Tag Archives: History of the First Amendment

1. Introduction to History of the First Amendment


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Jerald Finney
Copyright © February 22, 2018


Christians, except for a small minority who have ferreted out the truth, and secularists have accepted the brand of historical revisionism presented them by those they trust.[1] Revisionists revise in spite of the fact that he truth is available. This study presents accurate historical facts which are readily available through honest research. See [2] for link to some resources which verify this.   Both Christian revisionists (such as David Barton and Roger Federer) and secular revisionists (such as Leo Pfeffer,[3]) have distorted the true history of the First Amendment; “Christian” revisionism through manipulation of selected facts taken out of context and other dishonest devices and secular revisionism, although much more honest and accurate in reporting historical fact, through their inability to properly analyze because they leave God and the spiritual out of the equation.[4]

Revisionists, both “Christian” and secular, work on the lowest level, at the public level. They disseminate books, articles, videos, and public media interviews. They select facts out of context which support their agenda. Their adherents trust and believe them. Few followers have time to check out what they are being told. Even though legal and historical scholars have published the truth, their works remain obscure; the general public has neither the time nor inclination to examine the truth of what they are being fed. This study is based upon undeniable historic fact. Anyone can discover and verify these facts, if they have the time.

Secular revisionists such as Leo Pferrer have been very instrumental in the development of First Amendment law at the highest level—in the courts. Although Pfeffer’s work, unlike that of Christian revisionists, was for the most part factually accurate, he simply did not get it even though he did mention God. On the other hand, Christian revisionists, usually knowingly, present a factually false view of history. See [5] for link to a book which explains “Christian” revisionism. They have disseminated their history to the general public so successfully that the general Christian population who is interested in history as well as many politicians all the way up to Presidents of the United States have accepted and continued to disseminate the accepted “Christian” view of history. “Christian” revisionism has been published in briefs, memorandums of law, etc. in court cases all the way up to the Supreme Court. To present lies to such studied authorities is discrediting to Christianity in general. Although some “Christian” revisionists have now been exposed before the public in general, blind Christians continue to follow their teachings.[6] After all, most Christians believe that other “Christians” would not lie to them.

Religious freedom without persecution or “heretics” was historically rare, almost non-existent before the founding of the colony or Rhode Island. God’s people have always, regardless of persecution, come together as local churches, preached the Gospel, and helped their fellow man. Paul wrote in the midst of persecution:

  • “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;”[7]
  • “We, having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak.”[8]

In the preceding verse, Paul quoted a portion of Psalm 116.10 which says in its entirety, “”I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted:” Tied up in the liberty given believers by Christ is speaking (“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”[9]), and associating or meeting together (“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is;”[10]). Furthermore, God gave mankind the Bible, which in certain times past, was banned and burned. The First Amendment was written and ratified with the intent of protecting God’s churches, the exercise of religion by the dissenters in the colonies, the preaching of the Gospel, the coming together to worship God, the dissemination of literature, mainly the dissemination of God’s Word, and the right to petition the civil government for a redress of grievances.

The First Amendment was the culmination of a long spiritual warfare between established churches and dissenters, mainly the Baptists. God’s power moved mightily during that period of conflict. Many believers suffered persecution. The roots of the struggle in America were embedded in New England, spread to the south, to Virginia, and then to the new nation.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

True historical facts prove that the religion clause of the First Amendment is a legal statement of the principle of religious freedom, or soul liberty, or separation of church and state which conforms to biblical principles. Bible-believing Christians, based upon their spiritual beliefs, fought the fight which resulted in the First Amendment. They made the spiritual Bible-based arguments and practiced their faith despite persecution. Their efforts and arguments gradually convinced others.

Many of the early colonists were Protestants who thought Luther and/or Calvin were correct in their belief that church and state should be united. Others, the Anglicans, brought the state-church concepts of union of church and state of England to the colonies. Dissenters believed in and fought for separation of church and state. The First Amendment was primarily the result of a spiritual warfare between those holding opposing Scriptural interpretations, the established churches versus the dissenters, primarily the Baptists.

