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Analysis of “Jefferson’s Virginia Statute & How Courts Twisted Meaning of First Amendment to make Government Hostile to Religious Liberty” on American Minute by Bill Federer

Click here to go to homepage with links to all analyses of “An American Minute by Bill Federer” Challenged

For a documented history of the spiritual warfare in America that started in the colonial period and continues to this day, see The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus/Christian Revisionism on Trial.

The real problem in America is that the United States Supreme Court removed God all civil government matters. To understand how that happened, see Section V of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application, p. 194, available in online PDF.

Jerald Finney
January 18, 2023

This article challenges Bill Federer’s American Minute publication: Jefferson’s Virginia Statute & How Courts Twisted Meaning of First Amendment to make Government Hostile to Religious Liberty.


A. Challenge to Bill Federer’s understanding of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom
B. Challenge to Federer’s contention that religion was left up to the states
C. Challenge to Federer’s understanding of how the courts twisted the meaning of the First Amendment to make government hostile to religious liberty


As is the case with all Christian Revisionist publications, Jefferson’s Virginia Statute & How Courts Twisted Meaning of First Amendment to make Government Hostile to Religious Liberty ignores a significant portion of the spiritual warfare in the colonies which resulted in the adoption of the First Amendment, the period from the early 1630s until the incomplete Virginia portion of the conflict starting in 1760s (leaving out relevant Virginia history before then, and after the passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Liberty). The warfare began in the Calvinist New England colonies and spread to other colonies. Christian Revisionists do not want to open what to them is a can of worms, the truth about the New England Calvinist church/state theology and the accompanying persecutions of dissenters by a controlling Calvinist establishment (union of church and state).

That is why Christian (Calvinist) historical revisionists falsely claim that the movement toward religious freedom in America started with the American Revolution and that the Virginia Statute for Religious Liberty birthed religious freedom in America. This is not new. In the late 1980s, I began to realize that their histories left blank the colonial history after the first few years of the Jamestown and New England settlements in the early 1600s until the Virginia persecutions of dissenters immediately prior to the Revolution (1760s) and forward.

Calvinist revisionists have always sanitized their Christian Revisionist histories of Puritan New England, by leaving out significant historical facts, by praising the Puritan Calvinists, and by reaching untenable conclusions (such as their partially true claim, “The Puritans came to New England for religious liberty” leaving out a significant fact, “for themselves only.”).

Revisionists never get into the Calvinist theology which denies religious liberty and calls for harsh and strict enforcement, by the church/state alliance, of all Ten of the Commandments and many moral, not criminal, matters. Had Calvinist theology prevailed, America would not have religious liberty; there would be no First Amendment. Never do they report the persecutions of dissenters by the original Calvinist church/state alliances. Never do they mention books, tracts, speeches etc. written by persecuted dissenters like Roger Williams, Isaac Backus, and others. For example, The Bloudy Tenent of Persection for Cause of Conscience by Roger Williams, published in 1644, chronicled the persections of dissenters in New England; and, equally important, it exposed (and continues to expose to those who read it) the Puritan theology for what it was and is.  The writings of Williams, and their actions, were preeminent in the battle for religious liberty in American.

The original New England Calvinist histories revised history as it occurred. That same revisionism continues until this day.  I explain this in some detail in The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus/Christian Revisionism on Trial (This book also exposes the motives and techniques of Calvinist revisionists). When one knows the the whole story, this Amerian Minute, Jefferson’s Virginia Statute & How Courts Twisted Meaning of First Amendment to make Government Hostile to Religious Liberty is another easily dissected bit of revisionism.

Other revisions are on display in Federer’s article. Christian Revisionists are experts in the use of soundbites. For example, they say, “Separation (or complete separation) of church and state is not in the Constitution.” Those words are not there, but the law meant for complete separation of church and state is, the First Amendment. An honest historical review and analysis proves this beyond any doubt. To support the soundbite, revisionists select quotes and facts completely out of context. They leave out portions of history, caselaw, that disprove their conclusions and soundbites and shine light on their theologies.

They say that the First Amendment “left religion under the control of the states” and try to prop up that statement with more inaccuracies. By the time of the adoption of the First Amendment, most of the colonies which had established churches had abandoned one church establishment in favor of multiple church establishment and this carried over to statehood. Three more states followed suit soon thereafter. Two more, Virginia and West Virginia forbade incorporation (establishment of churches). Rhode Island had never allowed union of church and state. in 1833 Massachusetts become the last state to do away with state mandated establishment. Every state now allows churches a choice: (1) become an earthly entity by combining with state government (establish) through incorporation or some other statutory means, or (2) remain a spiritual entity totally separate from civil government.

Below is a more complete analysis of the revisionism in Jefferson’s Virginia Statute & How Courts Twisted Meaning of First Amendment to make Government Hostile to Religious Liberty.

A. Challenge to Bill Federer’s understanding of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom

Let us first look at Federer’s comments on the Virginia Statute for Religious Liberty in this American Minute; second, let us look at a summarized version of the relevant history for the truth of the matter.

Federer begins by praising religious freedom, the Virginia Statute for Religious Liberty, and the First Amendment. He states out of context and unanalyzed quotes and conclusions to show that the movement toward religious freedom in America started with the American Revolution and that the we owe the Amendment and our religious freedom to the Virginia Statute for Religious liberty which “preceded the First Amendment by five years.” Nothing could be further from the truth. As will be shown below, the First Amendment and its protections for religion, soul liberty, press, association, speech, and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances was the product of spiritual warfare that was continued from the Old World long before the colonization of America and continued in the colonies under different circumstances.

As truthful documented historical research shows, the Virginia Statute for Religious Liberty, authored by Thomas Jefferson in 1779 and passed in 1786, was just one brick in the brick road that led to the adoption of the First Amendment.

Federer states that the American Revolution brought a need to work together amongst all the colonists. He says, “Like dropping a pebble in a pond and the ripples go out, individual States began to expand religious liberty at their own speeds: [he lists those to whom religious liberty extended, to include atheists.].” First, there were colonies, not states, at that time. The dissenters in each colony had already made much progress in their fight for religious liberty. One colony had won that battle with its founding in the 1630s, the colony of Rhode Island. The pebble had been dropped in the pond in the early 1630s with the arrival of Roger Williams in Congregational (Puritan) Massachusetts.

Williams, a brilliant and charismatic man, was earmarked to be a pastor and leader. However, he took issue with the ecclesiocratic (falsely called theocratic) union of church and state in Massachusetts and the legislation of all Ten of the Commandments. The Congregationalists tried to persuade him that he was wrong on that and some other matters, but he refused to budge from the truths of the Word of God. As a result, he was sentenced to banishment to England. Instead, he with some followers left in the middle of New England winter and went to what was to become the colony of Rhode Island. There he founded the first civil government in the history of the world with complete religious liberty. Then came others. Dr. John Clark and some men who came with him from England also ended up in Rhode Island shortly after Williams and his followers arrived there. Clarke shared Williams’ views on the relationship of church and state. Every American would do well to read their writings and history which are still available today for the interested student with an open mind.

Williams and Clark wrote and published books exposing the truth about the Puritan theology and the persecutions of the dissenters against the established church in the New England colonies. And there were others in this fight which continued up until the adoption of the First Amendment.

The opposing parties in the spiritual warfare were from different lines. On one side were the Calvinists, the persecutors, and on the other side were the “dissenters,” mainly the Baptists. The Baptists were in the line that came through the first churches and Antioch. The Calvinist line came from Alexandria and Rome. The former were used by God to meticulously preserve Scripture always stood for Bible truth; for example, believer’s baptism and separation of church and state. The latter revised Scripture and important Bible truths to fit their theology; for example, they instituted infant baptism and, with the marriage of some of the churches to the state under Emperor Constantine, union of church and state. The latter began with Catholicism and continued with Protestantism in the Old World and into the colonies. The colonial establishments (unions of church and state) in New England traced their origins back to the theology of John Calvin. Calvin’s church/state theology, as were other Protestant theologies regarding the relationship between church and state, was a modification of the theology of Augustine.

Calvinists incorrectly apply the principles of the “theocracy” of Israel to Gentile nations. “Theocracy” was a term used by Josephus to define the union of religion and state under God in Israel. According to the Old Testament, all nations were Gentile until God called out Israel. In Israel, and Israel only, God was directly over both the state and the religion. In Israel, the religion and state were to work together, under God; He was the lawgiver, judge, and king, over the nation and the Jewish religion. Israel was the only theocracy God ever ordained. God’s Abrahamic, Mosaic, Palestinian, and Davidic covenants were to Israel only. Gentile nations, as ordained by God, were to continue under the covenants given to Adam (Genesis 3:14-19) and Noah (Genesis 9:1-7). Of course, the Bible makes clear that God is Supreme over all nations, but God’s treatment of  Israel and Gentile nations is distinct, as is the God-ordained relationship between church and state.

Those “Christians” who support union of church and state spiritualize much of the Bible instead of believing all of it. They contend that the church replaced Israel, and that the principles for the theocracy of Israel apply to the church and Gentile nations. They “Judaize” the church and the state. The Bible is very clear: God made “everlasting” promises to the nation Israel, promises which he did not make to Gentile nations. Gentile nations like America were never under the law, as was Israel. Gentile nations are judged by God based primarily upon their treatment of Israel as well as their morality.

No Gentile nation can be a theocracy, since God only ordained one theocracy, the nation Israel. He did so for specific purposes. Catholic and Calvinist theologians call their unauthorized unions of church and state (not God and state) “theocracy.” Their churches have always worked hand in hand with the states they unite with: the church over the state, the state over the church, or partners working together for the same goals. When, as in the Old World and in most of the colonies, at first, one particular church united with the state the established church/state severely persecuted dissenting believers.

Church/state unions, before the advent of multiple establishments in America, enforced all Ten of the Commandments and persecuted those who would not bow down to the official alliance; in this way they were like the Jewish religion and state which originally worked hand in hand, under God. As we know, Israel asked for a king, like the other nations, to lead and judge her. They were not satisfied with God’s direct lawgiving, leadership, and judgment of the nation. God always gives the people what they want, even if it is against His will. All this is covered in some detail in God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application ,available in online PDF.

Thankfully, the Judaizers in America lost the battle on the national level with the adoption of the First Amendment. They partially won on the state level, with most of the colonies, and then states which had not done so during the colonial period, doing away with forced establishment, but allowing churches to choose to establish by contracting with the states for corporate status or other legal status. Sadly, most churches chose to betray God.

By the time the First Amendment was added to the United States Constitution, only New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut had mandatory establishment of churches. In 1833, Massachusetts became the last state to do away with required establishment. In almost all the states after 1833, establishment was voluntary. A couple did not allow church incorporation for a long time thereafter. A couple did not allow church incorporation. A church could and can choose to either remain separate from civil government or to combine or unite with civil government through non-profit corporation status, charitable trust status, or some other statutory manner. Of course, any church could choose to become established unlike in Europe to that point where only one church could establish and dissenting believers were persecuted. See, for a relatively concise history, see The History and Meaning of “Establishment of Religion” in America; see also, What Is an Established Church?

I chronicle the documented historical facts of this history in much more detail in in The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus; see also Section IV of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application ,available in online PDF.

Federer, and other revisionists on the Calvinistic side of these matters, seek to cover up this complete history. Their ultimate goal is to set up both state and federal government ecclesiocracies which they call theocracies. Their ultimate goal is union of church and state with the two as equal partners, the church over the state (as in the New England colonies, Germany under Lutheranism, Geneva under Calvinism), or the state over the church (the southern colonies, England). See The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus for much more on this.

The American Revolution and the Virginia Statute for Religious Liberty were pieces of the puzzle that led to the adoption of the First Amendment, but only pieces, and not the largest pieces to be sure.

B. Challenge to Federer’s contention that religion was left up to the states

Next, Federer goes to the state level. The point he tries to make is that control of religion was left up to the states. He asserts that the people of the states are to decide the level of religious freedom and that control of religion was left to the states. Again, inaccurate conclusions. He also incorrectly states that all the states supported, financially aided, both the church and the government. That is not true. Rhode Island originally did not allow incorporation of churches and church and state were entirely separate. After the war for religious freedom was over in Virginia, Virginia did not allow incorporation of churches until 2002. See, Fallwell v. Miller, 203 F. Supp. 2d 624 (W.D. Va. 2002). Nor did West Virginia permit church incorporation. Article VI, Section 47 of the West Virginia Constitution explicitly states: “No charter of incorporation shall be granted to any church or religious denomination.” However, most states originally, and all now, allow union of church and state through various statutory means: incorporation, charitable trust, business trust are examples.

Every state Constitution has provisions which protect all, or almost all, the freedoms embodied in the First Amendment. They all protect religious freedom, soul liberty, speech, association and press. Every state allows churches the choice of remaining totally outside government statutory status and control. To see this for yourself online google, “Constitution of [name of state].”

Here is an example of what you will find. Indiana law recognizes that churches should be free to organize under Christ and Christ alone; and protects the soul liberty of the citizens of Indiana. The Preamble to the Indiana Constitution states:

“TO THE END, that justice be established, public order maintained, and liberty perpetuated; WE, the People of the State of Indiana grateful to ALMIGHTY GOD for the free exercise of the right to choose our own form of government, do ordain this Constitution.”

The Indiana Constitution in Article I, Bill of Rights, states:

Section 1. Inherent Rights. WE DECLARE, That all people are created equal; that they are endowed by their CREATOR with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that all power is inherent in the people; and that all free governments are, and of right ought to be, founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and well-being. For the advancement of these ends, the people have, at all times, an indefeasible right to alter and reform their government.

Section 2. Right to Worship. All people shall be secured in the natural right to worship ALMIGHTY GOD, according to the dictates of their own consciences.

Section 3. Freedom of Religious Opinions. No law shall, in any case whatever, control the free exercise and enjoyment of religious opinions, or interfere with the rights of conscience.

Section 4. Freedom of Religion. No preference shall be given, by law, to any creed, religious society, or mode of worship; and no person shall be compelled to attend, erect, or support, any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry, against his consent.

Section 5. No Religious Test or Office. No religious test shall be required, as a disqualification for any office of trust or profit.

Section 9. Freedom of Thought and Speech. No law shall be passed, restraining the free interchange of thought and opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write, or print, freely, on any subject whatever: but for the abuse of that right, every person shall be responsible.”

State church non-profit incorporation statutes were carried over from the colonial period when establishment or incorporation of churches was the norm in almost all the colonies. Isaac Backus, John Leland and their followers fought against incorporation in the colonies and continued their fight in the early republic. However, they could not totally overcome forced establishment in the colonies and then in the states. Not all of the colonies, before becoming states, had done away with forced establishment in favor of chosen establishment. The religious freedom of those churches who now choose to remain separate from the state are now protected by both the First Amendment and corresponding state constitutional provisions. Those churches who choose to become established do so out of ignorance of the will of God as expressed in His Word or because they are Judaizers who misinterpret God’s Word to require union of church and state.

One can also suppose, from other Federer comments, that the states should legislate morality. To what extent cannot be determined from what he says. God’s Word makes clear that all crimes are sin, but not all sin is criminal. The state should criminalize only those sins which are crimes.

