cannot fail to perceive, that the obligation on the President to respect the observance of Sunday, is greatly superior to any which could have been created by a constitutional enactment. It is said in the text, that this obligation extends by parity of reasoning to all persons employed in stations subordinate to the Presidency in the service of the United States. This is certainly true, but it is perhaps not Putting the argument in its strongest light. The reasoning is quite as much a fortiori as a pari. The people in adopting the Constitution, must have been convinced, that the public business entrusted to the President, would be greater in importance and variety, than that which would fall to the share of any functionary employed in a subordinate station. The expectation and confidence, then, manifested by the people of the United States, that their President will respect their Sunday, by abstaining from public business on that day, must extend a fortiori to all employed in subordinate stations.(36)

The recognitions of Christianity in the State Constitutions are of three kinds. 1. These instruments are usually dated in the year of our Lord, and the same observations which were made on this phrase in the case of the Constitution of the United States, are no less applicable, mutatis mutandis, to the Constitutions of the respective States. 2. Nearly all of them refer to the observance of Sunday by the Chief Executive Magistrate, in the same way in which such observance is referred to, in the Constitution of the United States; and, therefore, in regard to them, no further observations are required. 3. Definite constitutional provisions not only recognising the Christian religion, but affording it countenance, encouragement and protection: the principal of which are quoted in the text P. 12, and in Note B.

(11) Art 3.

(12) Art 2.

(13) Art 55

(14) The quotation here is from the Constitution of New Hampshire; (part i Art. 6.) And the concurrence is substantial, not verbal. The parallel passage in the Constitution of Massachusetts runs thus:-"The happiness of a people, and the good order and preservation of civil government, essentially depend upon piety, religion and morality, and these cannot be generally diffused through the community but by the institution of a public worship of God, and the public institutions, (instructions) in piety, religion and morality, " part i, Art . 3.

(15) See NOTE *B*


Some further quotations are, made for the benefit of those who may not have a copy of the American Constitutions at hand.

Constitution of Massachusetts, Part i. Art. 3.--"As the happiness of a people, and the good order and preservation of civil government, essentially depend upon piety, religion and morality; and as these cannot be generally diffused through the community, but by the institution of a public worship of God, and of public institutions (instructions) in piety, religion and morality; therefore, to promote their happiness, and to secure the good order and preservation of their government, the people of this Commonwealth have a right to invest their Legislature with Power to authorize and require, and the Legislature shall, from time to time, authorize and require the several towns, parishes, precincts, and other bodies politic, or religious societies, to make suitable provision at their own expense, for the institution of the public worship of God, and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality, in all cases, where such provision shall not be made voluntarily.

And the people of the Commonwealth have also a right to, and do, invest their Legislature with authority to enjoin upon all the subjects, an attendance upon the instructions of the public teachers, as aforesaid, at stated times and seasons, if their be any one whose instructions they can conscientiously and conveniently attend. All moneys paid by the subject to the support of public worship, and of the public teachers aforesaid, shall, if he require it, be uniformly applied to the support of the public teacher or teachers of his own religious sect or denomination, provided there be any, on whose instructions he attends; otherwise, it may be paid towards the support of the teacher or teachers of the parish or precinct in which the said moneys are raised. And every denomination of Christians, demeaning themselves peaceably, and as good subjects of the Commonwealth, shall be equally under the protection of the law; and no subordination of any sect or denomination to another, shall ever be established by law." Part ii. Ch. v. Sec, i. Art. I.--"Whereas our wise and pious ancestors so early as the year 1636, laid the foundation of Harvard College, in which University many persons of great eminence have, by the blessing of God, been initiated into those arts and sciences which qualified them for public employments, both in Church and State; and whereas the encouragement of arts and sciences, and all good literature, tends to the honor of God, the advantage of the Christian religion, and the great benefit of this and the other United States of America, it is declared that the President and fellows of Harvard College," &C.

New, Hampshire.--The Constitution of this State contains provisions, in regard to the Christian Religion, substantially the same with those just quoted from the Constitution of Massachusetts, except so far as these relate to Harvard University. See p. 12. The Constitutions of Vermont and Rhode island have been sufficiently quoted. See pp. 9. 12.

Connecticut, Art. 7 Sec. 1.-"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 of 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 there from, 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 to 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.

New-Jersey-The Constitution of this State declares, (Art. xix.) "that there shall be no establishment of any one religious sect in this province (this constitution was formed in 1776,) in preference to another, and that no protestant inhabitant of this colony shall be denied the enjoyment of any civil right, merely on account of his religious principles; but that all persons professing a belief in the faith of any protestant sect who shall demean themselves peaceably under the government, as hereby established, shall be capable of being elected into any office of profit or trust, or being a member of either branch of the Legislature, and shall fully and freely enjoy every privilege and immunity enjoyed by others their fellow subjects.

