Quotations that Support the Separation of State and Church (1993)

Ed and Michael Buckner

Foreword by Clark Davis Adams

This is a compendium called "Quotations that Support the Separation of State and Church" by Ed and Michael Buckner.I have broken this into 6 parts. The total size of the files is approximately 250K. This is not an ordinary quote list.

Ed Buckner is a professional researcher who lives in Atlanta, Georgia. An active state-church separation activist, he and his son, Michael, have compiled this list over the past coupleof years. Originally, this was a pet project designed to help Ed counter fundamentalist editorials. However, it has grown to be published and offered for sale at various Freethought andCivil Libertarian events. Ed has a column in Freethought Today, called "In Others' Words" in which he uses "cryptoquotes" to present these quotes. He offers the hard copy of this compendium for sale in Freethought Today for $9.00. But, you get it free. I have also just learned (9/30/93) that this has been accepted into the Library of Congress.

All of these quotes have been throughly researched. None are "out of context" or otherwise misleading. For example, the bogus John Adams' quote, "...this would be the best of all possible worlds if there were no religion in it ..." is not included.

This compendium is an excellent reference for debating zealots who claim that this is a "Christian Nation", all of Founding Fathers were twice borns, and other nonsense.

Please send all correspondence to:

    Ed Buckner
    Atlanta Freethought Society
    P.O. Box 1975

           or   

    P.O. Box 2385
    Smyrna, GA 30081-1975
    Stone Mountain, GA 30086-2385

THOUGHTfully Yours,
Clark Adams


Copyright 1993, Ed and Michael E. Buckner and the Atlanta Freethought Society, P.O. Box 2385, Stone Mountain, GA 30086-2385. Version 7.2 (26 Mar 93). Compiled by Ed and Michael E. Buckner, P.O. Box 1975, Smyrna, GA 30081-1975. Permission to reproduce any or all pages freely is hereby granted, provided that this notice is retained. Acknowledgement of compilers for excerpts, especially lengthy ones, is appreciated but not required.

Contents

I. U.S. Constitutions, U.S. Treaties

II. Founding Fathers -- National Leaders and Thinkers from the Revolutionary Era

III. Presidents (and Other National Political Leaders) Since the Revolutionary Era

IV. U.S. Supreme Court and Other Judicial Rulings

V. Other Famous Americans

VI. Foreign Sources

Introduction

The quotations presented here, drawn in every case directly fromthe most original source available to the compilers, may proveuseful to those arguing, in a variety of ways or contexts, infavor of separation of church and state, religious freedom, andthe rights of religious or, especially, irreligious minorities.Quotations supporting atheism, deism, or unorthodox religiousviews are included to the extent that they might be useful indebating against those who argue that the United States wasestablished as a Christian nation or that the "founding fathers"would have accepted government support of any religiousorthodoxy. Not all the quotes are from humanists or freethinkersnor even from people committed to complete separation of churchand state, but the quotes are all, as far as we can determine,genuine, accurate, and not distorted by being taken out ofcontext.

All the text shown in each entry in larger sized typeface is adirect quote from the source specified in a smaller fontthereafter. Ellipses (...) are shown wherever material has beenomitted (in some cases by another compiler) and brackets [ ] areused to show any added material; material is never omitted oradded by us to distort the sense of the fuller text. Statementsmust be more than eloquent, forceful arguments for separation ofchurch and state or liberty of conscience to be included; theymust also carry weight in terms of history or of who it was thatwrote or spoke them.

The quotations are arranged in six major sections, with somesubsections within those. Quotations are arranged in approximateorder of historical significance in Sections I and II, withseparate subsections in Section II for major leaders (Jefferson,Madison, Washington, John Adams, Franklin, and Paine) followed bya subsection of others from the era, then by a subsection ofhistorians and others about the era in general. Sections IIIthough VI are arranged in approximate chronological order (thoughwith all material from or about a particular source kepttogether) within each section. An index is at the end of thedocument.

Any suggested appropriate additions, corrections of any errors,or improvements of other kinds will be appreciated.

The compilers (Ed Buckner and his son, Michael E. Buckner) arehumanists and freethinkers who support strict separation ofchurch and state and freedom of conscience, if only to protectour own rights to be free of government-imposed dogma. Wededicate this to the best editor and thinker in our family, Diane(Ed's wife and Michael's mother).

I. U.S. Constitution and U.S. Treaties and State Constitutions

The Constitution of the United States (1787-1788; 1st TenAmendments ["Bill of Rights"] ratified 1791; no reference to anygod is to be found in the body or in the amendments to theConstitution)

The senators and representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. (Article VI, Section 3, The Constitution of the United States.)

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 freedom of press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. (Amendment 1,The Constitution of the United States.)

Treaty of Peace and Friendship Between the United States and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary, 1796-1797

As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion--as it has itself no character of enmity against the law, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims], ... ("Article 11, Treaty of Peace and Friendship between The United States and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary," 1796-1797. Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America. Edited by Hunter Miller. Vol. 2, 1776-1818, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1931, p. 365. From George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 45. According to Paul F. Boller [George Washington & Religion, Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1963, pp. 87-88] the treaty was written by Joel Barlow, negotiated during Washington's administration, concluded on November 4, 1796, ratified by the Senate in June, 1797, and signed [see below] by John Adams [2nd U.S. President] on June 10, 1797. Boller concluded that "Very likely Washington shared Barlow's view, though there is no record of his opinion about the treaty ..." [p.88]. Jefferson was Secretary of State in Washington's first administration but had resigned when the treaty was written. Jefferson was Vice-President when the treaty was ratified and signed. Barlow, identified in The American Heritage Dictionary as an American "poet and diplomat," 1754-1812, knew and corresponded extensively with Jefferson. Among many letters Jefferson wrote Barlow was one written on March 14, 1801, just ten days after Jefferson's first inauguration as President.)

Now be it known, that I, John Adams, President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the said treaty do, by and within the consent of the Senate, accept, ratify and confirm the same, and every clause and article thereof. ("Treaty of Peace and Friendship between The United States and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary," 1796-1797. Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America. Edited by Hunter Miller. Vol. 2. 1776-1818. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1931, p. 383; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 45.)

II. Founding Fathers: National Leaders & Thinkers from the

Revolutionary Era

Thomas Jefferson
(1743-1826; author, Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom; 3rd U.S. President, 1801-1809)

Convinced that religious liberty must, most assuredly, be built into the structural frame of the new [state] government, Jefferson proposed this language [for the new Virginia constitution]: "All persons shall have full and free liberty of religious opinion; nor shall any be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious institution": freedom for religion, but also freedom from religion. (Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987, p. 38. Jefferson proposed his language in 1776.)

I may grow rich by an art I am compelled to follow; I may recover health by medicines I am compelled to take against my own judgment; but I cannot be saved by a worship I disbelieve and abhor. (Thomas Jefferson, notes for a speech, c. 1776. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 498.)

Well aware that the opinions and belief of men depend not on their own will, but follow involuntarily the evidence proposed to their minds; that Almighty God hath created the mind free, and manifested his supreme will that free it shall remain by making it altogether insusceptible to restraint; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments, or burthens, 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, but to extend it by its influence on reason alone; 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 and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical; ... that our civil rights have no dependance on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry; ... that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; 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 supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous falacy [sic], which at once destroys all religious liberty ... ; 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. We the General Assembly of Virginia do enact 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 no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities ... (Thomas Jefferson, "Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom in Virginia," 1779; those parts shown above in italics were, according to Edwin S. Gaustad, written by Jefferson but not included in the statute as passed by the General Assembly of Virginia. The bill became law on January 16, 1786. From Edwin S. Gaustad, ed., A Documentary History of Religion in America, Vol. I (To the Civil War), Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982, pp. 259-261. Jefferson was prouder of having written this bill than of being the third President or of such history-making accomplishments as the Louisiana Purchase. He wrote, as his own full epitaph, "Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, Author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, And Father of the University of Virginia.")

Where the preamble [of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom] declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting the words "Jesus Christ," so that it should read, "A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination. (Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 363)

Our [Virginia's] act for freedom of religion is extremely applauded. The Ambassadors and ministers of the several nations of Europe resident at this court have asked me copies of it to send to their sovereigns, and it is inserted at full length in several books now in the press; among others, in the new Encyclopedie. I think it will produce considerable good even in those countries where ignorance, superstition, poverty and oppression of body and mind in every form, are so firmly settled on the mass of the people, that their redemption from them can never be hoped. (Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Wythe from Paris, August 13, 1786. From Adrienne Koch, ed., The American Enlightenment: The Shaping of the American Experiment and a Free Society, New York: George Braziller, 1965, p. 311.)

The Virginia act for religious freedom has been received with infinite approbation in Europe, and propagated with enthusiasm. I do not mean by governments, but by the individuals who compose them. It has been translated into French and Italian; has been sent to most of the courts of Europe, and has been the best evidence of the falsehood of those reports which stated us to be in anarchy. It is inserted in the new "Encyclopédie," and is appearing in most of the publications respecting America. In fact, it is comfortable to see the standard of reason at length erected, after so many ages, during which the human mind has been held in vassalage by kings, priests, and nobles; and it is honorable for us, to have produced the first legislature who had the courage to declare, that the reason of man may be trusted with the formation of his own opinions.... (Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison from Paris, Dec. 16, 1786. From Lloyd S. Kramer, ed., Paine and Jefferson on Liberty, New York: Continuum, 1988, pp. 87-88.)

... Justly famous among these important bills [written or revised by Jefferson for Virginia's legislature] in the revisal of 1770 was the Bill for establishing religious freedom, a bill called by Julian Boyd "Jefferson's declaration of intellectual and spiritual independence." Unlike some of his other great bills, this one was at long last enacted into law in 1786, the first piece of legislation ever to provide expressly for full religious freedom. In this contribution alone, Jefferson advanced far beyond his revered John Locke whose philosophy of toleration "stopped short," as Jefferson said, of the full freedom required by the independent intelligence and conscience of man. (Adrienne Koch, ed., The American Enlightenment: The Shaping of the American Experiment and a Free Society, New York: George Braziller, 1965, p. 280.)

It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself. (Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 363)

Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors? Fallible men; men governed by bad passions, by private as well as public reasons. And why subject it to coercion? To produce uniformity. But is uniformity of opinion desirable? No more than of face and stature. (Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 363)

Is uniformity attainable? Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth. (Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 363.)

No man complains of his neighbor for ill management of his affairs, for an error in sowing his land, or marrying his daughter, for consuming his substance in taverns ... in all these he has liberty; but if he does not frequent the church, or then conform in ceremonies, there is an immediate uproar. (Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 364.)

In the Notes [on the State of Virginia] Jefferson elaborated his views on government's keeping its distance from all religious affairs and religious opinions. "The legitimate powers of government," he wrote, "extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." (Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987, pp. 42-43. )

Life is of no value but as it brings us gratifications. Among the most valuable of these is rational society. It informs the mind, sweetens the temper, cheers our spirits, and promotes health. (Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, February 20, 1784. From Adrienne Koch, ed., The American Enlightenment: The Shaping of the American Experiment and a Free Society, New York: George Braziller, 1965, p. 305.)

[W]e have solved by fair experiment the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. (Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, December 16, 1786, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 47.)

... shake off all the fears of servile prejudices under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a god because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear. You will naturally examine first the religion of your own country. Read the bible then, as you would read Livy or Tacitus. The testimony of the writer weighs in their favor in one scale, and their not being against the laws of nature does not weigh against them. But those facts in the bible which contradict the laws of nature, must be examined with more care, and under a variety of faces. Here you must recur to the pretensions of the writer to inspiration from god. Examine upon what evidence his pretensions are founded, and whether that evidence is so strong as that it's [sic] falshood [sic] would be more improbable than a change of the laws of nature in the case he relates.... Do not be frightened from this enquiry by any fear of it's [sic] consequences. If it ends in a belief that there is no god, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in it's [sic] exercise, and the love of others which it will procure you. If you find reason to believe there is a god, a consciousness that you are acting under his eye, and that he approves you, will be a vast additional incitement. If that there be a future state, the hope of a happy existence in that increases the appetite to deserve it; if that Jesus was also a god, you will be comforted by a belief of his aid and love. In fine, I repeat that you must lay aside all prejudice on both sides, and neither believe nor reject any thing because any other person, or description of persons have rejected or believed it. Your own reason is the only oracle given you by heaven, and you are answerable not for the rightness but uprightness of the decision.... (Thomas Jefferson, letter to his young nephew Peter Carr, August 10, 1787. From Adrienne Koch, ed., The American Enlightenment: The Shaping of the American Experiment and a Free Society, New York: George Braziller, 1965, pp. 320-321.)

I am for freedom of religion and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another. (Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, January 26, 1799. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 499.)

To preserve the freedom of the human mind then and freedom of the press, every spirit should be ready to devote itself to martyrdom; for as long as we may think as we will, and speak as we think, the condition of man will proceed in improvement. (Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Green Mumford, June 18, 1799. From Adrienne Koch, ed., The American Enlightenment: The Shaping of the American Experiment and a Free Society, New York: George Braziller, 1965, p. 341.)

"I know," Jefferson had written, ... "that Gouverneur Morris, who pretended to be in his [George Washington's] secrets & believed himself to be so, has often told me that Genl. Washington believed no more of that system [Christianity] than he himself did." (Paul F. Boller, George Washington & Religion, Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1963, p. 85. Jefferson's comments were written in his journal, Anas, in February, 1800, according to Boller, p. 80.)

All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate which would be oppression. (Thomas Jefferson, "First Inaugural Address," March 4, 1801; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 364.)

... And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions. ... error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it. ... I deem the essential principles of our government . ..[:] Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; ... freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus, and trial by juries impartially selected. (Thomas Jefferson, "First Inaugural Address," March 4, 1801. From Mortimer Adler, ed., The Annals of America: 1797-1820, Domestic Expansion and Foreign Entanglements, Vol. 4; Chicago: Encyclopedia Brittanica, 1968, pp. 144-145.

I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state. (Thomas Jefferson, as President, in a letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 369)

I will never, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance, or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others. (Thomas Jefferson, letter to Edward Dowse, April 19, 1803. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 499.)

It behoves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others; or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own. (Thomas Jefferson, letter to Benjamin Rush, April 21, 1803. From Daniel B. Baker, ed., Political Quotations, Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1990, p. 189.)

Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the General Government. It must then rest with the States, as far as it can be in any human authority. But it is only proposed that I should recommend, not prescribe a day of fasting and prayer. That is, that I should indirectly assume to the United States an authority over religious exercises, which the Constitution has directly precluded them from. It must be meant, too, that this recommendation is to carry some authority, and to be sanctioned by some penalty on those who disregard it; not indeed of fine and imprisonment, but of some degree of proscription, perhaps in public opinion. And does the change in the nature of the penalty make the recommendation less a law of conduct for those to whom it is directed? I do not believe it is in the best interests of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct its exercises, its discipline, or its doctrines; nor of the religious societies, that the General Government should be invested with the power of effecting any uniformity of time or matter among them. Fasting and prayer are religious exercises; the enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the times of these exercises, and the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and this right can never be safer than in their own hands, where the Constitution has deposited it. (Thomas Jefferson, just before the end of his second term, in a letter to Samuel Miller--a Presbyterian minister--on January 23, 1808; from Willson Whitman, arranger, Jefferson's Letters, Eau Claire, Wisconsin: E. M. Hale and Company, ND, pp. 241-242.

But a short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer [Jesus] of the Jewish religion, before his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his special servants, and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, and aggrandizing their oppressors in Church and State. (Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Samuel Kercheval, 1810; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 370)

History I believe furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose. (Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Baron von Humboldt, 1813; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 370)

The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man. (Thomas Jefferson, as quoted by Saul K. Padover in Thomas Jefferson on Democracy, New York, 1946, p. 165, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 48.)

In every country and every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is easier to acquire wealth and power by this combination than by deserving them, and to effect this, they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer for their purposes. (Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Horatio Spofford, 1814; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 371)

Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve? (Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814, on the occasion of prosecution for selling De Becourt's "Sur le Création du Monde, un Systême d'Organisation Primitive"; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 371)

If M. de Becourt's book be false in its facts, disprove them; if false in its reasoning, refute it. But, for God's sake, let us freely hear both sides, if we choose. (Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814, on the occasion of prosecution for selling De Becourt's "Sur le Création du Monde, un Systême d'Organisation Primitive"; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 371)

I am really mortified to be told that, in the United States of America, a fact like this can become a subject to inquiry, and of criminal inquiry, too, as an offence against religion; that a question about the sale of a book can be carried before the civil magistrate. Is this then our freedom of religion? (Thomas Jefferson, letter to N. G. Dufief, April 19, 1814. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 492.)

... If we did a good act merely from the love of God and a belief that it is pleasing to Him, whence arises the morality of the Atheist? It is idle to say, as some do, that no such thing exists. We have the same evidence of the fact as of most of those we act on, to wit: their own affirmations, and their reasonings in support of them. I have observed, indeed, generally, that while in Protestant countries the defections from the Platonic Christianity of the priests is to Deism, in Catholic countries they are to Atheism. Diderot, D'Alembert, D'Holbach, Condorcet, are known to have been among the most virtuous of men. Their virtue, then, must have had some other foundation than love of God. (Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Law, June 13, 1814. From Adrienne Koch, ed., The American Enlightenment: The Shaping of the American Experiment and a Free Society, New York: George Braziller, 1965, p. 358.)

