A Nation Dedicated to Religious Liberty by Arlin M. Adams

By Arlin M. Adams

Here's a concise review of the ancient improvement and judicial interpretation of the 1st modification faith clauses. It starts with a survey of the heritage of yankee spiritual liberty, is going directly to current the perspectives of the Founding Fathers, after which considers the middle worth of non secular liberty and the constitutional reasons that enforce that price.

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Rather than imposing a thesis on history, scholars should examine history independently of presentist concerns. 104 The First Amendment by its language restricted only the national government, leaving authority over religious matters to the states. In 1845, the Supreme Court affirmed this limitation in Permoli v. Municipality No. 1 of Page 20 New Orleans. 105 In Permoli, a Roman Catholic priest who performed a funeral in accordance with his faith was fined under an ordinance that prohibited anyone from exposing a corpse or performing funeral rites in any Catholic church.

79 Page 15 Although the Convention adopted the test oath ban with virtually no discussion, the provision provoked vigorous debate in several of the state ratifying conventions. " In Landholder, No. " 80 Isaac Backus, an Antifederalist delegate in the Massachusetts convention, supported the Constitution because of its provision prohibiting religious test oaths. " He added: And let the history of all nations be searched from [Constantine's] day to this, and it will appear that the imposing of religious tests hath been the greatest engine of tyranny in the world.

James Madison served on the committee that wrote the Declaration, playing a critical role in deliberations concerning article 16, the document's provision on religious liberty. 43 Delaware's Declaration of Rights of 1776 contained a liberty of conscience provision mirroring Pennsylvania's. 44 The New York Constitution of 1777 guaranteed "the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, . . 52 The Articles of Confederation, adopted by Congress in 1777 and ratified in 1781, served as the nation's fundamental law before the Constitution.

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