Part 1 – 1791 through 1892
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
It should be remembered by ALL Americans that with these First Amendment freedoms comes responsibility.
We will begin this discussion on Freedom of Religion with the traditional view held by the Founding Fathers and the Courts concerning our Constitution beginning from 1791when the Bill of Rights was ratified. Our Founding Fathers gave us a Constitution and Bill of Rights based upon Judeo-Christian principles. As John Adams, our Second President noted in a speech in 1798: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
It is very important for We the People to understand what the Founding Fathers meant when they placed this freedom into the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. It is a historical fact that most of the 13 original colonies had “State” religions. It is a historical fact if you did not affiliate with the “State” religion you could not hold political office. It is also clear from the writings of the Founding Fathers that they were Christians, but they did not want one of their “State” religions or any of the various Christian sects as a “National” religion in our Constitutional Republic.
The Founding Fathers understood the difference between “religion” and an “established religion.” An “established religion” is a denomination or sect. “Religion” is a belief in God, the Divine Providence, the Creator, or a Higher Power without regard to a particular sect or denomination. They did however established this nation as a Christian nation. A position that was upheld by Jurists and the Supreme Court for more than 100 years. The following judicial decisions will demonstrate this.
Chief Justice John Jay, our first Chief Justice, was also one of the three writers of the Federalist Papers. He declared, in a private letter to Rev. Jedidiah Morse in 1797, six years after the adoption of the Bill of Rights: “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest, of a Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”
A 1799 ruling of the Maryland Supreme Court, Runkel v. Wiremiller, stated: “By our form of government, the Christian religion is the established religion; and all sects and denominations of Christians are placed upon the same equal footing, and are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty.”
An 1811 ruling of the New York Supreme Court, People v. Ruggles, stated: “Whatever strikes at the root of Christianity tends manifestly to the dissolution of civil government, because it tends to corrupt the morals of the people, and to destroy good order.”
An 1824 ruling of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Updegraph v. Commonwealth, stated: “A malicious intention, to vilify the Christian religion and the scriptures, would prove a nursery of vice, a school of preparation to qualify young men for the gallows, and young women for the brothel, and there is not a skeptic of decent manners and good morals, who would not consider such a common nuisance and disgrace.” “No free government now exists in the world, unless where Christianity is acknowledged, and is the religion of the country. Christianity is part of the common law. Its foundations are broad and strong and deep. It is the purest system of morality and only stable support of all human laws.” [Emphasis added.]
In 1828, Noah Webster stated in the preface of his Dictionary, “In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government ought to be instructed . . . No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.” [Emphasis added.]
In 1829, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story said in a speech at Harvard, “I verily believe Christianity necessary to the support of civil society. One of the beautiful boasts of our municipal jurisprudence is that Christianity is a part of the Common Law . . . There never has been a period in which the Common Law did not recognize Christianity as lying its foundations.” [Emphasis added.]
In CHURCH OF THE HOLY TRINITY V. UNITED STATES, 143 U. S. 457 (1892), MR. JUSTICE BREWER delivered the opinion of the Court. In this Opinion the Justices cited 87 precedents. They then indicated that they could have listed many more, but they saw no need.
After referring to the many examples of State Constitutions and the Declaration of Independence, Justice Brewer stated: “There is no dissonance in these declarations. There is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning; they affirm and reaffirm that this is a religious nation. These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons; they are organic utterances; they speak the voice of the entire people. . . . These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.”
Please remember that this ruling was given in the Year of Our Lord 1892 and of the United States of America 116 years. So it has just been demonstrated that at least for 116 years, the United States was considered a Christian nation by the United States Supreme Court. Also note that this decision was made 27 years after the ratification of the XIV Amendment. Wherein Section 1 states:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. [Emphasis added.]
This is included here because some have held the opinion that the Supreme Court could not interfere with the several States concerning religious law prior to the XIV Amendment, ratified on 6 December 1865, because the First Amendment until then only applied to the Congress and the federal government and not the several States or We the People. The faulty logic of this position is obvious because the Bill of Rights was included in the Constitution to protect We the People’s individual rights to Life, Liberty and Property and the sovereignty of the several States according to the X Amendment. In Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States (1892), the Supreme Court continued to declared 27 years after the ratification of the XIV Amendment, and the “due process clause,” that the United States was a Christian nation by citing 87 precedents and indicating they could have cited many more, but they saw no need.
May God Bless and Save the United States of America —
Our Constitutional Republic !