Across the ages, clergy have been interested [according to Jefferson] not in truth but only in wealth and power; when rational people have had difficulty swallowing "their impious heresies," then the clergy have, with the help of the state, forced "them down their throats." Five years later, he [Jefferson] wrote of "this loathsome combination of church and state" that for so many centuries reduced human beings to "dupes and drudges." (Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987, p. 47. According to Gaustad, the first quotes are from a letter from Jefferson to William Baldwin, January 19, 1810; the second source is a letter from Jefferson to Charles Clay, January 29, 1815.)

A professorship of Theology should have no place in our institution [the University of Virginia]. (Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Cooper, October 7, 1814. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 492.)

I have ever judged of the religion of others by their lives.... It is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be read. By the same test the world must judge me. But this does not satisfy the priesthood. They must have a positive, a declared assent to all their interested absurdities. My opinion is that there would never have been an infidel, if there had never been a priest. The artificial structures they have built on the the purest of all moral systems, for the purpose of deriving from it pence and power, revolt those who think for themselves, and who read in that system only what is really there. (Thomas Jefferson, letter to Mrs. M. Harrison Smith: Mrs. M. Harrison, August 6, 1816. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 492.)

"I never told my own religion, nor scrutinized that of another," Thomas Jefferson once remarked, adding that he had "ever judged" the religion of others by their lives "rather than their" words. (Richard B. Morris:Richard B., Seven Who Shaped Our Destiny: The Founding Fathers as Revolutionaries, Harper & Row, 1973, p. 269. The Jefferson quote is from his letter to Mrs. M. Harrison Smith: Mrs. M. Harrison, 1816.)

He [Jefferson] rejoiced with John Adams when the Congregational church was finally disestablished in Connecticut in 1818; welcoming "the resurrection of Connecticut to light and liberty, Jefferson congratulated Adams "that this den of priesthood is at length broken up, and that a protestant popedom is no longer to disgrace American history and character." (Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987, p. 49.)

In 1820 as he described his plans for the University of Virginia to his former private secretary, William Short, Jefferson acknowledged that his plan for the first truly secular university would have opposition: weak opposition (in his view) from the College of William and Mary, but strong opposition from "the priests of the different religious sects, to whose spells on the human mind its improvement is ominous." (Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987, p. 48. The letter to Short was dated 13 April 1820.)

Jefferson bemoaned the pattern of church life that gave the unenlightened and bigoted clergy "stated and privileged days to collect and catechize us, opportunities of delivering their oracles to the people in mass, and of moulding their minds as wax in the hollow of their hands." Despite this enormous advantage, however, Virginians are liberal enough, reasonable enough, to "give fair play" to a university [the University of Virginia] set free from dogmatisms and fixed ideas. (Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987, p. 48.)

This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate error so long as reason is free to combat it. (Thomas Jefferson, to prospective teachers, University of Virginia; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 364.)

If the freedom of religion, guaranteed to us by law in theory, can ever rise in practice under the overbearing inquisition of public opinion, [then and only then will truth] prevail over fanaticism. (Thomas Jefferson, as quoted by Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987, p. 49. Jefferson's words are, according to Gaustad, from his letter to Jared Sparks, 4 November 1820.)

And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a Virgin Mary, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.... But we may hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away [with] all this artificial scaffolding. (Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, 11 April 1823, as quoted by E. S. Gaustad, "Religion," in Merrill D. Peterson, ed., Thomas Jefferson: A Reference Biography, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1986, p. 287.)

... Jefferson expressed himself strongly on that larger apocalypse, the Book of Revelation, in a letter to Alexander Smyth of 17 January 1825: it is "merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy, nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams." Apocalyptic writing deserved no commentary, for "what has no meaning admits no explanation"; therefore, apocalyptic prophecies associated with Jesus deserved and would receive no attention from Jefferson in his Life and Morals of Jesus. (E. S. Gaustad, "Religion," in Merrill D. Peterson, ed., Thomas Jefferson: A Reference Biography, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1986, p. 287.)

... our fellow citizens, after half a century of experience and prosperity, continue to approve the choice we made. May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day [Fourth of July] forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.... (Thomas Jefferson, letter to Roger C. Weightman, June 24, 1826 [Jefferson's last letter, dated ten days before he died]; from Adrienne Koch, ed., The American Enlightenment: The Shaping of the American Experiment and a Free Society, New York: George Braziller, 1965, p. 372.)

Jefferson wrote voluminously to prove that Christianity was not part of the law of the land and that religion or irreligion was purely a private matter, not cognizable by the state. (Leonard W. Levy, Treason Against God: A History of the Offense of Blasphemy, New York: Schocken Books, 1981, p. 335.)

So much is Jefferson identified in the American mind with his battle for political liberty that it is difficult to entertain the possibility that he felt even more strongly about religious liberty. If the letters and activities of his post presidential years can be taken as a fair guide, however, he maintained an unrelenting vigilance with respect to freedom in religion, and an unrelenting, perhaps even unforgiving, distrust of all those who would seek in any way to mitigate or limit or nullify that freedom. (Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987, pp. 46-47.)

... Jefferson, who as a careful historian had made a study of the origin of the maxim [that the common law is inextricably linked with Christianity], challenged such an assertion. He noted that "the common law existed while the Anglo-Saxons were yet pagans, at a time when they had never yet heard the name of Christ pronounced or that such a character existed .... What a conspiracy this, between Church and State." (Leo Pfeffer, Religion, State, and the Burger Court, Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books, 1984, p. 121.)

... The most revealing writings concerned the commonly repeated maxim that Christianity was part of the common law. In two posthumously published writings, an appendix to his Reports of Cases Determined in the General Court and a letter to Major John Cartwright, Thomas Jefferson took issue with the maxim. He traced the erroneous interpretation to a seventeenth-century law commentator who, Jefferson argued, misinterpreted a fifteenth-century precedent. He then traced the error forward to his favorite bête noire, Lord Mansfield, who wrote that "the essential principles of revealed religion are part of the common law." Jefferson responded with a classic, positivistic critique: Mansfield "leaves us at our peril to find out what, in the opinion of the judge, and according to the measures of his foot or his faith, are those essential principles of revealed religion, obligatory on us as part of the common law." (Daniel R. Ernst, "Church-State Issues and the Law: 1607-1870" in John F. Wilson, ed., Church and State in America: A Bibliographic Guide. The Colonial and Early National Periods," New York: Greenwood Press, 1986, p. 337. Ernst gives his source as Thomas Jefferson, "Whether Christianity is Part of the Common Law?")

It was what he did not like in religion that gave impetus to Jefferson's activity in that troublesome and often bloody arena. He did not like dogmatism, obscurantism, blind obedience, or any interference with the free exercise of the mind. Moreover, he did not like the tendency of religion to confuse truth with power, special insight with special privilege, and the duty to maintain with the right to persecute the dissenter. Ecclesiastical despotism was as reprehensible as despotism of the political sort, even when it justified itself, as it often did, in the name of doing good. This had been sufficiently evident in his native Virginia to give Jefferson every stimulus he needed to see that independence must be carried over into the realm of religion. (E. S. Gaustad, "Religion," in Merrill D. Peterson, ed., Thomas Jefferson: A Reference Biography, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1986, p. 279.)

... If this [extending religion's influence on the basis of "reason alone"] is the path chosen by Omnipotence and Infallibility, what sense can there possibly be in "fallible and uninspired men ... setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible"? No sense at all, argued Jefferson, who found compulsion in religion to be irrational, impious, and tyrannical. If such compulsion is bad for the vulnerable citizen, its consequences are no more wholesome for the church: "It tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it." (E. S. Gaustad, "Religion," in Merrill D. Peterson, ed., Thomas Jefferson: A Reference Biography, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1986, p. 280.)

A final example of Jefferson's separationism may be drawn from his founding of the University of Virginia in the last years of his life. Prepared to transform the College of William and Mary into the principal university of the state, Jefferson would do so only if the college divested itself of all ties with sectarian religion--that is, with its old Anglicanism now represented by the Protestant Episcopal Church. The college declined to make that break with its past, and Jefferson proceeded with plans for his own university well to the west of Anglican-dominated tidewater Virginia. In Charlottesville this new school ("broad & liberal & modern," as Jefferson envisioned it in a letter to [Joseph] Priestly of 18 January 1800) opened in 1825 with professorships in languages and law, natural and moral philosophy, history and mathematics, but not in divinity. In Jefferson's view, as reported in Robert Healey's Jefferson on Religion in Public Education, not only did Virginia's laws prohibit such favoritism (for divinity or theology was inevitably sectarian), but high-quality education was not well served by those who preferred mystery to morals and divisive dogma to the unities of science. Too great a devotion to doctrine can drive men mad; if it does not have that tragic effect, it at least guarantees that a man's education will be mediocre. What is really significant in religion, its moral content, would be taught at the University of Virginia, but in philosophy, not divinity. If Almighty God has made the mind free, one of the ways to keep it free is to protect young minds from the clouded convolutions of theologians. Jefferson wanted education separated from religion because of his own conclusions concerning the nature of religion, its strengths and its weaknesses, its dark past and its possibly brighter future. (E. S. Gaustad, "Religion," in Merrill D. Peterson, ed., Thomas Jefferson: A Reference Biography, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1986, pp. 282-283.)

Moving well beyond the traditional deistic triad of God, freedom, and immortality, Jefferson revealed his strongest feelings and convictions with regard to the ecclesiastics. On two counts he found them critically deficient. In the realm of politics and power, they were tyrannical; in the realm of theology and truth, they were perverse. Jefferson's strongest language is reserved for those clergy who, as he said in a letter to Moses Robinson of 23 March 1801, "had got a smell of union between church and state" and would impede the advance of liberty and science. Such clergy, whether in America or abroad, have so adulterated religion that it has become "a mere contrivance to filch wealth and power to themselves" and a means of grasping "impious heresies, in order to force them down [men's] throats" (letter to Samuel Kercheval, 19 January 1810). In his old age, Jefferson softened his invective not one whit: "The Presbyterian clergy are the loudest, the most intolerant of all sects, the most tyrannical and ambitious, ready at the word of the lawgiver, if such a word could be obtained, to put the torch to the pile, and to rekindle in this virgin hemisphere, the flames in which their oracle Calvin consumed the poor Servetus, because he could not find in his Euclid the proposition which has demonstrated that three are one, and one is three." And if they cannot revive the holy inquisition of the Middle Ages, they will seek to mobilize the inquisition of public opinion, "that lord of the Universe" (letter to William Short, 13 April 1820). Jefferson, the enemy of all arbitrary and capricious power, found that which was clothed in the ceremonial garb of religion to be particularly despicable. Even more disturbing to Jefferson was the priestly perversion of simple truths. If "in this virgin hemisphere" it was no longer possible to burn men's bodies, it was still possible to stunt their minds. In the "revolution of 1800" that saw Jefferson's election to the presidency, the candidate wrote to his good friend Rush that while his views would please deists and rational Christians, they would never please that "irritable tribe of priests" who still hoped for government sanction and support. Nor would his election please them, "especially the Episcopalians and the Congregationalists." They fear that I will oppose their schemes of establishment. "And they believe rightly: for I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man" (23 September 1800). It was this aspect of establishment that Jefferson most dreaded and most relentlessly opposed--not just the power, profit, and corruption that invariably accompanied state-sanctioned ecclesiasticism but the theological distortion and intellectual absurdity that passed for reason and good sense. We must not be held captive to "the Platonic mysticisms" or to the "gossamer fabrics of factitious religion." Nor must we ever again be required to confess that which mankind did not and could not comprehend, "for I suppose belief to be the assent of the mind to an intelligible proposition" (letter to John Adams, 22 August 1813). (E. S. Gaustad, "Religion," in Merrill D. Peterson, ed., Thomas Jefferson: A Reference Biography, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1986, p. 291.)

I take to heart Jefferson's aspiration that the idea of church-state separation "germinate and take root among [the American people's] political tenets." (Kenneth S. Saladin, "Municipal Church-State Litigation and the Issue of Standing," in the "Church and State" issue of National Forum: The Phi Kappa Phi Journal, Winter, 1988, p. 23.)

To conclude this discussion of the religious clauses of the First Amendment, let's talk some more about Thomas Jefferson and his "wall." Some TV preachers, as well as writers, politicians, and, worst of all, Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist, have sought to pull down the wall by disparaging Jefferson's influence on the First Amendment. A popular bit of historical revisionism that floats around these days goes something like this: Jefferson served as ambassador to France during the writing of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. He had no hand in their preparation and passage because he was out of the country. Therefore, his metaphor about the "wall of separation" is misplaced and ill-informed because he was living in France and was out of touch. Tommyrot! Thomas Jefferson was James Madison's mentor. Madison as the chief architect of both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights drew heavily from Jefferson's ideas and kept in regular contact with his fellow Virginian even though the latter lived in France. Volumes of correspondence exist between the two men as they discussed the day's crucial events. Jefferson understood that the First Amendment created a separation between church and state because he, more than most of the Founders, gave form and substance to the nation's understanding of how the two institutions should best relate in the new nation. Some politicians, lawyers, and preachers subject us to mental cruelty when they disparage Jefferson's interpretation simply because he lived in France during the years of the Constitution's framing. (Robert L. Maddox, Baptist minister and speech writer and religious liaison for President Jimmy Carter, Separation of Church and State: Guarantor of Religious Freedom, New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1987, pp. 67-68.)

James Madison
(1751-1836; principal author, U. S. Constitution and Bill of Rights; 4th U.S. President, 1809-1817)

Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprize [sic], every expanded prospect. (James Madison, in a letter to William Bradford, April 1, 1774, as quoted by Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987, p. 37.)

Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity in exclusion of all other religions may establish, with the same ease, any particular sect of Christians in exclusion of all other sects? That the same authority which can force a citizen to contribute threepence only of his property for the support of any one establishment may force him to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever? (James Madison, "A Memorial and Remonstrance," addressed to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 1785; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: The Citadel Press, pp. 459-460. According to Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987, pp. 39 ff., Madison's "Remonstrance" was instrumental in blocking the multiple establishment of all denominations of Christianity in Virginia.)

... Congress, in voting a plan for the government of the Western territories, retained a clause setting aside one section in each township for the support of public schools, while striking out the provision reserving a section for the support of religion. Commented Madison: "How a regulation so unjust in itself, so foreign to the authority of Congress, and so hurtful to the sale of public land, and smelling so strongly of an antiquated bigotry, could have received the countenance of a committee is truly a matter of astonishment." (Richard B. Morris, Seven Who Shaped Our Destiny: The Founding Fathers as Revolutionaries, Harper & Row, 1973, p. 206. The Congress here referred to was the Continental Congress; the Madison quote is from his letter to James Monroe, May 29, 1785, according to Morris.)

Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression. In our Governments, the real power lies in the majority of the Community, and the invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from the acts of Government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the major number of the constituents. (James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, October 17, 1788; from Michael Kammen, The Origins of the American Constitution: A Documentary History, 1986, pp. 369-370. )

"In a free government," Madison declared, "the security for civil rights must be the same as that for religious rights. It consists in the one case in the multiplicity of interests, and in the other in the multiplicity of sects." (James A. Henretta, The Evolution of American Society, 1700-1815: An Interdisciplinary Analysis, Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath and Company, 1973, p. 136. According to Henretta, the quote is from Number 51 of the Federalist Papers.)

Here [in the Virginia statute for religious liberty] the separation between the authority of human laws, and the natural rights of Man excepted from the grant on which all authority is founded, is traced as distinctly as words can admit, and the limits to this authority established with as much solemnity as the forms of legislation can express. The law has the further advantage of having been the result of a formal appeal to the sense of the Community and a deliberate sanction of a vast majority, comprizing [sic] every sect of Christians in the State. This act is a true standard of Religious liberty; its principle the great barrier agst [against] usurpations on the rights of conscience. As long as it is respected & no longer, these will be safe. Every provision for them short of this principle, will be found to leave crevices, at least thro' which bigotry may introduce persecution; a monster, that feeding & thriving on its own venom, gradually swells to a size and strength overwhelming all laws divine & human. (James Madison, "Monopolies. Perpetuities. Corporations. Ecclesiastical Endowments," as reprinted in Elizabeth Fleet, "Madison's Detatched Memoranda," William & Mary Quarterly, Third series: Vol. III, No. 4 [October, 1946], pp. 554-555. The "Detatched Memoranda" is a manuscript, written sometime after Madison left office in 1817, in Madison's own hand, with notes he made in preparation for the arrangement and publication of his public papers, a task he did not complete before his death in 1836.)

Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion & Govt in the Constitution of the United States the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history. (See the cases in which negatives were put by J. M. on two bills passd by Congs and his signature withheld from another. See also attempt in Kentucky for example, where it was proposed to exempt Houses of Worship from taxes. (James Madison, "Monopolies. Perpetuities. Corporations. Ecclesiastical Endowments," as reprinted in Elizabeth Fleet, "Madison's Detatched Memoranda," William & Mary Quarterly, Third series: Vol. III, No. 4 [October, 1946], p. 555. The parenthetical note at the end, which lacks a closed parenthesis in Fleet, was apparently a note Madison made to himself regarding examples of improper encroachment to use when the "Detatched Memoranda" were edited and published, and seems to imply clearly that Madison supported taxing churches. )

On Feb. 21, 1811, Madison vetoed a bill for incorporating the Episcopal Church in Alexandria and on Feb. 28, 1811, one reserving land in Mississippi territory for a Baptist Church. (James D. Richardson, Messages and Papers of the Presidents [Washington, 1896-1899], I, 489-490, as cited in a footnote, Elizabeth Fleet, "Madison's Detatched Memoranda," William & Mary Quarterly, Third series: Vol. III, No. 4 [October, 1946], p. 555.)