Then Federer asks, “What things did change?” In his brief explanation, he considers George Hagel’s dialectic; Charles Darwin’s theory that species could evolve; Spencer who “proposed that the theory of evolution could influence other areas of academia, including law,” Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. who developed a theory of “legal realism,” how it took some years for “them to come around to the view that the law was flexible, responsive to changing and economic climates; the development of the “case precedent” method as a means to change the Constitution; the use of the 14th Amendment and Commerce Clause as tools to take jurisdiction away from the states over various issues; the changing the definition of a few words within the Constitution so as to change the views of the majority of the people. Sounds like a tactic of the Christian Revisionists. Ever hear Christian Revisionists say that “complete separation of church and state is not found in the Constitution” or “separation of church and state is not found in the constitution.” One can also ask, on the matters on historical fact and Bible interpretation, what things have Catholics, Protestants (such as Calvinists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Anglicans) left out, added to, selectively quoted and spiritualized in effecting their changes?

Federer states, “The broadening of the definition of religion by the federal government after Hugo Black’s opinion which took religion out of the states’ jurisdiction and put under Federal jurisdiction.” This is not accurate–see the next section for explanation. What the court proceeded to do was to remove God from practically all civil government matters on the city, county, state, and federal level. State laws combining church and state were still in effect. All, or almost all, of the freedoms protected by the First Amendment were also protected by the Constitutions of every state. The preambles to most of the state constitutions still explicitly reverenced the God of the Bible, something not true of the United States Constitution.

 C. Challenge to Federer’s understanding of how the courts twisted the meaning of the First Amendment to make government hostile to religious liberty

The next question Federer asks is, “How did meaning of the First Amendment get twisted to make government hostile to religious liberty?” Then he incorrectly states, “Below is an extended explanation of its evolution.” What he follows with is not an explanation and it is not extended.

First, Federer does not ask the right question. The Supreme Court did twist the meaning of the religion clause of the Amendment for the purpose of removing God and any reference to or reverence for God from practically all civil government matters on, not only the federal, but also on the city, county, and state levels. The First Amendment originally applied only to the federal government. Therefore, the right question is actually twofold: (1) Has the Supreme Court done away with the original meaning and application of the First Amendment? (2) Has the Supreme Court added to the jurisdiction and meaning of the First Amendment.

Second, Federer does not answer the question he raises. This challenge will answer the right question after first examining pages 40-50 of Federer’s American Minute.

I start with an analysis of pages 40-50 of Federer’s Jefferson’s Virginia Statute & How Courts Twisted Meaning of First Amendment to make Government Hostile to Religious Liberty because, on those pages, he most strikingly reveals the primary error of his, and other “Christian” revisionists’—their misunderstanding of the difference between separation of church and state and separation of God and state. The First Amendment dealt with the relationship between church and state (establishment clause), soul liberty (the free exercise clause), and related freedoms: speech, press, assembly, and the petitioning of the government for a redress of grievances, all of which were denied dissenters by the original colonial establishments. Dissenters in the colonies, starting in the 1630s, fought the established churches, in the face of severe persecution, for freedom of religion, soul liberty, speech, press, assembly, and the right to petition their colonial governments for “a redress of grievances” They won the war with the adoption of the First Amendment. The establishments (the Judaizers) lost.

Federer correctly concludes that “the First Amendment was never intended to insulate our public institutions from any mention of God, the Bible or religion.” He also concludes, “When such insulation occurs, another religion, such as secular humanism, is effectively established.” (page 40) Yes to that also. He then offers quotes, conclusions, etc.

He quotes Ronald Reagan and others regarding the fact that the Constitution “was never meant to prevent people from praying” but was meant to protect their freedom to pray” or “to prevent those who believe in God from expressing their faith.” That is true.

He then gives a list of quotes out of context and without any analysis [Bold comments in brackets are mine):

  • The ACLU agenda which includes elimination of prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of ‘separation of church and state.” [For a look at an analysis of ACLU, look up “American Civil Liberties Union” in God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application ,available in online PDF.]
  • A comment from Judge Richard Suhrheinrich stated in ACLU v Mercer County, 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, December 20, 2005: “The ACLU makes repeated reference to ‘the separation of church and state.’ This extra-constitutional construct has grown tiresome. The First Amendment does not demand a wall of separation between church and state. Our nation’s history is replete with governmental acknowledgment and in some case, accommodation of religion.” [This is a 6th Circuit case. To understand its significance would require a study of the facts, procedural history (was it overturned by the Supreme Court, etc.) of the case.]
  • A statement from In Committee for Public Education & Religious Liberty v. Nyquist, 413 U.S. 756, 760 (197): “This Nation’s history has not been one of entirely sanitized separation between Church and State. It has never been thought either possible or desirable to enforce a regime of total separation.”
  • A statement from the Supreme Court in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971): “Our prior holdings do not call for total separation between church and state; total separation is not possible in an absolute sense.”
  • Supreme Court statement in Lynch v Donnelly, 1984: “The Constitution does not ‘require complete separation of church and state’… The concept of a ‘wall’ of separation is a … figure of speech … but the metaphor itself is not a wholly accurate description of the practical aspects of the relationship that in fact exists between church and state.”
  • A U.S. Supreme Court decision, McCullum v Board of Education, statement: “Rule of law should not be drawn from a figure of speech.” [referring to “separation of church and state.]
  • Associate Justice William Rehnquist wrote in the U.S. Supreme Court case Wallace v. Jafree, 1985, dissent, 472 U. S., 38, 99: “The ‘wall of separation between church and state’ is a metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging. It should be frankly and explicitly abandoned. It is impossible to build sound constitutional doctrine upon a mistaken understanding of Constitutional history … The establishment clause had been expressly freighted with Jefferson’s misleading metaphor for nearly forty years … There is simply no historical foundation for the proposition that the framers intended to build a wall of separation … Recent court decisions are in no way based on either the language or intent of the framers … But the greatest injury of the ‘wall’ notion is its mischievous diversion of judges from the actual intentions of the drafters of the Bill of Rights.” [Notice that this is in the dissent. The majority disagreed. History disagrees. Other Supreme Court decisions, especially Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1, 67 S. Ct. 504, 91 L. Ed. 711, 1947 U.S. LEXIS 2959, 168 A.L.R. 1392 (1947). I explain Everson and its supreme importance to a correct analysis of the matter of “separation of church and state” below.]
  • He continues with similar quotes from other Supreme Court Justices concerning “separation of church and state.”
  • A quote from President Reagan concerning criticism of the ACLU for his 1983 proclamation of the year of the Bible.
  • He states (page 46), “There is freedom for all religions in America, but sharia Islam is not just a religion; it is also a political and military system which feels it has a divine mandate to subdue or eliminate all other religions.” “Groups hostile to the Judeo-Christian values of America’s founders, such as aggressive LGBT activists or the fundamental Islamist brotherhood, endeavor to use the newly evolved “broad definition of religion” to take liberties away from the majority of Americans — liberties the First Amendment, as well as Jefferson’s Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, were intended to guarantee?”
  • An example of broadening a definition was published by FoxNews, June 4, 2022: “California court rules a bumblebee is a fish under environmental law.”
  • He quotes President Dwight Eisenhower: “The Bill of Rights contains no grant of privilege for a group of people to destroy the Bill of Rights. A group — like the Communist conspiracy — dedicated to the ultimate destruction of all civil liberties, cannot be allowed to claim civil liberties as its privileged sanctuary from which to carry on subversion of the Government.” He follows with a similar quote from President Reagan.
  • He follows this with (page 48): “Did Jefferson, author of the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, intend to outlaw the acknowledgment of God and limit students, teachers, coaches, chaplains, schools, organizations, and communities from public religious expression? Did Jefferson intend to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to violate their consciences and support abortion? Did he intend to force cake bakers or wedding photographers who believe in natural marriage to violate their consciences or be put out of business?”
  • He quotes from the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (pages 49-50). [Again, out of context as to its historical significance. See “Challenge to Bill Federer’s understanding of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom” above for correct understanding of that statute.]
  • He ends with a quote from President Reagan: “The First Amendment of the Constitution was not written to protect the people of this country from religious values; it was written to protect religious values from government tyranny.”

The above summary of the contents of pages 40-50 clearly show that Federer does not ask the right question, nor does he answer the question. I will now answer the right questions: (1) Has the Supreme Court done away with the original meaning and application of the First Amendment? (2) Has the Supreme Court added to the jurisdiction and meaning of the First Amendment.

Here are the abbreviated answers. The short answer to the first question is “No.” The short answer to the second question is that the Supreme Court twisted the meaning of the religion clause of the Amendment for the purpose of removing God and any reference to or reverence for God from practically all civil government matters on not only the federal, but also on the city, county, and state levels. The First Amendment originally applied only to the federal government.

What follows in this section is a nut-shell view of relevant First Amendment history and meaning, and an analysis of United States Supreme Court First Amendment jurisprudence. I will show how the Supreme Court, in 1947, correctly upheld the original meaning of the First Amendment while also adding a new twist, thereby laying a foundation for the future removal by the Court of God, the God of the Bible, from practically all civil government matters. I will then give the results of that twisting. For much more detail, see The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus/Christian Revisionism on Trial; and God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application ,available in online PDF.

The Anglicans arrived in 1607 in Jamestown, the Pilgrims in 1619, and the Puritans in 1629. By 1660, the Puritan experiment was falling apart. Persecuted dissenters fought a spiritual warfare against the colonial establishments in New England and other colonies. That warfare eventually led to victory for the dissenters: the First Amendment to the United States Constitution was a law which set in concrete the Bible principles of complete separation of church and state, and freedom of speech, press, assembly, and the right to petition the government from a redress of grievances. See, Section IV of God Betrayed. and Part II of The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus.

The courts have never addressed the foundational principles for church and state—those expressed in God’s Word. That was to be expected, even in the early Republic, since there were many diverse Biblical interpretations, as the history of the colonial period and the early republic proves. However, the Supreme Court has recognized that, according to American history, the First Amendment was meant to separate church and state—to keep the state out of church and the church out of state. In Section V of God Betrayed available in online PDF I explain the 19th Century Supreme Court interpretation of “separation of church and state,” the application of the First Amendment to the States: 1868-1947, and Separation of God and state (how the United States Supreme Court removed God from practically all civil government matters while still recognizing that the First Amendment was meant to create a two-way wall of separation between church and state): 1947-2007.

Because the population was predominantly Christian, or at least honored God and His Word, American civil government, to a great degree, initially operated partially, and probably predominantly, according to principles in the Word of God. Many Presidents, Congressmen, Legislators, Judges to include 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. See, Rector, Etc., of Holy Trinity Church v. United States, 143 U.S. 457, 12 S. Ct. 511 (1892).

God was honored by almost all civil government organizations and officials in their 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. God was honored at all levels of government, but the church and state, according to the First Amendment were to be separate on the federal level, neither meddling in the affairs of the other. Among the myriad examples of this reverence for God is the Thanksgiving Day Proclamation of President George Washington who agreed with other Founding Fathers that church and state should be separate:

  • “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….”

See, George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation: Does It Support Union of Church and State or Separation of Church and State? for more analysis.

Honest, complete history is clear: The First Amendment was intended to erect a two-way wall between church and state, but it was never intended to separate God, and the practice of his principles, and state. See, for a concise, but complete, documented history of the First Amendment, Section IV of God Betrayed available in online PDF.

Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1, 67 S. Ct. 504, 91 L. Ed. 711, 1947 U.S. LEXIS 2959, 168 A.L.R. 1392 (1947) correctly held that the First Amendment created a two-way wall of separation between church and state. However, the Court also incorporated the First Amendment into the Fourteenth Amendment, a twist which was used in future cases to remove God and the mention of God or anything to do with God from practically all civil government matters at all levels of government—city, county, state, and federal. Everson twisted the meanings of “establishment of religion and “separation of church and state.” Eventually, the new rationale of the Court in Everson, while honoring the historical First Amendment and biblical principle of “separation of church and state,” laid the foundation for the removal of God and His principles from practically all civil government affairs in America.

After Everson, the convenient term, “separation of church and state,” was now used in cases which had nothing to do with the relationship of church and state. The new twisted “separation of church and state” concept would lead to the removal by the Court, of any vestige of God from civil government related affairs: prayers and Bible reading in public schools, posting the Ten Commandments in the public schools, in government buildings or on government property, etc.  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 the right to rebel. Again, see Section V of God Betrayed, available in online PDF.

As stated above, Everson did not do away with the original two-way wall which the First Amendment erected between church and state. The First Amendment forbade union of church and state only on the federal level. Everson did not change that. Since Everson, the Supreme Court has not touched state laws which allow union of church and state. Thus, most, but not all churches can and do, as always since the ratification of the Constitution and First Amendment, choose to “establish”—that is, to put themselves under the authority of civil government as legal Fourteenth Amendment entities for many purposes as opposed to remaining purely First Amendment spiritual entities. Why? Because they want to be practical in the worldly or business, not Biblical, sense.

There is no reason why civil government officials, led by the principles of the god of this world, would wish to do away the ability of God’s churches to commit spiritual fornication. The prince of this world system “has organized the world of unbelieving mankind upon his cosmic principles of force, greed, selfishness, ambition, and pleasure (Matthew 4:8, 9; John 12:31; 14:30; 18:36; Ephesians 2:2; 6:12; 1 John 2:15-17).” His goal is to dethrone God (See Isaiah 14:12-17). When a church unites with the state, she joins herself to an earthly power and submits to laws which redefine the status, organization, and operation of the church. Union of a former Bible believing and practicing church with the state puts that church on a slippery slope downward to heresy and apostasy. Many basically sound American churches who chose man’s cheese above God’s principles are now apostate and the others are heretical to one degree or another; they are nothing more than businesses who, at best, honor Jesus Christ with their tongues, and possibly to a degree in their actions (see, Revelation 2:1-7), while their hearts are far from him.

Satan, I am sure, gets great pleasure from observing and pointing out to God how well his plan has worked in America where only a small remnant of local churches still honor our Lord. Most have prostituted themselves through uniting with the state through corporate, charitable trust, or some other statutory status. Some remain true to the Lord in some ways, but many are highly heretical or apostate.

For a century and a half before Everson, the Supreme Court and civil government interference with churches and attempts to make sure all vestiges of God were erased from public life were practically nonexistent. However, armed with the power of judicial review, the twentieth century Court, beginning with Everson, without the benefit of a biblical worldview, began to decide issues and to attempt to define the liberties and rights of the individual, of the minority and the majority, which had been based upon biblical principles—of which many or most of the Justices had no knowledge or understanding. As a result, some of the Court’s assertions were and are correct but were polluted with unbiblical assertions and reasoning.

The reasoning of the Court was applied in a society generally ignorant of biblical principles and which was becoming more secular with each passing day. “The application to particular factual situations of the … general rules [concerning the First Amendment religion clause as laid down by the Court], simplistic as they appear to be in the abstract, has involved a complex pattern of turns and twists of legal reasoning, cutting across almost all facets of human life.” (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. Kramer lists the “facets of human life” across which the religion clause as applied by the Court has cut. Then Kramer examines the cases. The reader of Kramer’s annotation must keep in mind that Kramer leaves God out of the analysis. A Christian who studies his annotation must also read and study the cases themselves (not just Kramer’s summaries and analyses) and analyze those cases in light of biblical principles. Kramer misses the most important point—the religion clause has been used to remove God from the public life of America and to insult God by eliminating Him from all consideration in civil government affairs.). See Section V of God Betrayed available in online PDF.

The foundational law, the Bible, agrees with a correct interpretation of the First Amendment, an interpretation which has never been fully applied by our courts or understood by the vast majority of Christians, much less Americans. Even Christian lawyers have looked to Court decisions, not the Bible, as the foundational law upon which they make their arguments and place their hope. Their legal arguments have not and do not honor God and His Word; they cannot since churches and Christians have not practiced Bible principle in their organization and practice. The result has been a steady downward spiral toward a totally secular state, church, and populace.