Delaware.- The Constitution of this State assumes, (Art. I. Sec. I. ) that "it is the duty of all men frequently to assemble together for the public worship of the Author of the Universe; and piety and morality, on which the prosperity of communities depends, are thereby promoted."

Maryland.-The declaration of rights says, (Art. xxxiii.) "that as it is the duty of every man to worship God in such manner as he thinks most acceptable to him, all persons professing the Christian religion are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty." And again, (Art. xxxv.) "that no other test or qualification ought to be required, on admission to any office of trust or profit than such oath of support and fidelity to this State, and such oath of office, as shall be directed by this Convention or the Legislature of this State, and a declaration of belief in the Christian religion." See also p.12.

North-Carolina in her Constitution (Art. xxxii.) says, "that no person who shall deny the being of a God, or the truth of the Protestant religion, or the divine authority of either the Old or New Testament, or shall hold religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the State, shall be capable of holding any office, or place of trust or profit, in the civil department within this State.

So far as these quotations make any distinction between denominations of Christians, the author does not concur with them, but they conclusively shew, that the constitutions from which they are taken, unequivocally sustain the Christian religion.

(16) see NOTE *C* [again, located above]

(17) See Note *D*


This appears to the author the most convincing ground upon which to rest the argument against Sunday mails. The institution of Sunday, and its appropriation to the duties of religion, had been established from the first settlement of the country. Laws were in force and had long been in force

requiring its respectful observance, in all the thirteen States which were originally parties to the Constitution of the United States. No authority over the Christian religion, or its institutions, has been given to the National Legislature by this Constitution. All their measures ought to be consistent with its institutions, and none of them ought to be in violation of them. And until within a few years, our national legislation was, in this respect suitable and highly commendable. It is not known to the author, that until very lately there existed any Act of Congress requiring a violation of any Christian institution. (Mr. Frelinghtrysen's Speech in Senate, p. 5.) The Act of 3d March, 1825 section 11th , makes it the duty of every postmaster to deliver letters, papers, &c. on every day of the week, at all reasonable hours (Gordon's Digest, 427.) This is the first statute enacted by Congress, authorizing and requiring a violation of the religion of the country. Congress can rightfully make no change in the religion of the nation; but in this instance they have enacted, that as far as the mail department of the public business is concerned, there shall no longer exist the established (by law) observance of Sunday. This Act does not leave Christianity in the same situation in which it was, before it was passed. It employs some thousands in desecrating and destroying an institution peculiar to Christianity. It is, therefore, in the judgment of the author, unconstitutional, and ought to be rescinded. Nor is the argument from the alleged necessity of Sunday mails, any better than the constitutional argument. London is the first city on earth for wealth, business and enterprise; but no mail is opened or closed in it on Sunday. And notwithstanding the immense intercourse between London and Liverpool no mail leaves the Metropolis for Liverpool, between Saturday evening and Monday morning. (Mr. Frelinghuysen's Speech in the United States' Senate, 8th May, 1830.)

It is mentioned above by the author, that a very suitable concern has, in general, been manifested by the Federal Government, to prevent the desecration of Sunday. The rules and regulations of the Army of the United States, present an instance in point. By Art. 2nd of these rules and regulations, which every officer, before he enters on the duties of his office, is required to subscribe: "it is earnestly recommended to all officers and soldiers diligently to attend divine service; and all officers who shall behave indecently or irreverently at any place of divine worship, shall, if commissioned officers, be brought before a general court-martial, there to be publicly and severely reprimanded by the President; if non-commissioned officers or soldiers, every person so offending, shall for his first offence, forfeit one-sixth of a dollar, to be deducted out of his next pay; for the second offence, he shall not only forfeit a like sum, but be confined twenty-four hours; and for every like offence, shall suffer and pay in like manner. (Act of April 10th , 1806, Sec. 1.) (Gordon's Digesl, Art. 3269.) This Art. is taken almost verbatim from the "rules and orders" enacted by the Old Congress on the same subject. (See Journal of 30th June, 1775.) Will it be arrogating too much, if the author respectfully asks any military commander into whose hands these pages may come, candidly to examine the bearing which the above regulation may rightfully have upon military reviews held on Sunday, and upon marching on Sunday, when the exigencies of the service do not require it? He is under a belief, that military reviews are quite as common on Sunday as upon any other day of the week. He also within a few weeks observed, with regret, a statement in the newspapers, that certain of our citizens went from the city to a neighbouring island, for the purpose of attending a military review on Sunday.

(18) All the States of the Union, I believe, (twenty-three of them certaintly, by explicit legislative enactments, acknowledge and declare the religious authority of Sunday." Speech of Mr. Frelinghuysen of New-Jersey, in the Senate of the United States, in the session of 1829-1830.