Chaplainships of both Congress and the armed services were established sixteen years before the First Amendment was adopted. It would have been fatuous folly for anybody to stir a major controversy over a minor matter before the meaning of the amendment had been threshed out in weightier matters. But Madison did foresee the danger that minor deviations from the constitutional path would deepen into dangerous precedents. He took care of one of them by his veto [in 1811] of the appropriation for a Baptist church. Others he dealt with in his "Essay on Monopolies," unpublished until 1946. Here is what he wrote: "Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom? In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the U. S. forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them, and these are to be paid out of the national taxes. Does this not involve the principle of a national establishment ... ?" The appointments, he said, were also a palpable violation of equal rights. Could a Catholic clergyman ever hope to be appointed a Chaplain? "To say that his religious principles are obnoxious or that his sect is small, is to lift the veil at once and exhibit in its naked deformity the doctrine that religious truth is to be tested by numbers, or that the major sects have a right to govern the minor." The problem, said the author of the First Amendment, was how to prevent "this step beyond the landmarks of power [from having] the effect of a legitimate precedent." Rather than let that happen, it would "be better to apply to it the legal aphorism de minimis non curat lex [the law takes no account of trifles]." Or, he said (likewise in Latin), class it with faults that result from carelessness or that human nature could scarcely avoid." "Better also," he went on, "to disarm in the same way, the precedent of Chaplainships for the army and navy, than erect them into a political authority in matters of religion." ... The deviations from constitutional principles went further: "Religious proclamations by the Executive recommending thanksgivings and fasts are shoots from the same root with the legislative acts reviewed. Altho' recommendations only, they imply a religious agency, making no part of the trust delegated to political rulers." (Irving Brant, The Bill of Rights: Its Origin and Meaning, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1965, pp. 423-424. Brant gives the source of "Essay on Monopolies" as Elizabeth Fleet, "Madison's Detatched Memoranda," William & Mary Quarterly, Third series: Vol. III, No. 4 [October, 1946], pp. 554-562.)

And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together. (James Madison, letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822; published in The Complete Madison: His Basic Writings, ed. by Saul K. Padover, New York: Harper & Bros., 1953.)

The only ultimate protection for religious liberty in a country like ours, Madison pointed out--echoing Jefferson;--is public opinion: a firm and pervading opinion that the First Amendment works. "Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance." (Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987, p. 56. Madison's words, according to Gaustad, are from his letter of 10 July 1822 to Edward Livingston.)

Whilst we assert for ourselves a freedom to embrace, to profess and observe the Religion which we believe to be of divine origin, we cannot deny equal freedom to those whose minds have not yet yielded to the evidence which has convinced us. If this freedom be abused, it is an offense against God, not against man: To God, therefore, not to man, must an account of it be rendered. (James Madison, according to Leonard W. Levy, Treason Against God: A History of the Offense of Blasphemy, New York: Schocken Books, 1981, p. xii.)

This assertion [that Madison was committed to total and complete separation of church and state] would be challenged by the nonpreferentialists, who agree with Justice Rehnquist's dissent in the Jaffree case. Contrasted with the analysis set forth above, Rehnquist insisted that Madison's "original language 'nor shall any national religion be established' obviously does not conform to the 'wall of separation' between church and state which latter day commentators have ascribed to him." Rehnquist believes Madison was seeking merely to restrict Congress from establishing a particular national church. There are three problems with this contention. First, nothing in Madison's acts or words support such a proposition. Indeed, his opposition to the General Assessment Bill in Virginia, detailed in the "Memorial and Remonstrance," contradicts Rehnquist directly. Secondly, all of Madison's writings after 1789 support the Court's twentieth-century understanding of the term "wall of separation." Third, the reference to Madison's use of "national" simply misses his definition of the word. Madison had an expansive intention when he used the term national. He believed that "religious proclamations by the Executive recommending thanksgiving and fasts ... imply and certainly nourish the erroneous idea of a national religion." He commented in a similar way about chaplains for the House and Senate. Historical evidence lends no support to the Rehnquist thesis. And clearly Jefferson, even though absent from the First Congress, seems a far more secure source of "original intent" than Justice Rehnquist. (Robert S. Alley, ed., The Supreme Court on Church and State, New York: Oxford University Press, 1988, p. 13.)

Late in his life [therefore in the 1830s?] he [Madison] wrote to his friend Robert Walsh with whom Madison conducted a steady correspondence: "It was the Universal opinion of the Century preceding the last, that Civil Government could not stand without the prop of a Religious establishment, and that the Christian religion itself, would perish if not supported by a legal provision for its Clergy. The experience of Virginia conspicuously corroborates the disproof of both opinions. The Civil Government, tho' bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability and performs its functions with complete success; whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the Priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the State." (Robert L. Maddox, Separation of Church and State: Guarantor of Religious Freedom, New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1987, p. 39.)

At age eighty-one [therefore, in 1832?], both looking back at the American experience and looking forward with vision sharpened by practical experience, Madison summed up his views of church and state relations in a letter to a "Reverend Adams": "I must admit moreover that it may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points. The tendency of a usurpation on one side or the other, or to a corrupting coalition or alliance between them, will be best guarded by an entire abstinence of the Government from interference in any way whatever, beyond the necessity of preserving public order, and protecting each sect against trespass on its legal rights by others." (Robert L. Maddox, Separation of Church and State: Guarantor of Religious Freedom, New York: Crossroad, 1987, p. 39.)

George Washington
(1732-1799; "Father of His Country"; 1st U.S. President, 1789-1797)

The following year [1784], when asking Tench Tilghman to secure a carpenter and a bricklayer for his Mount Vernon estate, he [Washington] remarked: "If they are good workmen, they may be of Asia, Africa, or Europe. They may be Mohometans, Jews or Christians of any Sect, or they may be Atheists." As he told a Mennonite minister who sought refuge in the United States after the Revolution: "I had always hoped that this land might become a safe and agreeable Asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong...." He was, as John Bell pointed out in 1779, "a total stranger to religious prejudices, which have so often excited Christians of one denomination to cut the throats of those of another." (Paul F. Boller, George Washington & Religion, Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1963, p. 118. According to Boller, Washington wrote his remarks to Tilghman in a letter dated March 24, 1784; his remarks to the Mennonite--Francis Adrian Van der Kemp--were in a letter dated May 28, 1788.)

Government being, among other purposes, instituted to protect the consciences of men from oppression, it is certainly the duty of Rulers, not only to abstain from it themselves, but according to their stations, to prevent it in others. (George Washington, letter to the Religious Society called the Quakers, September 28, 1789. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 500.)

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it was by the indulgence of one class of the people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that those who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it, on all occasions, their effectual support. (George Washington, letter to the congregation of Touro Synagogue Jews, Newport, Rhode Island, August, 1790. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 500.)

Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought most to be deprecated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society. (George Washington, letter to Edward Newenham, October 20, 1792; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 726.)

In the Enlightened Age and in this Land of equal Liberty it is our boast, that a man's religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States. (George Washington, letter to the members of the New Church in Baltimore, January 27, 1793. Quoted in Richard B. Morris, Seven Who Shaped Our Destiny: The Founding Fathers as Revolutionaries, Harper & Row, 1973, p. 269.)

... Bird Wilson, Episcopal minister in Albany, New York, was one of the first openly to challenge in public the pietistic picture of Washington that was being built up by [Mason Locke] Weems and his followers. In a sermon delivered in October, 1831, which attracted wide attention when it was reported in the Albany Daily Advertiser, Wilson stated flatly that "among all our presidents from Washington downward, not one was a professor of religion, at least not of more than unitarianism." Washington, he went on to say, was a great and good man, but he was not a professor of religion; he was really a typical eighteenth-century Deist, not a Christian, in his religious outlook. (Paul F. Boller, George Washington & Religion, Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1963, pp. 14-15.)

... Like his father before him, he [George Washington] served actively for many years as one of the twelve vestrymen for Truro parish, Virginia, in which Mount Vernon was located. According to Charles H. Callahan, "The regularity of his attendance at the meetings of the vestry and the progress of church work throughout the parish during his incumbency is a striking testimonial of the religious zeal and activity of him and his associates." Actually, under the Anglican establishment in Virginia before the Revolution, the duties of a parish vestry were as much civil as religious in nature and it is not possible to deduce any exceptional religious zeal from the mere fact of membership. Even Thomas Jefferson was a vestryman for a while.* [Boller's footnote is shown at the end of this selection.] Consisting of the leading gentlemen of the parish in position and influence (many of whom, like Washington, were also at one time or other members of the County Court and of the House of Burgesses), the parish vestry, among other things, levied the parish taxes, handled poor relief, fixed land boundaries in the parish, supervised the construction, furnishing, and repairs of churches, and hired ministers and paid their salaries. *As Bishop William Meade put it, somewhat nastily, in 1857: "Even Mr. Jefferson, and [George] Wythe, who did not conceal their disbelief in Christianity, took their parts in the duties of vestrymen, the one at Williamsburg, the other at Albermarle; for they wished to be men of influence." (William Meade, Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia, 2 vols.; Philadelphia, 1857, I, 191). (Paul F. Boller, George Washington & Religion, Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1963, p. 26.)

Unlike Thomas Jefferson--and Thomas Paine, for that matter--Washington never even got around to recording his belief that Christ was a great ethical teacher. His reticence on the subject was truly remarkable. Washington frequently alluded to Providence in his private correspondence. But the name of Christ, in any correspondence whatsoever, does not appear anywhere in his many letters to friends and associates throughout his life. (Paul F. Boller, George Washington & Religion, Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1963, pp. 74-75.)

... if to believe in the divinity and resurrection of Christ and his atonement for the sins of man and to participate in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper are requisites for the Christian faith, then Washington, on the evidence which we have examined, can hardly be considered a Christian, except in the most nominal sense. (Paul F. Boller, George Washington & Religion, Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1963, p. 90.)

[on Washington's first inaugural speech in April 1789] . .. That he was not just striking a popular attitude as a politician is revealed by the absence of of the usual Christian terms: he did not mention Christ or even use the word "God." Following the phraseology of the philosophical Deism he professed, he referred to "the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men," to "the benign parent of the human race." (James Thomas Flexner, George Washington and the New Nation [1783-1793], Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1970, p. 184.)

Washington's religious belief was that of the enlightenment: deism. He practically never used the word "God," preferring the more impersonal word "Providence." How little he visualized Providence in personal form is shown by the fact that he interchangeably applied to that force all three possible pronouns: he, she, and it. (James Thomas Flexner, George Washington: Anguish and Farewell [1793-1799], Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1972, p. 490.)

No citizens ... were more sensitive to Washington's role as an upholder of liberties than the religious minorities. These groups were less anxious to cultivate what they had in common with other Americans than to sustain what kept them apart. Washington recognized this, just as he recognized the tenacity of regional and economic interests, and he took pains to explain precisely what national unity meant to him. He carried to his countrymen a vision of "organic" rather than "mechanical" solidarity, a union based on difference and interdependence rather than uniformity of belief and conduct. Washington's understanding of the kind of integration appropriate to a modern state was not shared by the most powerful Protestant establishments, the New England Congregationalists and Presbyterians; but other religious groups could not have been more pleased.... Acknowledging in each instance that respect for diversity was a fair price for commitment to the nation and its regime, Washington abolished deep-rooted fears that would have otherwise alienated a large part of the population from the nation-building process. For this large minority, he embodied not the ideal of union, nor even that of liberty, but rather the reconciliation of union and liberty. (Barry Schwartz, George Washington: The Making of an American Symbol, New York: The Free Press, 1987, pp. 85-86.)

George Washington's conduct convinced most Americans that he was a good Christian, but those possessing first-hand knowledge of his religious convictions had reasons for doubt. (Barry Schwartz, George Washington: The Making of an American Symbol, New York: The Free Press, 1987, p. 170.)

Following a tradition transmitted from Cicero, through Machiavelli, to their own contemporaries like Paine and Jefferson, the less pious men of the time saw in religion a necessary and assured support of civil society. Although guided in their own conduct by secular traditions, they felt that only religion could unite the masses and induce their submission to custom and law. So they joined their orthodox countrymen in attributing to the hero [George Washington] a deep religious devotion. (Barry Schwartz, George Washington: The Making of an American Symbol, New York: The Free Press, 1987, p. 173.)

As President, Washington regularly attended Christian services, and he was friendly in his attitude toward Christian values. However, he repeatedly declined the church's sacraments. Never did he take communion, and when his wife, Martha, did, he waited for her outside the sanctuary.... Even on his deathbed, Washington asked for no ritual, uttered no prayer to Christ, and expressed no wish to be attended by His representative. George Washington's practice of Christianity was limited and superficial because he was not himself a Christian. In the enlightened tradition of his day, he was a devout Deist--just as many of the clergymen who knew him suspected. (Barry Schwartz, George Washington: The Making of an American Symbol, New York: The Free Press, 1987, pp. 174-175.)

John Adams
(1735-1826; major leader at Constitutional Convention in 1787; 2nd U.S. President , 1797-1801)

In his youth John Adams (1735-1826) thought to become a minister, but soon realized that his independent opinions would create much difficulty. At the age of twenty-one, therefore, he resolved to become a lawyer, noting that in following law rather than divinity, "I shall have liberty to think for myself without molesting others or being molested myself." (Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987, p. 88. The Adams quote is from his letter to Richard Cranch, August 29, 1756.)

We should begin by setting conscience free. When all men of all religions ... shall enjoy equal liberty, property, and an equal chance for honors and power ... we may expect that improvements will be made in the human character and the state of society. (John Adams, letter to Dr. Price, as quoted by Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 1.)

The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.... (John Adams, "A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America" [1787-1788]; from Adrienne Koch, ed., The American Enlightenment: The Shaping of the American Experiment and a Free Society, New York: George Braziller, 1965, p. 258.)

Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind. (John Adams, "A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America" [1787-1788]; from Adrienne Koch, ed., The American Enlightenment: The Shaping of the American Experiment and a Free Society, New York: George Braziller, 1965, p. 258.)

Let the human mind loose. It must be loose. It will be loose. Superstition and Dogmatism cannot confine it. (John Adams, letter to John Quincy Adams, November 13, 1816. From Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987, p. 88.)

We think ourselves possessed, or, at least, we boast that we are so, of liberty of conscience on all subjects, and of the right of free inquiry and private judgment in all cases, and yet how far are we from these exalted privileges in fact! There exists, I believe, throughout the whole Christian world, a law which makes it blasphemy to deny or doubt the divine inspiration of all the books of the Old and New Testaments, from Genesis to Revelations. In most countries of Europe it is punished by fire at the stake, or the rack, or the wheel. In England itself it is punished by boring through the tongue with a red-hot poker. In America it is not better; even in our own Massachusetts, which I believe, upon the whole, is as temperate and moderate in religious zeal as most of the States, a law was made in the latter end of the last century, repealing the cruel punishments of the former laws, but substituting fine and imprisonment upon all those blasphemers upon any book of the Old Testament or New. Now, what free inquiry, when a writer must surely encounter the risk of fine or imprisonment for adducing any argument for investigating into the divine authority of those books? Who would run the risk of translating Dupuis? But I cannot enlarge upon this subject, though I have it much at heart. I think such laws a great embarrassment, great obstructions to the improvement of the human mind. Books that cannot bear examination, certainly ought not to be established as divine inspiration by penal laws. It is true, few persons appear desirous to put such laws in execution, and it is also true that some few persons are hardy enough to venture to depart from them. But as long as they continue in force as laws, the human mind must make an awkward and clumsy progress in its investigations. I wish they were repealed. The substance and essence of Christianity, as I understand it, is eternal and unchangeable, and will bear examination forever, but it has been mixed with extraneous ingredients, which I think will not bear examination, and they ought to be separated. Adieu. (John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, January 23, 1825. Adams was 90, Jefferson 81 at the time; both died on July 4th of the following year, on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. From Adrienne Koch, ed., The American Enlightenment: The Shaping of the American Experiment and a Free Society, New York: George Braziller, 1965, p. 234.)

Benjamin Franklin
(1706-1790; American statesman, diplomat, scientist, and printer)

I am fully of your Opinion respecting religious Tests; but, tho' the People of Massachusetts have not in their new Constitution kept quite clear of them, yet, if we consider what that People were 100 Years ago, we must allow they have gone great Lengths in Liberality of Sentiment on religious Subjects; and we may hope for greater Degrees of Perfection, when their Constitution, some years hence, shall be revised. If Christian Preachers had continued to teach as Christ and his Apostles did, without Salaries, and as the Quakers now do, I imagine Tests would never have existed; for I think they were invented, not so much to secure Religion itself, as the Emoluments of it. When a Religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its Professors are obliged to call for help of the Civil Power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one. (Benjamin Franklin, 1706-1790, American statesman, diplomat, scientist, and printer, from a letter to Richard Price, October 9, 1780; from Adrienne Koch, ed., The American Enlightenment: The Shaping of the American Experiment and a Free Society, New York: George Braziller, 1965, p. 93.)