Although “Christian” lawyers have sought to fight this downward spiral, for the most part they have fought in a manner, as exemplified in recent cases dealing with the display of the Ten Commandments on public property, which dishonors God. Even though “claiming” some “victories” in the legal arena, those “victories” are nothing more than compromises, at best, which chip away at or totally destroy recognition of the sovereignty of God, and lead deeper into a pluralistic, Godless, state and society, while Christianity and the true and only God are degraded by civil government and society in general. At the same time that victories (which are rare and which are not victories at all) are being proclaimed by “Christian” lawyers, those lawyers and their firms are leading Bible believing pastors and church members, who have not studied the Bible and the issues, down the road to destruction. Almost all “Christian” lawyers say that churches must incorporate and give their unlearned opinions as to why. For an examination of their excuses for betraying God, see Analysis of False Reasons of Christians and Lawyers for Church Corporate, 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) tax Exempt Status or Legal Status of Any Kind; See also, Section VI of God Betrayed available in online PDF.

Since Everson, the Supreme Court has, among other things and in the name of separation of church and state, banned school prayer (including silent meditation), eliminated graduation invocations, driven creches and menorahs from public parks, removed the Ten Commandments from display in the public schools, banned God from the public schools (the public school classroom is now based on the religion of humanism where Satan’s messages are taught to the youth of America), taken carols out of school assemblies, purged the Ten Commandments monuments, laid the groundwork for a secular pluralistic—or more accurately Satanic—state.

On the civil government front, Satan, through those who were following his principles, has been doing more than removing God from practically all civil government matters. Because of the change in Supreme Court First Amendment jurisprudence, states were now taxing to support individuals—aiding individuals through all types of social legislation. Tax money now went to government agencies, whose religion was secular humanism and which were becoming the new source of help and instruction for many Americans. On the national level, the New Deal spearheaded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt had gone far in replacing a faith in God with a faith in government. President Roosevelt, with his proposed court-packing scheme, coerced the Justices of the Supreme Court into going along with his civil government programs. The nation was switching from the way of faith in God to the way of faith civil government; and, in its instructive capacity, was leading the people down the same path.

On another front, that of the church, Satan was also replacing faith in God with faith in the government. Churches have prostituted themselves with the federal and state governments. They have abandoned their Biblical First Amendment status in favor of Fourteenth Amendment status for many purposes. They have chosen to become creatures of the state, to “worship the creature more than the creator” (Romans 1:25). On the state level, through choosing corporate, charitable trust, or some other legal entity (Fourteenth Amendment) status; on the federal level through Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) or § 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt status. By the way, 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A), when applied to churches, are unconstitutional in violation of the First Amendment on their face. They are laws passed by Congress which respect and establishment of religion and prevent the free exercise thereof. See, Church Internal Revenue Code § 508(c)(1)(A) Tax Exempt Status and the links therein.

The tyrannical turn of the Court could have been predicted by anyone with a firm grasp of biblical principles. Even during the debates over ratification of the Constitution, some men predicted such a turn by the Court. For, example, Robert Yates, an ardent anti-federalist and delegate to the Constitutional Convention from New York, in opposing the Constitution, predicted the process by which the federal judiciary would achieve primacy over the state governments and other branches of the national government:

  • “Perhaps nothing could have been better conceived to facilitate the abolition of the state governments than the constitution of the judicial. They will be able to extend the limits of the general government gradually, and by insensible degrees, and to accommodate themselves to the temper of the people. Their decisions on the meaning of the constitution will commonly take place in cases which arise between individuals, with which the public will not be generally acquainted; one adjudication will form a precedent to the next, and this to a following one.” Mark R. Levin, Men in Black: How the Supreme Court Is Destroying America (Washington DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2005), pp. 27-29 citing Robert Yates, “Essay No. 11,” Anti-federalist Papers first published in the New York Journal, March 20, 17 Available at www.constitution.org.

The abridged history and analysis above, especially when one goes to the more comprehensive sources cited, prove that Federer  (1) asked the wrong question, a question which he did not answer; (2) is totally wrong in stating, “The First Amendment does not demand a wall of separation between church and state.” He produces statements from judges stating that that the court holdings do not call for a total separation between church and state without explaining the facts and issues in those cases. Analysis of those cases prove that the courts are not considering the relationship between a church or churches and the state; they are considering matters which were never envisioned by First Amendment “separation of church and state,” matters which separated God and state. One can go to those cases to verify what I say. Here are the links: ACLU v Mercer County, 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, December 20, 2005  (this is as Federer cited the case); Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971); McCullum v Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203, Wallace v. Jafree, 1985, dissent, 472 U. S., 38, 99 (dissent), Engel v. Vitale, 1962, dissent (as cited by Federer), Zorach v Clausen, 1952 (as cited by Federer).

“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn” (Proverbs 29:2).


Federer’s method, in the American Minute publications I have read, is to grab a lot of facts, including quotes, from all kinds of sources. Standing alone, the “facts” he presents sound good and even inspirational, but taken together they are disjointed, out of context, and woefully incomplete. He leaves out a lot or relevant historical material. He leaves out immediate and overall context. For example, his quotes from court cases are out of the context of the entire case and also omit the overall context of related cases, history, etc. When contextually examined, his material is inaccurate and/or misleading. He intersperses conclusions, assumptions, questions, and incomplete explanations. Under honest learned examination, his writings are incomplete, confusing, incorrect, and hard to decipher.

An honest analysis of any historical matter must include all the facts. An honest analysis of quotes seeks the truth of those quotes. An honest use of quotes from a legal case must include an analysis of the entire case to include the facts of the case, the legal arguments being made, the context of any given quote, the cases cited to support or oppose the holding, whether the quote is from a majority or dissenting opinion, and whether the case overrules or upholds precedent, and the views of the writer of the quote—was he a strict constructionist or did he embrace the “living breathing Constitution that could be changed with the winds of time?  Primarily he should look to the Word of God for God’s judgment on spiritual matters. What does God say about it?

The weapons of Christian warfare are:

  1. Truth.
  2. Righteousness: “Purity of heart and rectitude of life; conformity of heart and life to the divine law. righteousnessas used in Scripture and theology, in which it is chiefly used, is nearly equivalent to holiness, comprehending holy principles and affections of heart, and conformity of life to the divine law. It includes all we call justice, honesty and virtue, with holy affections; in short, it is true religion.”
  3. The gospel of peace.
  4. Faith.
  5. Salvation.

Ephesians 6:13-17.

American Christianity has been a victim of Christian revisionist teaching. That is why all their efforts, which have been concentrated in the political, not the spiritual, realm, have been counterproductive. After decades of fighting, the slide of America toward the judgment of God is accelerating at an alarming rate. The reason—Revisionists leaders and their pastor and church allies who have predominated the Christian landscape have led the way. God will not honor a warfare which is not fought His way and according to His principles. How in the world can “Christians” save American when they ignore the fact that they have destroyed their churches?

Imagine: A Bad, Bad Song and a Bad, Bad Idea


Click pictures above to go to articles. Links to more articles which prove the thesis at the end.

Jerald Finney
September 26, 2020


  • Lyrics of “Imagine by John Lennon” and links to some performances
  • Essay
  • Some relevant Bible verses and an insight from Patrick Henry
  • Proof of the thesis of this essay, a small sampling

“Imagine” by John Lennon

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace, you

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world, you

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine, a song sung around the world.

Imagine (UNICEF: World Version)

Lady Gaga – Imagine (Live at Baku 2015 European Games Opening Ceremony)

It’s a sign of the times on the way to the one world government/religion forecast in the Bible. Many in America and in the world, having discounted God and His Word, are wanting to reimagine the way the government solves problems such as “police brutality,” pandemics such as Covid19, etc.  The establishment uses real crises, and concocts others, in order to create chaos and destroy the existing order thereby opening the door to “reimagine,” to “build back better,” to bring about the “great reset,” or – as the Bible explains – to bring in the final one world political, religious establishment.

Nothing is sacred in their warfare. Lying, cheating, stealing, and killing are all fine and dandy. They have no problem in destroying economies, attacking churches, assaulting children and adults of both sexes, looting and burning down businesses, and killing people, including old people (as did Governor Como when he put old people with Covid19 into rest homes so as to infect and kill thousands), and constantly serving a steady stream of lies to the unlearned. They operate on the national political level (the Clintons, Obama, Biden, Harris, et al.); in the establishment (Democrat) media (ABC, CNN, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, et al.); on the international level (the United Nations and political leaders throughout the world); in practically all government controlled public schools, universities, and colleges; and on the streets of America (Antifa, Black Lives Matter).

Witness the reaction of the typical person when he or she listens to Imagine: Queen + Paul Rodgers – Imagine (Live in Hyde Park). When God and His Word is forgotten, the song seems so reasonable to the emotions; that is, unless one gives it serious consideration, assuming that one is capable of doing so.

“Liberal,” “Marxist” politicians and others have been and are, more and more openly, using the word “reimagine” on a regular basis these days, especially when supporting the Marxist looters and criminals who are running wild in some of the liberal strongholds of America:

  1. “In these horrifying and divisive times, all of us — progressives and right-wingers, Karens and corona doves — need a cause around which we can unite. The question is what, though. On Wednesday, Bill de Blasio provided the answer: ‘I don’t mean to make light of this,’ the mayor of New York City said in reference to the worst rioting America has seen in my lifetime, ‘but I’m reminded of the songImagineby John Lennon [Bold red emphasis mine]. We played it at my inaugura

    tion. I think everyone who hears that song in its fullness thinks about a world where people got along differently.'” Quote from Matthew Walther, “‘Imagine’ is a bad, bad song,” June 4, 2020; this is an excellent  article from a non-Biblical perspective showing that some people, although not familiar with the word of God, still use their common sense and listen to their God given conscience (See Romans 2:14-15).

  2. Kamala Harris

    Kamala Harris told “The View” in June of this year that “a big part of this conversation really is about reimagining how we do public safety in America, which I support,” according to the Western Journal. Quote from News American Patriot, Kamala Harris Caught Contradicting Her Own Platform In Public. [Bold red emphasis mine].

Let us go beyond our common sense and conscience and directly to the Word of God for the definitive analysis of this matter. Man, created in innocence and placed in the Garden of Eden, failed his first test under God when he ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God judged the serpent, the woman, and the man (Genesis 3:14-19). God then drove out man, who now knew good and evil, from the Garden (Genesis 3:22-24).

“Expelled from Eden and placed under a new covenant, man was responsible to do all known good, to abstain from all known evil, and to approach God through sacrifice. Abel, a type of spiritual man, approached God through the approved offering, the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof (Genesis 4:4). His sacrifice, in which atoning blood was shed (Hebrews 9:22), was therefore at once his confession of sin and the expression of his faith in the interposition of a substitute, ultimately the seed of the woman, the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 11:4).”

“But God had no respect for the offering brought by Cain, the fruit of the ground” (Genesis 4:3). “The religion of Cain, as a type of the mere man of the earth, was destitute of any adequate sense of sin, or need of atonement. Seven things are said of him:

  1. He worships self-will;
  2. is angry with God;
  3. refuses to bring a sin offering;
  4. murders his brother;
  5. lies to God;
  6. becomes a vagabond;
  7. is, nevertheless, the object of the divine solicitude.”

His offering being rejected by God, Cain rose up and slew his brother Abel (Genesis 4: 8). He was punished directly by God:

“And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.  Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him” (Genesis 4:13-15).

The LORD was making clear that He was giving man no authority over man. He forbade man from punishing evil doers. God himself judged Cain and made clear that only He was to take vengeance.

Antifa and Anarchists riot, loot, assault, and kill

Within a relatively short period of time man, being controlled only by his conscience, his knowledge of good and evil, utterly failed. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). [Bold red emphasis added]. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it” (Jeremiah 17:9)? “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth” (Genesis 6:11-12).

The only remedy was judgment. Man’s conscience was not sufficient to control his evil imagination. Only Noah, and his family, “found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” The judgment of the flood followed for all others.

Civil government “is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil” (Romans 13:4).

Under Conscience, as in Innocency in the Garden of Eden, man utterly failed, and the judgment of the Flood marks the beginning of a new way of God’s dealing with man. God subjects man to a new test. Its distinctive feature is the institution, for the first time, of human government–the government of man by man. The highest function of government is the judicial taking of life. All other governmental powers are implied in that. Under the new dispensation of human government, man is responsible to govern the world for God. That responsibility rested upon the whole race, Jew and Gentile, until the failure of Israel under the Covenant God make with Israel before she went into the promised land under Joshua. See Deuteronomy 28.-30.1-10. The failure of Israel under that Covenant brought the judgment of the Captivities, when ‘the times of the Gentiles’ (See Luke 21:24; Revelation) 16:14) began, and the government of the world passed exclusively into Gentile hands. (Daniel 2:36-45; Luke 21:24; Acts 15:14-17). That both Israel and the Gentiles have governed for self, not God, is sadly apparent.”

The judgment of the confusion of tongues ended the racial testing; that of the captivities the Jewish; while the Gentile testing will end in the smiting of the Image (Da 2.) and the judgment of the nations Mt 25:31-46.

The whole earth, after the flood, was of one language and speech. In direct rebellion against God:

“[I]t came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.  And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:2-4). This was the first attempt to establish a one-world government in direct defiance of God. Mankind, in general, has never forsaken this goal, as is very apparent in these times.

“And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:5-9). [Bold red emphasis added].

The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth (Genesis 8:21). This is a universal truth. With such a heart, imagination is leading mankind to the final judgments prophesied in God’s Word. There is a heaven and a hell. There is a God who is in control, who tests mankind, and who judges mankind when he fails. Mankind, except for God’s remnant, led by his evil imagination will again fail God, even in this time of God’s grace; and God will ultimately, by force, subdue the nations by force and reign for a thousand years on earth. Until then, there will be killing, religion, wars and rumors of wars, greed and hunger. Thus it will be. The answer for the individual is explained, not by the song “Imagine,” not by reimagining, but in God’s Word. See God’s Plan of Salvation.

For more study on this, do a word search for “imagination” and “imagine” in the King James Bible. Better yet, study the King James Bible from beginning to end.

Note. When an individual, a family, a nation, or a church rejects God and begins to reimagine, he always does so according to Satanic principles. For more on this, see: Lessons on Satan from the Word of God.

Some relevant Bible verses and an insight from Patrick Henry

  • Psalms 9:17 The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
  • Psalms 11:3 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
  • Proverbs 14:34: “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.”
  • Proverbs 20:26: “A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them.”
  • Proverbs 29:2: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”
  • Paul said in his sermon on Mars’ hill: “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; … And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring” (Ac. 17.24, 26-31).

“Where are your checks in this government? Your strongholds will be in the hands of your enemies.  It is on the supposition23 that your American governors shall be honest, that all the good qualities of this government are founded; but its defective and imperfect construction puts it in their power to perpetrate the worst of mischiefs, should they be bad men. And sir, would not all the world, from the eastern to the western hemispheres, blame our distracted folly in resting our rights upon the contingency of our rulers being good or bad? Show me that age and country where the rights and liberties of the people were placed on the sole chance of their rulers being good men, without a consequent loss of liberty.” (John Eidsmoe, Christianity and the Constitution: The Faith of Our Founding Fathers (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1987), p. 309, quoting Patrick Henry, Virginia Ratifying Debates; quoted by Tyler, Patrick Henry, p. 328.).

