By Arlin M. Adams
Here's a concise review of the old improvement and judicial interpretation of the 1st modification faith clauses. It starts with a survey of the background of yankee spiritual liberty, is going directly to current the perspectives of the Founding Fathers, after which considers the center price of non secular liberty and the constitutional reasons that enforce that price.
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As the first Lord Baltimore and William Penn could readily confirm, civil authorities in the Anglo-American tradition had effectively used such oaths to identify dissenters, particularly Catholics and Quakers, and to exclude them from public life. In seventeenth-century England, Parliament enacted a maze of legislation to support the Anglican establishment, including oaths of supremacy and allegiance requiring civil and religious leaders to recognize the monarch as head of both church and Page 14 state and to renounce all foreign rulers, temporal and spiritual.
Quakers refused on Biblical grounds to subscribe to oaths or "swear" allegiance to the Crown and therefore received similar treatment. The American colonists adapted English test oaths to support Anglican and Congregational establishments. State constitutions enacted during the war commonly required test oaths for holding public office. Only Protestants could hold public office in New Jersey or sit in the legislatures of Georgia, South Carolina, and New Hampshire, and only those professing "the Christian religion" could hold public office in Maryland or serve in high government positions in Massachusetts.
State constitutions enacted during the war commonly required test oaths for holding public office. Only Protestants could hold public office in New Jersey or sit in the legislatures of Georgia, South Carolina, and New Hampshire, and only those professing "the Christian religion" could hold public office in Maryland or serve in high government positions in Massachusetts. 75 Even the states influenced by Quakerism enforced religious tests. Before taking their seats, Pennsylvania legislators had to declare: "I do believe in one God, the creator and governor of the universe, the rewarder of the good and the punisher of the wicked.