[Benjamin] Franklin drank deep of the Protestant ethic and then, discomforted by church constraints, became a freethinker. All his life he kept Sundays free for reading, but would visit any church to hear a great speaker, no doubt recognizing a talent he himself did not possess. With typical honesty and humor he wrote out his creed in 1790, the year he died: "I believe in one God, Creator of the universe.... That the most acceptable service we can render Him is doing good to His other children.... As to Jesus ... I have ... some doubts as to his divinity; though it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an opportunity of knowing the truth with less trouble." (Alice J. Hall, "Philosopher of Dissent: Benj. Franklin," National Geographic, Vol. 148, No. 1, July, 1975, p. 94.)

Though himself surely a freethinker, Franklin cautioned other freethinkers to be careful about dismissing institutional religion too lightly or too quickly. "Think how great a proportion of Mankind," he warned in 1757, "consists of weak and ignorant Men and Women, and of inexperienc'd Youth of both Sexes, who have need of the Motives of Religion to restrain them from Vice, to support their Virtue, and retain them in the Practice of it till it becomes habitual, which is the great Point for its Security." (Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987, p. 61.)

Thomas Paine
(1737-1809; author of Common Sense; key American patriotic writer)

As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensable duty of government to protect all conscientious protesters thereof, and I know of no other business government has to do therewith. (Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776. As quoted by Leo Pfeffer, "The Establishment Clause: The Never-Ending Conflict," in Ronald C. White and Albright G. Zimmerman, An Unsettled Arena: Religion and the Bill of Rights, Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990, p. 72.)

Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly-marked feature of all law-religions, or religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity. (Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, 1791-1792. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, pp. 499-500.)

Toleration is not the opposite of intolerance but the counterfeit of it. Both are despotisms: the one assumes to itself the right of withholding liberty of conscience, the other of granting it. (Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, p. 58. As quoted by John M. Swomley, Religious Liberty and the Secular State: The Constitutional Context, Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1987, p. 7. Swomley added, "Toleration is a concession; religious liberty is a right.")

All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish [Muslim], appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit. I do not mean by this declaration to condemn those who believe otherwise; they have the same right to their belief as I have to mine. But it is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe. It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime. He takes up the profession of a priest for the sake of gain, and in order to qualify himself for that trade he begins with a perjury. Can we conceive anything more destructive to morality than this? (Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, 1794-1795. From Paul Blanshard, ed., Classics of Free Thought, Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books, 1977, pp. 134-135.)

Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon, than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind. (Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, 1794-1795. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 494.)

Take away from Genesis the belief that Moses was the author, on which only the strange belief that it is the word of God has stood, and there remains nothing of Genesis but an anonymous book of stories, fables, and traditionary or invented absurdities, or of downright lies. (Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, 1794-1795. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 494.)

The most detestable wickedness, the most horrid cruelties, and the greatest miseries that have afflicted the human race have had their origin in this thing called revelation, or revealed religion. It has been the most dishonorable belief against the character of the Divinity, the most destructive to morality and the peace and happiness of man, that ever was propagated since man began to exist. (Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, 1794-1795. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 494.)

The adulterous connection of church and state. (Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, 1794-1795. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 500.)

Other Leaders and Thinkers of the Revolutionary Era

"Does not the core of all this difficulty lie in this," Isaac Backus--a Separatist minister turned Baptist--asked rhetorically in replying to a detractor in 1768, "that the common people [justly] claim as good a right to judge and act for themselves in matters of religion as civil rulers or the learned clergy?" (James A. Henretta, The Evolution of American Society, 1700-1815: An Interdisciplinary Analysis, Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath and Company, 1973, p. 136.)

Religious matters are to be separated from the jurisdiction of the state not because they are beneath the interests of the state, but, quite to the contrary, because they are too high and holy and thus are beyond the competence of the state. (Isaac Backus, An Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty, 1773, as quoted by Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 7.)

That religion, or the duty we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience. (Patrick Henry, 1736-1799, American patriot and statesman, Virginia Bill of Rights, June 12, 1776. From Daniel B. Baker, ed., Political Quotations, Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1990, p. 189.)

For the civil authority to pretend to establish particular modes of faith and forms of worship, and to punish all that deviate from the standards which our superiors have set up, is attended with the most pernicious consequences to society. It cramps all free and rational inquiry, fills the world with hypocrites and superstitious bigots--nay, with infidels and skeptics; it exposes men of religion and conscience to the rage and malice of fiery, blind zealots, and dissolves every tender tie of human nature. And I cannot but look upon it as a peculiar blessing of Heaven that we live in a land where everyone can freely deliver his sentiments upon religious subjects, and have the privilege of worshipping God according to the dictates of his own conscience, without any molestation or disturbance--a privilege which I hope we shall ever keep up and strenuously maintain. (Samuel West, Dartmouth, MA, Election Sermon, 1776, as quoted by Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 103.)

Ethan Allen (1739-1789), a hero of the American revolution, signaled the combustion [of the "explosion of militant deism"] with the 1784 publication of his Reason the Only Oracle of Man, a massive (and at times incoherent) denunciation of revealed religion. (Kerry S. Walters, Elihu Palmer's 'Principles of Nature': Text and Commentary, Wolfeboro, N. H.: Longwood Academic, 1990, p. 27. )

Back in Sunderland, Ethan [Allen] busied himself with his philosophical treatise, which he now called Reason the Only Oracle of Man. The book was finished, but he was having some difficulty about its publication. He had taken it down to Hartford the year before, and several printers had looked and shuddered. What was Ethan trying to do, they asked, run them all out of business and get them as well as himself hanged? The book was a wholesale attack on organized religion. Not so, thundered Ethan as he moved about Hartford. The book was a philosophical statement to which Americans and others in the world should be exposed, to counteract the cant of the ministers of the Gospel. (Edwin P. Hoyt, The Damndest Yankees: Ethan Allen; & His Clan, Brattleboro, Vermont: The Stephen Greene Press, 1976, p. 225.)

A Pennsylvania mechanic wrote to the Independent Gazetter in 1784: "All of the miseries of mankind have arisen from freemen not maintaining and exercising their own sentiments. No reason can be given why a free people should not be equally independent in ... their political as well as their religious persuasions." (James A. Henretta, The Evolution of American Society, 1700-1815: An Interdisciplinary Analysis, Lexington, MA: D. C. Heath and Company, 1973, p. 136.)

Is conformity of sentiments in matters of religion essential to the happiness of civil government? Not at all. Government has no more to do with the religious opinions of men than it has with the principles of the mathematics. Let every man speak freely without fear--maintain the principles that he believes--worship according to his own faith, either one God, three Gods, no God, or twenty Gods; and let government protect him in so doing, i.e., see that he meets with no personal abuse or loss of property for his religious opinions. Instead of discouraging him with proscriptions, fines, confiscation or death, let him be encouraged, as a free man, to bring forth his arguments and maintain his points with all boldness; then if his doctrine is false it will be confuted, and if it is true (though ever so novel) let others credit it. When every man has this liberty what can he wish for more? A liberal man asks for nothing more of government. (John Leland, "The Rights of Conscience Inalienable, and Therefore Religious Opinions not Cognizable by Law" [a pamphlet], New London, Connecticut, 1791. Reprinted in Mortimer Adler, ed., 1784-1796, Organizing the New Nation: The Annals of America, Vol. 3, Chicago: Encyclopedia Brittanica, 1968, pp. 447-448. Leland was a Baptist minister who refused to support the Constitution until Madison persuaded him that the Constitution would not undermine religious liberty.)

The liberty I contend for is more than toleration. The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence; whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks [Muslims], Pagans and Christians. Test oaths and established creeds should be avoided as the worst of evils. (Baptist minister John Leland, 1820, as quoted by Samuel Rabinove, "Church and State Must Remain Separate," in Julie S. Bach, ed., Civil Liberties: Opposing Viewpoints, St. Paul: Greenhaven Press, 1988, p. 53.)

Despite his pre-eminent role in early American deism, [Elihu] Palmer (1764-1806) is scarcely remembered today. He has been overshadowed by his friend and associate Thomas Paine (1737-1809).... But Palmer was of an entirely different stripe, both personally and intellectually, and his success in disseminating deistic thought to the American public was not the flash-in-the pan Paine variety.... Palmer was a tireless and eloquent orator, and during the last decade of his life he stumped from urban New York to the backwaters of Georgia to proselytize for deism. As a result, he reached a far larger audience than did Paine, who relied almost exclusively on the written word to communicate his message. (Kerry S. Walters, Elihu Palmer's "Principles of Nature": Text and Commentary, Wolfeboro, N. H.: Longwood Academic, 1990, pp. 5-6. )

[Elihu] Palmer's first major public address after moving to New York was given on Christmas Day 1796. He came out swinging, rejecting the divinity of Jesus as a "very singular and unnatural" event, and condemning as both immoral and incomprehensible the doctrines of original sin, atonement, faith and regeneration. The lecture was well attended and widely read when published. Reaction from the Christian establishment was swift and predictably hostile, but something in Palmer's message caught on with many of his auditors and readers. Invitations to speak poured in from Baltimore, Newburgh and even Philadelphia. Palmer accepted them all, and in each place he visited he helped organize sister organizations to the New York Deistical Society. From New England to the Middle Atlantic states, Palmer's campaign against the infamies of ecclesiastical superstition and political authoritarianism inflamed the imaginations of some and outraged the sense of propriety of others. But an increasing number of people knew of him and what he stood for. (Kerry S. Walters, Elihu Palmer's 'Principles of Nature': Text and Commentary, Wolfeboro, N. H.: Longwood Academic, 1990, p. 11. )

Twelve centuries of moral and political darkness, in which Europe was involved, had nearly completed the destruction of human dignity, and every thing valuable or ornamental in the character of man. During this long and doleful night of ignorance, slavery, and superstition, Christianity reigned triumphant; its doctrines and divinity were not called in question. The power of the Pope, the Clergy, and the Church were omnipotent; nothing could restrain their frenzy, nothing could control the cruelty of their fanaticism; with mad enthusiasm they set on foot the most bloody and terrific crusades, the object of which was to recover the Holy Land. Seven hundred thousand men are said to have perished in the two first expeditions, which had been thus commenced and carried on by the pious zeal of the Christian church, and in the total amount, several millions were found numbered with the dead: the awful effects of religious fanaticism presuming upon the aid of heaven. It was then that man lost all his dignity, and sunk to the condition of a brute; it was then that intellect received a deadly blow, from which it did not recover until the fifteenth century. From that time to the present, the progress of knowledge has been constantly accelerated; independence of mind has been asserted, and opposing obstacles have been gradually diminished. The church has resigned a part of her power, the better to retain the remainder; civil tyranny has been shaken to its centre in both hemispheres; the malignity of superstition is abating, and every species of quackery, imposture, and imposition, are yielding to the light and power of science. An awful contest has commenced, which must terminate in the destruction of thrones and civil despotism; in the annihilation of ecclesiastical pride and domination.... Church and State may unite to form an insurmountable barrier against the extension of thought, the moral progress of nations, and the felicity of nature; but let it be recollected, that the guarantee for moral and political emancipation is already deposited in the archives of every school and college, and in the mind of every cultivated and enlightened man of all countries. It will henceforth be a vain and fruitless attempt to reduce the earth to that state of slavery of which the history of former ages has furnished such an awful picture. The crimes of ecclesiastical despots are still corroding upon the very vitals of human society; the severities of civil power will never be forgotten. (Elihu Palmer, Principles of Nature; or, a Development of the Moral Causes of Happiness and Misery Among the Human Species, 3rd ed., 1806; as reprinted in Kerry S. Walters, Elihu Palmer's 'Principles of Nature': Text and Commentary, Wolfeboro, N. H.: Longwood Academic, 1990, pp. 82-83. )

Historians and Others about the American Revolutionary Era (or about several Founding Fathers)

E PLURIBUS UNUM ... is the Latin motto on the face of the Great Seal of the United States; .... This phrase means one out of the many. It refers to the creation of one nation, the United States, out of 13 colonies. It is equally appropriate to today's federal system. Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, members of the first committee for the selection of the seal, suggested the motto in 1776. It can be traced back to Horace's Epistles [65-8 BCE]. Since 1873, the law requires that this motto appear on one side of every United States coin that is minted. (Donald H. Mugridge,World Book Encyclopedia, Volume 6 (E), Chicago: Field Enterprises Educational Corporation, 1976, p.2. "E Pluribus Unum" has appeared on most U. S. coins, beginning in the late 1790s. The motto "In God We Trust" did not appear on any U. S. coin until 1864, when "Its presence on the new coin was due largely to the increased religious sentiment during the Civil War Crisis," according to R. S. Yeoman, A Guide Book of United States Coins, 38th ed., Racine, Wisc.: Western Publishing Co., p. 89. The religious motto did not appear regularly on U. S. paper money until the 1950s.)

[The] manifest object of the men who framed the institution of this country, was to have a State without religion and a Church without politics--that is to say, they meant that one should never be used as an engine for the purposes of the other.... For that they built up a wall of complete partition between the two. (Jeremiah S. Black, noted constitutional advocate, Essays and Speeches, D. Appleton and Co., 1885. As quoted by Leo Pfeffer, "The Establishment Clause: The Never-Ending Conflict," in Ronald C. White and Albright G. Zimmerman, An Unsettled Arena: Religion and the Bill of Rights, Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990, p. 72.)

Social radicalism in America had long been tinged with anticlericalism. The old alliances of church establishments with local aristocracies, and the widespread assumption of the clergy that God was a disciple of Alexander Hamilton, had antagonized men of liberal inclination; and European deism obligingly provided plausible arguments from history and philosophy for detesting the clergy and spurning revealed religion. The French Revolution sharpened the issue when its antireligious excesses provoked preachers throughout the country to warn against too much democracy. The writings of Ethan Allen, Joel Barlow and Elihu Palmer, and the free-thinking societies which dotted the young nation in the seventeen nineties, were notable expressions of this republican anticlericalism. (Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., American historian, The Age of Jackson, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1945, p. 136. Schlesinger won the Pulitzer Prize for History for The Age of Jackson.)

Live-and-let-live, worship-and-let-worship was the essence of religion in this land of vast distances and a hundred religions, of which the most important in terms of politics was the vaguely Christian rationalism that governed the tolerant minds of men like Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton, and Washington. (The last and least skeptical of these rationalists loaded his First Inaugural Address with appeals to the "Great Author," "Almighty Being," "invisible hand," and "benign parent of the human race," but apparently could not bring himself to speak the the word "God.") (Clinton Rossiter, American historian, "The United States in 1787," 1787: The Grand Convention, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1987 (first ed., 1966), p. 36.)

Religion. Whatever else it might turn out to be, the Convention would not be a "Barebone's Parliament." Although it had its share of strenuous Christians like Strong and Bassett, ex-preachers like Baldwin and Williamson, and theologians like Johnson and Ellsworth, the gathering at Philadelphia was largely made up of men in whom the old fires were under control or had even flickered out. Most were nominally members of one of the traditional churches in their part of the country--the New Englanders Congregationalists and Presbyterians, the Southerners Episcopalians, and the men of the Middle States everything from backsliding Quakers to stubborn Catholics--and most were men who could take their religion or leave it alone. Although no one in this sober gathering would have dreamed of invoking the Goddess of Reason, neither would anyone have dared to proclaim that his opinions had the support of the God of Abraham and Paul. The Convention of 1787 was highly rationalist and even secular in spirit. (Clinton Rossiter, American historian, "The Men of Philadelphia," 1787: The Grand Convention, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1987 (first ed., 1966), pp. 147-148.)

One of the embarrassing problems for the early nineteenth-century champions of the Christian faith was that not one of the first six Presidents of the United States was an orthodox Christian. (Mortimer Adler, 1902- , American philosopher and educator, ed. "Chapter 22: Religion and Religious Groups in America," The Annals of America: Great Issues in American Life, Vol. II, Chicago: Encyclopedia Brittanica, 1968, p. 420.)

Many of the states [in the period between the Revolution and the adoption of the U. S. Constitution], in order to obviate any suggestion of a religious establishment, prohibited all clergymen from sitting in the legislation. (Gordon S, Wood, The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787, New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1972 [orig. publ. 1969], pp. 158-159 [footnote]. Wood cites the state constitutions of Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, New York, South Carolina, and New Hampshire.)

At the time of the Revolution all the colonies, including Rhode Island, imposed restrictions and disabilities upon some sects, thus practicing at best only a limited form of toleration, not freedom of religion--much less separation of Church and State. Moreover, Roger Williams' cogent and prophetic arguments in behalf of religious freedom were forgotten in the eighteenth century; they could not exert any influence on those who finally worked out the doctrine of religious freedom enshrined in the national Constitution. In any case, it would have been exceedingly difficult for Williams to have spoken to Jefferson and the other Virginians who fought for religious freedom. To Williams the Puritan, the great justification for freedom of religion was the preservation of the purity of the Church; to the deistic Virginians, the important goal was the removal of a religious threat to the purity and freedom of the State. (Carl N. Degler, Out of Our Past: The Forces That Shaped Modern America [Revised ed.], New York: Harper & Row, 1970, p. 20.)