Proof of the thesis of this essay, a small sampling

An Abridged History of the First Amendment

Copyright © January, 2010 by Jerald Finney


I. Introduction
II. Trial of John Bunyan
III. Persecution of believers until the colonization of America
IV. Religious freedom recognized in America
V. Post disestablishment and conclusion

Martyr’s Song by Watchmen (Click link to listen to this song)
Book: Martyr’s Mirror in online PDF (Can be downloaded)
Full length version (with chapters on “Christian” revisionism): The History of the First Amendment

I. Introduction

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

The story of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution begins with the first New Testament martyr and includes all the subsequent millions who were persecuted and killed because they placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and Him alone. You see, the heroes of the faith had and have life and liberty, unlike millions of contemporary American “Christians.” Martyrs—and those truly willing to give their life for Christ but who have not suffered martyrdom—have life because they have Christ. They also have been made free through Holy Spirit led study of God’s Word: Jesus said “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).  Although the religious crowd may persecute and perhaps kill them, no one can take either their eternal lives or their liberty.

These martyrs and persecuted ones, including those in the American colonies, comprise the remnant who have, in every age, kept the light of Christ alive in spite of their sufferings. The climax of the sufferings of the saints occurred when the United States, by adding the First Amendment to her Constitution, made America the first modern nation, and the second civil government, to recognize the God ordained principle of religious liberty or separation of church and state (not separation of God and state).

Indeed, freedom of religion was

“unknown at the time of the birth of Jesus. Even the ancient republics never recognized it…. Early did Christians avow and amplify religious liberty. The blood of persecution brought to the front this doctrine…. Freedom of religion is hardly a Protestant [or Catholic] doctrinal tenet, but it does belong to the Baptists…. The state of Teprice in Armenia, in the ninth century, gave absolute freedom of opinion and conscience for one hundred and fifty years before being overcome. All around them were persecutions for conscience sake – they themselves had lost one hundred thousand members by persecutions in the reign of Theodora – yet here was a shelter offered to every creed and unbeliever alike. The Baptists have always set up religious liberty when they had the opportunity.”

John T. Christian, A History of the Baptists, (Texarkana, Arkansas-Texas: Bogard Press), pp. 38-41, 51-52.

Religious liberty is a Baptist distinctive; and, historic Baptists are the primary people responsible for this freedom in those modern nations which recognize it. By Baptist is meant those who – regardless of identifying name such as Waldensian, Donatist, etc., adhere to certain fundamental Bible principles – one of those being separation of church and state or religious freedom and freedom of conscience. America was the first modern nation to guarantee freedom of conscience and religion (separation of church and state), and Rhode Island had set the example later followed by America and, later, some other nations. In many nations Christians are still persecuted, tortured, and ruthlessly murdered.

After this introduction and before going to the beginning, I will give the view of one very famous martyr, John Bunyan, as to the relationship between church and state. I will do this by quoting from his trial which occurred at a point in time in which both England and the United States were on the road to the rejection of the heretical biblical teaching that resulted in the union of church and state and the murders by the state-church combinations of untold millions of those labeled as “heretics” [EN1]. From there, I will give an overview of the persecution of believers from John the Baptist until the colonization of America. Then, I will summarize the theological warfare in the American colonies that culminated in the First Amendment.

Please consider that the information you will read is factual. The author is a born-again believer and lawyer who has been, since his salvation, a faithful member of an independent fundamental Baptist Church. Further consider that he has worked many years to try to bring America back under God. Like millions of other American Christians who have worked for this cause, he has experienced much frustration as he saw America continue to deteriorate morally, spiritually, and in every other way. This article presents his findings of fact gained over several years of intense study of the Bible, law, and history—the American history courses he had taken, his First Amendment class at the University of Texas School of Law, and a considerable volume of “Christian” writings censored these facts. These facts must be known, understood, and applied in order for Christians to proceed “according to knowledge” and, therefore, before God will honor the spiritual warfare of Christian soldiers (See 2 Pe. 1:4-10; Ho. 4:6-9; 2 Ti. 2:3-4; Ep. 6:10-18). I am sure that most, like the author before he searched the annals of history, do not know many of these preeminent, actual, and verifiable occurrences and writings.

II. The trial of John Bunyan [Click to go to the complete transcript of the trial]

JohnBunyanThe trial of John Bunyan is instructive to one who wishes to please our Lord. Mr. Bunyan was arrested and charged with persistent and willful transgression of the Conventicle Act which prohibited all British subjects from absenting themselves from worship in the Church of England, and from conducting services apart from that church. He refused counsel and admitted that he had never attended services in the Church of England and stated that he never intended to do so. He continued,

“secondly, it is no secret that I preach the Word of God whenever, wherever, and to whomever He pleases to grant me opportunity to do so. I have no choice but to acknowledge the awareness of the law which I am accused of transgressing. Likewise, I have no choice but to confess my guilt in my transgression of it. As true as these things are, I must affirm that I neither regret breaking the law, nor repent of having broken it. Further, I must warn you that I have no intention of conforming to it.” I now continue with the dialogue between Bunyan and Judge Wingate.
“Judge Wingate: ‘It is obvious, sir, that you are a victim of deranged thinking. If my ears deceive me not, I must infer from your words that you believe the State to have no interest in the religious life of its subjects.’
“John Bunyan: ‘The State, M’lord, may have an interest in anything in which it wishes to have an interest. But the State has no right whatever to interfere in the religious life of its citizens.’
“Judge Wingate: ‘The evidence I hold in my hand, even apart from your own admission of guilt, is sufficient to convict you, and the Court is within its rights to have you committed to prison for a considerably long time. I do not wish to send you to prison, Mr. Bunyan. I am aware of the poverty of your family, and I believe you have a little daughter who, unfortunately, was born blind. Is this not so?’
“John Bunyan: ‘It is, M’Lord.’
JohnBunyan_PilgrimsProgress3“Judge Wingate: ‘Very well. The decision of the Court is this: In as much as the accused has confessed his guilt, we shall follow a merciful and compassionate course of action. We shall release him on condition that he swear solemnly to discontinue the convening of religious meetings, and that he affix his signature to such an oath prior to quitting the Courtroom. That will be all, Mr. Bunyan. I hope not to see you here again. May we hear the next case?’
“John Bunyan: ‘M’lord, if I may have another moment of the Court’s time?’
“Judge Wingate: ‘Yes, but you must be quick about it. We have other matters to attend to. What is it?’
“John Bunyan: ‘I cannot do what you ask of me, M’lord. I cannot place my signature upon any document in which I promise henceforth not to preach. My calling to preach the Gospel is from God, and He alone can make me discontinue what He has appointed me to do. As I have no word from Him to that effect, I must continue to preach, and I shall continue to preach.’
“Judge Wingate: ‘I warn you, sir, the Court has gone the second mile to be lenient with you, out of concern for your family’s difficult straits. Truth to tell, it would appear that the Court’s concern for your family far exceeds your own. Do you wish to go to prison?’
“John Bunyan: ‘No, M’lord. Few things there are that I would wish less.’
“Judge Wingate: ‘Very well, then, Mr. Bunyan. This Court will make one further attempt in good faith to accommodate what appears to be strongly held convictions on your part. In his compassion and beneficence, our Sovereign, Charles II, has made provision for dissenting preachers to hold some limited licenses.
“‘You will not find the procedure burdensome, and even you, Mr. Bunyan, must surely grant the legitimacy of the State’s interest in ensuring that any fool with a Bible does not simply gather a group of people together and begin to preach to them. Imagine the implications were that to happen! Can you comply with this condition, Mr. Bunyan?
“‘Before you answer, mark you this: should you refuse, the Court will have no alternative but to sentence you to a prison term. Think, sir, of your poor wife. Think of your children, and particularly of your pitiful, sightless little girl. Think of your flock, who can hear you to their hearts’ content when you have secured your licenses. Think on these things, and give us your answer, sir!’
“John Bunyan: ‘M’lord, I appreciate the Court’s efforts to be as you have put it – accommodating. But again, I must refuse your terms. I must repeat that it is God who constrains me to preach, and no man or company of men may grant or deny me leave to preach. These licenses of which you speak, M’lord, are symbols not of a right, but of a privilege. Implied therein is the principle that a mere man can extend or withhold them according to his whim. I speak not of privileges, but of rights. Privileges granted by men may be denied by men. Rights are granted by God, and can be legitimately denied by no man. I must therefore refuse to comply.’
“Judge Wingate: [Proceeded to sentence Mr. Bunyan to six years in the Bedford jail which ended up costing Mr. Bunyan 12 years of his life behind bars.]”[EN2]

John Bunyan did not suffer the fate of many of his spiritual ancestors who had stood against union of church and state in any manner, although most of them never received a trial.  The court did not sentence him to death by beheading, fire, drowning, or some other horrible means. Instead, the court sentenced him to a term in prison; but “the wrath of man was made to praise God; for had not his zealous servant been compelled to this solitude, we should not have had that masterpiece of literature,” Pilgrim’s Progress, a book full of biblical truth and a book for all people for all time.[EN3]

After being released after 12 years in prison, he continued to produce fruit for the Glory of God. For example, many Baptist churches were gathered as a result of his labors.[EN4] Mr. Bunyan followed a long line of believers, from John the Baptist forward, who had died and/or been persecuted  for their faith.  Starting with the  apostles, all of whom  except John died for their faith, true believers have always stood on the principle, “We ought to obey God rather than men (Ac. 5.29)”—refusing to give up the life given them when they placed their faith in Jesus Christ, and their liberty gained through coming to a knowledge of truth as a result of continuing in God’s Word after their salvation.

John Bunyan: A Reading and Commentary (072414)(Pastor Jason Cooley)
John Bunyan: Five Uses by way of Self-Examination (Are you saved?) w/commentary (091915)(Pastor Jason Cooley)

III. Persecution of believers until the colonization of America

Historically, Christians, as warned by Jesus and the apostles, have been persecuted for their faith. Their persecutions were usually the result of obeying God rather than a lower earthly authority—the civil authority and/or the established religion. Christians were persecuted from the beginning of the church. After union of church and state in the fourth century, the established “church,” in conjunction with the state, persecuted Christians.

JohnTheBaptist_Lk3.16John the Baptist is of utmost importance. With him, “[a] new light had burst upon a sin cursed world. A new era had dawned. Another kingdom was about to be ushered in.” [EN5] He was the forerunner and way preparer of Jesus. “He cannot be made to fit the notion that the church of Christ and the world-that-lies-around-it are ‘of-a-piece’, that Christianity is similar to ethnic faiths.”[EN6]  He introduced a thought system at odds with that of the Old Testament in which religion and state were integrated as a theocracy, a thought system that was first recognized in America, first by the governing documents of the colony of Rhode Island and second by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. He preached a baptism that required a choice, and he preached it to all, including Jew and Gentile and including those of every position in society. The change required for his baptism required repentance on the level of the spiritual. Because of his open stand, John the Baptist became the first martyr for the faith. As most Christians are aware, John was decapitated as a result of exposing the sin of Herod—having Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife (Mt. 14:1-13; Mk. 6:14-19; Lu. 9:7-9).

CrucifixionThe next Christian martyr was our Lord Himself who came to earth to be persecuted and crucified, as prophesied in many Old Testament passages. Jesus continued and expanded upon this new system introduced by John the Baptist. Jesus used a modifier with the word “kingdom,” an adjective to keep two-of-a-kind apart: He spoke of the “kingdom of heaven” and the “kingdom of earth.”[EN7]  He preached two kinds of sermons—one for believers and one for non-believers.[EN8] He even distinguished between two jurisdictions when he said, “Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Mt. 22:21).  When Jesus felt the need of a sanctuary, He did not go to the temple (the center of the unified Jewish nation/religion); He, like John the Baptist, went to the desert. “His body was a replacement-of-the-temple, not only in the matter of being torn-down and then put-together again, but also as the instrument intended for contact-making between man and Maker.”[EN9] Unlike the theocracy of Israel and Gentile pagan nations which united religion and state in which the religion/state sought to unify all members of the nation walking lockstep for the same goals and which was intended to bring peace and unity through that system, Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household” (Mt. 10:34-36). The religious/civil system in place was so at variance with Him that the religious leaders, who should have known through Scripture who He was, used the arm of the state to put Him to death. In effect, He lay down His life for those who would call upon His name. The First Amendment was in line with Jesus’ thought system.

“Out of the thought program begun by John the Baptist, and continued by Christ, came the Church of Christ.”[EN10]  Jesus’ followers continued the example set by Him and John the Baptist. They had and have the promise of persecution: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Ti. 3:12). Jesus preached to the multitudes concerning persecution of His followers:

Mt5.10-12“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Mt. 5.10-12).

Jesus warned the disciples that His followers would suffer persecution:

“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me” (Jn. 15.18-21). [Emphasis mine.]

Stephen, The First Martyr
Stephen, The First Martyr

Following the crucifixion of the Savior “in rapid succession fell many other martyred heroes [in addition to Stephen, already mentioned, and Paul, infra]: … Matthew was slain in Ethiopia, Mark dragged through the streets until dead, Luke hanged, Peter and Simeon were crucified, Andrew tied to a cross, James beheaded, Philip crucified and stoned, Bartholomew flayed alive, Thomas pierced with lances, James, the less, thrown from the temple and beaten to death, Jude shot to death with arrows, Matthias stoned to death….” [EN11] 

At first, the persecution of Christians was by the Jewish religious leaders. Paul (then called Saul) was present at the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr after the resurrection of Christ (Ac. 8.1). Paul, before salvation, was actively involved in persecution: “As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison” (Ac. 8.3). After Paul’s salvation, he was persecuted and finally beheaded. He was seized by the Jews during his last visit to Jerusalem. They would have killed him, but as they were beating him, the chief captain of the Romans took soldiers and centurions, intervened, and held him. At that time Paul was allowed to speak to the people. He said,

“I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women” (Ac. 22.3-4).

RomePersecutionRome persecuted Christians off and on until the early fourth century. The persecution varied in extent and duration with various emperors.[EN12]  Then, some “churches” were recognized by the state and formed a union with the state and became the official state “church.”

