-- Fisher Ames
"Our liberty depends on our education, our laws, and habits...It is founded on morals and religion, whose authority reigns in the heart, and on the influence all these produce on public opinion before that opinion governs rulers."
-- Fisher Ames
Thomas Jefferson, 1786
Well aware that Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do; that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time; that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporal rewards, which proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labors for the instruction of mankind; that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that, therefore, the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to the offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow citizens he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honors and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles, on the supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency, will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.
Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.
And though we well know this Assembly, elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no powers equal to our own and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be of no effect in law, yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.
American Minute with Bill Federer
George Washington was born FEBRUARY 22, 1732.
He was unanimously chosen as the Army's Commander-in-Chief, unanimously chosen as President of the Constitutional Convention, and unanimously chosen as the first U.S. President.
After having the Declaration of Independence read to his troops, General Washington ordered chaplains placed in each regiment, stating:
"The General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man, will endeavour so to live, and act, as becomes a Christian Soldier, defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country."
General Washington stated at Valley Forge, May 2, 1778:
"To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest Glory to laud the more distinguished Character of Christian."
To the Delaware Indian Chiefs who brought three youths to be trained in American schools, General Washington stated, May 12, 1779:
"You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ."
As recorded in The Writings of George Washington (March 10, 1778, 11:83-84, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1934), record George Washington's order:
"At a General Court Marshall whereof Colo. Tupper was President...Lieutt. Enslin of Colo. Malcom's Regiment tried for attempting to commit sodomy, with John Monhort a soldier;
Secondly, For Perjury in swearing to false Accounts, found guilty of the charges exhibited against him, being breaches of 5th. Article 18th Section of the Articles of War and do sentence him to be dismiss'd the service with Infamy.
His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief approves the sentence and with Abhorrence and Detestation of such Infamous Crimes orders Liett. Enslin to be drummed out of Camp tomorrow morning by all the Drummers and Fifers in the Army never to return."
In his Farewell Address, 1796, Washington stated:
"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports.
In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness."
_America's Party Principles In Public Policy -> Free the First Amendment Committee
What a Democrat President did 71 years ago...
On JANUARY 25, 1941, Democrat President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote the foreword to a Special Military Edition of the New Testament & Book of Psalms, distributed to millions of soldiers and sailors by The Gideon's International:
JANUARY 25, 1941
The White House, Washington
To the Armed Forces,
As Commander-in-Chief I take pleasure in commending the reading of the Bible to all who serve in the armed forces of the United States. Throughout the centuries men of many faiths and diverse origins have found in the Sacred Book words of wisdom, counsel and inspiration. It is a fountain of strength and now, as always, an aid in attaining the highest aspirations of the human soul.
Very sincerely yours,
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Also on JANUARY 25, in the year 1952, Dwight Eisenhower was quoted in The Religious Herald, Virginia, in the article "Presidential Candidates Stress Role of Religion":
"What is our battle against Communism if it is not a fight between anti-God and a belief in the Almighty?...Communists...have to eliminate God from their system. When God comes, Communism has to go."
On JANUARY 25, 1984, in his State of the Union Address, President Ronald Reagan stated
"Each day your members observe a 200-year-old tradition meant to signify America is one nation under God.
I must ask: If you can begin your day with a member of the clergy standing right here leading you in prayer, then why can't freedom to acknowledge God be enjoyed again by children in every school room across this land?'...
America was founded by people who believed that God was their rock of safety. I recognize we must be cautious in claiming that God is on our side, but I think it's all right to keep asking if we're on His side."
"Carl Sandburg said, 'I see America not in the setting sun of a black night of despair....I see America in the crimson light of a rising sun fresh from the burning, creative hand of God.'"
A month later in a radio address, February 25, 1984, President Reagan stated:
"The First Amendment of the Constitution was not written to protect the people from religion; that amendment was written to protect religion from government tyranny...
But now we're told our children have no right to pray in school. Nonsense. The pendulum has swung too far toward intolerance against genuine religious freedom. It is time to redress the balance."
"Former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart noted if religious exercises are held to be impermissible activity in schools, religion is placed at an artificial and state-created disadvantage...
Refusal to permit religious exercises is seen not as the realization of state neutrality, but rather as the establishment of a religion of secularism."
William Orville Douglas died JANUARY 19, 1980.
He was a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court for 36 years, after having taught law at Yale and Columbia University.
In the 1952 case of Zorach v. Clauson, Justice Douglas wrote:
"The First Amendment, however, does not say that in every and all respects there shall be a separation of Church and State...Otherwise the state and religion would be aliens to each other - hostile, suspicious, and even unfriendly...
Municipalities would not be permitted to render police or fire protection to religious groups. Policemen who helped parishioners into their places of worship would violate the Constitution. Prayers in our legislative halls; the appeals to the Almighty in the messages of the Chief Executive; the proclamations making Thanksgiving Day a holiday; "so help me God" in our courtroom oaths - these and all other references to the Almighty that run through our laws, our public rituals, our ceremonies would be flouting the First Amendment.
A fastidious atheist or agnostic could even object to the supplication with which the Court opens each session: 'God save the United States and this Honorable Court...'"
Justice Douglas continued:
"We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being...
When the state encourages religious instruction...it follows the best of our traditions. For it then respects the religious nature of our people and accommodates the public service to their spiritual needs.
To hold that it may not would be to find in the Constitution a requirement that the government show a callous indifference to religious groups. That would be preferring those who believe in no religion over those who do believe."
Justice William Douglas concluded:
"We find no constitutional requirement which makes it necessary for government to be hostile to religion...We cannot read into the Bill of Rights such a philosophy of hostility to religion."
"If we and our posterity...live always in the fear of God and shall respect His Commandments...we may have the highest hopes of the future fortunes of our country...But if we...neglect religious instruction and authority; violate the rules of eternal justice, trifle with the injunctions of morality, and recklessly destroy the constitution which holds us together, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity."
-- Daniel Webster, 1852, Address to the New York Historical Society
"Every man, and every body of men on earth, possesses the right of self-government."