Source of Information:

Excerpt from The Relation of Christianity to Civil Government in the United States. A Sermon, preached by Jasper Adams in St. Michael's Church, Charleston, February 13th, 1833, before the Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Diocese of South-Carolina, 2d ed. (Charleston, S.C.: A.E. Miller, 1833). Copy of said Sermon received from The William L. Clements Library, Univertisy of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan. April 28, 1998.

JUNE 1835

Two years later an article was published taking the Rev Jasper Adams to task on those points, and others he had made in his published sermon.

What follows is an excerpt from that article

"We have now briefly examined the constitutions of all the states except South Carolina, and have fully sustained our assertion, that in nearly all the twenty-four constitutions freedom of conscience has been recognised as one of the unalienable rights of man, and that no preference

is allowed to any religious denomination-whether it consist of Jews, Christians, Pagans, or Turks. The principle obtained from the foregoing examination is then this--viz.


DESTROY ALL CONNEXIONS BETWEEN CHURCH AND STATE. Of course, we except those who have, in spite of reason and the experience of more than fifteen centuries, established a preference for certain sects--a preference which Mr. Adams himself affects to deprecate.

"In order to complete our examination of the constitutions, we must refer to the Constitution of South Carolina and the Constitution of the United States. Before we do so more particularly, we will notice how expressions which are to be found not only in those constitutions, but in several already examined. We do this, not because the expressions themselves call for any comment--but because an ingenious though sophistical argument has been built upon them.

"The expressions are: 1. "If any bill shall not be returned by the president (or governor) within ten days, (the number differs in different states,) SUNDAYS EXCEPTED" &c. 2. "Done in Convention, &c., in the YEAR OF OUR LORD" &c.

"Upon the first expression, Mr. Adams has borrowed the argument of Mr. Frelinghuysen in the United States' Senate. Upon the second, so far as we are informed, he is entitled to the credit of originality. Both expressions, he contends, are recognitions of Christianity.

"We have already remarked, that many of the state constitutions were framed in the midst of war and confusion--when the public mind was engrossed with political subjects. Ninety-nine hundredths of the people were, and still are thoroughly convinced of the truth of the Christian scriptures. The exception of Sundays, above cited, notwithstanding the many political reasons which may be urged in its favour, is to be attributed to this general conviction. Public opinion will have its effect; and we are only surprised that more expressions of this occasional kind are not to be found in the constitutions. But to infer from this that the people of the several states have retained the Christian religion as the foundation of their civil, legal, and political institutions, is worse than absurd. It is building up weakness. It is like an attempt to construct an inverted pyramid--to rear an immense superstructure with a point for a base. But if we are shocked at so sweeping an inference from such premises, what must we think, when we reflect that the inference is directly contradicted by the various provisions already cited from the constitutions themselves!

"These remarks will apply with equal, perhaps greater force, to the dates of some constitutions-"Done, &c., &c., in the year of our Lord." Besides, it has become a sort of fashion in dating papers to say, "in the year of our Lord." C'est une facon de parler--a mere mode of speech. This perhaps may be traced to the fact, that we are Christians. It does not show that Christianity is the foundation of our civil, legal, and political institutions. On the contrary, assuming with our author that the date of the Constitution of the United States--"in the year of our Lord"--refers back to the words, "We the people of the United States," it would only amount to this, that the people of the United States, although professing themselves Christians, were so thoroughly convinced of the impropriety of any and every connexion between church and state, that they laid it down as a fundamental law, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."


"Mr. Adams, having noticed the common law, proceeds to quote an act passed by South Carolina in 1712, prohibiting persons from traveling on Sunday, or employing their slaves at work on that day. But this law is obsolete. Persons are continually traveling on Sunday. The mail is carried and opened on Sunday. Passengers crowd the stages on Sunday. In fact, this act of 1712 is repealed by the Constitution of 1790. With regard to not employing slaves at work on Sunday, we would observe, that public opinion--which is stronger than the law--causes this to be observed.

Independently of our own individual religious profession, which induces us to observe the Sabbath, we are satisfied that in a political point of view, the observance of the day is attended with beneficial effects. These have been frequently pointed out. It is a day of rest for those who have laboured hard throughout the rest of the previous week. As such, it invigorates both body and mind. The certain prospect of a holiday is exceedingly exhilarating. It diffuses cheerfulness over the heart. It gives

the poor an opportunity to prepare for its enjoyment. It insures them a period of rest, which would otherwise depend on the caprice of the task-master. Sunday is indeed a day of jubilee and rest, of enjoyment and ease. Ordinary occupations are suspended: and if a cheerful heart be pleasant in the sight of God, to that day HE must look with peculiar delight! It is unnecessary to dwell on the advantages of Sunday as a period of rest for cattle--for horses, mules, oxen, &c.