  • “[U]nder the leadership of Emperor Constantine there [came] a truce, a courtship and proposal of marriage. The Roman Empire through its emperor [sought] a marriage with Christianity. Give us your spiritual power and we will give you of our temporal power….
  • “In A.D. 313, a call was made for a coming together of the Christian churches or their representatives. Many but not all came. The alliance was consummated. A Hierarchy was formed. In the organization of the Hierarchy, Christ was dethroned as head of the churches and Emperor Constantine enthroned (only temporarily, however) as head of the church. [This was the beginning of what became the Catholic church.]
  • “Let it be definitely remembered that when Constantine made his call for the council, there were very many of the Christians … and of the churches, which declined to respond. They wanted no marriage with the state, and no centralized religious government, and no higher ecclesiastical government of any kind, than the individual church.”[EN13]

AugustineBefore the union of church and state, both Judaism and Paganism, using the arm of the state, had persecuted Christians who loved their Lord and refused to obey civil or any other authority which required Christians to violate the will of the Supreme Authority. After the union, “Christians” began to persecute Christians. “Thus [began] the days and years and even centuries of a hard and bitter persecution against all those Christians who were loyal to the original Christ and Apostolic teachings.”[EN14]  Some leaders of that new state “church” who had supported liberty, “forgot what they had preached in their youth” and supported persecution of dissenters. The most significant of these was Augustine:

  • “Augustine made much use of the passage in Luke 14.23: ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.’ His position on religious liberty has been summarized in the maxim commonly (though erroneously) ascribed to him: ‘When error prevails, it is right to invoke liberty of conscience; but when, on the contrary, the truth predominates, it is just to use coercion.’
  • “Augustine’s influence on the course of religious liberty and the relationship of church and state can hardly be measured. Fifteen hundred years have passed since his death, yet his teachings are still a potent factor in the position of the Catholic Church on the subject of religion and government. As a result of his teaching, the principle that religious unity ought to be imposed in one way or another dominates the whole of the Christian Middle Ages and finds a concise and rigorous sanction in civil as well as in ecclesiastical legislation.
  • “Because of Augustine, more than any other person, ‘the Medieval church was intolerant, was the source and author of persecution, justified and defended the most violent measures which could be taken against those who differed from it.’”[EN15]

donatistsThe Donatists were among the first dissenters persecuted by the church-state union. The Council of Arles, prior to the union of church and state in 325, decided, in a Kangaroo court, against the Donatists; and “the Emperor enforced the decision with the secular arm.”[EN16] After the Council of Nicæa, Constantine issued an edict against all dissenters, including the Donatists, forbidding their meetings in private or public, ordering their places of worship torn down, their property confiscated to the Catholic Church.[EN17]

The purpose of the persecutions against the Donatists was stated by Augustine: “To crush the immodesty and to curb the audacity of the men whose madness had so overrun all Africa that the Catholic truth could not be preached in many places.”[EN18] The Catholic church, using Old Testament passages to justify their actions, committed savage cruelties and violence against dissenters. Executioners “who had obtained favor with secular princes in the deaths of the saints, when very many venerable ministers were killed, others were sent into exile, and the sacred cause of Christianity was harassed far and wide; virgins were violated, the wealthy were proscribed, the poor were spoiled, and ministers who were fleeing from their own churches were taken in their flight.”[EN19]


The Middle Ages reflected the thinking of “Augustine and Aquinas, who taught that salvation could be achieved through compulsion, and that oppression and persecution of heretics was not merely the right but the holy duty of the Church.”[EN20] “Over 50,000,000 Christians died martyr deaths … during the period of the ‘dark ages’ alone—about twelve or thirteen centuries.”[EN211]

The Inquisition was instituted in 1215 A.D. at a Council called by Pope Innocent III:

4“[P]robably the most cruel and bloody thing ever brought upon any people in all the world’s history was what is known as the ‘Inquisition,’ and other similar courts, designed for trying what was called ‘heresy.’ The whole world is seemingly filled with books written in condemnation of that extreme cruelty, and yet it was originated and perpetuated by a people claiming to be led and directed by the Lord. For real barbarity there seems to be nothing, absolutely nothing in all history that will surpass it.”[EN22]

The atrocities and heresies of the Catholic “church” eventually led to an effort to reform that “church” from within. Among the greatest of the reformers were Martin Luther, who started the Lutheran church (which became the state-church of Germany), and John Calvin, founder of the Presbyterian church (which became the state-church of Scotland). During this period of reformation, there always existed those who dissented from Catholic and Reformation theology. In early sixteenth century Germany, two currents flowed in opposite directions. One, fostered by the established church, was toward a state-church. The other, promoted by dissenters, was toward separation of church and state. When a Protestant church became an established church it continued the persecution practiced by the harlot church. “Both the Lutheran and Presbyterian Churches brought out of their Catholic Mother many of her evils, among them her idea of a State Church. They both soon became Established Churches. Both were soon in the persecuting business, falling little if any, short of their Catholic Mother.”[EN23]

Martin Luther
Martin Luther
  • Martin Luther wrote: “It is out of the question that there should be a common Christian government over the whole world. Nay, over even one land or company of people since the wicked always outnumber the good. A man who would venture to govern an entire country or the world with the Gospel would be like a shepherd who would place in one fold wolves, lions, eagles, and sheep together and let them freely mingle with one another and say, ‘Help yourselves, and be good and peaceful among yourselves. The fold is open, there is plenty of food, have no fear of dogs and clubs.’ The sheep forsooth would keep the peace and would allow themselves to be fed and governed in peace; but they would not live long nor would any beast keep from molesting another. For this reason, these two kingdoms must be sharply distinguished and both be permitted to remain. The one to produce piety, the other to bring about external peace and prevent evil deeds. Neither is sufficient to the world without the other.”[EN24]
  • “When Luther was expecting excommunication and assassination, he pleaded that: Princes are not to be obeyed when they command submission to superstitious error, but their aid is not to be invoked in support of the Word of God. Heretics, he said, must be converted by the Scriptures, and not by fire. With passion he asserted:
  • “I say, then neither pope, nor bishop, nor any man whatever has the right of making one syllable binding on a Christian man, unless it be done with his own consent. Whatever is done otherwise is done in the spirit of tyranny…. I cry aloud on behalf of liberty and conscience, and I proclaim with confidence that no kind of law can with any justice be imposed on Christians, except so far as they themselves will; for we are free from all.”[EN25]


  • Nonetheless, Luther later, when he had made an effective alliance with the secular power, advocated that the magistrate, who does not make the law of God, enforce the law of God. According to Luther, “The law is of God and from God. The State is the law-enforcing agency, administering a law of God that exists unchangeably from all eternity….
  • “The need for a state arises from the fact that all men do not hear the word of God in a spirit of obedience. The magistrate does not make the law, which is of God, but enforces it. His realm is temporal, and the proper ordering of it is his responsibility. Included in the proper ordering the maintenance of churches where the word of God is truly preached and the truly Christian life is taught by precept and example. In his realm, subject to the law of God, the Prince is supreme, nor has man the right to rebel against him. But if the Prince contravenes the law of God, man may be passively disobedient, in obedience to a higher and the only finally valid law.”[EN26]
  • “Heretics are not to be disputed with, but to be condemned unheard, and whilst they perish by fire, the faithful ought to pursue the evil to its source, and bathe their hands in the blood of the Catholic bishops, and of the Pope, who is the devil in disguise.”[EN27]

Luther espoused that coercion by the state to achieve religious unity was justifiable. This was an expansion of Erastian philosophy—“the assumption of state superiority in ecclesiastical affairs and the use of religion to further state policy.” Erastianism … pervaded all Europe, with the exception of Calvin’s ecclesiocratic Geneva, after the Reformation.[EN28] Erastianism achieved its greatest triumph in England.[EN29]

Luther’s position resulted in persecution of dissenters such as Anabaptists who believed in believer’s baptism. Although there is no reason to believe that the Anabaptists were explicit believers in a separation of church and state and in religious tolerance, opposition to a state-church follows logically from their thinking behind adult baptism:

BelieversBaptism“Believer’s baptism [was] the key to religious thought of the Anabaptists. Infant baptism implies that a child may be admitted into the Church without his understanding or personal consent. Such a church must be a formal organization, with sponsored membership possible for those whose years permit neither faith nor understanding. Adult baptism implies a different concept of the Church. The anabaptized are the elect of a visible church which is essentially a religious community of the elect. But obviously such a church could in no sense be a State Church. The Prince could neither bring it into being, regulate it, nor enforce membership in it; indeed, any connection between the State and such a church could only be injurious to the Church. Adult baptism on the surface is remote from the concept of a separated Church and State, yet such separation is implicit in the rationale of Anabaptism. The call to such a church can never come from the palace of the Prince; it must come from the Kingdom of Heaven….”[EN30] [Emphasis mine.]

JJohnCalvinohn Calvin pointed out that “‘these two [church and state] … must always be examined separately; and while one is being considered, we must call away and turn aside the mind from thinking about the other.’ He followed this approach in order to expound the ‘[d]ifferences between spiritual and civil government,’ insisting that ‘we must keep in mind the distinction … so that we do not (as so commonly happens) unwisely mingle these two, which have a completely different nature.’”[EN31]  He taught that “the church does not assume to itself what belongs to the magistrate, nor can the magistrate execute that which is executed by the Church.”[EN32]

However, when Calvin established his ecclesiocracy (the author uses this term to denote a civil government in which the church and state work together to enforce spiritual and earthly laws unlike the theocracy in Israel in which God himself was directly over the state) in Geneva, absence from the sermon, and missing the partaking of the Sacrament were punished. “Criticism of the clergy was included in the crime of blasphemy and blasphemy was punishable by death” as was the contention that “it is unjust to put heretics and blasphemers to death.”[EN33] Government had “‘the duty of rightly establishing religion’ and had as its ‘appointed end’ to ‘cherish and protect the outward worship of God, to defend sound doctrine of piety and the position of the church.’”[EN34] Calvin’s ecclesiocratic relationship of church and state was “based on ecclesiastical supremacy and the use of state machinery to further religious interests.”[EN35]

Henry VIII
Henry VIII

During this same period, the Church of England arose from a split or division in the Catholic ranks. Henry VIII, king of England, “threw off papal authority and made himself head of the Church of England” when the Pope refused to grant him a divorce from Catherine of Spain so that he could marry Anne Boelyn. Henry’s successor, Mary, reinstated Catholicism, but her successor, Elizabeth, re-established the Church of England.

“Thus, before the close of the Sixteenth Century, there were five established Churches—churches backed up by civil governments—the Roman and Greek Catholics [the Greek Catholics separated from the Roman Catholics in the ninth century] counted as two, then the Church of England; then the Lutheran, or Church of Germany, then the Church of Scotland now known as the Presbyterian. All of them were bitter in their hatred and persecution of the people called Ana-Baptists, Waldenses and all other non-established churches, churches which never in any way had been connected with the Catholics…. Many more thousands, including both women and children were constantly perishing every day in the yet unending persecutions. The great hope awakened and inspired by the reformation had proven to be a bloody delusion. Remnants now [found] an uncertain refuge in the friendly Alps and other hiding places over the world.”[EN36]

Sometime in the early seventeenth century, the Congregational church began. That church repudiated preacher rule and returned “to the New Testament democratic idea” while retaining many other “Catholic made errors such as infant baptism, pouring or sprinkling for baptism, and later adopted and practiced to an extreme degree the church and state idea. And, after refugeeing to America, themselves, became very bitter persecutors.”[EN37]

IV. Religious freedom recognized in America

A detailed history of the theological warfare and persecution of dissenters in the colonies is beyond the scope of this article. You may read a much more comprehensive account of the facts that led to the adoption of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution in the book, God Betrayed [EN38] or by clicking the following link: Online version of Section IV of God Betrayed, History of the First Amendment. You may also listen to much more detailed audio teachings on this subject on this blog by clicking the following link: History of the First Amendment.

Spiritual warfare in America resulted in the first and second civil governments in history (first, the colony of Rhode Island and second, the United States of America) which had complete religious freedom. In the United States, that liberty was declared by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which says:

“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 press; or the right of the people peaceable to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Established churches in the American colonies persecuted dissenters. The struggle over separation of church and state moved from the old world to the new, and is probably the most important topic in the history of America. For the first time, God’s truth concerning government, church, and separation of church and state was destined to prevail, first in Rhode Island and then in the United States. Prior to this struggle and since the union of church and state in the fourth century, both Catholic and Protestant sacral doctrine which had seen church and state as a single entity working in unison for the same goals had tried unsuccessfully to stamp out all “heretics” who had never deviated from the true biblical doctrine of “separation of church and state.”

Jesus said, “They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service” (Jn. 16:2.). In fulfillment of prophecies of the Lord, the established churches thought they were doing God’s will. “And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me” (Jn. 16:3).  The Old World patterns of church-state union and religious oppression were transplanted to the New World with all their rigor.[EN39]  Eleven of the original thirteen colonies established a church prior to the Revolution. One of those eleven was Massachusetts which was founded by Puritans who were Congregationalists. All New England colonies, except Rhode Island, had established churches based upon the same theology. As noted by the Rhode Island Baptist, John Callender, in the early nineteenth century:

“[The Puritans] were not the only people who thought they were doing God good service when smiting their brethren and fellow-servants. All other Christian sects generally, as if they thought this was the very best way to promote the gospel of peace, and prove themselves the true and genuine disciples of Jesus Christ—‘sic,’ who hath declared, his kingdom was not of this world, who had commanded his disciples to call no man master on earth, who had forbidden them to exercise lordship over each other’s consciences, who had required them to let the tares grow with the wheat till the harvest, and who had, in fine, given mutual love, peace, long-suffering, and kindness, as the badge and mark of his religion.”[EN40]

The fight for religious liberty started in the New England colonies and then spread throughout the other colonies. The seventeenth century ended with firmly established church-states in all New England colonies except Rhode Island. The ecclesiocracies there were as absolute as the world has known, with persecution of “heretics”; but, because of intervention by England, not as brutal as past ecclesiocracies in Europe.

The Church of England was established in the southern colonies. There, “the church enjoyed the favor of the colonial governors but it lacked the one pearl without price which the Congregational Church had. No Anglican ever left England to secure freedom of worship; no Virginia Episcopalian had the fervent motivation of a Massachusetts Puritan. In Massachusetts the church was the state. In Virginia and, to a lesser degree, in the rest of the South the Church was formally part of the State although hardly a part that loomed large in southern minds.”[EN41]

The theology of the established churches in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire led to a combining of church and state with the established church controlling the state; enforcement of all on the Ten Commandments to include the first four; infant baptism; taxing for payment of clergy, church charities, and other church expenses; persecution of dissenters such as Baptists; and many other unscriptural practices.[EN42] Persecution of dissenters followed the example of the theocracy in Israel where, for example, Moses killed the three thousand who turned from the Lord into idolatry and immorality while he was on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments (Ex. 32:27), and Elijah had the four hundred and fifty false prophets of Baal killed (1 K. 18:40).

Jamestown Settlement
Jamestown Settlement

The settlers at Jamestown arrived in the New World in 1607. They set up a civil government modeled after that in England. The king was to head the state church, and those of other religious beliefs were not to be tolerated, much less be granted religious liberty.

