Tag Archives: Church State and Freedom

Introduction to “Religion Clause Jurisprudence”


Jerald Finney
Copyright © January 13, 2012


Click here to go to links to all Chapters in Section V.


Introduction to
Section V of God Betrayed
“Religion Clause Jurisprudence”

Pr.29.2“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn” (Pr. 29.2). “Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things” (Pr. 28.5). “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Ps. 9.17).

“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” (Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 at 18, 91 L. Ed. 711, 67 S. Ct. 504, 168 A.L.R. 1392 (1947), reh’g denied 330 U.S. 855, 91 L. Ed. 1297, 67 S. Ct. 962, p. 18).

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

With Everson, “establishment of religionbecame something entirely different from what it had been to that point. Eventually, the new rationale of the Court in Everson, all taken together, while honoring the historical First Amendment and biblical principle of separation of church and state, would lead to the removal, or the attempt to remove, any vestige of God from civil government affairs. Even when the Court would allow the mention of God, it was with the understanding that God was only historical and of no significance. God, the Ruler of the universe, the Ultimate Lawmaker, and the Judge of the Supreme Court of the universe, gave United States Supreme Court Justices freedom to rebel, albeit not without grave consequences.


Chapter 1
Introduction to “Religion Clause Jurisprudence”

Because of failure to understand, believe, and apply God’s principles, the “religious” jurisprudence in the United States has been on a slippery downhill slope of confusion and destruction since the ratification of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. At first the slope was nonexistent or slight, but starting in the mid-twentieth century the grade increased. The United States Supreme Court added new meaning to “separation of church and state,” meaning which was used to remove all vestiges of God from public life and public view.

8While upholding the original meaning of the First Amendment religion clause, the Supreme Court has supplemented the original meaning of that clause. The original meaning of the religion clause was to protect the church from state regulation and the state from church regulation.

“The constitutional inhibition of legislation on the subject of religion has a double aspect. On the one hand it forestalls compulsion by law of the acceptance of any creed or the practice of any form of worship…. On the other hand, it safeguards the free exercise of the chosen form of religion…. The interrelation of the ‘establishment’ and ‘free exercise’ clauses [according to the United States Supreme Court] has been well summarized as follows: ‘The structure of our government has, for the preservation of civil liberty, rescued the temporal institutions from religious interference. On the other hand, it has secured religious liberty from the invasion of the civil authority’” (Donald T. Kramer, J.D. Annotation: Supreme Court Cases Involving Establishment and Freedom of Religion Clauses of Federal Constitution, 37 L. Ed. 2d 1147 § 2 citing Everson).

A biblical and historical Baptist principle is that God desires separation of church and state, not separation of God and church or separation of God and state. Study Jerald Finney's writings and/or audio teachings to discover the truth about and how to apply the principle. Finney's teachings prove that the revisionist view of Separation of Church and State accepted without examination by most American
A biblical and historical Baptist principle is that God desires separation of church and state, not separation of God and church or separation of God and state. Study Jerald Finney’s writings and/or audio teachings to discover the truth about and how to apply the principle. Finney’s teachings prove that the revisionist view of Separation of Church and State accepted without examination by most American “Christians” is false and has done great damage to the cause of Christ and to America.

The First Amendment was meant to prevent “the establishment of a religion” and to “protect the  free exercise thereof.” In other words,  religion, including churches, according to the First Amendment religion clause, are to work under, hand and hand with, or over the state. The Court still upholds the “high and impregnable” wall between church and state. A wall separates two sides each from the other. This concept of separation of church and state is the principle God established for Gentile nations.

However, the twentieth century Court has added an additional aspect to the First Amendment religion clause. The Supreme Court, while proclaiming that the First Amendment guarantee of biblical separation of church and state is still in effect, also supplemented the religion clause to require separation of God and state.

History is clear about the fact that the God of the Bible was honored by the people, and especially the great majority of leaders, of America at the time of the founding of the nation and for sometime thereafter (See, e.g., Jerald Finney, God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Austin, TX: Kerygma Publishing Co., 2008), Section V and the many books cited therein). The people of America knew that the God of the Bible was the only true God.