  • “Of the Baptists, at least, it may be truly said that they entered the conflict in the New World with a clear and consistent record on the subject of soul liberty. ‘Freedom of conscience’ had ever been one of their fundamental tenets. John Locke, in his ‘essay on Toleration,’ says: ‘The Baptists were the first and only propounders of absolute liberty, just and true liberty, equal and impartial liberty.’ And the great American historian, Bancroft, says: ‘Freedom of Conscience, unlimited freedom of mind, was from the first a trophy of the Baptists.’ Vol. II., pages 66, 67.
  • “The history of the other denominations shows that, in the Old World, at least, they were not in sympathy with the Baptist doctrine of soul liberty, but in favor of the union of Church and State, and using the civil power to compel conformity to the established church….
  • “The Reformation which began with Martin Luther corrected many errors of faith and practice among those who came out of the corrupt and apostate church, but not all. It was left to the sect once ‘everywhere spoken against’ to teach their Protestant brethren the lesson of soul liberty, and this they did in the school of adversity in the New World.”[11]

At times, persecuting established churches became persecuted churches when they moved to other colonies controlled by another church/state establishment. When that happened, the persecutors generally became dissenters seeking religious tolerance or religious freedom.

Beating of Obadiah Holmes for “heresy” by the Puritans in Massachusetts.

The First Amendment to the Constitution resulted from “a factual relationship that was rapidly solidifying when the Constitution was amended by the Bill of Rights.” The First Amendment was the final product of a long struggle by men who believed strongly in the God of the Bible and who were willing to die rather than bow down to false religion. Their spirit was fused into the ordering of the affairs of the United States. “A wall of separation which would bar that spirit from making itself felt in secular concerns can never be built, because it would have to bisect the human heart.”[12] William H. Marnell correctly observed that:

  • “[t]he First Amendment was not the product of indifference toward religion. It was not the product of the deism which prevailed in the Enlightenment, however much the spirit of deism may have been present in certain of the Founding Fathers. Above, all, it was not the product of secularism, and to translate the spirit of twentieth-century secularism back to eighteenth-century America is an outrage to history. The First Amendment was rather a logical outcome of the Reformation and its ensuing developments. It was so far removed from secularism as to be the product of its exact opposite, the deep-seated concern of a people whose religious faith had taken many forms, all of them active, all of them sincerely held. It was so far removed from indifference toward religion [specifically Christianity] as to be the result of its antithesis, the American determination that the diversity of churches might survive the fact of political action.”[13]
Puritans hung 4 Quakers for returning to Massachusetts after being banished for their religious beliefs.

The dissidents in the colonies, chiefly the Baptists, were able to gain a foothold, and they played it for all it was worth. The Baptist theology of the founding era, initially under the leadership of Roger Williams and John Clarke, successfully challenged the doctrines of the established churches concerning the relationship of church and state. Among the results were the establishment of the first civil government in history of any lasting significance with religious liberty, the government of the colony of Rhode Island, and later the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which required religious freedom for churches and freedom of conscience for individuals. The First Amendment allowed churches to operate under God without persecution. The First Amendment did not apply to the states.

Primarily due to the efforts of our Baptist forefathers, a time came, as Baptist pastor and historian John Callender said in 1838, when

  • “[e]xperience has dearly convinced the world, that unanimity in judgment and affection cannot be secured by penal laws….
  • “Indulgence to tender consciences, might be a reproach to the Colony [of Rhode Island], an hundred years ago, [that is in 1738, one hundred years before Callender wrote this], but a better way of thinking prevails in the Protestant part of the Christian church at present. It is now a glory to the Colony, to have avowed such sentiments so long ago, while blindness in this article happened in other places, and to have led the way as an example to others, and to have first put the theory into practice.
  • “Liberty of conscience is more fully established and enjoyed now, in the other New-English Colonies; and our mother Kingdom grants a legal toleration to all peaceable and conscientious dissenters from the parliamentary establishment. Greater light breaking into the world and the church, and especially all parties by turns experiencing and complaining aloud of the hardships of constraint, they are come to allow as reasonable to all others, what they want and challenge for themselves. And there is no other bottom but this to rest upon, to leave others the liberty we should desire ourselves, the liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free. This is doing as we would be done by, the grand rule of justice and equity; this is leaving the government of the church to Jesus Christ, the King and head over all things, and suffering his subjects to obey and serve him.”[14]

By the time the First Amendment was added to the United States Constitution, only New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut had established churches. In 1833 Massachusetts became the last state to disestablish.