PilgrimsThe Pilgrims landed at what was to become Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620. Although admirable in their quest for religious freedom for themselves, they were at first only grudgingly tolerant of those with other religious sentiments. They were few in number. “Plymouth was a Church-State ruled by a governor and a small and highly select theological aristocracy, a Church-State with various grades of citizenship and non-citizenship.”[EN43] By 1651 the government of Plymouth colony was enforcing the laws of Congregationalist Massachusetts. “By the time Plymouth was united with Massachusetts in 1691 all major differences between the two had disappeared.”[EN44]

The Puritans, unlike the Pilgrims who wanted to separate from the Church of England, wanted to purify the Church from within. “The State, in their view, had the duty to maintain the true Church; but the State was in every way subordinate to the Church.” [EN45] King James I was far more belligerently opposed to the Calvinistic church-state than even Queen Elizabeth had been, and his “determination toward the Puritans was to make them conform or to harry them out of the land.”[EN46]  The Puritans who suffered under the combined pressure of accelerated persecution and the advanced moral decay in their society began to flee England for the new world.[EN47]  “There was no ground at all left them to hope for any condescension or indulgence to their scruples, but uniformity was pressed with harder measures than ever.”[EN48]  Cheating, double-dealing, the betrayal of one’s word were all part of the game for London’s financial district. Mercantile power brokers loved, honored, and worshipped money, and accumulated as much of it as possible and as fast as possible.  The ends justified the means. “London was an accurate spiritual barometer for the rest of the country, for England had become a nation without a soul.”[EN49] England was morally awful, and this came about under the auspices of a state-church practicing its theology.[EN50]  1628 marked the beginning of the Great Migration that lasted sixteen years in which twenty thousand Puritans embarked for New England and forty-five thousand other Englishmen headed for Virginia, the West Indies, and points south.[EN51]

Puritans2Pilgrims&PuritansThe Puritans landed at Salem at the end of June, 1629. They were motivated by religious principles and purposes, seeking a home and a refuge from religious persecution.[EN52]  Having suffered long for conscience sake, they came for religious freedom, for themselves only. “They believed [in] the doctrine of John Calvin, with some important modifications, in the church-state ruled on theocratic principles, and in full government regulation of economic life.”[EN53]  The Puritan churches “secretly call[ed] their mother a whore, not daring in America to join with their own mother’s children, though unexcommunicate: no, nor permit[ed] them to worship God after their consciences, and as their mother hath taught them this secretly and silently, they have a mind to do, which publicly they would seem to disclaim, and profess against.”[EN54] In 1630, 1500 more persons arrived, several new settlements were formed, and the seat of government was fixed at Boston. Thinking not of toleration of others,” they were prepared to practice over other consciences the like tyranny to that from which they had fled.”[EN55]

Roger Williams, like the Puritans, fled tyranny over thought and conscience and sought refuge for conscience amid the wilds of America. He arrived in Boston on February 5, 1631. He was highly educated and well acquainted with the classics and original languages of the Scriptures, and had been in charge of a parish in England. Although a Congregationalist, he had been exposed to and convinced of some non-congregationalist doctrines such as soul liberty or religious freedom. Immediately upon arrival, Mr. Williams, not being a man who could hide his views and principles, declared that “the magistrate might not punish a breach of the Sabbath, nor any other offence, as it was a breach of the first table.”[EN56]  He also, contrary to the practice of the church at Boston, hesitated to hold communion with any church who held communion with the Church of England. “He could not regard the cruelties and severities, and oppression, exercised by the Church of England, with any feelings but those of indignation.”[EN57]

Roger WilliamsAlthough loved dearly by the church at Salem where he acted as pastor after he arrived, he remained at odds with the established church and government ministers in Massachusetts. In spite of the fact that “Mr. Williams appears, by the whole course and tenor of his life and conduct …, to have been one of the most disinterested men that ever lived, a most pious and heavenly minded soul,”[EN58] the Court soon summoned him “for teaching publicly ‘against the king’s patent, and our great sin in claiming right thereby to this country’” by taking the land of the natives without payment;[EN59] “and for terming the churches of England antichristian.”[EN60] Charges were brought. “He was accused of maintaining:

“(1) That the magistrate ought not to punish the breach of the first table of the law, otherwise in such cases as did disturb the civil peace.
“(2) That he ought not to tender an oath to an unregenerate man.
“(3) That a man ought not to pray with the unregenerate, though wife or child.
“(4) That a man ought not to give thanks after the sacrament nor after meat.”[EN61]

Roge rWilliams Wrote Bloudy Tenent Of Persecution And Other Works
Roge rWilliams Wrote Bloudy Tenent Of Persecution And Other Works

The ministers of the Court, when Mr. Williams appeared before them, “had already decided ‘that any one was worthy of banishment who should obstinately assert, that the civil magistrate might not intermeddle even to stop a church from apostasy and heresy.’”[EN62] The “grand difficulty they had with Mr. Williams was, his denying the civil magistrate’s right to govern in ecclesiastical affairs.”[EN63]

He was banished from the colony and ordered to board ship for England. Instead, he went, in the dead of winter, to what was to become Rhode Island where he was supported by the Indians whom he, throughout his long life, unceasingly tried to benefit and befriend.[EN64]  He bought land from the Indians and founded the town of Providence where persecution has never “sullied its annals.”[EN65]  “[T]he harsh treatment and cruel exile of Mr. Williams seem designed by his brethren for the same evil end [as that of the brethren of Joseph when they sold him into slavery], but was, by the goodness of the same overruling hand [of divine providence] turned to the most beneficent purposes.”[EN66]

Dr. John Clarke
Dr. John Clarke

Another leader instrumental in the formation of the government of the Rhode Island colony was Dr. John Clarke, a physician. Dr. John Clarke of England moved to Boston in November of 1637. He proposed to some friends “for peace sake, and to enjoy the freedom of their consciences, to remove out of that jurisdiction.”[EN67] Their motion was granted & Dr. Clarke and eighteen families went to New Hampshire which proved too cold for their liking. They left and stopped in Rhode Island, intending to go to Long Island or Delaware Bay. There Dr. Clarke met Roger Williams. The two “immediately became fast friends and associates, working together in a most harmonious manner, both socially and politically, throughout the remainder of Clarke’s life.”[EN68]  With the help of Mr. Williams they settled in that colony at Aquidneck. “The first settlement on the Island was called Pocasset; after the founding of Newport, it was renamed Portsmouth.”[EN69]

Portsmouth Compact
Portsmouth Compact

The first government in history that was to have complete freedom of conscience and religious liberty also declared that the government was to be under the Lord Jesus Christ. Signed on March 7, 1638, the Portsmouth Compact read:

“We whose names are underwritten do here solemnly, in the presence of Jehovah, incorporate ourselves into a bodie politick, and as he shall help, will submit our persons, lives and estates, unto our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, and to all those perfect and most absolute lawes of his, given us in his holy word of truth, to be guided and judged thereby.” [19 signatures followed: … Three passages were marked in support of the compact: Exodus 24.3, 4; II Chronicles 11.3; and II Kings 11.17.[EN70]

This compact placed Portsmouth, Rhode Island under the one true God, the Lord Jesus Christ and His principles and laws given in the Bible. That Dr. Clarke “sought to help establish a government free of all religious restriction, one which in no way infringed upon the freedom of any religious conscience” is “evident from his remarks to the leaders of the established colonies upon his first arrival in Boston and by his subsequent activities throughout New England.”[EN71]

In August of 1638, the people of Providence approved the first public document establishing government without interference in religious matters, the Providence Compact:

“We whose names are here underwritten being desirous to inhabit in the town of Providence, do promise to submit ourselves in active or passive obedience to all such orders or agreement as shall be made for public good to the body in an orderly way, by the major consent of the present inhabitants, masters of families, incorporated together into a township, and such others whom they shall admit into the same, only in civil things.[EN72] [Twelve signatures followed.]

As James R. Beller proclaims, the document was “the first of a series of American political documents promulgating government by the consent of the governed and liberty of conscience.[EN73]  Thus, liberty of conscience was the basis for legislation in Rhode Island, and its annals have remained to this day [when Underhill wrote this] unsullied by the blot of persecution.[EN74]

Rhode Island was ruled according to the original covenant, “til on January 2, 1639, an assembly of the freemen said:

“By the consent of the body it is agreed that such who shall be chosen to the place of Eldership, they are to assist the Judge in the execution of the justice and judgment, for the regulating and ordering of all offences and offenders, and for the drawing up and determining of all such rules and laws as shall be according to God, which may conduce to the good and welfare of the commonweal; and to them is committed by the body the whole care and charge of all the affairs thereof; and that the Judge together with the Elders, shall rule and govern according to the general rules [rule] of the word of God, when they have no particular rule from God’s word, by the body prescribed as a direction unto them in the case. And further, it is agreed and consented unto, that the Judge and [with the] Elders shall be accountable unto the body once every quarter of the year, (when as the body shall be assembled) of all such cases, actions or [and] rules which have passed through their hands, by they to be scanned and weighed by the word of Christ; and if by the body or any of them, the Lord shall be pleased to dispense light to the contrary of what by the Judge or [and] Elders hath been determined formerly, that then and there  it shall be repealed as the act of the body; and if it be otherwise, that then it shall stand, (till further light concerning it) for the present, to be according to God, and the tender care of indulging [indulgent] fathers.”[EN75]

Thus, Rhode Island became a government of religious liberty. “As a servant of the people, Dr. Clarke [along with Roger Williams] would steer the colony toward a government of unprecedented civil and religious liberty—convinced that any other move would be in the direction of a self-centered autocratic theocracy.” [EN76]  Under his leadership, the people followed him as he steered a course between democracy with its “attending threat of anarchy and all of its evils of disorder, violence, and ultimate chaos,” and aristocracy and its restrictions on all forms of liberty.[EN77]

In 1651, Dr. Clarke, Obadiah Holmes,[EN7] and John Crandall went to visit a friend in Boston. They were on “an errand of mercy and had traveled all the way from their church in Newport to visit one of their aging and blind members, William Witter.”[EN79]  They stayed over, and held a service on Sunday. During that service, they were arrested and jailed. A friend paid Dr. Clarke’s fine and Clarke and Mr. Crandal were released.

Beating of Obadiah Holmes
Beating of Obadiah Holmes

Mr. Holmes was beaten mercilessly. His infractions were denying infant baptism, proclaiming that the church was not according to the gospel of Jesus Christ, receiving the sacrament while excommunicated by the church, and other spiritual infractions.[EN80]  Mr. Holmes refused to pay his fine, prepared for the whipping by “communicat[ing] with [his] God, commit[ting] himself to him, and beg[ging] strength from him.”[EN81]  Holmes was confined over two months before his whipping. He related the experience of being whipped for the Lord as follows, in part:

“And as the man began to lay the strokes upon my back, I said to the people, though my flesh should fail, and my spirit should fail, yet my God would not fail. So it please the Lord to come in, and so to fill my heart and tongue as a vessel full, and with an audible voice I broke forth praying unto the Lord not to lay this sin to their charge; and telling the people, that now I found he did not fail me, and therefore now I should trust him forever who failed me not; for in truth, as the strokes fell upon me, I had such a spiritual manifestation of God’s presence as the like thereof I never had nor felt, nor can with fleshly tongue express; and the outward pain was so removed from me, that indeed I am not able to declare it to you, it was so easy to me, that I could well bear it, yea, and in a manner felt it not although it was grievous as the spectators said, the man striking with all his strength (yea spitting in [on] his hand three times as many affirmed) with a three-corded whip, giving me therewith thirty strokes. When he had loosed me from the post, having joyfulness in my heart, and cheerfulness in my countenance, as the spectators observed, I told the magistrates, You have struck me as with roses; and said moreover, Although the Lord hath made it easy to me, yet I pray God it may not be laid to your charge.”[EN82]

Mr. Holmes “could take no rest but as he lay upon his knees and elbows, not being able to suffer any part of his body to touch the bed whereupon he lay.”[EN83]

Excerpts From Rhode Island Charter of 1663
Excerpts From Rhode Island Charter of 1663

In November 1651, Dr. Clarke went to England with Roger Williams to promote the interests of Rhode Island. Mr. Williams returned to Rhode Island in the summer of 1754, but Mr. Clarke remained in England until, on July 8, 1663, he secured a new charter from Charles II. The charter granted:

“unprecedented liberties in religious concerns. Moreover representation for the people and the limit of power to public officials provided a basic check and balance to popular sovereignty. The Royal Charter of 1663 proved to be distinctive, installing safeguards in the election process through the governing body of the State Assembly, made up of a governor, deputy-governor, assistants, and representatives from each of the towns,”[EN84] each elected by the people.

“Congregationalism claimed a large class of inferior church members by 1720, baptized into the churches without conversion.”[EN85]  Generally speaking, by 1740, religious decay had spread throughout New England. However, “the relentless preaching of Jonathan Edwards of complete surrender to the will of God introduced the novel phenomenon of revival in Massachusetts.”[EN86] Although the revival spread down the Connecticut Valley into Connecticut[EN87], the initial revival was of short duration … and did not touch the people of New England generally.[EN88]  Then, George Whitefield, the world-famous English evangelist arrived at Newport. Great crowds greeted Whitefield wherever he went to preach. In Connecticut, he was greeted with great enthusiasm. All Connecticut was at his feet.

As a result of that great revival, many were converted and churches experienced unprecedented growth. The Great Awakening emphasized individual conversion and the new birth.[EN89] Many itinerant preachers arose as a result of this revival. Consequently, the General Court of Connecticut “forbade all itinerant preaching under penalty of loss of the right to collect one’s legal salary and imprisonment. Itinerant lay preachers or strange ministers were to be silenced or expelled from the colony.”[EN90] “In Connecticut, legal action was taken against the revivalists, their churches were deprived of legal status, and some of the preachers were thrown into jail.”[EN91]

A number converts, who were dubbed as “New Lights” and who initially tried to influence the church to return to the concept of the pure church were forced out of the established churches. The term “Separates” referred to those who believed that the church should only include regenerate members and those who separated from the state-churches on this conviction. The Separate movement started in Connecticut and moved to Massachusetts. Separate churches began to appear at various towns.

Isaac Backus
Isaac Backus

One of the most prominent of the Separates was Isaac Backus. Although he spent much of his ministry in Massachusetts, he was a native of Norwich, Connecticut. He was saved in 1741 and became the leading figure in the new movement. His shift from the Separate to the Baptist camp is central to the religious history of New England.[EN92] Mr. Backus was an ardent leader and writer for the cause of religious liberty in New England and in America. His efforts for religious liberty and other causes were non-ceasing.

Shubael Stearns and Daniel Marshall, both members of Congregationalist churches in Connecticut, separated from the established churches, later became Baptists, as had Isaac Backus, and became chief instruments in carrying the Great Awakening to the South. The Separates were subject to persecution—fines, imprisonment, placing in stocks, and whipping—for their defiance of the laws of the commonwealth. They were subjected to a more intense persecution than the dissenters such as Baptists and Quakers, and many of them were imprisoned for practicing their beliefs.

GeorgeWhitefield1George Whitefield’s preaching had a grand effect on his converts. Stearns in 1754 and Marshall in 1751 or 1752, possessed with missionary zeal, left Connecticut as missionaries. Marshall first ministered to the Indians in New York. Then he moved to Connogig, Pennsylvania and then to Opekon, Virginia. Stearns at first went to Cacapon Creek, Virginia, but due to Indian hostility there, moved to Sandy Creek, North Carolina. There the settlers constituted the Sandy Creek Church with Mr. Stearns as minister and Daniel Marshall and Joseph Breed as assistant ministers.

Shubal Stearns
Shubal Stearns

The work at Sandy Creek soon began to produce much fruit. Mr. Stearns and the other preachers in his church were in great demand to go preach at other settlements. He and Daniel Marshall decided, before having been at Sandy Creek a year, to go on a preaching mission all the way to the coast. Converts were being called into ministry, and the Separate Baptist movement was seeing the birth of new churches. Within three years, there were three churches with a combined membership of over nine hundred, and these churches had numerous branches. Young evangelists were “beginning to occupy the land of promise.” In 1758, the Sandy Creek Association was organized. The plan for the association “required careful planning, for the associational movement would usher in a grand new chapter in Separate Baptist expansion.”[EN93]

The movement exploded. Ministers and converts went all over North Carolina, then into South Carolina and Georgia. The power of God was with these Separate Baptist preachers. Churches were planted and many were converted. In North Carolina, the Anglicans and the Presbyterians were displaced by the Baptists. Daniel Marshall went to South Carolina with some others in his church and started a church there. From there, he went on preaching trips into Georgia. He was so successful in some of his forays there that he was arrested, convicted, and commanded to preach no more in Georgia. “The arresting constable and even the magistrate who tried Marshall were soon converted and baptized.” In 1771 Mr. Marshall moved to Kiokee Creek, Georgia and formed the first Baptist church in Georgia at Appling in 1772.[EN94]

WarOfTheRegulationBattleOfAlamanceWarOfTheRegulationRegulatorsHangedIn 1771 the so-called War of the Regulation broke out. The government of North Carolina tried to suppress the Separate Baptists, but succeeded only in spreading their movement all along the southern frontier. Before the suppression began, the established church, the Anglican Church, was ineffectual in North Carolina and only had five ministers in the state in 1765.

Before 1765 the western counties, made up of frontiersman, a large percentage of whom had become Baptists, were disproportionately taxed and represented in the Assembly. “Sheriffs, judges, and other officials of county government, were notorious for their injustice, and in the western counties they were, as a rule, dishonest, haughty, and overbearing.”[EN95] A license was required for teachers, and no place of higher education could be administered, except by ministers of the Church of England. The Church of England was given exclusive rights to perform marriages. In 1755, poll and vestry taxes were imposed upon North Carolinians.[EN96]  The settlers mounted protests against these injustices.