The nineteenth century Supreme Court held a different view from the modern Court. The nineteenth century Court looked to historical facts to support its contention that this was a Christian nation. Although the Constitution established a nation upon a blend of enligntenment and biblical principles, the nineteenth century court selected partial facts without understanding and incorrectly contended that America was a “Christian” nation (Rector, Etc., of Holy Trinity Church v. United States, 143 U.S. 457, 12 S. Ct. 511 (1892)). When the unregenerate dominated the Court in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the Court looked to an incomplete version of historical facts and to a new twist on the First Amendment to remove God from all public affairs and to effectively declare that this is not a Christian nation. At the same time, the Court proclaimed that the original meaning of the First Amendment religion clause is still in effect.

14thAm.The Supreme Court did two things which ultimately resulted in the assurance that God and His principles would not in any way be over the United States or any state therein. First, it gradually deconstructed the intent of the Fourteenth Amendment to the point where the Court began to apply the First Amendment to state, county, and city governments.

Second, the Supreme Court redefined separation of church and state in such a way that allowed the Court to begin to separate God and state on the national, state, county, and city government levels. The twentieth century Court operated in a nation where the state got into areas where it had no God-given and/or Constitutional jurisdiction—education of children, welfare, retirement (social security), childcare, income taxation, etc. In this new environment, the Court redefined “separation of church and state” in such a way that God and state were separated, thereby ensuring the degradation of the nation into gross immorality on a national scale and the ultimate judgment of God upon the nation. God was excluded from the public life of the nation and a pluralistic nation resulted. For the Supreme Court, the term “religion” became a way to categorize spiritual matters in any way connected to “church,” to “God,” or to “a god.” Even should the Court permit a vestige of God to remain, such permission was granted in a pejorative manner which dishonored God. An example is recent Ten Commandments jurisprudence which is discussed in the articles which follow in this section.

1According to the modern Supreme Court, the civil government is to remain neutral as to “religion.” “The First Amendment reflects the philosophy that church and state should be separated. Yet it neither says nor requires that in every conceivable respect there must be a total separation of church and state. Thus, while laws giving direct aid to religion are not permitted, laws which incidentally benefit religion are not, for that reason alone, invalid…. All that is required is that the government stand neutral between one religion and another, and between religion and nonbelief, and not become excessively entangled in the affairs of religion…” (Kramer, § 2).

This neutrality toward “religion,” as defined and applied by the Court, was interpreted to be not only neutrality toward religion, but also hostility toward God. God, His authority, and His principles were deemed inapplicable to the affairs of the civil government. The Court made the decision for the nation: “God, you are out. You are at best equal to nonbelief and to the gods of all other ‘religions.’” Too bad for the nation that the nation is not the sovereign. God is the Sovereign who has allowed the nation to make its temporary and self-destructive choice.

At the same time, the original meaning of the religion clause is generally upheld by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court still declares that the original meaning of the First Amendment, forbidding the state to interfere in the affairs of a church and vice-versa, is still in effect. The Court still declares the “wall of separation between church and state” to be “high and impregnable.” The original intent of the First Amendment establishment clause—that the state not be over the church nor the church over the state and that people be free to exercise their religious beliefs (as long as those beliefs do not run afoul of criminal law)—has consistently been proclaimed by the Supreme Court. See, The History of the First Amendment.

1As is explained in Section VI of God Betrayed, the position of the Supreme Court which has upheld the separation of church and state has been skirted by the legislative and executive branches through laws which have lured most churches to place themselves under the civil government through legal entity status such as incorporation and 501(c)(3) and by presidential “faith based initiatives.” As far as the author has been able to ascertain, the courts have never been asked to rule on the constitutionality of such legislation and presidential actions.

