What was and wasn't mentioned in the Declaration of Independence

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,356
#11
Fat Enlightenment Thinkers and leaders believed to be the last word on political science, and governance. The Founders weren't starry-eyed idealists, but hard-headed civic-minded advocates for their own constituents. They acted out of recognition of human frailty, greed, and lust for power. The religious wars of the previous century(s), and the "domination of the many by the few" convinced them to separate religion from government, while preventing government from interfering in matters of faith and doctrine.
Hmm the USA started with what 6% of the population with voting rights. How is the NOT the domination of the many by the few?
 

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
4,096
Caribbean
#13
I'm sure our differences are only those of terminology.
I think not.

You are correct that most, if not all, of the early states guaranteed the free practice of religion. I used the term 'religious neutrality' to indicate the absence of an established religion aka a state supported religion - the use of tax dollars to support one religion (Anglican, Presbyterian, Congregationalist) over all of the other religions. This is how the First Amendment uses 'religion' when it says 'no established religions' - no sect can be established over another. Several states established religions as they wrote their first state constitutions in the 1770s. Many of these states did away with established religions in the 1780s and 1790s. Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire still had established religions in 1800. The last of these three states (Massachusetts) did away with their established religion in 1833.

Religion and the State Governments - Religion and the Founding of the American Republic | Exhibitions (Library of Congress)
It may be terminology that you say early State Constitutions and laws allowed "free practice," but freedom of conscience is not the same as practice - but I tend to think you ideas are just wrong, as the following shows.
New York: "...And whereas we are required, by the benevolent principles of rational liberty, not only to expel civil tyranny, but also to guard against that spiritual oppression and intolerance wherewith the bigotry and ambition of weak and wicked priests and princes have scourged mankind, this convention doth further, in the name and by the authority of the good people of this State, ordain, determine, and declare, that the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever hereafter be allowed, within this State, to all mankind: Provided, That the liberty of conscience, hereby granted, shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness, or justify practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of this State."

It appears that the memory of St Barts Massacre, Mazarin (the wicked priest?) and Louis XIV (the weak prince?) are still fresh in the mind of Huguenot, John Jay - author of the NY Constitution. He is within a hair's breath of saying Catholic "practice" is inconsistent with safety and peace. I suspect Mr. Jay as Chief Justice is not a big fan of what you call "diversity" and would not interpret the First Amendment as you do? In other places, the Founders are not just within a hair's width of so stating. See references following that Catholicism is a "danger" and "sanguinary."

I also dispute your attempt to limit "establishment" to subsidy by public money - and I do note in your link that they reference Article III of the Massachusetts Constitution which does provide for subsidy.
IMO, religious tests for office are establishment, obviously. And I would refer to the Suffolk Resolves (a response to the Quebec Act allowing Canadian Catholics into the NW territory won in the Seven Years' War, in which "establishing" is merely allowing the Catholics and to "practice" of their laws
“10. That the late act of parliament for establishing the Roman Catholic religion and the French laws in that extensive country, now called Canada, is dangerous in an extreme degree to the Protestant religion and to the civil rights and liberties of all America; and, therefore, as men and Protestant Christians, we are indispensubly obliged to take all proper measures for our security…”
The Founders had a much looser standard for establishment than you.

And before the Quebec Act was listed as a cause of secession in the Declaration, the Continental Congress also referred to the Catholic religion as a "danger" (in the Oct 14,1774 Declaration and Resolves), and a "sanguinary with impious tenets" (Oct 21 1774 Appeal to the People of Great Britain).

So much for diversity. I am going to suggest that the evidence shows the Founders had a better memory of what their ancestors were fleeing from than you do.

And BTW, I haven't forgotten that I asked you where I could find records of conversations to substantiate your claim that the Founders could not decide what religion to establish? I was not optimistic that you had this material, because as my references to half the state Constitutions and several Continental Congress proclamations show - they know what they wanted established and what they wanted to remain disestablished.
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,300
Dispargum
#16
@Code Blue,
From my post 6: "I used the term 'diverse' only to mean that while many of the founders wanted to establish a religion there was no consensus on which Protestant religion to establish." In this statement I have already said that religious diversity in early America did not include Catholicism. I have also clarified that my use of diversity only meant the lack of consensus, not tolerance of all religions. Please do not subsequently accuse me of positions I have already refuted.