WarOfTheRegulationNamesOfThoseHangedWhen William Tryon became governor of North Carolina in 1765, the troubles moved quickly to a crisis. Governor Tryon set out to strengthen the position of the Church of England. He called for twenty-seven more Anglican clergymen, increased taxes, and raised a military force. By 1770, Governor Tryon had established eighteen Anglican priests in thirty-two parishes in North Carolina. Property was seized for back taxes, people accused of rioting were arrested and set for trial, and others were fined and imprisoned. “In several places the Regulators yielded to mob spirit, broke up courts, and whipped the officers” and “some court records were destroyed.”[EN97]  Armed conflict finally broke out. On May 16, 1771, a poorly trained and supplied force of two thousand regulators was routed by the state militiamen. Although Shubael Stearns and the Sandy Creek Association forbade Baptists to take up arms against the government, many did.

After the defeat of the regulators, Tryon “laid waste to plantations, burned homes, and sent numbers of men in chains to Hillsboro. The countryside was terrorized.”[EN98]  Tryon seized Benjamin Merrill, who appears to have been a church leader. Merrill was convicted as a traitor, hung publicly, cut into pieces—quartered—and his body scattered.[EN99]

The Baptists had a mass exodus from North Carolina. By 1772, Sandy Creek Church had only fourteen members, down from six hundred and six. Little River Church went from five hundred to a dozen members. But as with the persecution of the first Christians in Jerusalem, the persecuted spread to other parts and carried out the Great Commission—the departing Baptists went into South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee, spreading the Gospel and reaping the harvest. What Satan meant for evil, God used for His glory.

Shubal Stearns, the chief light and the guiding genius behind the Separate Baptist movement, died on November 20, 1771 at the age of sixty-five. Forty-two churches and one hundred and twenty-five ministers had sprung from the Sandy Creek Church by 1772. Fires had been started in North Carolina and in other states, which could not be quenched.[EN100]

Although the final expression of religious freedom that would be incorporated into the Constitution came from Virginia, the final motivation came as a result of the convictions of the dissenters, mainly the Baptists, and the thrust for their growth and influence came from the Great Awakening.

VirginiaLawesDivine,MOral and MartialIn Virginia, the established Anglican church was controlled by the state, unlike in New England where the established church controlled the state. From the beginning of the colony, the “company knew not how to control the members composing the colony but by religion and law.”[EN101] The original “Lawes Divine, Moral and Martial” which were decreed in 1612, were severe. Speaking impiously of the Trinity or of God the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit, blaspheming God, incorrigibly cursing, a third failure to attend religious services, and a third “Sabbath-breaking,” were punishable by death. Other spiritual offenses were punished by whipping and other penalties.[EN102]

These laws were repealed upon appeal to England, and the laws enacted in support of the Anglican establishment were less severe. Still, the Anglican church was established (and this establishment continued until the revolution with one short interruption), nonattendance at church services was the subject of fines, the payment of tithes were mandatory, every parson was entitled to the glebe—a piece of land—parish churches were built by taxes, and ministers were required to “conform themselves in all things according to the canons of the Church of England.”

“Puritan clergy were banished for failing to conform to Anglican services; Quakers [and Baptists] were fined, imprisoned, and banished. Catholics were disqualified for public office, and any priest who ventured to enter the colony was subject to instant expulsion. Penalties were imposed on those who having scruples against infant baptism, neglected to present their children for that purpose.”[EN103]

In 1770, there were only six Separate Baptist churches in Virginia, but the number had increased to fifteen in 1771. The number of Separate Baptists increased dramatically through 1774.

VirginiaPersecution2VirginiaPersecutionFrom 1768 through 1774, the Baptists were persecuted severely. “Baptist preachers were whipped, arrested, fined, imprisoned on bread and water, although the authorities sanctimoniously denied that punishment was for ‘preaching’; the crime they said, was ‘breach of the peace.’”[EN104]  The first instance of actual imprisonment was on June 4, 1768 when John Waller, Lewis Craig, James Childs, James Reed, and William Marsh were arrested at Craig’s meetinghouse in Spotsylvania and charged with disturbing the peace. The magistrates offered to release them if they would promise to preach no more for a year and a day. They refused and were jailed. Many more were jailed and otherwise persecuted until 1774.[EN105]

As a result of the persecutions and oppressions, Baptists began to petition the House of Burgesses for relief in 1770. 1775 closed the period of “Intolerance, Toleration, and Persecution.” This came about because the American Revolution was on. The Baptists and others were tolerated in return for their help in the war against Great Britain. The Baptists did help, and not a Tory was found among them. But they struck for something more and something dearer to them than civil liberty—for freedom of conscience, for “just and true liberty, equal and impartial liberty.”[EN106] The battle for soul liberty continued until January 19, 1786, when Thomas Jefferson’s “Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom” became the law of the state.

During the period of intense persecution in Virginia, leaders such as James Madison and Thomas Jefferson were observing what was going on. These men were also familiar with the history of  persecutions which always accompany a church-state union. They stood against union of church and state which was proposed by Patrick Henry in 1784. Here is one of several examples from Madison’s writings (from a letter to an old college friend, dated January 24, 1774):

James Madison
James Madison

“uninterrupted harmony had prevailed throughout the continent [in matters of established religion as practiced in Virginia] it is clear to me that slavery and subjection might and would have been gradually insinuated among us. Union of religious sentiments begets a surprising confidence, and ecclesiastical establishments tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitates the execution of mischievous projects…. Poverty and luxury prevail among all sorts; pride, ignorance, and knavery among the priesthood, and vice and wickedness among the laity. This is bad enough; but it is not the worst I have to tell you. That diabolical, hell-conceived principle of persecution rages among some, and to their eternal infamy, the clergy can furnish their quota of imps for such purposes. There are at this time in the adjacent country not less than five or six well-meaning men in close jail for publishing their religious sentiments, which in the main are very orthodox. I have neither patience to hear, talk, or think of anything relative to this matter; for I have squabbled and scolded, abused and ridiculed, so long about it to little purpose, that I am without common patience…. So I must beg you to pity me, and pray for liberty of conscience to all.”[EN107]

On June 12, 1776, the House adopted a Declaration of Rights. The 16th Article provided for religious tolerance. However, [o]n motion on the floor by James Madison, the article was amended to provide for religious liberty. In committee, Madison opposed toleration because toleration “belonged to a system where there was an established church, and where it was a thing granted, not of right, but of grace. He feared the power, in the hands of a dominant religion, to construe what ‘may disturb the peace, the happiness, or the safety of society,’ and he ventured to propose a substitute, which was finally adopted.”[EN108] He probably moved to change the amendment before the whole house in order to demonstrate his position to the Baptists who were viewing the proceedings. The proposed amendment read:

“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 are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.”[EN109]

“The adoption of the Bill of Rights marked the beginning of the end of the establishment.”[EN110]

Where did Madison learn the distinction between religious freedom and religious toleration?

“It had not then begun to be recognized in treatises on religion and morals. He did not learn it from Jeremy Taylor or John Locke, but from his Baptist neighbors, whose wrongs he had witnessed, and who persistently taught that the civil magistrate had nothing to do with matters of religion.”[EN111]

Patrick HenryIn 1784, Patrick Henry proposed a bill establishing provision for teachers of the Christian religion. George Washington, Richard Henry Lee, and John Marshall supported the bill. The bill required all persons “to pay a moderate tax or contribution annually for the support of the Christian religion, or of some Christian church, denomination or communion of Christians, or for some form of Christian worship.”[EN112]

Mr. Madison opposed Mr. Henry’s bill and prepared his famous “Memorial and Remonstrance,” in which he maintained “that religion, or the duty we owe the Creator,” was not within the cognizance of civil government. The “Memorial” presents fifteen arguments against the assessment bill.[EN113] A small sampling is offered here:

  • “… Because experience witnesses that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of religion, have had a contrary operation. During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution. Inquire of the teachers of Christianity for the ages in which it appeared in its greatest luster; those of every sect point to the ages prior to its incorporation with civil policy. Propose a restoration of this primitive state, in which its teachers depended on the voluntary rewards of their flocks, many of them predict its downfall….
  • “Because the establishment in question is not necessary for the support of civil government…. If religion be not within the cognizance of civil government, how can its legal establishment be said to be necessary for civil government? What influences, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on civil society? In some instances, they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; in more instances, have they been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been seen the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the publick liberty, may have found on established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government instituted to secure and perpetuate it needs them not. Such a government will be best supported by protecting every citizen in the enjoyment of his religion, with the same equal hand which protects his person and property; by neither invading the equal hand which protects his person and property; by neither invading the equal rights of any sect, nor suffering any sect to invade those of another.…
  • “Because the policy of the bill is adverse to the light of Christianity. The first wish of those, who ought to enjoy this precious gift, ought to be, that it may be imparted to the whole race of mankind. Compare the number of those, who have as yet received it, with the number still remaining under the dominion of false religions, and how small is the former? Does the policy of the bill tend to lessen the disproportion? No; it at once discourages those who are strangers to the light of truth, from coming into the regions of it; and countenances, by example, the nations who continue in darkness, in shutting out those who might convey it to them….
  • “Because, finally, ‘the equal right of every citizen to the free exercise of his religion according to the dictates of his conscience,’ is held by the same tenure with all our other rights…. Either then we must say, that the will of the Legislature is the only measure of their authority; and that in the plentitude of this authority, they may sweep away all our fundamental rights; or, that they are bound to leave this particular right untouched and sacred: either we must say, that they may control the freedom of the press; may abolish the trial by jury; may swallow up the executive and judiciary powers of the State; nay, that they have no authority our very right of suffrage, and erect themselves into an independent and hereditary assembly; or we must say that they have no authority to enact into a law, the bill under consideration.…”[EN114]
Virginia Bill For Religious Freedom -Passed in 1786
Virginia Bill For Religious Freedom -Passed in 1786

On January 16, 1786, the Virginia Act for Religious Liberty, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, was passed. That bill provided for religious liberty and freedom of conscience. It stated, in part:

“I. Well aware that Almighty God hath created the mind free; 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 Holy Author of our religion, who being Lord of both body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do;

  • “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, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, … that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than [on] our opinions in physics or geometry;
  • “that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow citizens he has a natural right; …
  • “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 fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency, will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with, or differ from his own;
  • “that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt [open, or public] acts against peace and good order; ….”[EN115]

As the Anglican establishment in Virginia yielded to pressure from Baptists [and to a much lesser extent Presbyterians] so that religious liberty was established in that state, “[t]he same pressure, reinforced by the conditions of frontier living, ended the Anglican establishment in the Carolinas and Georgia…. [T]he conditions which made establishment possible never existed in the states admitted after Vermont, nor in the territories with the exception of unique Utah.”[EN116]

By the time the Constitutional Convention convened in 1787, “three states, Rhode Island, New York, and Virginia granted full religious freedom. Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland demanded in different degrees adherence to Christianity. New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia demanded Protestantism.”[EN117]

Constitutional Convention
Constitutional Convention

JohnLelandA convention was called in Philadelphia in 1787 to revise the Articles of Confederation. Instead, a new Constitution was drafted. After the drafting of the Constitution, it was submitted to the states for ratification. The Baptists of Virginia were against ratification because the Constitution did not have sufficient provision for religious liberty. Patrick Henry had declined to serve at the Convention and was against it. He posed as the champion of the Baptists in opposition to the Constitution. Of course, Madison was for ratification. However, John Leland, the most popular preacher in Virginia, was chosen by the Baptists as candidate of Orange County to the state ratification convention opposed to ratification, and his opponent was to be James Madison. Mr. Leland likely would have been elected had he not later withdrawn. Mr. Madison, when he returned from Philadelphia, stopped by Mr. Leland’s house and spent half a day communicating to him about “the great matters which were then agitating the people of the state and the Confederacy” and relieving Baptist apprehensions as to the question of religious liberty. As a result of this meeting, Mr. Leland withdrew in favor of Mr. Madison and the Baptists of Orange County were won over to the side of Madison.[EN118]

The Constitution was ratified and election of the officers of government was the next order of business. Patrick Henry, using his influence in the Legislature, prevented Madison from being elected as Senator. In addition, the Legislature drew the lines for Representative district so as to prevent Madison from being elected as Representative. However, he was able to “relieve Baptist apprehensions as to any change in his principles, and assure them of his readiness to aid in securing a proper amendment to the Constitution on the subject of religious liberty.” He was elected.

FirstAmendment2His first act, after the First Congress was organized in 1789, was to propose, on June 8, certain amendments, including what is now the First Amendment. His purpose was to “conciliate and to make all reasonable concessions to the doubting and distrustful”—to those, the Baptists, who were concerned about the issue of religious liberty. “Of all the denominations in Virginia, [the Baptists] were the only ones that had expressed any dissatisfaction with the Constitution on that point, or that had taken any action into looking to an amendment.” The Baptists of Virginia had also corresponded with Baptists of other states to “secure cooperation in the matter of obtaining” a religious liberty amendment. No other denomination asked for this change.[EN119]

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on September 25, 1789 and was approved by the required number of states in 1791.

V. Post disestablishment and conclusion

The First Amendment religion clause was not applied to the states until 1940.[EN120]  When the First Amendment was added to the United States Constitution, only New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut still had established churches. In 1833 Massachusetts became the last state to disestablish.

bridewaitingNonetheless, the states still provided for incorporation of churches. However, after disestablishment, incorporation became something entirely different from the corporate state-church unions of the past. The new type of incorporation did not create an established church that worked with the state to enforce the first four Commandments. Actually, under the new type of incorporation, the corporate church became a creature of the state.

For a full explanation of the ways post-disestablishment incorporation of churches violates biblical principles, one must go to other sources.[EN121] Just a few characteristics of the new type of corporate church  status are listed here. Incorporation became a means for the state to control churches in many ways. For example, a corporation is legal entity created, designed, and organized by statute. The sovereign of the corporate part of an incorporated church is the state. An incorporated 501(c)(3) church gets part of her powers from God and part from the civil government. She is under two heads. Part of the church must have elected officers who conduct business meetings, meet statutory requirements, etc. The incorporated part of an incorporated church is not the bride of Christ, the wife of Christ, but rather an extramarital illicit relationship existing alongside the marriage.

In spite of the fact that American churches may now incorporate and obtain Internal Revenue Code §501(c)(3) (“501(c)(3)”)[EN122] status, they may also operate as New Testament churches outside civil government authority, without persecution and with less exposure to liability than the state incorporated, 501(c)(3) church. Because of the efforts of “Christian” lawyers and the ignorance of pastors and Christians, this truth has been much compromised; most churches and Christians have been convinced that they should incorporate and get 501(c)(3) status; and, as a result, churches which choose to remain totally outside civil government authority face some inconveniences which hardly amount to persecution. The main technique of the unscrupulous lawyers who seek to convince churches to incorporate and get 501(c)(3) status is fear mongering through lies. Biblically ignorant Christians are easy prey for these wolves in sheep’s clothing.

In conclusion, because of the First Amendment, and because of state constitutional provisions and laws, a church has a choice in America. She can operate, without persecution but with some inconveniences, either in a manner pleasing to her Lord, Bridegroom, Husband, and Head or in a manner which dishonors and displeases Him. The church who does not love the Lord will choose to dishonor Him, thereby causing Him much grief. Most American churches have chosen to dishonor our Lord, and the chickens are now coming home to roost.

[1] “Heresy,” in its modern sense, means “any opinion which is repugnant to the doctrines of Scriptures. However, as men differ in the interpretation of Scripture, an opinion deemed heretical  by one body of Christians, may be deemed orthodox by another.” See AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828), definition of “heresy.” Of course, Scripture contains truth and all at variance with truth constitute lies.