In the eighteenth century the American principle of separation of Church and State was indeed an audacious experiment. Never before had a national state been prepared to dispense with an official religion as a prop to its authority and never before had a church been set adrift without the support of the state. Throughout most of American history the doctrine has provided freedom for religious development while keeping politics free of religion. And that, apparently, had been the intention of the Founding Fathers. (Carl N. Degler, Out of Our Past: The Forces That Shaped Modern America [Revised ed.], New York: Harper & Row, 1970, p. 96.)

So fluid had been the conditions of American life toward the end of the eighteenth century, and so disorganizing the consequences of the Revolution, that perhaps as many as ninety percent of the Americans were unchurched in 1790. (Richard Hofstadter, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974, p. 82.)

In the mid-eighteenth century, America had a smaller proportion of church members than any other nation in Christendom. American religious statistics are notoriously unreliable, but it has been estimated that in 1800 about one of every fifteen Americans was a church member ... (Richard Hofstadter, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974, p. 89.)

The group which, along with Calvinist Congregationalists, made the greatest contribution to American cultural and political development was one that in 1787 could be called religious only by a most generous definition of the term. Variously called deists, humanists, and rationalists, they accepted the existence of God so long as He kept His hands out of human affairs. Strongly anti-clerical, they were at best indifferent to organized religion. One indication of their influence on the course of American development is the fact that none of the first seven Presidents was at the time of his election a member of any church, and, perhaps even more important, that the two basic documents of American freedom, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights, breathe the spirit of deistic humanism. (Leo Pfeffer, God, Caesar and the Constitution: The Court as Referee of Church-State Confrontation, Boston: Beacon Press, 1975, pp. 7-8.)

The phrase "establishment of religion" must be given the meaning that it had in the United States in 1791, rather than its European connotation. In America there was no establishment of a single church, as in England. Four states had never adopted any establishment practices. Three had abolished their establishments during the Revolution. The remaining six states--Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maryland, South Carolina; and Georgia--changed to comprehensive or "multiple" establishments. That is, aid was provided to all churches in each state on a nonpreferential basis, except that the establishment was limited to churches of the Protestant religion in three states and to those of the Christian religion in the other three states. Since there were almost no Catholics in the first group of states, and very few Jews in any state, this meant that the multiple establishment practices included every religious group with enough members to form a church. It was this nonpreferential assistance to organized churches that constituted "establishment of religion" in 1791 and it was this practice that the Amendment forbade Congress to adopt. (C. Herman Pritchett, Constitutional historian, 1977, as quoted by John M. Swomley, Religious Liberty and the Secular State: The Constitutional Context, Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1987, pp. 26-27.)

From the start the [American] colonies had been alive with religious controversies, doctrinal disputes, sectarian splits and secessions, revivalism and evangelism, the importation of new creeds and dogmas from Europe, along with their carriers--alive also with rationalistic, deistic, and atheistic counterattacks on religion. Roman Catholics early gained a foothold in Maryland and elsewhere, but could not win their political and religious rights against the overpowering Protestant majority. Only one force united all these believers, disbelievers, mystics, pietists, schismatics, dissenters, establishmentarians and disestablishmentarians: a belief in religious liberty. (James MacGregor Burns, The American Experiment: Vineyard of Liberty New York: Vintage Books, 1983, pp. 7-8.)

There had been a "very wintry season" for religion everywhere in America after the Revolution. Ninety percent of the people lay outside the churches. Political events eclipsed religion, as people concentrated on establishing the new nation and winning the War of 1812. The outstanding men of the country such as Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe were statesmen, not ministers. Embracing the rationalism and deism of the Enlightenment, the Founding Fathers instituted religious freedom and welcomed conflict among the churches as a positive good--as the way to differentiate truth from error. (James MacGregor Burns, The American Experiment: Vineyard of Liberty New York: Vintage Books, 1983, p. 493.)

The authors of our present Constitution and our Bill of Rights were extremely concerned with [separation of church and state] .... So much so, that I believe it would generally go undisputed, that the major political contribution of our constitutional system, which they fashioned, is the concept of separation of Church and State. (Robert L. Cord, "Church-State relations: Where is the Supreme Court; Going?," speech at Northeastern University, Boston, June 28, 1985; from Vital Speeches of the Day, October 1, 1985, p. 752.)

To answer these questions [regarding separation of church and state], the United States Supreme Court has, without significant deviation, looked to American history. If little else about Supreme Court Church-State cases is clear, there should be no disagreement about the fact that all of the Court's precedent setting Church-State opinions invoke the intentions of the Founding Fathers and our nation's early history to justify the meaning and scope which the Court assigns to the First Amendment. Playing historian, the Court has determined what the concept of Church-State separation meant to those constitutional giants who made it part of our Supreme Law. (Robert L. Cord, "Church-State relations: Where is the Supreme Court Going?," speech at Northeastern University, Boston, June 28, 1985; from Vital Speeches of the Day, October 1, 1985, p. 752. It is only fair to note that Cord goes on to assert that the Court has misjudged the intentions of the founders and misinterpreted history. Many of the passages quoted in this compilation appear to contradict his conclusion. )

Of the eleven states that ratified the First Amendment, nine (counting Maryland) adhered to the viewpoint that support of churches should be voluntary, that any government financial assistance to religion constituted an establishment of religion and violated its free exercise. (Thomas Curry, The First Freedoms: Church and State in America to the Passage of the First Amendment, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1986, p. 220. As cited by Leo Pfeffer, "The Establishment Clause: The Never-Ending Conflict," in Ronald C. White and Albright G. Zimmerman, An Unsettled Arena: Religion and the Bill of Rights, Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990, p. 73 [footnote].)

Preachers like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell should not forget that, in the colony of Virginia, Baptist ministers were beaten and imprisoned and run out of town for preaching their dissenting faith, while Anglican ministers were paid with tax funds from the state treasury. (John Buchanan, Southern Baptist minister and former eight-term Republican Congressman from Alabama, who heads People for the American Way, as quoted by Samuel Rabinove, "Religious Liberty and Church-State Separation: Why Should We Care?," speech on April 10, 1986, Vital Speeches of the Day, June 15, 1986, p. 527.)

The delegates to the Constitutional Convention [in 1787] took ... only two modest steps with respect to religion, both of these being designed to avert problems, not raise them. First, the delegates agreed that "no religious test" should ever be required of federal officeholders, and, second, that one could "affirm" rather than "swear" in taking the oath of office--a clear concession to the tender consciences of Quakers. Other than that, however, the Constitution was totally silent on the subject of religion: no national church, of course, but no national affirmations of faith, either, not even those of the most generalized sort. (Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987, p. 43.)

Those of our "founding fathers" who participated in the drafting of the Constitution never intended their use of religious illustrations in speeches as more than rhetoric. They knew the dangers of giving constitutional or legal sanction either to civil religion or to Christianity or to any denominational expression. They knew that religious liberty requires freedom from any identification of religion with state action. They were intent on avoiding more than 100 years of religious intolerance and persecution in American colonial history and an even longer heritage of church-state problems in Europe. (John M. Swomley, Religious Liberty and the Secular State: The Constitutional Context, Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1987, p. 114.)

If we glance back at our early history, the reasons for placing religious freedom in the First Amendment may become clearer. The quest for that freedom was one of the motives for emigration to America, but not just for those who wanted to be free to practice their own faith. A surprising majority of colonial Americans were not part of any religious community. Even in New England, research shows, not more than one person in seven was a church member. It was one in fifteen in the middle colonies and fewer still in the South, according to the historian Richard Hofstadter. (Milton Meltzer, The Bill of Rights: How We Got It and What It Means, New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1990, p. 71.)

Recognizing the evils of man acting like God or of man's using government to help God out in managing the world, the traditional religionists, such as disciples of Roger Williams, Isaac Backus, and John Leland, joined with the deists in fashioning a system in which neither belief nor disbelief in God was to be a matter within the jurisdiction of human government. Both groups sought to secure a government that neither aided nor injured religion, and for this both the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment were adopted. (Leo Pfeffer, "The Establishment Clause: The Never-Ending Conflict," in Ronald C. White and Albright G. Zimmerman, An Unsettled Arena: Religion and the Bill of Rights, Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990, p. 73 [footnote].)

In 1791 there was no establishment of a single church. Four states never had establishment practices: those colonies had ended their establishments during the Revolution. The remaining six states had "multiple" establishments, aiding all churches in each state on a nonpreferential basis. It was this nonpreferential aid to religion that the Establishment Clause was intended to prevent. It is a mistake to assume that established churches and religious tests for public office holders in some of the colonies and early states show approval of state support for religion. In each such state the people, including church members and the unchurched, were engaged in a revolution against such practices that, without prodding by the federal government, led to the complete abandonment of established churches and religious tests for holding office. The concept of separation of church and state is generally attributed to Jefferson and Madison, but it was really a product of popular resistance, in every state, to state support of religion. In a Massachusetts state referendum in 1833, for example, the people voted ten to one to disestablish all of their churches (Jacob C. Meyer, Church and State in Massachusetts from 1740 to 1833). The Free Exercise Clause was not intended as a check on the Establishment Clause. Both clauses arose from the same problem: a union of church power with state power. They are complementary in that they reinforce and support each other. (John M. Swomley, "Education in Religious Schools: The Conflict Over Funding" in the "Church and State" issue of National Forum: The Phi Kappa Phi Journal, Winter, 1988, p. 13.)

III. Presidents (and Other National Political Leaders) Since the Revolutionary Era

All religions united with government are more or less inimical to liberty. All separated from government, are compatible with liberty. (Henry Clay, 1777-1852, Speech in the House of Representatives, March 24, 1818. From Daniel B. Baker, ed., Political Quotations, Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1990, p. 190.)

[Though it would be] rash to assert that civil liberty and an established church cannot exist together in the same State, it may be safely affirmed that history affords no example of their union when the religion of the State has not only been established, but exclusive. (Henry Clay, 1777-1852; in 1826, as Secretary of State in the administration of John Quincy Adams. From Mary W. M. Hargreaves, The Presidency of John Quincy Adams, Lawrence, Kansas: Univ. Press of Kansas, 1985, p.157.)

Civil liberty can be established on no foundation of human reason which will not at the same time demonstrate the right to religious freedom. (John Quincy Adams, 6th U.S. President [1825-1829], letter to Richard Anderson, May 27, 1823. From Daniel B. Baker, ed., Political Quotations, Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1990, p. 190.)

There is in the clergy of all Christian denominations a time-serving, cringing, subservient morality, as wide from the spirit of the Gospel as it is from the intrepid assertion and vindication of the truth. (John Quincy Adams, 6th U.S. President [1825-1829], in his diary, May 27, 1838. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 485.)

It is not the legitimate province of the legislature to determine what religion is true, or what is false. (Richard M. Johnson, 1780-1850, Vice President of the U. S. under Martin Van Buren, 1837-1841, in his second Report on the Transportation of the Mail on Sundays, 1830. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 492.)

The presidency of Andrew Jackson [7th U. S. President, 1829-1837] had its effect on religious life. An ardent church/state separationist, Jackson dissociated himself from any religious denomination, though he had been reared a Presbyterian. On numerous occasions he made pronouncements that fostered religious liberty and toleration in the new country. (Robert L. Maddox, Separation of Church and State: Guarantor of Religious Freedom, New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1987, p. 75.)

President Andrew Jackson did refuse to order a national day of prayer during a cholera epidemic (1832). (Charles Rosenberg, The Cholera Years, Chicago, 1962, as cited by Oscar and Lilian Handlin, Liberty in America, 1600 to the Present; Volume Two: Liberty in Expansion, 1760-1850, New York: Harper & Row, 1989, p. 341.)

Total separation of church and state was considered the best safeguard for the health of each. As [President Andrew] Jackson explained, in refusing to name a fast day, he feared to "disturb the security which religion now enjoys in this country, in its complete separation from the political concerns of the General Government." (Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., American historian, The Age of Jackson, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1945, p. 354. Schlesinger won the Pulitzer Prize for History for The Age of Jackson. Jackson's statement is from his letter to the General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church, June 12, 1832, according to Schlesinger's footnote.)

Let it be henceforth proclaimed to the world that man's conscience was created free; that he is no longer accountable to his fellow man for his religious opinions, being responsible therefore only to his God. (John Tyler, 10th U. S. President [1841-1845], as quoted by Caroline Thomas Harnsberger, Treasury of Presidential Quotations [Follett, 1964], p. 38, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 94.)

... and the Democrats backed movements to end remuneration to chaplains of the legislature and to exclude clergymen from the public schools. Wherever religious tests survived, they were under fire from Democrats, while Whigs, in general, sought to sustain the authority of religion. The Democratic theory of the relations of church and state did not necessarily imply a weaker personal faith. Some who insisted most strongly on separation, like O. B. Brown and Elder John Leland, were ministers themselves. The evangelical sects in many states were predominantly Democratic, and many of the leading Jacksonians were deeply religious. Benjamin F. Butler was celebrated for his piety, [President Andrew] Jackson himself was a regular churchgoer though not a communicant till 1839, and James K. Polk [11th U. S. President, 1845-1849] was faithful in his Sunday observance. But they all firmly opposed the political aspirations of religion. Polk, infuriated by a Presbyterian minister who came to see him as President, told him, "that, thank God, under our constitution there was no connection between Church and State, and that in my action as President of the U.S. I recognized no distinction of creeds in my appointments to office." He had met no one in these first two years of his administration, Polk later wrote, who so disgusted him. "I have a great veneration and regard for Religion & sincere piety, but a hypocrite or a bigotted fanatic without reason I cannot bear." (Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., American historian, The Age of Jackson, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1945, p. 355. Schlesinger won the Pulitzer Prize for History for The Age of Jackson.)

Early in July [1849] Taylor [Zachary Taylor, 12th President of the U.S., 1849-1850] proclaimed Friday, August 3, as a day of fasting and prayer over the cholera victims. It was one of the earliest, if not the first, national days of thanksgiving proclaimed in the country. In Taylor's mind the celebration undoubtedly held little religious significance. He was not a churchman, either formally or privately, insofar as surviving evidence evidence allows us to judge. He never formally joined a church and seems not to have attended services with any regularity. Nevertheless, the day of thanksgiving drew attacks from free thinkers as "political religious canting" not sanctioned by the Constitution or law. Most Americans supported the plan. Throughout the country businesses closed for the day and churches held prayer sessions. Nonchurchgoers joined in celebration with a day of relaxation and drinking. (K. Jack Bauer, Zachary Taylor: Soldier, Planter, Statesman of the Old Southwest, Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1985, p. 268.)

I am tolerant of all creeds. Yet if any sect suffered itself to be used for political objects I would meet it by political opposition. In my view church and state should be separate, not only in form, but fact. Religion and politics should not be mingled. (Millard Fillmore, 13th U. S. President [1850-1853], in an address during the 1856 Presidential election, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 35.)

Is it not strange that the descendants of those Pilgrim Fathers who crossed the Atlantic to preserve their own freedom of opinion have always proved themselves intolerant of the spiritual liberty of others? (Robert E. Lee, 1807-1870, Confederate general, letter to his wife, December 27, 1856. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 498.)

When the Know-Nothings get control, it [the Declaration of Independence] will read: "All men are created equal except negroes, foreigners and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer immigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty--to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy. (Abraham Lincoln, 16th U. S. President [1860-1865], letter to Joshua F. Speed, August 24, 1855, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, pp. 59-60.)

When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad. That's my religion. (Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. President [1861-1865]. From Henry O. Dormann, compiler, The Speaker's Book of Quotations, New York: Ballantine Books, 1987, p. 127.)

Herndon [William H., Abraham Lincoln's law partner] tells us that as a young man Lincoln was a skeptic and associated with fellow skeptics in New Salem. In 1834 he supposedly wrote an essay showing that the Bible was not God's inspired word nor Jesus God's divine son. An employer, either scandalized or fearing its effects on Lincoln's future, threw it into the stove. Lincoln's first law partner told Herndon that Lincoln was "an avowed and open infidel, and bordered on atheism." Herndon did not believe that Lincoln's skeptical opinions ever changed. As he put it: "Lincoln was very politic, and a very shrewd man in some particulars. When he was talking to a Christian, he adapted himself to the Christian ... he was at moments, as it were, a Christian, through politeness, courtesy, or good breeding toward the delicate, tender-nerved man, the Christian, and in two minutes after, in the absence of such men, and among his own kind, the same old unbeliever." Lincoln never belonged to a church, although he sometimes attended with his wife. (Glen E. Thurow, Abraham Lincoln and American Political Religion, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1976, p. 12. It should be noted that Thurow goes on to indicate that he finds evidence of genuine religious belief in Lincoln's eloquent religious references, although he views them as an example more of "political religion" than of church religion).

... many years after Lincoln's death, Father Charles Chiniquy reported that Lincoln made the Son-of-Mary statement [a long peroration on Jesus's divinity] to him in an interview in the White House on June 9, 1864. But Lincoln scholars do not accept Chiniquy's book as a reliable source. And Lincoln himself (whom Chiniquy quotes, improbably, pages at a time) shared neither Chiniquy's hatred of Roman Catholicism nor his belief in the divinity of Christ. (Paul F. Boller, Jr., and John George, "Abraham Lincoln," They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, and Misleading Attributions, New York: Oxford University Press, 1987, p. 87.)