On 'free practice' vs 'freedom of conscience', the way I read your quote from New York, free practice and freedom of conscience are interchangeable terms. The document is non-sensical if practice and conscience have different definitions. To paraphrase and condense - 'New Yorkers can enjoy freedom of religion so long as freedom of religion isn't justification for breaking the law.' You can replace religion both times with conscience and get the same result, but if religion and conscience mean two different things then the quote becomes an apples and oranges comparison. - 'New Yorkers have the right to bear arms so long as the right to vote isn't justification for breaking the law' which would be nonsense.

On non-establishment vs no religious tests, these are discussed in two different clauses of the Constitution, one in the First Amendment, the other in Article 6. I agree these are two different aspects of the separation of church and state debate, but when talking about established religions, I saw no logical reason to bring up the ban on tests which is why I didn't do it.

We also interpret the Suffolk Resolves differently. The way I read it, establishment of Catholicism in Quebec is pretty much the same use of establishment in the First Amendment. The differences aren't enough to argue over.

Here's a link to several documents from Massachusett's establishment of the Congregationalist Church. There are also several documents from Virginia's debate over whether to establish the Anglican Church. There's also a document from Maryland establishing (providing tax dollars to) all Churches.
Religion and the State Governments - Religion and the Founding of the American Republic | Exhibitions (Library of Congress)
In these documents are at least four different opinions about established religion in early America: some wanted to establish only the Anglican Church, others wanted to establish only the Congregationalist Church, some wanted to publicly subsidize all religions, others opposed any public subsidy of religion. With such diversity of opinion on the subject, I have no problem understanding why the founders chose to let the states decide for themselves what religions to establish or not establish, but there would be no federally established religions.

I am not usually bothered by moving of the goal posts. I usually interpret such post moving as the other person modifying their position because I'm making effective arguments. But I'm starting to think you are arguing just for the sake of arguing. While you might find that entertaining, I find it boring. My interest in this thread is rapidly falling from mild to non-existent. Go ahead, get the last word in. I won't respond.

Now I see I've drifted back into the Constitution again, not the DoI. In 1776, the founders knew that religion was a divisive issue. One thing they were trying to do with the DoI was convince fence-sitting Americans to join the revolution. The founders wisely decided not to risk offending anyone by involving religion.
 
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Mar 2011
4,136
The Celestial Plain
#18
It indirectly mentions the Navigation Act, depriving them of trade with the world, despite the fact that Spanish America had similar restrictions.

It also indirectly mentions the Quebec Act, talking about establishing an arbitrary system of government in a neighboring province and expanding its borders. There was concern that the west was going to be part of Quebec, Catholic, under French law with no elections or trial by jury. The religious issue was not mentioned, probably mainly not to offend France and Spain, but also not to offend US Catholics and Quebec.

There is no mention of issues with the Church of England, despite the Revolution resulting in it going from being established in most colonies to being a tiny minority. A high percentage of the delegates were still Church of England, they didn't want to offend patriot Anglicans, and it also could be offensive to France and Spain.

The Proclamation of 1763 is not mentioned, even though it was a major cause of the revolt and war. Obviously, this would have been offensive / threatening to Spain and maybe France.
The Proclamation of 1763 is indirectly mentioned: "He...has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all all ages, sexes, and conditions."

There is no mention of depriving colonists of access to western lands, but the reference to the "frontiers" is an allusion to the Kings unwillingness to deploy British forces to help colonists secure Indian lands.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,289
#19
The Proclamation of 1763 is indirectly mentioned: "He...has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all all ages, sexes, and conditions."

There is no mention of depriving colonists of access to western lands, but the reference to the "frontiers" is an allusion to the Kings unwillingness to deploy British forces to help colonists secure Indian lands.
That is not a reference to lack of protection from Indians causing the rebellion, but to Indians allied with the British attacking settlers and "patriots" with the support and approval of the British.
 
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