Certainly many “Christian” and all secular authors have no knowledge or understanding of the Word of God. Therefore, their arguments are foolish. Many Christians and secularists correctly point out that the terms “separation of church and state,” “church,” “state,” and “separation” do not appear in the Constitution (See Leo Pfeffer, Church, State, and Freedom (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1953), p. 118 citing Edwin S. Corwin, Constitution of Powers in a Secular State, (Charlottesville, Virginia: Michie Co., 1951), p. 98). Christians use that fact to argue that church and state should work together, or that the church should be involved with the state. Admittedly, individual Christians, not churches, should, if God so directs, become involved in the civil government; and both New Testament churches and Christians should communicate their political beliefs including who to vote for based upon biblical standards applied to the beliefs of the candidates. Nonetheless, this is a poor argument for 2Christians to use because God wants separation of church and state in Gentile nations (See The Biblical Doctrine of Separation of Church and State) and because the Constitution provided for separation of church and state. The correct argument for the Christian is that the people and the leaders should place the Sovereign, that is, God over the state in the manner already explained in these studies and that God desires that every man have the religious liberty as guaranteed by the First Amendment which separates church and state.

Secularist arguments in support of a complete removal of God from all civil governmental affairs are equally invalid. For example, Leo Pfeffer, a constitutional scholar, asserted that “it was inevitable that some convenient term [‘separation of church and state’] should come into existence to verbalize a principle so clearly and widely held by the American people.” I question whether the overwhelming majority of Americans clearly and widely can or could intelligently discuss the subject now or when Pfeffer wrote. In support of this argument, he asked, “Who would deny that ‘religious liberty’ is a constitutional principle [even though] that phrase is not in the Constitution” (Pfeffer, p. 119)? His writings and advocacy as a lawyer, including his advocacy before the Supreme Court, make clear that his idea of religious liberty—to remove God from state affairs—was entirely different from the biblical principle. He had absolutely no spiritual understanding. He was used by the god of this world to advocate for a “Godless” civil government.

1Thus, one reason for America’s rapid slide downhill has been the lack of knowledge and understanding of biblical principles—this can be related to the fact that the Constitution itself was a blend of biblical and enlightenment principles. Even though some biblical principles were inherent in the structure of the Constitution and the First Amendment provided for religious liberty and separation of church and state, the Constitution did not declare that the goal of the nation was the glory of God. The Constitution did not declare that God, and specifically the Lord Jesus Christ, was Sovereign over the nation. The nation was not, according to its highest statement of law, required to turn to the principles of the Bible in deciding its questions of law, to recognize God in its official prayers and organic utterances, or to point out that the God of the Bible, the Lord Jesus Christ, was the Sovereign over all institutions including individual, family, nation, and church. Since the body of the Constitution made no mention of God, and since certain enlightenment principles were embodied into the Constitution, the document itself is of little help to those who support biblical principles and argue that this nation as founded was a “Christian” nation, or a nation under God. This can be discerned from numerous Supreme Court opinions as exemplified infra in this section.

The Constitution, while separating church and state, also failed to declare that God was to be over the state. In the early history of the new nation, many referred to the need for  religion, or even “God” to be  involved in the state. The New York Methodist church in 1808 promoted the spread of the Gospel over the entire earth, and fought humanism with Scriptural truth and holy living. Christians used their vote to elect Christians who would uphold their Christian ideas.

“The Rev. John Mason preached that ‘the principles of the gospel are to regulate [people’s] political as well as their other conduct.’ He scoffed at the idea that ‘religion has nothing to do with politics!’ asking rhetorically, ‘Where did you learn this maxim?’ To the contrary, he offered, ‘the Bible is full of directions for your behavior as citizens,’ citing in example Col. 3:17 ‘And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.’ Other New York ministers expressed similar sentiments to their congregations, representing civil government as a ‘subsidiary’ to God’s grand design of preparing saints for the future and ‘the civil magistrate as God’s officer.’ …
2“[Thomas Jefferson stated ‘The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbors to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pockets, nor breaks my leg.’]. Mason wrote: ‘This is nothing less than representing civil society as founded in Atheism. For there can be no religion without God. And if it does me or my neighbor no injury, to subvert the very foundation of religion, by denying the being of God, then religion is not one of the constituent principles of society, and consequently society is perfect without it’” (Mark Douglas McGarvie, One Nation Under Law: America’s Early National Struggles to Separate Church and State (DeKalb, Illinois: Northern Illinois University Press, 2005), pp. 124-125).

It is disputed whether Jefferson advocated public abstention in matters of religion, but many clergymen felt that he was atheistic.

