Civics Citizenship

Constitutional Debates on Freedom of Religion: A Documentary by Gerald Long, John J. Patrick

By Gerald Long, John J. Patrick

Debates over the separation or lodging of faith and govt have divided american citizens because the founding of our nation and proceed to echo in governmental chambers at the present time, as humans argue sharply and heatedly in regards to the specified that means and proper functions of First modification clauses on spiritual institution and unfastened workout of faith. scholars can hint the background and improvement of those arguments, in addition to the reactions to them, via this specified choice of over 70 fundamental files. proceedings and different files carry to existence the controversies surrounding the problems. Explanatory introductions to records reduction clients in realizing many of the arguments placed forth, whereas illuminating the importance of every document.Patrick and lengthy hint the origins and alterations within the nature of the debates surrounding the problem of freedom of faith utilizing rigorously selected lawsuits and different records to mirror the truth that the Court's selection has no longer consistently ended public controversy in regards to the relationships among church and nation or faith and executive. certainly, in particular in recent times, the Court's judgements now and again have exacerbated previous tensions and generated new matters. the focal point all through is at the connection among the U.S. structure and freedom of faith. The introductory and explanatory textual content aid readers comprehend the character of the conflicts, the problems being litigated, the social and cultural pressures that formed each one debate, and the way within which the passions of person executive officers, justices, and our presidents affected the advance of guidelines relating freedom of faith.

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Additional info for Constitutional Debates on Freedom of Religion: A Documentary History (Primary Documents in American History and Contemporary Issues)

Example text

From 1776 to 1786, Roman Catholics and other Christians enjoyed the greatest latitude for religious liberty in four states: Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. As in colonial times, these four states established no churches, levied no taxes to support religion, and proclaimed freedom of conscience. The Pennsylvania Constitution broadened its religious test for public office beyond Protestant Christianity to include all believers in God and the Old and New Testaments (see Document 16).

Reverend Backus invoked the mid-seventeenth-century struggle of Roger Williams against the established Congregational Church in Massachusetts. He lauded the Congregationalist majority in Massachusetts for permitting much greater freedom of conscience in the 1770s than their ancestors had done in the time of Roger Williams. Nonetheless, he argued that legal requirements of the 1770s, which forced Baptists to pay taxes to the government in support of the Congregational Church, were an offense against religious liberty.

The effects of the constitution of our country are such, that as it makes the majority of the people the test of orthodoxy, so it emboldens them to usurp God’s judgment seat. . And though in our charter the king grants to all Protestants equal liberty of conscience: yet for above thirty years after it was received the Congregationalists made no laws to favor the consciences of any man, in this affair of taxes, but their own sect; and it is here called arbitrary power. . [T]he first fathers of Massachusetts [were moved] to imprison, whip and banish men, only for denying infant baptism, and refusing to join in worship that was supported by violent methods; yet they were so much blinded as to declare, that there was this vast difference between these proceedings and the coercive measures which were taken against themselves in England.

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