North Carolina Convention
July 30, 1788
Moreover, even those who do not regard religion, acknowledge that the Christian religion is best calculated of all religions to make good members of society, on account of its morality.
North Carolina Convention
July 30, 1788
...I have so much Faith in the general Government of the world by Providence, that I can hardly conceive a Transaction of such momentous Importance to the Welfare of Millions now existing, and to exist in the Posterity of a great Nation, should be suffered to pass without being in some degree influenc'd, guided, and governed by that omnipotent, omnipresent, and beneficent Ruler, in whom all inferior Spirits live, and move, and have their Being.
April 8, 1788
If I could have entertained the slightest apprehension that the Constitution, framed in the Convention, where I had the honor to preside, might possibly endanger the religious rights of any ecclesiastical Society, certainly I would never have placed my signature to it; and if I could now conceive that the general Government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution – For you, doubtless, remember that I have often expressed my sentiment, that every man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience.
Letter to the United Baptist
Churches of Virginia
But I have ever thought religion a concern purely between God and our consciences, for which we were accountable to him, and not to the priests...I have ever judged of the religion of others by their lives...For it is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be read.
Letter to Mrs. Samuel H. Smith,
August 6, 1816
The exclusion of religious tests is by many thought dangerous
and impolitic. They suppose that if there be no religious
test required, Pagans, Deists and Mahometans might obtain
offices among us, and that the Senate and Representatives
might all be Pagans.
North Carolina Convention
July 30, 1788
To take a proper view of the ground on which we stand,
it may be necessary to recollect the manner in which the United
States were originally settled and established. - Want of
charity in the religious systems of Europe and of justice
in their political governments were the principal moving causes,
which drove the emigrants of the various countries to the
“An American Citizen” I
Independent Gazetteer (Philadelphia),
September 26, 1787.
(A)ll men have a natural and unalienable right to worship Almighty God, according to the dictates of their own consciences and understanding; and that no man ought, or of right can be compelled to attend any religious worship, or erect or support any place of worship, or maintain any ministry, contrary to, or against his own free will and consent; and that no authority can or ought to be vested in, or assumed by any power whatever, that shall in any case interfere with, or in any manner controul, the right of conscience in the free exercise of religious worship.
Freeman's Journal (Philadelphia),
October 24, 1787
...we are not disposed to differ much, at present, about religion; but when we are making a constitution, it is to be hoped, for ages and millions yet unborn, why not establish the free exercise of religion, as part of the national compact.
“Federal Farmer” IV
October 12, 1787
...the omission of a BILL of RIGHTS ascertaining and fundamentally establishing those unalienable and personal rights of men, without the full, free, and secure enjoyment of which there can be no liberty, and over which it is not necessary for good government to have the controul. The principal of which are the rights of conscience...
Dissent of the Minority of the Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Packet (Philadelphia),
December 18, 1787
The rights of conscience shall be held inviolable, and neither the legislative, executive, nor judicial powers of the United States, shall have authority to alter, abrogate, or infringe any part of the constitutions of the several states, which provide for the preservation of liberty in matters of religion.
Pennsylvania Convention Debate
December 12, 1787
Civil government has no business to meddle with the private opinions of the people. If I demean myself as a good citizen, I am accountable, not to man, but to God, for the religious opinions which I embrace, and the manner in which I worship the supreme being.
“A Landholder” VII
Connecticut Courant (Hartford)
December 17, 1787
Attention to religion and good morals is a distinguishing trait in our character.
January 11, 1788
Another mighty influence to the noblest principle of action will be the fear of God before their eyes; for while they set in the place of God, to give law, justice, and right to the States, they must be monsters indeed if they do not regard his law, and imitate his character.
The Weaknesses of Brutus Exposed:
“A Citizen of Philadelphia”
November 8, 1787
...there were some members so unfashionable as to think that a belief of the existence of a Deity, and of a state of future rewards and punishments would be some security for the conduct of our rulers, and that in a Christian country it would be at least decent to hold out some distinction between the professors of Christianity and downright infidelity or paganism.
“The Genuine Information” XII
Maryland Gazette (Baltimore)
February 8, 1788
...rulers ought to believe in God or Christ...a person could not be a good man without being a good Christian.
January 31, 1788
...nothing is more evident, both in reason, and in the holy scriptures, than that religion is ever a matter between God and individuals; and therefore no man or men can impose any religious test, without invading the essential prerogatives of our Lord Jesus Christ...And let the history of all nations be searched, form that day to this, and it will appear that the imposing of religious tests hath been the greatest engine of tyranny in the world.
February 4, 1788
In a free government, the security for civil rights must be the same as that for religious rights.
“The Federalist” LI
Independent Journal (New York),
February 6, 1788
Uniformity in legislation is of no more importance that in religion; Yet the framers of this new constitution did not even think it necessary that the president should believe, that there is a God, although they require an oath of him. It would be easy to shew the propriety of a general declaration upon the subject.
Massachusetts Gazette (Boston),
February 5, 1788
When the clause in the 6th article, which provides that “no religious test should ever be required as a qualification to any office or trust, &c” came under consideration...still more wished something of the kind should have been inserted, but with a reverse sense, so far as to require an explicit acknowledgement of the being of a God, his perfections and his providence, and to have been prefixed to and stand as, the first introductory words of the Constitution...
American Mercury (Hartford, Conn.),
February 11, 1788
No religious test is required as a Qualification to fill any office under the United States,...& if the Manners of People are so far Corrupted, that they cannot live by republican principles, it is Very Dangerous leaving religious Liberty at their Marcy...
Orange County, Virginia
February 28, 1788
Liberty was the darling object of the first settlers of this country. Animated with the hope of enjoying those civil and religious rights, which Heaven designed for the virtuous, they bade adieu to the joys of a more social life, and...they took possession of the fair territory we now inhabit...By the great distance of this country from Europe, Heaven seems to have designed it for the seat of an independent people...
New Haven Connecticut
July 4, 1788
That the people have an equal, natural and unalienable
right, freely and peacably to exercise their religion according
to the dictates of conscience; and that no religious sect
or society ought to be favored or established by law in preference
Ratification of the Constitution by the Convention of the State of New York
Congress shall make no laws touching religion, or to infringe the rights of conscience.
Resolutions of the State of New Hampshire
June 21, 1788
That there be no national religion established by law; but that all persons be equally entitled to protection ion their religious liberty.
Resolutions of the State of Maryland
April 28, 1788
That religion, or the duty which 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 have an equal, natural and unalienable right to the free exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience, and that no particular religious sect or society ought to be favored or established by law in preference to others.
Resolutions of the State of Virginia
I confess to you, Sir, were uniformity of religion to be introduced by this system, it would, in my opinion, be ineligible; but I have no reason to conclude, that uniformity of Government will produce that of religion. This subject is, for the honor of America, perfectly free and unshackled: The Government has no jurisdiction over it.
Reply to Patrick Henry
June 6, 1788
No part of the Constitution, even if strictly construed, will justify a conclusion, that the General Government can take away, or impair the freedom of religion.
June 17, 1788
The diversity of opinions and variety of sects in the United States, have justly been reckoned a great security with respect to religious liberty. The difficulty of establishing an uniformity of religion in this country is immense.
June 25, 1788