Let us labor to add all needful guarantees for the more perfect security of free thought, free speech, and free press, pure morals, unfettered religious sentiments, and of equal rights and privileges to all men, irrespective of nationality, color, or religion. (Ulysses S. Grant, 18th U.S. President [1869-1877], speech before the Army of the Tennessee, Des Moines, Iowa, 1875; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, pp. 287-288)

Encourage free schools, and resolve that not one dollar of money shall be appropriated to the support of any sectarian school. Resolve that neither the state nor nation, or both combined, shall support institutions of learning other than those sufficient to afford every child growing up in the land the opportunity of a good common school education, unmixed with sectarian, pagan, or atheistical tenets. Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church, and the private schools, supported entirely by private contributions. Keep the church and state forever separated. (Ulysses S. Grant, 18th U.S. President [1869-1877], speech before the Army of the Tennessee, Des Moines, Iowa, 1875; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 288)

I would call your attention to the importance of correcting an evil that, if permitted to continue, will probably lead to great trouble in our land before the close of the Nineteenth century. It is the acquisition of vast amounts of untaxed church property.... In a growing country, where real estate enhances so rapidly with time as in the United States, there is scarcely a limit to the wealth that may be acquired by corporations, religious or otherwise, if allowed to retain real estate without taxation. The contemplation of so vast a property as here alluded to, without taxation, may lead to sequestration without constitutional authority, and through blood. I would suggest the taxation of all property equally, whether church or corporation. (Ulysses S. Grant, 18th U.S. President [1869-1877], Message to Congress, December 7, 1875; Congressional Record, Vol. 4, part 7, page 175; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 288)

We all agree that neither the Government nor political parties ought to interfere with religious sects. It is equally true that religious sects ought not to interfere with the Government or with political parties. We believe that the cause of good government and the cause of religion suffer by all such interference. (Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th U. S. President [1877-1881], statement as Governor of Ohio, 1875, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 44.)

The divorce between Church and State ought to be absolute. It ought to be so absolute that no Church property anywhere, in any state or in the nation, should be exempt from equal taxation; for if you exempt the property of any church organization, to that extent you impose a tax upon the whole community. (James A. Garfield, 20th U.S. President [1881]; as a Congressman in 1874; Congressional Record, vol. 2, part 6, p. 5384; from Gene Garman, America's Real Religion: Separation Between Religion and Government in the United States of America, Pittsburg, Kansas: America's Real Religion Publishing, 1991, p. 104)

To discriminate against a thoroughly upright citizen because he belongs to some particular church, or because, like Abraham Lincoln, he has not avowed his allegiance to any church, is an outrage against that liberty of conscience which is one of the foundations of American life. (Theodore Roosevelt, 26th U. S. President [1901-1909], letter to J. C. Martin, November 9, 1908, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 83.)

If there is one thing for which we stand in this country, it is for complete religious freedom, and it is an emphatic negation of this right to cross-examine a man on his religion before being willing to support him for public office. (Theodore Roosevelt, 26th U. S. President [1901-1909], letter to J. C. Martin, November 9, 1908, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 83.)

Because we are unqualifiedly and without reservation against any system of denominational schools, maintained by the adherents of any creed with the help of state aid, therefore, we as strenuously insist that the public schools shall be free from sectarian influences, and, above all, free from any attitude of hostility to the adherents of any particular creed. (Theodore Roosevelt, 26th U. S. President [1901-1909], as quoted by Reuben Maury, The Wars of the Godly, New York, 1928, p. 213, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 83.)

There is nothing so despicable as a secret society that is based upon religious prejudice and that will attempt to defeat a man because of his religious beliefs. Such a society is like a cockroach--it thrives in the dark. So do those who combine for such an end. (William Howard Taft, 27th U. S. President [1909-1913], in an address on December 20, 1914, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 94.)

It does not become America that within her borders, where every man is free to follow the dictates of his conscience, men should raise the cry of church against church. To do that is to strike at the very spirit and heart of America. (Woodrow Wilson, 28th U. S. President [1913-1921], in an address on November 4, 1915, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 104.)

In the experiences of a year of the Presidency, there has come to me no other such unwelcome impression as the manifest religious intolerance which exists among many of our citizens. I hold it to be a menace to the very liberties we boast and cherish. (Warren G. Harding, 29th U. S. President [1921-1923], address on March 24, 1922, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 43.)

The fundamental precept of liberty is toleration. We cannot permit any inquisition either from within or from without the law or apply any religious test to the holding of office. The mind of America must be forever free. (Calvin Coolidge, 30th U. S. President [1923-1929], Inaugural Address on March 4, 1925, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 22.)

I come of Quaker stock. My ancestors were persecuted for their beliefs. Here they sought and found religious freedom. By blood and conviction I stand for religious tolerance both in act and in spirit. (Herbert C. Hoover, 31st U. S. President [1929-1933], in New Day [1928], p. 36, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 45.)

I believe in absolute freedom of conscience for all men and equality of all churches, all sects, and all beliefs before the law as a matter of right and not as a matter of favor. I believe in the absolute separation of church and state and in the strict enforcement of the Constitution that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. I believe that no tribunal of any church has any power to make any decree of any force in the law of the land, other than to establish the status of its own communicants within its own church. (Alfred E. Smith, Governor of New York and Democratic candidate for President in 1928; in Atlantic Monthly, April, 1927, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 89.)

The lessons of religious toleration--a toleration which recognizes complete liberty of human thought, liberty of conscience--is one which, by precept and example, must be inculcated in the hearts and minds of all Americans if the institutions of our democracy are to be maintained and perpetuated. We must recognize the fundamental rights of man. There can be no true national life in our democracy unless we give unqualified recognition to freedom of religious worship and freedom of education. (Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd U. S. President [1933-1945], letter to the Calvert Associates, 1937, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 82.)

Religious and racial persecution is moronic at all times, perhaps the most idiotic of human stupidities. (Harry S. Truman, 33rd U.S. President [1945-1953], Where the Buck Stops; The Personal and Private Writings of Harry S. Truman, ed. by Margaret Truman; New York: Warner Books, Inc., 1989, p. 126.)

As I say, not all of Jefferson's ideas were popular, though most of them were absolutely right.... He was also called an atheist because he didn't believe in a state church, an official church of the government, and in fact made it clear that he didn't much like any church at all, though he did admire many, though not all, of the teachings of religion.... And you'll recall that it was Jefferson, as governor of Virginia, who wrote the Statute of Religious Liberty in 1786, which said that "no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship" but that all people "shall be free to profess ... their opinion in matters of religion." He summed up very bluntly one time his view that no man harmed anyone else in choosing and practicing his own religion, or no religion. "It does me no injury," he said, "for my neighbor to say that there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." (Harry S. Truman, 33rd U.S. President [1945-1953],Where the Buck Stops; The Personal and Private Writings of Harry S. Truman, ed. by Margaret Truman; New York: Warner Books, Inc., 1989, pp. 212-213.)

It is my firm belief that there should be separation of church and state in the United States--that is, that both church and state should be free to operate, without interference from each other in their respective areas of jurisdiction. We live in a liberal, democratic society which embraces wide varieties of belief and disbelief. There is no doubt in my mind that the pluralism which has developed under our Constitution, providing as it does a framework within which diverse opinions can exist side by side and by their interaction enrich the whole, is the most ideal system yet devised by man. I cannot conceive of a set of circumstances which would lead me to a different conclusion. (John F. Kennedy, 35th U.S. President [1961-1963]; letter to Glenn L. Archer, February 23, 1959, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 54.)

I believe in an America where the separation of Church and State is absolute--where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be a Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote--where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference--and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him. (John F. Kennedy, 35th U.S. President [1961-1963], speech to the Greater Houston ministerial Association during the Presidential campaign, 1960. As quoted in Samuel Eliot Morison, Henry Steele Commager, and William E. Leuchtenburg, The Growth of the American Republic [7th ed.], Vol. 2 , New York: Oxford University Press, 1980, p. 744.)

Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others. (John F. Kennedy, 35th U.S. President [1961-1963], letter to the National Conference of Christians and Jews, October 10, 1960. From Daniel B. Baker, ed., Political Quotations, Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1990, p. 191.)

I believe in the American tradition of separation of church and state which is expressed in the First Amendment to the Constitution. By my office--and by my personal conviction--I am sworn to uphold that tradition. (Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th U. S. President [1963-1969]; interview, Baptist Standard, October, 1964, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 50.)

I believe strongly in the Constitutional principle of separating church and state. Our founders were right in fearing that religious freedom would be threatened in the long run by a departure from governmental neutrality in spiritual matters. (R. Sargent Shriver, Democratic candidate for U. S. Vice-President, 1972; in an address in Washington, D. C., in January 1976, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 88.)

I believe that prayer in public schools should be voluntary. It is difficult for me to see how religious exercises can be a requirement in public schools, given our Constitutional requirement of separation of church and state. I feel that the highly desirable goal of religious education must be principally the responsibility of church and home. I do not believe that public education should show any hostility toward religion, and neither should it inhibit voluntary participation, if it does not interfere with the educational process. (Gerald R. Ford, 38th President [1974-1977], in an interview with Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, October 9, 1976 [p. A-8], according to Alan F. Pater and Jason R. Pater, compilers and editors, What They Said in 1976: The Yearbook of Spoken Opinion, Beverly Hills, CA: Monitor Book Co., 1977, p. 522.)

What James Madison and the other men of his generation had in mind when they wrote the First Amendment was that there should be no official relationship of any character between government and any church or many churches, and no levying of taxes for the support of any church, or many churches, or all churches, or any institution conducted by any of them. (Sam J. Ervin, Jr., 1896-1985, U.S. Senator from North Carolina who directed the Senate "Watergate" investigation; in an address to the Senate, April 23, 1973, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 32.)

Government is contemptuous of true religion when it confiscates the taxes of Caesar to finance the things of God. (Sam J. Ervin, Jr., 1896-1985, U.S. Senator from North Carolina, in an "Open Letter to President Reagan," Congressional Record, April 29, 1982, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 33.)

Many sincere persons charge that the school-prayer cases show the Supreme Court to be hostile to religion. This charge is untrue and unjust. In these cases the Supreme Court was faithful to its judicial duty. It enforced the First Amendment, which commands government to maintain strict neutrality respecting religion, neither aiding nor opposing it. (Sam J. Ervin, Jr., 1896-1985, U.S. Senator from North Carolina, in Free Inquiry, Summer 1983; as quoted by Leo Pfeffer, "Prayer in Public Schools: The Court's Decisions," in the "Church and State" issue of National Forum: The Phi Kappa Phi Journal, Winter, 1988, p. 26.)

If religious freedom is to endure in America, the responsibility for teaching religion to public school children must be left to the homes and churches of our land, where this responsibility rightfully belongs. It must not be assumed by the government through the agency of the public school system. (Sam J. Ervin, Jr., 1896-1985, U.S. Senator from North Carolina, in Preserving the Constitution, Michie, 1984, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 33.)

If any provision of the Constitution can be said to be more precious than the others, it is the provision of the First Amendment; which undertakes to separate church and state by keeping government's hands out of religion and by denying to any and all religious denominations any advantage from getting control of public policy or the public purse. This is so because the history of nations makes this truth manifest: When religion controls government, political freedom dies; and when government controls religion, religious freedom perishes. (Sam J. Ervin, Jr., 1896-1985, U.S. Senator from North Carolina, in Church & State, February 1985; as quoted by Samuel Rabinove, "Church and State Must Remain Separate," in Julie S. Bach, ed., Civil Liberties: Opposing Viewpoints, St. Paul: Greenhaven Press, 1988, p. 55.)

I believe in the separation of church and state and would not use my authority to violate this principle in any way. (Jimmy Carter, 39th U. S. President [1977-1981], in a letter to Jack V. Harwell, August 11, 1977, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 17.)

We believe in separation of church and state, that there should be no unwarranted influence on the church or religion by the state, and vice versa. (Jimmy Carter, 39th President [1977-1981], in a news conference in Warsaw, Poland, reported by New York Times, December 31, 1977 [p. 2], according to Alan F. Pater and Jason R. Pater, compilers and editors, What They Said in 1977: The Yearbook of Spoken Opinion, Beverly Hills, CA: Monitor Book Co., 1978, p. 479.)

I think the government ought to stay out of the religious business. (Jimmy Carter, 39th U.S. President [1977-1981], The New York Times, April 8, 1979. From Daniel B. Baker, ed., Political Quotations, Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1990, p. 191.)

I'm a Southern Baptist, and I have always believed in a total separation of church and state. And I think the interjection of religion into politics is not good for this country....I don't accept human definitions of what I have to believe, you know, to be a Christian. (Jimmy Carter, 39th President [1977-1981], interview, USA Today, May 12, 1986, p. A-11, according to Alan F. Pater and Jason R. Pater, compilers and editors, What They Said in 1986: The Yearbook of Spoken Opinion, Beverly Hills, CA: Monitor Book Co., 1987, p. 458.)

[Defending Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis in re to the Pledge of Allegiance]: I have a great respect for the flag, [but] if the government ... passed a law saying that I had to pledge allegiance to the flag, I don't think I would do it. I've always felt that I lived in a country ... where if I wanted to worship God as a Baptist I could do so. If I were an atheist, I could be one. If I wanted to be a Catholic but was born a Jew, there's no condemnation ... from a government authority. (Jimmy Carter, 39th President [1977-1981], at Emory University, Atlanta, September 14, 1988, as reported in the Los Angeles Times on September 16, 1988, p. I-17, according to Alan F. Pater and Jason R. Pater, compilers and editors, What They Said in 1988: The Yearbook of Spoken Opinion, Beverly Hills, CA: Monitor Book Co., 1989, p. 217.)

Religious factions will go on imposing their will on others unless the decent people connected to them recognize that religion has no place in public policy. They must learn to make their views known without trying to make their views the only alternatives. (Barry Goldwater, 1909- , American politician, in a speech,1981. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 498.)

That wall, embodied in the First Amendment, is perhaps America's most important contribution to political progress on this planet. (Lowell Weicker, U. S. Senator [and later Governor] of Connecticut, in Free Inquiry 3 [Summer 1983], according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 103.)

The time has come to knock off this religion business in American politics. There's no end to the mischief that can occur. It is like putting nitroglycerine in a Waring blender. (Lowell Weicker, U. S. Senator [and later Governor] of Connecticut, in remarks in August 1984, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 103.)

The more times it's [prayer in school] voted on, the more times the television preachers talk about what Congress ought to do, the more people realize it's these people who are bringing government into religion, and they don't want it. (Lowell Weicker, U. S. Senator [and later Governor] of Connecticut, as reported by Washington Post, September 11, 1985 [p. A-3], according to Alan F. Pater and Jason R. Pater, compilers and editors, What They Said in 1985: The Yearbook of Spoken Opinion, Beverly Hills, CA: Monitor Book Co., 1986, p. 477.)

Today, the religion clauses of the First Amendment do not need to be fixed; they need to be followed. (Walter F. Mondale, U. S. Vice-President [1977-1981], in an address in Washington, D. C. on September 6, 1984, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 71.)

The only way to be true to our American tradition is to maintain absolute governmental neutrality regarding religious beliefs and practices. (Bill Bradley, U. S. Senator from New Jersey, letter to Herbert G. Schapiro, June 27, 1990, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 13.)

IV. U.S. Supreme Court and Other Judicial Rulings

Christianity is not established by law, and the genius of our institutions requires that the Church and the State should be kept separate....The state confesses its incompetency to judge spiritual matters between men or between man and his maker ... spiritual matters are exclusively in the hands of teachers of religion. (U. S. Supreme Court, Melvin v. Easley, 1860, as quoted by Samuel Rabinove, "Church and State Must Remain Separate," in Julie S. Bach, ed., Civil Liberties: Opposing Viewpoints, St. Paul: Greenhaven Press, 1988, p. 53.) [Editor's note: This case was actually heard in North Carolina. See Melvin v. Easley, 52 N. C. 356 (1860).]

The law knows no heresy, and is committed to the support of no dogma, the establishment of no sect. (U. S. Supreme Court, Watson v. Jones, 1872, as quoted by John M. Swomley, Religious Liberty and the Secular State: The Constitutional Context, Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1987, p. 7.)

[Chief Justice Morrison Waite, in Reynolds vs. U.S., a Supreme Court decision in 1878] cited Madison's Memorial and Remonstrance of 1785, in which, said Waite, "he demonstrated 'that religion, or the duty we owe the Creator,' was not within the cognizance of civil government." This was followed, said Waite, by passage of the Virginia statute "for establishing religious freedom," written by Jefferson, which proclaimed complete liberty of opinion and allowed no interference by government until ill tendencies "break out into overt acts against peace and good order." Finally, the Chief Justice cited Jefferson's letter of 1802 to the Danbury Baptist association, describing the First Amendment as "building a wall of separation between church and state." Coming as this does, said Waite, "from an acknowledged leader of the advocates of the measure, it may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the amendment thus secured." (Irving Brant, The Bill of Rights: Its Origin and Meaning, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., Inc., 1965, p. 407.)

Congress was deprived [by the First Amendment] of all legislative power over mere opinion, but was left free to reach actions which were in violation of social duties or subversive of good order. (Chief Justice Morrison Waite, Reynolds vs. U.S.,1878, as quoted by Robert S. Alley, ed., The Supreme Court on Church and State, New York: Oxford University Press, 1988, p. 353.)