  • “Public abstention amounted to the denial of a single religious truth; and once a government rejects the idea of one religious truth, it is rendered unable to act upon any religious doctrine in constricting the laws, values, and policy aims of that society. But the idea that any God could himself, or herself or itself, be relativistic is absurd—how can any true living God accept all suggestions of his, her, or its own existence as merely speculative or one of many unprovable theories? If God could not accept religious relativism, how could America? The advocacy of religious relativism is logically inconsistent with the acceptance of any true, living God. Accordingly, the ministers insisted that when a government assumed such a position, it rejected the existence of God as well as God’s role in governing” (Ibid.).

21Generally speaking, the people of the United States, against an increasing current of liberalism, have determined the course of the nation. As long as the nation had a predominantly Christian population, God was honored to a degree in the public life of the nation, although Christian values, even in the early life of the new nation, were gradually being undermined by non-Christian principles in the legal arena. America, with all its faults, to an extent proceeded “under God” for over a hundred and fifty years even though the nation’s highest law, the Constitution, had, on its face, been about “the happiness of man” and not the “glory of God” from the beginning—this fact is apparent from a facial reading of the document as well as from a study of history before, during, and after ratification.

Great revivals occurred at the time the Constitution was ratified and for some time thereafter, and multitudes were saved. As a result, the nation was saturated with Christians, and the integrity of the nation was thereby preserved to an extent. On the other hand, the legal system began to apply enlightenment principles to redefine marriage, the family, the church, criminal law, and the law in general. Although an examination of this movement is beyond the scope of this book, it is important to have at least a rudimentary understanding of the context in which future First Amendment jurisprudence unfolded.

Because the population was predominantly Christian, or at least honored the Bible and God to an extent, American civil government, to a great degree, initially operated under God. Many Supreme Court justices and the majority of Americans in the nineteenth century were either Christian or at least had a reverence for the Bible and Christianity. In 1892, the Court declared that this nation would go by the principles of Christianity, not by the principles of other religions which the Court called imposters of the true religion (Rector, Etc., of Holy Trinity Church v. United States).  God was honored by some, if not most, civil government organizations and officials in their official public proclamations, speeches, and prayers. Official prayers were given in Jesus’ name. God was recognized by leaders and judges who acknowledged that only the God of the Bible could bring blessings and curses to the nation. Among the myriad examples is the Thanksgiving Day Proclamation of President George Washington:

  • 1“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly implore his protection and favor, and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to ‘recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanks-giving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
  • “Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November, next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His [many blessings before becoming a nation, during the late war, etc.]….
  • “And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions…” (Norman Cousins, In God We Trust (Kingsport, Tennessee: Kingsport Press, Inc., 1958), pp. 71-72; quoted only in part. Notice that even President Washington included the purpose of the nation as being the “safety and happiness” of the people.). [Emphasis mine to show enlightenment influence.]

Things have changed. Although the First Amendment to the Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law regarding an establishment of religion or preventing the free exercise thereof,” the civil government, contrary to the mandate of that amendment, through laws passed by Congress and approved by the President, controls and even defines the corporate 501(c)(3) religious organization and undermines such organizations with the promotion and support of most and participation by some “Christians.”

6The Supreme Court has not had to attack the churches to subjugate them to the civil government. Most churches have taken themselves from under the jurisdiction of God and placed themselves under the civil government through incorporation and Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) § 501(c)(3) status. Churches have done this even though the federal government acknowledges that churches are different from “religious organizations” and that the civil government has no requirement for a church to be under the state—a church can only voluntarily place itself under the state. Satan would much prefer that churches come to him willingly. Regrettably, most Christians are members of a corporate 501(c)(3) church (This aspect of civil government control of churches is covered in Section VI of God Betrayed which is reproduced on this blog.). Many Christians in incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations are discovering the truth, but have no knowledge about how to disentangle their churches from the state; others simply ignore the issue and continue in their polluted state.