Baptists wanted religious freedom. Some probably could foresee the ideal of a church under God, a civil government under God, with neither church nor state over the other. But few knew how to have a civil government under God without establishing a church. Why? Fifteen hundred years of history had witnessed “Christian” establishments made up of church-state or state-church unions. Therefore, one should not be too hard on those early Protestants in America who continued those unions, since, according to Isaac Backus:

  • “[many things] prove that those fathers [the leaders of the Puritans in Massachusetts] were earnestly concerned to frame their constitution both in church and state by divine rule; and as all allow that nothing teaches like experience, surely they who are enabled well to improve the experience of past ages, must find it easier now to discover the mistakes of that day, than it was for them to do it then. Even in 1637, when a number of puritan ministers in England, and the famous Mr. Dod among them, wrote to the ministers here, that it was reported that they had embraced certain new opinions, such as ‘that a stinted form of prayer and set liturgy is unlawful; that the children of godly and approved Christians are not to be baptized, until their parents be set members of some particular congregation; that the parents themselves, though of approved piety, are not to be received to the Lord’s Supper until they be admitted set members,’ &c., Mr. Hooker expressed his fears of troublesome work about answering of them, though they may appear easy to the present generation.”[15]

This chapter will succinctly summarize the true history of religious liberty in America, initially pointing out some of the misleading teachings of secular and Christian revisionists. Ultimately, Christians can accomplish nothing with lies.[16]


Endnotes

[1] Influential Christian revisionists include non-scholars such as David Barton and Roger Federer. Secular revisionsts include scholars such as Leo Pfeffer. Pfeffer’s book Church, State and Freedom, was called a “masterpiece” and the ultimate sourcebook for the history of the evolution of the all-American principle of  separation of church and state. Pfeffer was an American Jewish lawyer, constitutional scholar, and humanist who was active in movement for religious freedom in the United States, and was one of leading legal proponents of the separation of church and state.

[2] List of Scholarly Resources which Explain and Comprehensively Document the True Histor of Religious Freedom in America.

[3] Leo Pfeffer, Church, State, and Freedom (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1953), pp. 81-93.

[4] Influential constitutional “scholars” such as Leo Pfeffer, since they have no concept of God or His sovereignty, have removed the most important aspect of debate from the equation—the spiritual aspect. Pfeffer, misrepresents spiritual matters because he does not understand them. He relegates the spiritual to the merely “ideological.” He attributes Madison’s positions on the issue of separation of church and state to his reliance on John Locke, and quotes Locke; then, even though Locke, in the quotes cited by Pfeffer, talks of government interference with the care and salvation of souls which belongs to God, Pfeffer never mentions God in his discussion but rather emphasizes Locke’s “social contract theory.” He overemphasizes the influence of rationalism and deism in gaining the First Amendment. He falsely proclaims that the “first four presidents of the United States were either Deists or Unitarians.” He asserts that the Great Awakening “emphasized an emotional, personal religion” which appealed directly to the individual, stressing the rights and duties of the individual conscience and its answerability exclusively to God.[4] He, like all secular scholars, simply did not get it even though he did mention God. He had no choice but to mention God, since a controversy over what God taught in the Bible was at the center of the controversy. He simply did not and could not examine that controversy. Lost men and saved men who were spiritually ignorant have led the way in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

[5] The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus/Christian Revisionists on Trial….

[6] See Exposing Catholic/Calvinist/Reformed Historic Revisionism.

[7] 2 Co. 4.8-9.

[8] 2 Co. 4.13.

[9] Mk. 16.15.

[10] He. 10.25a.

[11] 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), pp. 14-15.

[12] 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.  xii-xiii.

[13] Ibid.

[14] John Callender, The Civil and Religious Affairs of the Colony of Rhode-Island (Providence: Knowles, Vose & Company, 1838), pp. 108-109.

[15] 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), pp. 37-38.

[16] Read James R. Beller, The Coming Destruction of the Baptist People: The Baptist History of America (St. Louis, Missouri: Prairie Fire Press, 2005) and James R. Beller, America in Crimson Red: The Baptist History of America (Arnold, Missouri: Prairie Fire Press, 2004) for a thorough discussion of the theology behind the lies of the Christian nationalists, whom Beller calls catholic Reformed, and a discussion of Christian nationalists other than Peter Marshall and David Manuel.

Overview of Basic Course


A course of instruction offered by Separation of Churches Under Christ Ministry.


If you miss one part of the puzzle that is being put together in these studies, you will never see and understand the whole picture.


Click here to go to the written lessons.
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Pr.23.12This study is designed for the born again believer who wishes to learn what the Bible teaches about government, church, separation of church and state, and how those principles have been and are applied in America. The topics covered are extremely important to our Lord Jesus Christ, to individuals, to families, to churches, and to the nation. The guiding light is the Bible.