"These and other considerations, make it politic to have a fixed day of rest: and no reason can be given for preferring any other day to Sunday.

"Mr. Adams seems to have a high relish for old laws on the subject of religion; and, we have no doubt, will pay equal reverence to those which regulate the conduct, and those which regulate the belief of individuals. There is an act intended to provide for the security of the province of South Carolina, and more especially of church-going people. It is to be found in pages 185 and 186, Grimke's Public Laws, It was enacted in 1743, made perpetual by revival act of 1783, and has never since been repealed. We commend it to Mr. Adams' notice. It enacts that "all male persons, under sixty years of age, who shall go on Sunday or Christmas-day, to any church or place of worship, without a gun or a good pair of horse-pistols in good order and fit for service, with at least six chargers of gunpowder and ball; or who shall not carry the same into the church or other places of Divine worship, shall forfeit and pay the sum of 20s. current money." We trust that hereafter Mr. Adams will not neglect the duty prescribed by this act, and that every Sunday he will be seen with a gun on his shoulder, in conformity with the law.

(Source of Information:

Excerpt from "Immunity of Religion," American Quarterly Review 17, No 34 (June 1835) pp. 332-33, 339-40. Microforms Room, Library of American Civilization: LAC 30257-72, Regent University, Va Beach, Va. The aforementioned article was written rebutting, Jasper Adams, The Relation of Christianity to Civil Government in the United States. A Sermon, Preached in St. Michael's Church, Charleston, February 13th, 1833, before the Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Diocese of South-Carolina, 2d ed. (Charleston, S.C.: A.E. Miller, 1833.

FEBRUARY 29, 1892.

Even the Constitution of the United States, which is supposed to have little touch upon the private life of the individual, contains in the first amendment a declaration common to the Constitutions of all the States, as follows: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," etc. And also provided in article I, section 7 (a provision common to many Constitutions), that the Executive shall have ten days (Sundays excepted) within which to determine whether he will approve or veto a bill.

(Source of Information:

The Church of the Holy Trinity v. U. S. , 143 U. S. , 457 (1892)

Signing Bills on Sunday

"By inserting this parenthetical expression, the framers of the Constitution doubtless intended merely to recognize the right of the President, in harmony with a prevailing custom, to observe a weekly day of rest if he chose to do so, and not to establish a Sabbath by law, or in any way make its observance mandatory. As a matter of fact, many bills have been signed on Sunday. But the advantage which the advocates of a union of church and state have taken of this brief parenthetical expression, shows the danger there is in giving the slightest ground or pretext for their claims in any law or legal document. At once they say: "This shows this to be a Christian nation; Christianity is the religion of the nation; and Sunday laws are proper and constitutional." This is an excellent illustration of how a little leaven is made to leaven the whole lump. With the advocates of religious legislation, this slight peg is sufficient to hang a whole religious establishment upon. Through this they would confer upon Congress inferential powers of such character and magnitude as to subvert the Government itself and enact laws directly forbidden by the Constitution.

Source of Information:

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. pp. 162-163)

The President MAY Observe Sunday

"The Constitution does not say that the President of the United States must not sign bills on Sunday, or that he must observe Sunday; it merely allows him these extra days to consider and sign bills, or rest if he prefers. It is not mandatory but elective with the President to work or not to work on Sunday. It is a historical fact that important Federal legislation has been signed on Sunday; for example, fifteen bills were signed by President Wilson March 4, 1917, and sixty-one were signed by President Harding on March 4, 1923. (See U. S. Stat. vol. 39, part 1, pp. 1134-1202, and vol. 42, part 1, pp. 1444-1563.)

Source of Information:

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. 650.


The Rev. Jasper Adams Saga: Introduction

Jasper Adams's Sermon, First Edition

Immunity of Religion

Jasper Adams Sermon, Second edition

The letters to and from Jasper Adams.

Sunday mails

Genealogy of Sunday Laws>

Sunday Excepted & Year of Our Lord

The "Sundays Excepted" Clause>

"The Year of Our Lord" and separation.

Is Christianity part of English Common Law

Joseph Story's ongoing war with Thomas Jefferson

Joseph Story's Commentaries of the Constitution

Two Views: James Madison's and Joseph Story's

Federal officials take their oaths upon a Bible, and use the words "so help me God."

A Baptist minister and follow warrior with Jefferson, Madison and others in the struggle for religious freedom gave this advice about electing public officials: "...guard against those men who make a great noise about religion..."

Madison's Arguments Against Special Religious Sanction of American Government (1792)

History of law

Study Guide: The Roots of American Democracy

How often did the founders quote the Bible?

Did Montesquieu base his theory of separation of powers on the Bible?

Christianity and the Constitution

Does the Constitution Embody Christian Thought and Morality?

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