Why have some “Christians,” as well as the Supreme Court and other branches of government, not recognized that a church is to be entirely under God and that the civil government has limited jurisdiction under God? The answers to these questions are very simple: Some “Christians” and Supreme Court justices and other civil government leaders and officials have no understanding of biblical principles or of the history of their nation concerning government (which includes the all-powerful government of God, self-government, family government, civil government, and church government), church, separation of church and state, and the proper relationship between God and state and God and His churches. They simply do not understand that God is the Sovereign over all, that God gives all civil governments the choice of whether to recognize His sovereignty and operate under His rules, and the consequences of the choices made. They have been deceived by false secular and “Christian” teaching in those areas. As a result, even “Christians” advance secular principles and arguments rather than God-honoring biblical principles and arguments.

1Co.2.14Since man does not gravitate towards God’s principles, but rather toward Satan’s principles, the Christian population of the nation decreased steadily and is now a very small remnant. A Christian population honored God individually and as a nation, to a degree, regardless of the wording of the Constitution. A Christian population applied a more biblical interpretation and understanding of the First Amendment. A non-Christian population seeks the lowest level. America is rapidly sinking to that level and is now near rock bottom.

Much of the writing concerning the First Amendment is confusing and certainly untrue since the understanding of the history of the amendment has been revised by both secular and Christian writers. Generally, either nothing is said about, or lies and revisions are dissiminated about, the power of God, His principles, and the warfare between those principles and the false versions of those principles in the theologies of many “churches” and denominations and in the revised histories of colonial America and the United States. When God and His principles are left out, revised, and/or lied about in the discussion of anything (as is almost always the case), the path is only downward toward judgment. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Pr. 9.10). “[T]he foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Co. 1.25). “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Co. 2.14). “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain” (1 Co. 3.19-20).

The Light Begins To Shine


Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 31, 2012


Click here to go to the entire history of religious liberty in America.


Note. This is a modified version of Section IV, Chapter 4 of God Betrayed: Separation of Church and State/The Biblical Principles and the American Application. Audio Teachings on the History of the First Amendment has links to the audio teaching of Jerald Finney on the history of the First Amendment.


The Light Begins to Shine

Many forces came together to bring religious freedom to America. The Protestant Reformation was one step in that direction, even though the resulting Protestant denominations took from the Catholic church the idea of the church-state—the church controls the state. Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire established a church-state. England established a state-church—the state controls the church—and several of the early colonies in the South established a state-church.

With the Reformation, new light was beginning to shine over the English speaking world. The printing press made it possible to print and distribute the Bible in large quantities to the general public. The Bible became available in English and all could compare what they were told with the Word of God. Of course, this would result in some heresies, but no heresy could be more contrary to the word of God and more destructive to eternal life, temporal human life, and the glory of God than the heresies of the Catholic church. Alongside new heresies would continue the light of truth—which had before been attacked mercilessly by the establishment which had attempted to brutally stamp them out—about matters such as salvation, baptism, and the relationship of church and state. Men were beginning to study the Bible and to debate issues. Those debates were published and disseminated and the light of truth further extended.

God assures man, in His word, that one can find truth. “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free ” (Jn. 8.31-32).  In fact, believers are told to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Ti. 2.15).  Of course, Catholicism would have one believe that only the clergy has the God-given ability to understand Scripture—such a belief assures the power of the clergy, but the loss of God’s power. The Jews at Berea were commended for studying the Scriptures: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Ac. 17.11).

While the debate was going on, dissenters were persecuted. These persecutions gradually began to soften even members of the established churches, as people began to realize that persecution did not stand up to the test of Bible truth. The Baptists were by far the most active of all the colonial dissidents in their unceasing struggle for religious freedom and separation.

Unlike those areas of the New World settled by Catholics where only Catholics could immigrate and hold offices, and where the official religion was maintained by the government, “the English statesmen opened the gates of their American colonies to every kind of religious faith that could be found in Europe.” Additionally, unlike church-state relationships in Spain and France where no significant change occurred, England experienced changes of religion, which ranged from Catholicism (which was a minute minority) to Puritanism during the colonization of America. As a result, only in Catholic Mexico and Catholic Quebec was uniformity of religion achieved (Leo Pfeffer, Church, State, and Freedom (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1953), pp. 74, 83).

“The individualism of the American colonist, which manifested itself in the great number of sects, also resulted in much unaffiliated religion. It is probably true that religion was widespread but was mostly a personal, noninstitutional matter” (Ibid., p. 85).  This contributed to the growing movement toward religious liberty since “[p]ersons not themselves connected with any church were not likely to persecute others for similar independence” (Ibid.).