... the First Amendment of the Constitution ... was intended to allow everyone under the jurisdiction of the United States to entertain such notions respecting his relations to his maker, and the duties they impose, as may be approved by his conscience, and to exhibit his sentiments in such form of worship as he may think proper, not injurious to the rights of others, and to prohibit legislation for the support of any religious tenets, or the modes of worship of any sect. (U. S. Supreme Court, 1890, Darwin v. Beason, as quoted by Samuel Rabinove, "Religious Liberty and Church-State Separation: Why Should We Care?," speech on April 10, 1986, Vital Speeches of the Day, June 15, 1986, p. 528.

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us. (Justice Robert H. Jackson, U. S. Supreme Court, West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 1943. From Robert L. Maddox, Separation of Church and State: Guarantor of Religious Freedom, New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1987, p. 115.)

Supreme Court Justice Rutledge stated in 1947 that the First Amendment was not designed merely to prohibit governmental imposition of a religion; it was designed to create "a complete and permanent separation of the spheres of religious activity and civil authority...." (Martha M. McCarthy, A Delicate Balance: Church, State, and the Schools, Bloomington, Indiana: Phi Delta Kappan Educational Foundation, 1983, p. 11.)

The "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government, can openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organization or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect "a wall of separation between church and State." (Justice Hugo Black, U. S. Supreme Court, Everson v. Board of Education, 1947. Quoted by John M. Swomley, Jr., Religion, The State, & The Schools, New York: Pegasus, 1968, pp. 21-22.)

The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach. (Justice Hugo Black, U. S. Supreme Court, Everson v. Board of Education, 1947. From Samuel Rabinove, "Church and State Must Remain Separate," in Julie S. Bach, ed., Civil Liberties: Opposing Viewpoints, St. Paul: Greenhaven Press, 1988, p. 53.)

In efforts to force loyalty to whatever religious group happened to be on top and in league with the government of a particular time and place, men and women had been fined, cast in jail, cruelly tortured, and killed. Among the offenses for which these punishments had been inflicted were such things as speaking disrespectfully of the views of ministers of government-established churches, nonattendance at those churches, expressions of nonbelief in their doctrines, and failure to pay taxes and tithes to support them. (Justice Hugo Black, U. S. Supreme Court, Everson v. Board of Education, 1947, as quoted by Robert S. Alley, The Supreme Court on Church and State, New York: Oxford University Press, 1988, pp. 41-42, according to Victoria Sherrow, Separation of Church and State, New York: Franklin Watts, 1992, pp. 15-16.)

As the momentum for popular education increased and in turn evoked strong claims for state support of religious education, contests not unlike that which in Virginia had produced Madison's Remonstrance appeared in various forms in other states. New York and Massachusetts provide famous chapters in the history that established dissociation of religious teaching from state-maintained schools. In New York, the rise of the common schools led, despite fierce sectarian opposition, to the barring of tax funds to church schools, and later to any school in which sectarian doctrine was taught. In Massachusetts, largely through the efforts of Horace Mann, all sectarian teachings were barred from the common school to save it from being rent by denominational conflict. The upshot of these controversies, often long and fierce, is fairly summarized by saying that long before the Fourteenth Amendment subjected the states to new limitations, the prohibition of furtherance by the state of religious instruction became the guiding principle, in law and in feeling, of the American people.... (Justice Felix Frankfurter, U. S. Supreme Court, in McCollum v. Board of Education, the 1948 decision that forbid public schools in Illinois from commingling sectarian and secular instruction; as quoted by Paul Blanshard, ed., Classics of Free Thought, Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books, 1977, pp. 61-62.)

The nonsectarian or secular public school was the means of reconciling freedom in general with religious freedom. The sharp confinement of the public schools to secular education was a recognition of the need of a democratic society to educate its children, insofar as the state undertook to do so, in an atmosphere free from pressures in a realm in which pressures are most resisted and where bitterly engendered. Designed to serve as perhaps the most powerful agency for promoting cohesion among a heterogeneous democratic people, the public school must keep scrupulously free from entanglement in the strife of sects. The preservation of the community from division conflicts, of government from irreconcilable pressures by religious groups, of religion from censorship and coercion however subtly exercised, requires strict confinement of the state to instruction other than religious, leaving to the individual's church and home, indoctrination in the faith of his choice.... The extent to which this principle was deemed a presupposition of our Constitutional system is strikingly illustrated by the fact that every state admitted into the Union since 1876 was compelled by Congress to write into its constitution a requirement that it maintain a school system "free from sectarian control." ... (Justice Felix Frankfurter, U. S. Supreme Court, in McCollum v. Board of Education, the 1948 decision that forbid public schools in Illinois from commingling sectarian and secular instruction; as quoted by Paul Blanshard, ed., Classics of Free Thought, Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books, 1977, pp. 62-63.)

We find that the basic Constitutional principle of absolute separation was violated when the State of Illinois, speaking through its Supreme Court, sustained the school authorities of Champaign in sponsoring and effectively furthering religious beliefs by its educational arrangement. Separation means separation, not something less. Jefferson's metaphor in describing the relation between church and state speaks of a "wall of separation," not of a fine line easily overstepped. The public school is at once the symbol of our democracy and the most pervasive means for promoting our common destiny. In no activity of the state is it more vital to keep out divisive forces than in its schools, to avoid confusing, not to say fusing, what the Constitution sought to keep strictly apart. "The great American principle of eternal separation"--Elihu Root's phrase bears repetition--is one of the vital reliances of our Constitutional system for assuring unities among our people stronger than our diversities. It is the Court's duty to enforce this principle in its full integrity. We renew our conviction that "we have staked the very existence of our country on the faith that complete separation between the state and religion is best for the state and best for religion." (Justice Felix Frankfurter, U. S. Supreme Court, in McCollum v. Board of Education, the 1948 decision that forbid public schools in Illinois from commingling sectarian and secular instruction; as quoted by Paul Blanshard, ed., Classics of Free Thought, Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books, 1977, p. 64.)

The day that this country ceases to be free for irreligion, it will cease to be free for religion--except for the sect that can win political power. (Justice Robert H. Jackson, dissenting opinion, U. S. Supreme Court, Zorach v. Clausor, April 7, 1952. From Daniel B. Baker, ed., Political Quotations, Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1990, p. 190.)

We repeat and again reaffirm that neither a state nor the federal government can constitutionally force a person "to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion." Neither can constitutionally pass laws nor impose requirements which aid all religions as against non-believers, and neither can aid those religions based on a belief in the existence of a God as against those religions founded on different beliefs. (Justice Hugo Black, U. S. Supreme Court, in Torcaso v. Watkins, the 1961 decision that Torcaso could not be required by Maryland to declare a belief in God before being sworn in as a notary public; as quoted by Paul Blanshard, ed., Classics of Free Thought, Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books, 1977, p. 10.)

The [U. S. Supreme] Court also has noted that the "first and most immediate purpose" of the establishment clause rests "on the belief that a union of government and religion tends to destroy government and degrade religion." (Martha M. McCarthy, A Delicate Balance: Church, State, and the Schools, Bloomington, Indiana: Phi Delta Kappan Educational Foundation, 1983, p. 170. According to McCarthy, the quote is from Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421, 431 [1962].)

It is a matter of history that this very practice of establishing governmentally composed prayers for religious services was one of the reasons which caused many of our early colonists to leave England and seek religious freedom in America. ... By the time of the adoption of the Constitution, our history shows that there was widespread awareness among many Americans of the dangers of a union of Church and State. These people knew, some of them from bitter personal experience, that one of the greatest dangers to the freedom of the individual to worship in his own way lay in the Government's placing its official stamp of approval upon one particular kind of prayer or one particular form of religious service.... The First Amendment was added to the Constitution to stand as a guarantee that neither the power nor the prestige of the Federal Government would be used to control, support or influence the kinds of prayer the American people can say--that the people's religions must not be subjected to the pressures of government for change each time a new political administration is elected to office. (Justice Hugo Black, U. S. Supreme Court, in Engel v. Vitale, 1962 decision on school prayer, as quoted by Alan Barth, "The Roots of Limited Government," The Rights of Free Men: An Essential Guide to Civil Liberties, ed. James Clayton, New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1984, p. 123.)

These men [the authors on the Constitution and First Amendment] knew that the First Amendment, which tried to put an end to government control of religion and prayer, was not written to destroy either. They knew rather that it was written to quiet well-justified fears which nearly all of them felt arising out of an awareness that governments of the past had shackled men's tongues to make them speak and to pray only to the God that government wanted them to pray to. It is neither sacrilegious nor antireligious to say that each separate government in this country should stay out of the business of writing or sanctioning official prayers and leave that purely religious function to the people themselves and to those the people choose to look to for religious guidance. (Justice Hugo Black, in Engel v. Vitale, U. S. Supreme Court 1962 decision on school prayer, as quoted by Alan Barth, "In Behalf of Religion," The Rights of Free Men: An Essential Guide to Civil Liberties, ed. James Clayton, New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1984, p. 128.)

First, this Court has decisively settled that the First Amendment's mandate that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" has been made wholly applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment.... Second, this Court has rejected unequivocally the contention that the Establishment Clause forbids only governmental preference of one religion over another. (Justice Tom C. Clark, majority opinion, U. S. Supreme Court, School District of Abington Township v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963), as quoted in Robert S. Alley, ed., The Supreme Court on Church and State, New York: Oxford University Press, 1988, pp. 210-211.)

Finally, we cannot accept that the concept of neutrality, which does not permit a State to require a religious exercise even with the consent of the majority of those affected, collides with the majority's right to free exercise of religion. While the Free Exercise Clause clearly prohibits the use of state action to deny the rights of free exercise to anyone, it has never meant that a majority could use the machinery of the State to practice its beliefs. Such a contention was effectively answered by Mr. Justice Jackson for the Court in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette: "The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One's right to ... freedom of worship ... and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections." (Justice Tom C. Clark, majority opinion, U. S. Supreme Court, School District of Abington Township v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963), as quoted in Robert S. Alley, ed., The Supreme Court on Church and State, New York: Oxford University Press, 1988, pp. 210-211.)

The place of religion in our society is an exalted one, achieved through a long tradition of reliance on the home, the church and the inviolable citadel of the individual heart and mind. We have come to recognize through bitter experience that it is not within the power of government to invade that citadel, whether its purpose or effect be to aid or to oppose, to advance or retard. In the relationship between man and religion, the state is firmly committed to a position of neutrality. (Justice Tom C. Clark, majority opinion, U. S. Supreme Court, June 17, 1963, as quoted by Alan Barth, April 21, 1968, "Permission to Pray," The Rights of Free Men: An Essential Guide to Civil Liberties, ed. James Clayton, New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1984, pp. 130-131.)

... the problem to be considered and solved when the First Amendment was proposed was not one of hazy or comparative insignificance, but was one of blunt and stark reality, which had perplexed and plagued the nations of Western civilization for some 14 centuries, and during that long period, the union of Church and State in the government of man had produced neither peace on earth, nor good will to man. (Justice Prescott of the Maryland high court, Horace Mann League of the United States v. Board of Public Works, 220 A.2d 51, 60 (Md. 1966), as quoted by Martha M. McCarthy, A Delicate Balance: Church, State, and the Schools, Bloomington, Indiana: Phi Delta Kappan Educational Foundation, 1983, p. 1.)

Government in our democracy, state and national, must be neutral in matters of religious theory, doctrine and practice. It may not be hostile to any religion or to the advocacy of nonreligion; and it may not aid, foster, or promote one religion or religious theory against another or even against the militant opposite. The First Amendment mandates governmental neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion. (U. S. Supreme Court, Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97, 103 [1968], as quoted by Martha M. McCarthy, A Delicate Balance: Church, State, and the Schools, Bloomington, Indiana: Phi Delta Kappan Educational Foundation, 1983, p. 173.)

A certain momentum develops in constitutional theory and it can be a "downhill thrust" easily set in motion but difficult to retard or stop.... The dangers are increased by the difficulty of perceiving in advance exactly where the "verge" of the precipice lies. As well as constituting an independent evil against which the Religion Clauses were intended to protect, involvement or entanglement between government and religion serves as a warning signal. (Chief Justice Warren Burger, U. S. Supreme Court, Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 624-25 [1971], as quoted by Martha M. McCarthy, A Delicate Balance: Church, State, and the Schools, Bloomington, Indiana: Phi Delta Kappan Educational Foundation, 1983, p. 175.)

The government must pursue a course of complete neutrality toward religion. (John Paul Stevens, majority opinion, U. S. Supreme Court, Wallace v. Jaffree, June 4, 1985. From Daniel B. Baker, ed., Political Quotations, Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1990, p. 191.)

Protecting religious freedoms may be more important in the late twentieth century than it was when the Bill of Rights was ratified. We live in a pluralistic society, with people of widely divergent religious backgrounds or with none at all. Government cannot endorse beliefs of one group without sending a clear message to non-adherents that they are outsiders. (Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, in a speech to a Philadelphia conference on religion in public life, May 1991, according to Tom Flynn, "The Supreme Court Battle: Preserving Civil Liberties in the Era of a Hostile Judiciary," Free Inquiry, Fall 1991, Vol. 11, No. 4, p. 4.)

Religious beliefs and religious expression are too precious to be either proscribed or prescribed by the state. (Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, according to Mark S. Hoffman, editor, "Notable Quotes in 1992," The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1993, New York: Pharos Books, 1992, p. 32.)

V. Other Famous Americans

In response to criticisms of Providence's policy of religious tolerance, [Roger] Williams issued in 1644 (forty-five years before Locke's Letter Concerning Toleration) his classic defense of religious liberty, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience Discussed. "God," Williams forthrightly maintained, "requireth not an uniformity of Religion." The civil power, he argued, is incapable of touching the inner life of the spirit, which is the paramount concern of religion. "The civil sword," he wrote, "may make a nation of hypocrites and anti-Christians, but not one true Christian." If the church accepts establishment by the state, it puts itself in the position of "appealing to darkness to judge light, to unrighteousness to judge righteousness, the spiritually blind to judge and end the controversy concerning heavenly colors." The argument that a non-Christian state cannot effectively carry out its secular functions is simply false. Statecraft, like seacraft, is a practical skill, unrelated to religious faith. "A pagan or anti-Christian pilot may be as skillful to carry the ship to its desired port as any Christian mariner or pilot in the world, and may perform that work with as much safety and speed." (A. James Reichley, Religion in American Public Life, Washington: Brookings Institution, 1985, p. 66.)

I must profess while heaven and earth last, that no one tenent that either London, England, or the world doth harbor is so heretical, blasphemous, seditious, and dangerous to the corporal, to the spiritual, to the present, to the eternal good of all men as the bloody tenent ... of persecution for cause of conscience. (Roger Williams, 1603?-1683, founder of Rhode Island, as quoted by Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987, p. 23.)

It is the will and command of God that ... a permission of the paganish, Jewish, Turkish [Muslim], or anti-Christian consciences and worships be granted to all men in all nations and countries; and they are only to be fought against with that sword which is only (in soul matters) able to conquer, to wit, the sword of God's spirit, the Word of God. (Roger Williams, 1603?-1683, founder of Rhode Island, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution, 1644. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 500.)

The doctrine of persecution for cause of conscience is most evidently and lamentably contrary to the doctrine of Christ Jesus the Prince of Peace. (Roger Williams, 1603?-1683, founder of Rhode Island, The Bloudy Tenant of Persecution for Cause of Conscience, 1644. From Daniel B. Baker, ed., Political Quotations, Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1990, p. 189.)

Soon after he [Frederick Douglass, circa 1840] took to the field for antislavery, he wrote a candid letter to his fellow communicants of the Zion chapel, saying, as [the Rev. Thomas] James reported, that he had to "cut loose from the church" because he had found the American church, writ large, to be a "bulwark of American slavery." (William S. McFeely, Frederick Douglass, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1991, p. 85.)

The religions are obsolete when the reforms do not proceed from them. (Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882, American author, Journals, 1872. From Daniel B. Baker, ed., Political Quotations, Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1990, p. 190.)

... in churches, every healthy and thoughtful mind finds itself ... checked, cribbed, confined. (Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882, American author, in 1878. From Edwin S. Gaustad, Faith of Our Fathers: Religion and the New Nation, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987, p. 135. )

To see how political tides change, the Republican platform of 1876 carried a plank that advocated a constitutional amendment forbidding the use of public money for any sectarian school. (Robert L. Maddox, Baptist minister and speech writer and religious liaison for President Jimmy Carter, Separation of Church and State: Guarantor of Religious Freedom, New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1987, p. 102.)

A civil ruler dabbling in religion is as reprehensible as a clergyman dabbling in politics. Both render themselves odious as well as ridiculous. (James Cardinal Gibbons, 1834-1921, second American to be made a Catholic cardinal, in Faith of Our Fathers, 1877. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 487.)

In all ages, hypocrites, called priests, have put crowns upon the heads of thieves, called kings. (Robert G. Ingersoll, 1833-1899, Prose Poems and Selections, 1884. From Daniel B. Baker, ed., Political Quotations, Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1990, p. 190.)

I do not believe that any type of religion should ever be introduced into the public schools of the United States. (Thomas Alva Edison, 1847-1931, American inventor. Attributed according to Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 487.)

If we had nothing else to boast of, we could claim with justice that first among the nations we of this country made it an article of organic law that the relations between man and his Maker were a private concern into which other men had no right to intrude. (David Dudley Field, 1805-1894, American lawyer, first president of the International Law Association, in an address in Chicago, 1893. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 487.)