One needs to consider the original sense of the meaning of “heresy” and “heretic.” Established churches have killed millions of those whom they labeled “heretics.” They did this because they denied choice to those who disagreed with the state religion. Thus, harlot religious organizations have perverted Scripture in order to force unity. State religions, heretics themselves according to the modern sense, falsely labeled even true believers “heretics.” “The word “heresy” is derived from the Greek very hairein, which translates: “make-choice-between-alternatives” or “to exercise choice in the presence of alternatives.” See Leonard Verduin, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1964), p. 72 and Leorard Verduin, The First Amendment and the Remnant (Sarasota, Florida: The Christian Hymnary Publishers, 1998), pp. xiii-xiv, 20.

The Word of God teaches that God gives everyone freedom of choice to choose truth or error, regardless of civil government laws which require imprisonment, persecution, and death for “heretics” or for those whose beliefs are deemed dangerous by the civil government or by an established church or religion.

[2] Pfeffer, p. 63.[2] Bill Bradley, Purified Seven Times (Haines City, FL: Landmark Baptist Press, 2001), pp. 88-92. For more information on the John Bunyan story, see Thomas Armitage, The History of the Baptists, Volumes 1 and 2 (New York: Bryan, Taylor, & Co.; Chicago: Morningside Publishing Co., 1887), pp. 474-539.

[3] Armitage, Volume 1, p. 477. 

[4] Ibid., Volume 2, p. 538.

[5] J. A. Shackelford, Compendium of Baptist History (Louisville, Kentucky: Press Baptist book Concern, 1892), p. 17.

[6] Leonard Verduin, The First Amendment and the Remnant (Sarasota, Florida: The Christian Hymnary Publishers, 1998), p. 50.

[7] Ibid., p. 64.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid., p. 85.

[10] Ibid., p. 87.

[11] J. M. Carroll, The Trail of Blood, (Distributed by Ashland Avenue Baptist Church, 163 N. Ashland Avenue, Lexington KY 40502, 606-266-4341), p. 11. See also, Thieleman J. van Braught, Martyr’s Mirror (Scottdale, PA and Waterloo, Ontario: Herald Press), pp. 67-78 (This book is the best and most comprehensive book on persecution of Christians through the seventeenth century.); John Foxe and The Voice of the Martyrs, Foxe, Voices of the Martyrs (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos, 2007), pp. 1-46.

[12] Thieleman, pp. 63-186; Carroll; Leo Pfeffer, Church, State, and Freedom (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1953), pp. 10-12.

[13] Carroll, p. 16; Thieleman; David Benedict, History of the Donatists (Pawtucket R.I.: Nickerson, Sibley & Co., 1875; Paris, Arkansas: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc.,); Leonard Verduin, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1964; Reprinted by permission by Paris AK.: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc.); Leonard Verduin, The Anatomy of a Hybrid (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976).

[14] Carroll, p. 17.

[15] Leo Pfeffer, Church, State, and Freedom (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1953), p. 14, citing Bates, M. Searle, Religious Liberty: An Inquiry, New Your and London, International Missionary Council, 1945, p. 139; Rufinni, Francesco, Religious Liberty, New York, The Macmillan Co., 1949, p. 36; and Carlyle, Alexander J., The Christian Church and Liberty, London, J. Clarke, 1924, p. 96; See also, Leonard Verduin, The Anatomy of a Hybrid (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976), pp. 105-111 and other excerpts.

[16] Armitage, Volume 1, p. 202.

[17] Ibid., p. 204.

[18]  Benedict, p. 99.

[19] Ibid., p. 87.

[20] Pfeffer, p. 18; Verduin, Anatomy of a Hybrid.

[21] Carroll, p. 14.

[22] Ibid., p. 28.

[23] Ibid., p. 33.

[24] Works of Martin Luther, Volume 4 (Philadelphia: A. H. Holman Co., 1931), p. 265 cited in Philip Hamburger, Separation of Church and State (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2002), p. 22.

[25] Pfeffer, p. 21, citing Acton, “The Protestant Theory of Persecution,” in Essays on Freedom and Power, p. 92, and Wace, Henry, and Bucheim, C. A., Luther’s Primary Works, Lutheran Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1885, pp. 194-195, quoted in Noss, John B., Man’s Religions, New York, The Macmillan Co., 1949, p. 92.

[26] 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. 13-14.

[27] Acton, pp. 102-103, quoted in Pfeffer, p. 21; see also, Verduin, Anatomy of a Hybrid, pp. 158-160, 163-168, 186-198; Leonard Verduin, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren (Grand Rapids, Wm. B. Eerdsmans Pub. Co., 1964) and Thomas Armitage, The History of the Baptists, Volumes 1 and 2 (Springfield, Mo.: Baptist Bible College, 1977 Reprint).

[28] Pfeffer, pp. 23-24.

[29] See Ibid., pp. 24-25 for a concise history of Erastianism in England.

[30] Marnell, pp. 18-20; Armitage; Verduin (both cited books).

[31] Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1:847 (IV.xix.15) 2: 1486 (IV.xx.1), trans. Ford Lewis Battles (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960) cited in Hamburger, pp. 22-23, “[Calvin] also wrote: ‘But whosoever knows how to distinguish between body and soul, between the present fleeting life and that future eternal life, will without difficulty know that Christ’s spiritual Kingdom of Christ and the civil government are things completely distinct.’” Ibid., 2: 1488 (IV.xx.1).

[32] Pfeffer, p. 22, citing Institutes of the Christian Religion¸ quoted in Stokes, Anson Phelps, Church and State in the United States, New York, Harper & Brothers, 1950, I. p. 110.

[33] Pfeffer, p. 22.

[34] Philip Hamburger, Separation of Church and State (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2002), p. 23, citing Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2: 1211 (IV.xi.1; ibid., 2: 1487-1488 (IV.xx.2-3).

[35] Pfeffer, pp. 23-24.

[36] Carroll, p. 34.

[37] Ibid., pp. 37-38.

[38] Jerald Finney, God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Austin, TX: Kerygma Publishing Company, 2008 and Xulon Press, 2008), Section IV. Go to the “Books” page of churchandstatelaw.com for ordering information.

[39] Pfeffer, p. 63.

[40] John Callender, The Civil and Religious Affairs of the Colony of Rhode-Island (Providence: Knowles, Vose & Company, 1838), p. 71.

[41] Marnell, pp. 63-64.

[42] Lumpkin, William L. Lumpkin, Baptist Foundations in the South (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2006), p. 1; Edmund S. Morgan, The Puritan Dilemma: The Story of John Winthrop (Boston, Mass., Toronto, Canada: Little, Brown and Company, 1958).

[43] Ibid., p. 48.

[44] Pfeffer, p. 66, citing Sanford H. Cobb, The Rise of Religious Liberty in America (New York: The McMillan Co., 1902), pp. 70-71.

[45] Marnell, p. 40.

[46] Ibid., p. 42.

[47] Peter Marshall and David Manuel, The Light and the Glory, (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1977), p. 146.

[48] Callender, p. 66.

[49] Marshall and Manuel, p. 148.

[50] Ibid., pp. 147-148.

[51] Ibid., p. 148.

[52] Roger Williams and Edward Bean Underhill, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience Discussed and Mr. Cotton’s Letter Examined and Answered (London: Printed for the Society, by J. Haddon, Castle Street, Finsbury, 1848), p. v (The Bloudy Tenent was originally published in 1644. Roger Williams was the founder of Rhode Island, the first government in history with complete freedom of conscience. Due to the efforts of Mr. Williams, Dr. John Clarke, and others who followed America has the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which gives freedom of conscience. A brief history of the efforts of Roger Williams and others is recounted in Section IV of God Betrayed.).

[53] Marnell, p. 48.

[54] Williams and Underhill, p. 244.

[55] Ibid., p. vii.

[56] Isaac Backus, A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists, Volume 1 (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, Previously published by Backus Historical Society, 1871), p. 41; Williams and Underhill, p. ix, noting in fn. 1 that “Such is Governor Winthrop’s testimony. Knowles, p. 46.”

[57] Williams and Underhill, p. x.

[58] Callender, p. 72.

[59] Backus, A History of New England, Volume 1, pp. 44-46. Williams and Underhill, p. xiii. (The colonies held their land under the royal patent. Under the royal right of patent, Christian kings (so called) were given the right to take and give away the lands and countries of other men); Armitage, The History of the Baptists, Volume 2 pp. 638-639.

[60] Williams and Underhill, pp. xiii-xiv.

[61] Ibid, p. xiv; Callender, p. 72; Backus, A History of New England…, Volume I, p. 53 (Backus adds item 2, as, according to footnote 1, p. 53, his is from Governor Winthrop’s Journal, Vol. 1, pp. [162, 163]).

[62] Williams and Underhill, pp. xv, 387-389.

[63] Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 1, p. 53; Armitage, The History of the Baptists, Volume 2, pp. 627-640.

[64] Williams and Underhill., p. xxiii.

[65] Ibid.

[66] Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 1, p. 59.

[67] Ibid., p. 71. See also, John Clarke, Ill News from New-England or A Narative of New-Englands Persecution (Paris, Ark.: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., Reprint: 1st printed in 1652), pp. 22-25.

[68] Louis Franklin Asher, John Clarke (1609-1676): Pioneer in American Medicine, Democratic Ideals, and Champion of Religious Liberty (Paris, Arkansas: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc.), p. 27; Clarke.

[69] Asher, p. 29; Clarke.

[70] Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 1, pp. 77, 427.  On p. 427 is the exact copy from Rhode Island records.  In the margin are citations to Exodus 34.3, 4; II Chronicles 11.3, and II Kings 11, 17.

[71] Asher, p. 27.

[72] Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 1, p. 74; cited in James R. Beller, America in Crimson Red: The Baptist History of America (Arnold, Missouri: Prairie Fire Press, 2004), p. 13; Armitage, A History of the Baptists,  Volume 2, p. 643.

[73] Beller, America in Crimson Red, p. 13.

[74] Williams and Underhill, p. xxviii.

[75] Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 1, pp. 427-428.

[76] Asher, p. 35.

[77] Ibid., pp. 35-36.

[78] Obadiah Holmes moved from England to Massachusetts. He and several others decided the Baptist way was right and were baptized. He and others were excommunicated in 1650. They moved to Rhode Island where Mr. Holmes became a member of the church pastored by Dr. John Clarke.

[79] Asher, p. 57; See Clarke, pp. 27-65 for a full account of the event.

[80] Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 1,, fn. 1, p. 189.

[81] Ibid., p. 190.

[82] Ibid., p. 192; Clarke, pp. 50-51.

[83] Ibid., fn. 1, p. 193. (This from a manuscript of Governor Joseph Jencks).

[84] Asher, pp. 78-79.

[85] Lumpkin, p. 2.

[86] Ibid.

[87] Asher, p. 21: Between 1635 and 1640 Congregationalism had been planted in the Connecticut colony. Callender, pp. 67-68: “As the country was more fully discovered, the lands on Connecticut river grew so famous for their fruitfulness, and convenience to keep cattle, that great numbers from New-Town, Dorchester, &c., removed there, under the conduct of Mr. Hains, Mr. Hopkins, Mr. Ludlow, and Mr. Hooker, &c., and through inexpressible hardships, through famine, and weariness, and perils of the enemy, they at length settled at Hartford, 1635 and 1636, which was the beginning of the Connecticut colony; and, in 1637, New-Haven colony was begun by a people directly from England[.]”

[88] Lumpkin, p. 2.

[89] Ibid., pp. 3-5.

[90] Ibid., p. 8; see also, for the actual wording of the act against itinerant and other preachers, Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 2, pp. 44-46.

[91] Marnell, p. 87.

[92] William G. McLoughlin, Isaac Backus and the American Piestic Tradition (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1967), pp. 60-61.

[93] Lumpkin, pp. 41-45.

[94] Ibid., p. 55, citing J. H. Kilpatrick, The Baptists, (Atlanta: Georgia Baptist Convention, 1911), pp. 37-38.

[95] Ibid., pp. 72-74.

[96] Beller, America in Crimson Red, pp. 181-182.

[97] Lumpkin, pp. 78-79.

[98] Ibid., p. 83.

[99] Beller, America in Crimson Red, p. 197.

[100] Lumpkin, p. 59.

[101] Charles F. James, Documentary History of the Struggle for Religious Liberty in Virginia (Harrisonburg, VA.: Sprinkle Publications, 2007; First Published Lynchburg, VA.: J. P. Bell Company, 1900), p., p. 17.

[102] See Pfeffer, p. 69 for the text of this law.

[103] Ibid.; see also, James, pp. 17-20 for a more comprehensive overview of the laws of Virginia which provided for religious persecution and the established church.

[104] Pfeffer, p. 95. citing Edward F. Humphrey, Nationalism and Religion in America (Boston: Chipman Law Publishing Co., 1924), p. 370.

[105] James, pp. 29-30. Included is a listing of some of those jailed and otherwise persecuted. See also, Beller, America in Crimson Red, pp. 230-250; Lumpkin, pp. 105-120; Grady, What Hath God Wrought, Appendix A, pp. 593-598 citing Lewis Peyton Little, Imprisoned Preachers and Religious Liberty in Virginia, (Galatin, Tenn.: Church History Research and Archives, 1987), pp. 516-520 (lists many Baptists and the persecutions they endured in Virginia; persecutions such as being jailed for preaching, civil suit, being annoyed by men drinking and playing cards, being jerked off stage and head beaten against the ground, hands being slashed, beaten with bludgeons, being shot with a shotgun, ousted as a justice for preaching, being brutally beaten by a mob, severely beaten with a stick, etc.).

[106] James, pp. 47-48.

[107] Ibid., p. 36.

[108] Ibid., pp. 62-65.

[109] Ibid., pp. 62-64; Pfeffer, p. 96.

[110] Pfeffer, p. 96.

[111] James, p. 63 quoting Dr. John Long.

[112] Pfeffer, p. 98, citing N. J. Eckenrode, The Separation of Church and State in Virginia (Richmond, Va.: Virginia State Library, 1910), p. 86. Pfeffer notes in Chapter 4 fn. 102 that the text of the bill is printed as an appendix to Justice Rutledge’s dissent in Everson, 330 U.S. 1.

[113] Pfeffer, p. 101.

[114] Beller, America in Crimson Red, pp. 512-515; Norman Cousins, In God We Trust (Kingsport, Tennessee: Kingsport Press, Inc., 1958), pp. 308-314.

[115] Cousins, pp. 125-127; see also, for an edited version, Living American Documents, Selected and edited by Isidore Starr, Lewis Paul Todd, and Merle Curti, (New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Burlingame: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1961), pp. 67-69.

[116] Marnell, p. 130.

[117] Ibid., p. 98.

[118] James, pp. 150-158; Dr. William P. Grady, What Hath God Wrought: A Biblical Interpretation of American History (Knoxville, Tennessee: Grady Publications, Inc., 1999), pp. 166-167.

[119] James, p. 167.

[120] See, God Betrayed, Section V, Chapter 3 for the history of how the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was used to apply the First Amendment to all levels of civil government.

[121] See, e.g., Jerald Finney, God Betrayed, Section VI, Chapters 2 and 7; Jerald Finney, Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? (Austin, TX: Kerygma Publishing Co., 2009), Chapters 3 and 7.

[122] See, God Betrayed, Section VI, Chapters 1, 4, 5, 8, and 10 and Separation of Church and State, Chapters 1, 4, 5, and 8 for an explanation of 501(c)(3) status for churches.