In the English colonies, unlike in Mexico and Quebec, no single faith dominated the others throughout the colonies and religious uniformity was very limited. On the European Continent, “the Reformation from the start was an effort to return the Church itself to the doctrines and practices of its apostolic days.” However, while discarding some of the heresies of the Catholic “church,” Protestantism, under pressure from civil governments, soon resumed the Catholic conceived theology which united church and state. The final, logical thought of the reformers was reached at Geneva, where the church absorbed the state and the church-state originated. The state became an aspect of the church. “That is the tradition which the Puritans of England and later of New England inherited” (William H. Marnell, The First Amendment: Religious Freedom in America from Colonial Days to the School Prayer Controversy (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1964), pp. 32, 33, 37). New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut had church-state establishments—the church used the state to enforce the Ten Commandments and dissenters were persecuted.

In England, the problem was to “wean the Church in England away from the Pope, but otherwise to leave it as little changed as possible” (Ibid., p. 33).  The monarch created the state-church and became the head of the church. The church became an aspect of the state. The king was the final authority on church doctrine and practice. “[T]he Church in England [became] the Church of England, [and] the Church [became] an aspect of the State” (Ibid., p. 34). Under Queen Elizabeth, such Catholic doctrines as transubstantiation, the communion of saints, and purgatory were abandoned and the Mass was labeled a “blasphemous fable and dangerous deceit,” but ecclesiastical organization remained mainly unchanged, and episcopacy was its principle. Because she wanted a united state, Queen Elizabeth wanted a church where the Anglo-Catholics and the Anglo-Calvinists could worship together. The Anglo-Catholicism of England was later transferred to the southern colonies (Ibid., pp. 37-38).  Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia had state-church establishments—the state was over the church.

“The Calvinists who governed New England and oppressed Anglicans were themselves persecuted in Virginia, and forced to pay taxes to support the hated Anglican establishment from which they fled” (Pfeffer, p. 65). “[T]he Reformed Church was the state-church in New Amsterdam; the Quakers dominated Pennsylvania, … and, for a short time, the Catholics Maryland” (Ibid.).  In New England—Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Hampshire—Congregationalism was the established church. In Virginia and North and South Carolina, the Church of England was established. New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Georgia experienced changes in church-state establishments. “In … Pennsylvania and Delaware, no single church ever attained the status of monopolistic establishment” (Ibid.).

“From Maryland south to Georgia there were recurring periods of persecution and repression” (Franklin Hamlin Littell, From State Church to Pluralism: A Protestant Interpretation of Religion in American History (Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company, 1962), p. 12). In Maryland, the Calverts tolerated the Puritan settlers who later suppressed Catholicism. Anglicanism was established in 1689 after conflict in charters granted the second Lord Baltimore and William Penn (Ibid.).

The Anglican Church was established in North and South Carolina much as in Virginia. However, dissenters were allowed to immigrate into those states due to the need for settlers. From 1700 on the major political conflict in South Carolina was shaped up around the conflict of the establishment and the dissenters, with the latter growing in the back country and a pronounced shift to Anglicanism on the coast. In 1704 a bill was jammed through to exclude all dissenters from the legislature. In 1706 the Church Act was passed, with dissenters excluded from voting; the land was divided into parishes…. Anglican clergy were frequently immoral and guilty of gross neglect of their people. In 1722 nearly one fourth of the taxes went to the established church. With independence in South Carolina came disestablishment(Ibid., p. 14).

Emigrants from the persecuted Baptist church in Boston came to Charleston, South Carolina in 1683. The second Baptist church in South Carolina was Ashley River founded in 1736.  By 1755, there were four Baptist churches in South Carolina and the second Baptist Association in America, the Charleston Association, was founded in 1751 (James R. Beller, America in Crimson Red: The Baptist History of America (Arnold, Missouri: Prairie Fire Press, 2004), pp. 139-140, 142).  The General Baptists established several churches in North Carolina between 1727 and 1755. All but three of those churches converted to Particular Baptist churches in 1755 or 1756. By 1755, there were only twelve Baptist churches in North Carolina (Ibid., pp. 141-142).  However, as will be seen, this was about to change with the arrival of some Baptists from Connecticut.