It is not a question of religion, or of creed, or of party; it is a question of declaring and maintaining the great American principle of eternal separation between Church and State. (Elihu Root, in 1894, in urging a New York state constitutional prohibition against using public funds for sectarian education, according to U. S. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, Vashti McCollum v. Board of Education of School District No. 71, Champaign County, Illinois [1948]; from Gene Garman, America's Real Religion: Separation Between Religion and Government in the United States of America, Pittsburg, Kansas: America's Real Religion Publishing, 1991, p. 82.)

You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man's freedom. You can only be free if I am free. (Clarence S. Darrow,1857-1938, American attorney. From Henry O. Dormann, compiler, The Speaker's Book of Quotations, New York: Ballantine Books, 1987, p. 44.)

Never do anything against conscience even if the state demands it. (Albert Einstein,1879-1955, German-born American theoretical physicist. From William Safire and Leonard Safir, compilers and eds., Words of Wisdom: More Good Advice, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989, p. 68.)

The separation of church and state is extremely important to any of us who holds to the original traditions of our nation. To change these traditions by changing our traditional attitude toward public education would be harmful to our whole attitude of tolerance in the religious area. If we look at situations which have arisen in the past in Europe and other world areas, I think we will see the reasons why it is wise to hold to our early traditions. (Eleanor Roosevelt [1884-1962], U. S. First Lady, New York World-Telegram, June 23, 1949, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 82.)

I do not want church groups controlling the schools of our country. They must remain free. (Eleanor Roosevelt [1884-1962], U. S. First Lady, in a column, My Day, on July 8, 1949, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 82.)

A prescribed prayer, however non-denominational it may be, is a form of enforced orthodoxy and is therefore an inescapable enemy to religious liberty. Let children speak to the teachers appointed to instruct them in the forms and language prescribed for their education. But let them speak to God in the forms and language prescribed by their individual consciences. (Alan Barth, 1906-1979, editorial writer, Washington Post, June 26, 1962, "In Behalf of Religion," The Rights of Free Men: An Essential Guide to Civil Liberties, ed. James Clayton, New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1984, p. 128.)

We will be a better country when each religious group can trust its members to obey the dictates of their own religious faith without assistance from the legal structure of the country. (Margaret Mead, 1901-1978, American anthropologist, in Redbook magazine, February, 1963. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 499.)

[However, many reputable organizations and prominent individuals defended the decision {U.S. Supreme Court decision banning state-composed and mandated school prayer, Engel v. Vitale},] among them a number of liberal Protestant ministers. Most prominent of these was The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, revered black leader, who called it "a sound and good decision reaffirming something that is basic in our Constitution, namely separation of church and state." (Leo Pfeffer, "Prayer in Public Schools: The Court's Decisions," in the "Church and State" issue of National Forum: The Phi Kappa Phi Journal, Winter, 1988, p. 26.)

The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. (Martin Luther King, Jr., 1929-1968, American civil rights leader, Strength to Love, 1963. From Daniel B. Baker, ed., Political Quotations, Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1990, p. 191.)

The hope of the world is still in dedicated minorities. The trail blazers in human, academic, scientific, and religious freedom have always been in the minority. (Martin Luther King, Jr., 1929-1968, American civil rights leader, The Words of Martin Luther King. From Margaret Pepper, compiler and ed., The Harper Religious & Inspirational Quotation Book, New York: Harper & Row, 1989, p. 190.)

... the General Board of the National Council of Churches asserted that "neither true religion nor good education is dependent upon the devotional use of the Bible in the public school program." The Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, which includes the southern Baptists, the largest denomination not in the National Council of Churches, reaffirmed its "conviction that laws and regulations prescribing prayers or devotional exercises do not contribute to a free exercise of religion and should not be encouraged." The conviction of Protestant leaders that the disestablishment of cultural religion is necessary if religious liberties are to be preserved was in part an outgrowth of careful studies of Church-State issues which had been undertaken by various denominations. In May, 1963, a month prior to the Supreme Court decision [Abington School District v. Schempp and Murray v. Curlett, ruling unconstitutional Bible reading and recitation of the Lord's Prayer in public schools], the Presbyterian General Assembly recommended to all of its churches a group of guidelines that included the following: that "religious observances never be held in a public school or introduced into the public school as a part of its program. Bible reading in connection with courses in American heritage, world history, literature, the social sciences and other academic subjects is completely appropriate to public school instruction. Bible reading and prayers as devotional acts tend toward indoctrination or meaningless ritual and should be omitted for both reasons." The Lutheran Church in America and the Methodist Church also had study commissions at work well before the Supreme Court decision. The Lutheran statement, published in 1963, shortly after the prayer and Bible-reading decisions, said: "The Court has clearly made an important contribution to the cause of religious freedom." The Methodist study commission took a similar position. (John M. Swomley, Jr., Religion, The State, & The Schools, New York: Pegasus, 1968, pp. 31-32.)

The present emphasis upon civil religion is a flagrant toying with the First Amendment. Various trends in national life suggest that a civil religion of the majority might find religious liberty something it did not care to preserve. (Robert S. Alley, in So Help Me God, John Knox Press, 1972, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 2.)

The government has leverage on religious groups because of the tax-exemption privilege. Church leaders, eager for the church to be free to be the church, should ask for the removal of this privilege. If there were no tax privilege for religious groups, hucksters and people who are using religion as a cover for political movements would be discouraged. (William Stringfellow, lawyer and lay theologian, as quoted in the Dallas Times Herald, December 9, 1978, p. A-27, according to Alan F. Pater and Jason R. Pater, compilers and editors, What They Said in 1978: The Yearbook of Spoken Opinion, Beverly Hills, CA: Monitor Book Co., 1979, p. 447.)

... the NEA is not opposed to individual prayer in school. What we oppose is group-led prayer in the school, which is un-Constitutional. (Mary Futrell, President of the National Education Association, interview, Christianity Today, March 15, 1978, p. 32, according to Alan F. Pater and Jason R. Pater, compilers and editors, What They Said in 1985: The Yearbook of Spoken Opinion, Beverly Hills, CA: Monitor Book Co., 1986, p. 472.)

The wall of separation ensures the government's freedom from religion and the individual's freedom of religion. The second probably cannot flourish without the first. (Leonard W. Levy, The Establishment Clause: Religion and the First Amendment, 1986. From Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, eds., The Harper Book of American Quotations, New York: Harper & Row, 1988, p. 499.)

The establishment clause separates government and religion so that we can maintain civility between believers and unbelievers as well as among the several hundred denominations, sects, and cults that thrive in our nation, all sharing the commitment to liberty and equality that cements us together. (Leonard W. Levy, The Establishment Clause: Religion and the First Amendment, 1986.; from Gene Garman, America's Real Religion: Separation Between Religion and Government in the United States of America, Pittsburg, Kansas: America's Real Religion Publishing, 1991, p. viii.)

Religious liberty is a crucial aspect of a free society. People must be free either to accept or to reject religion or particular expressions of religion. Otherwise, they have no freedom of choice to determine their beliefs and the institutions that embody their beliefs about the universe, human nature, peace, justice, and comparable matters. Given the fact of strong religious conviction and competing religious groups, religious liberty can be guaranteed only in a secular state. A secular state is not hostile to religion. It can be defined as a state that is uncommitted to any religious institution or institutions or to religious beliefs and practices. Its basis for state authority is in civil and natural law, not in religious doctrine or in divine revelation. (John M. Swomley, Religious Liberty and the Secular State: The Constitutional Context, Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1987, p. 7.)

Voluntary, individual, silent prayer has never been banned or discouraged in the public schools. The Supreme Court has banned state-sponsored religious services. Those who advocate prayer services in the public schools do not want voluntary prayer. They want the government to be officially involved in promoting and sponsoring prayer services so as to put pressure on children to engage in public prayer. They apparently do not care whether parents want their children to engage in public prayer or be indoctrinated with sectarian religious ideas. The object is to provide a captive classroom audience that will be exposed to the prayers of those with a religious message, which they deliver in the form of a prayer. (John M. Swomley, Religious Liberty and the Secular State: The Constitutional Context, Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1987, p. 128.)

Both [religion] clauses [of the First Amendment] were applicable only to the federal government until Congress adopted the Fourteenth Amendment. Legislative history indicates that the amendment was intended to guarantee to citizens of every state the rights "secured by the first eight amendments to the Constitution" (The Congressional Globe). The Supreme Court, however, did not begin to apply the religion clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the states until the 1940s. (John M. Swomley, "Education in Religious Schools: The Conflict Over Funding" in the "Church and State" issue of National Forum: The Phi Kappa Phi Journal, Winter, 1988, p. 13.)

I really believe [abortion] should be a religious issue. I couldn't do it because of my religious beliefs, but who am I to impose my feelings on someone else? Some religions are not that strict about it. Also the Constitution calls for separation of church and state. How can you impose through law a religious belief on all people. (Rosalyn Carter, U. S. First Lady [1977-1981], in an interview with Good Housekeeping, February, 1988 [p. 172], according to Alan F. Pater and Jason R. Pater, compilers and editors, What They Said in 1988: The Yearbook of Spoken Opinion, Beverly Hills, CA: Monitor Book Co., 1989, p. 21.)

We know that no one should tell a woman she has to bear an unwanted child. We know that religious beliefs cannot define patriotism. (Walter Cronkite, former CBS News anchor, in a speech to People for the American Way, as reported in Newsweek, December 5, 1988, p. 8, according to Alan F. Pater and Jason R. Pater, compilers and editors, What They Said in 1988: The Yearbook of Spoken Opinion, Beverly Hills, CA: Monitor Book Co., 1989, p. 218.)

VI. Foreign Sources

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father, which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. (Jesus, as reported in Matthew 6:5-6.)

It is a fundamental human right, a privilege of nature, that every man should worship according to his own convictions. (Tertullian, 160?-230?, Carthaginian church father, Ad Scapulam, 202 C.E., according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 94.)

It is a heretic that makes the fire, not she which burns in it. (William Shakespeare, 1564-1616, English playwright and poet, The Winter's Tale, Act 2, Scene 3, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 87.)

Wee do freely profess that our Lord the King hath no more power over their [Roman Catholics'] coonsciences [sic] than over ours, and that is none at all ... let [people] be heretikes, Turks, Jews, or whatsoever, it apperteynes not to the earthly power to punish them in the least measure. (Thomas Helwys, regarded as the founder of the first Baptist church in England, in 1612, as quoted by Jerry H. Combee, "Evangelicals and the First Amendment," National Review, 24 October 1986, p. 40, according to Victoria Sherrow, Separation of Church and State, New York: Franklin Watts, 1992, p. 20.)

A sanctimonious man is one who under an atheist king would be atheist. [Un dévot est celui qui sous un roi athée serrait athée.] (Jean de La Bruyêre,1645-1696, French moralist, "De la mode," Les Caractêres, 1688. From Daniel B. Baker, ed., Political Quotations, Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1990, p. 189.)

But, however, that some may not colour their spirit of persecution and unchristian cruelty with a pretence of care of the public weal and observation of the laws; and others, under pretence of religion, may not seek impunity for their libertinism and licentiousness; in a word, that none may impose either upon himself or others, by the pretences of loyalty and obedience to the prince, or of tenderness and sincerity in the worship of God; I esteem it above all things necessary to distinguish exactly the business of civil government from that of religion, and to settle the just bounds that lie between the one and the other. (John Locke, 1632-1704, A Letter Concerning Toleration, 1689, as quoted by Glen E. Thurow, Abraham Lincoln and American Political Religion, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1976, pp. 1-2.)

Both Madison and Jefferson relied heavily on the theory of church-state separation espoused by John Locke who maintained that "the care of souls cannot belong to the civil magistrate." (Martha M. McCarthy, A Delicate Balance: Church, State, and the Schools, Bloomington, Indiana: Phi Delta Kappan Educational Foundation, 1983, p. 4. The Locke quote is from A Letter Concerning Toleration, 1689, according to McCarthy.)

All religions must be tolerated ... every man must go to heaven in his own way. [Die Religionen müssen alle toleriert werden ... denn hier muss ein jeder nach seiner Fasson selig werden.] (Frederick the Great, 1712-1786, Prussian king, note to the Religious Department, June 22, 1740. From Daniel B. Baker, ed., Political Quotations, Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1990, p. 189.)

No one should be called to account about his opinions, even religious ones, so long as their manifestation does not upset public order as established by law. (Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, August 27, 1789, France, as quoted by Constance Rowe, Voltaire and the State, New York: Octagon Books, Inc., 1968, p. 124.)

... I questioned the faithful of all communions; I particularly sought the society of clergymen, who are the depositories of the various creeds and have a personal interest in their survival ... all thought the main reason for the quiet sway of religion over their country was the complete separation of church and state. I have no hesitation in stating that throughout my stay in America I met nobody, lay or cleric, who did not agree about that. (Alexis de Tocqueville, 1805-1859, writing of his travels in America in 1830, as quoted by Samuel Rabinove, "Church and State Must Remain Separate," in Julie S. Bach, ed., Civil Liberties: Opposing Viewpoints, St. Paul: Greenhaven Press, 1988, p. 53.)

... It is accordingly on this battlefield [religious belief], almost solely, that the rights of the individual against society have been asserted on broad grounds of principle, and the claim of society to exercise authority over dissentients openly controverted. The great writers to whom the world owes what religious liberty it possesses, have mostly asserted freedom of conscience as an indefeasible right, and denied absolutely that a human being is accountable to others for his religious belief. Yet so natural to mankind is intolerance in whatever they really care about, that religious freedom has hardly anywhere been practically realized, except where religious indifference, which dislikes to have its peace disturbed by theological quarrels, has added its weight to the scale. In the minds of almost all religious persons, even in the most tolerant countries, the duty of toleration is admitted with tacit reserves. One person will bear with dissent in matters of church government, but not of dogma; another can tolerate everybody, short of a Papist or an Unitarian; another, every one who believes in revealed religion; a few extend their charity a little further, but stop at the belief in a God and in a future state. Wherever the sentiment of the majority is still genuine and intense, it is found to have abated little of its claim to be obeyed. (John Stuart Mill, 1806-1873, and Harriet Taylor Mill, ?-1858, "Chapter I: Introductory," On Liberty, 1859; reprinted in Currin V. Shields, ed., On Liberty, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1956, p. 11.)

Let us suppose ... that the government is entirely at one with the people, and never thinks of exerting any power of coercion unless in agreement with what it conceives to be their voice. But I deny the right of the people to exercise such coercion, either by themselves or by their government. The power itself is illegitimate. The best government has no more title to it than the worst. It is as noxious, or more noxious, when exerted in accordance with public opinion, than when in opposition to it. If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. (John Stuart Mill, 1806-1873, and Harriet Taylor Mill, ?-1858, "Chapter II: Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion," On Liberty, 1859; reprinted in Currin V. Shields, ed., On Liberty, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1956, pp. 20-21.)

... it is as certain that many opinions, now general, will be rejected by future ages, as it is that many, once general, are rejected by the present. (John Stuart Mill, 1806-1873, and Harriet Taylor Mill, ?-1858, "Chapter II: Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion," On Liberty, 1859; reprinted in Currin V. Shields, ed., On Liberty, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1956, p. 23.)

The beliefs which we have most warrant for, have no safeguard to rest on, but a standing invitation to the whole world to prove them unfounded. (John Stuart Mill, 1806-1873, and Harriet Taylor Mill, ?-1858, "Chapter II: Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion," On Liberty, 1859; reprinted in Currin V. Shields, ed., On Liberty, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1956, p. 26.)

What little recognition the idea of obligation to the public obtains in modern morality is derived from Greek and Roman sources, not from Christian; as, even in the morality of private life, whatever exists of magnanimity, high-mindeness, personal dignity, even the sense of honor, is derived from the purely human, not the religious part of our education, and never could have grown out of a standard of ethics in which the only worth, professedly recognized, is that of obedience. (John Stuart Mill, 1806-1873, and Harriet Taylor Mill, ?-1858, "Chapter II: Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion," On Liberty, 1859; reprinted in Currin V. Shields, ed., On Liberty, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1956, p. 61.)

Almost all Europe, for many centuries, was inundated with blood, which was shed at the direct instigation or with the full approval of the ecclesiastical authorities. (William E. H. Lecky, 1838-1903, Irish historian, History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe (Appleton, 1866) Volume II, p. 32, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 58.)

The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities. (John E. E. Dalberg, Lord Acton, 1834-1902, British historian, The History of Freedom and Other Essays, 1907. From Henry O. Dormann, compiler, The Speaker's Book of Quotations, New York: Ballantine Books, 1987, p. 43.)

Once you attempt legislation upon religious grounds, you open the way for every kind of intolerance and religious persecution. (William Butler Yeats, 1865-1939, Irish poet, dramatist, and statesman; remarks on the adoption of the Irish Constitution of 1937, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 107.)

Intellectual freedom is essential to human society. Freedom of thought is the only guarantee against an infection of people by mass myths, which, in the hands of treacherous hypocrites and demagogues, can be transformed into bloody dictatorships. (Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov, 1921- , Russian nuclear scientist. From Henry O. Dormann, compiler, The Speaker's Book of Quotations, New York: Ballantine Books, 1987, p. 44.)


Copyright ©1993 Ed and Michael E. Buckner and the Atlanta Freethought Society. The electronic version is copyright ©2006 by Internet Infidels, Inc. with the written permission of Ed and Michael E. Buckner and the Atlanta Freethought Society. All rights reserved.

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