New York colonial history was unique in some ways. Until 1664, the Dutch reformed church was established and supported by the state. Imprisonment was required for those who failed to contribute to the support of the church minister. All children were required to be baptized by a Reformed minister in the Reformed Church. Only the Reformed, the English Presbyterians, and the Congregationalists could build church buildings. Lutherans were imprisoned for holding services and Baptists were subject to arrest, fine, whipping, and banishment for so doing.

In 1664, New Amsterdam surrendered to the English, and New York extended its jurisdiction over all sects. The Protestant religion, and not one church, was established as the state religion. The head of the state was head over every Protestant church. All Protestant churches were established. Only four counties conferred preferential status upon the Church of England after attempts to confer such status throughout the state were unsuccessful (Pfeffer, pp. 70-71).

“In New Jersey agitation by Episcopal clergy for the legal establishment of the Church of England failed to attain even the partial success achieved in New York” (Ibid., p. 71).

“In Georgia, the original charter of 1732, which guaranteed liberty of conscience to all persons ‘except Papists,’ was voided in 1752, and the Church of England was formally established” (Ibid.). Nonetheless, Georgia had a history of public hostility toward dissenters even before the church-state establishment. Jews and Moravians were persecuted to the extent that nearly all of these peoples fled that state in 1740 or retreated to their own enclaves. “In 1754, the colony reverted to the status of a royal province and several efforts were made to enforce the Anglican establishment” (Littell, p. 15). There were no Baptist churches in Georgia in 1755 (Beller, America in Crimson Red, p. 142).  In 1758 the law of Anglican Establishment was passed. By 1786 there were not over five hundred active Christians in Georgia: “there were three Episcopal parishes without rectors and three Lutheran churches, three Presbyterian churches, three Baptist churches—all small and struggling” (Ibid., pp. 16-17).  The Constitution of 1798 provided for complete religious freedom including Catholicism.

Maryland, established in 1631 and settled by both Catholics and Protestants, practiced a degree of toleration. Catholics attempted to procure the preferred position possessed in European countries with Catholic establishments, but they were unsuccessful since they were never in the majority. Although the Maryland Act of Toleration of 1649 has been lauded as “the first decree granting complete religious liberty to emanate from an assembly,” “even a superficial examination of the law shows quite clearly that it is far from a grant of ‘complete religious liberty.’” The first three of the four main provisions of the act “were denials rather than grants of religious liberty; only the last four dealt with toleration.” The first imposed death for infractions such as blasphemy, denying Jesus Christ to be the son of God, using or uttering any reproachful speeches, words or language concerning the Holy Trinity,” etc. The second imposed fines, whipping, and imprisonment on any who called another any one of certain names. The third imposed fines or imprisonment for profaning the Lord’s day. By 1688, the Anglicans had the upper hand and the Church of England was established in Maryland (Pfeffer, pp. 71-75).

Pennsylvania, like Maryland was colonized partly as business venture and partly as a “holy experiment.” The proprietor of the colony, William Penn, joined the Quakers while a student at Oxford. Penn opposed coercion in matters of conscience and provided for it in the fundamentals of the government of Pennsylvania. “Nevertheless, profanity was penalized, and Sunday observance for church, scripture reading, and rest was required. Political privileges were limited to Christians, and complete freedom of worship, at least at the beginning, was not allowed Catholics or Jews. As in Calvert’s Maryland, Penn’s motivation was at least partly his desire to reap substantial profits and this required attracting large numbers of settlers (Ibid., pp. 78-79).

King James made New Hampshire a royal colony in 1679. Liberty of conscience was allowed to all Protestants, but the Church of England was “particularly countenanced and encouraged.” Each town in New Hampshire determined the church to be supported with its tax revenues. Dissenters, with submission of a certificate proving regular attendance and financial support of a dissenting church, were exempted from the tax.  However, the assembly was slow to accord financial recognition to dissenting sects Mark Douglas McGarvie, One Nation Under Law: America’s Early National Struggles to Separate Church and State (DeKalb, Illinois: Northern Illinois University Press, 2005), p. 153).