Let me emphasize that a lost person cannot understand the subject matter since it requires spiritual discernment. To learn how to be saved, go to God’s Plan of Salvation Page on this website. Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is preeminent. It is a choice every person should make, but God leaves the choice up to the individual.

1Co.2.14-16This course is presented at the spiritual grade school level. Each lesson  will be only about five to eight minutes in length. The course presents basic knowledge. At first, only an elementary analysis and understanding is taught and required by the student. For those who are already more advanced, they can listen to the study and go to the resources cited in the accompanying written (and probably more thorough, but still grade school level) study for more in depth and detailed studies which will connect to further studies. One can progress as far as he wants, even to the graduate level, if he continues to follow the links to the top studies such as God Betrayed. At that level, meditation, analysis, and study become very important.

In grade school, one accepts what he is told. He begins to think on a basic level, of course, but his instructors can either guide him to truth, to lies, or to a way of thinking that says there is no truth. The underlying basis of this course is truth based on Bible principle, Bible fact, historical fact, and man’s law as tested against the higher law, God’s law. The Bible emphasizes the importance of truth, so truth is the goal of this course.

The only way to arrive at truth in the Bible is to believe what it says. Those religions who have improperly spiritualized and allegorized portions of the Bible have brought havoc to the world, as will be seen in these studies.

Pr.2.6A child of God should never just accept what he is told. He should make sure what he is told is in line with the Word of God. Even on the grade school level, some verses will be cited as the basis for a teaching. The more mature student will want to make sure those verses are not taken out of their immediate context and the overall context of Scripture.

As to facts outside the Bible, a mature believer will want to make sure those facts are reliable. At the highest level of these studies, which one can check out by going up the chain of links provided with the teachings, the student will find complete citations and analysis.

Once one has a working knowledge of these studies all the way to the top, he will have achieved the equivalent of four years of college studies, to put it in secular terms. Then, he will be prepared to do his own studies, analysis, etc. at the Masters and Doctoral level. You see, one will understand as he arrives at the graduate level that  many of the matters studied in this course have room for further important development.

This initial study is for the believer who has not studied these matters at least to any extent, or who has depended upon

  1. as to spiritual matters: pastors or teachers who never delve into the deeper things of God
  2. as to factual matters, revisionists such as David Barton or Roger Federer, et al.

Again, this study is for born again believers who want to honestly seek truth. God highly esteems truth, along with knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

The following is an outline of things to come:

  1. First, Foundational Bible Principles. The Bible Doctrines of Church, State, and Separation of Church and State.
  2. Second, the American Application of Those Principles. (1) The History of the First Amendment. (2) Then, a study of Union of Church and State in America.
  3. Finally, how a church can organize according to the principles of organization in the New Testament.

Pr.4.7One should not attempt to start with the final phase of the course without understanding the foundational principles and the application of those principles.

For a more thorough outline, go to Short Study Course.

The material that you will study in this course fits together like a puzzle. The completed puzzle will present a picture that everyone, and especially the children of God in America should have hidden in their hearts.

God bless you as we grow together in the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom concerning the institution God loved and gave Himself for, the church.

The History and Meaning of “Establishment of Religion” in America

A Publication of Churches Under Christ Ministry


Click here to go to All Written Course Segments
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Jerald Finney
December 18, 2017


This article will succinctly answer several questions:

  1. What did “establishment or religion” mean in the colonies?
  2. What did “establishment or religion” mean at the time of the adoption of the First Amendment?[i]
  3. What happened with the remaining forced religious establishments after the adoption of the First Amendment?
  4. What does “establishment or religion” mean today?

Contents

I. Introduction: Meaning of “Establishment of Religion”
II. The Path to Multiple Establishments in the American Colonies
III. State Establishments
IV. Conclusion


I. Introduction: Meaning of “Establishment of Religion”


First Amendment Religion Clause

To understand these issues, one must first define “establishment of religion” and understand the meaning of “law ‘respecting’ an ‘establishment of religion.” At the adoption of the First Amendment, “No law respecting” meant “no law concerning or touching the subject of.” That still leaves unresolved the meaning of “establishment of religion.” Prior to colonization and for some time thereafter, “establishment of religion” meant one officially recognized church which worked with, over, or under the state, the civil government. The original meaning of “establishment of religion” which existed prior to and at the founding of America, was replaced by a “multiple establishment” understanding long before the adoption of the First Amendment. “The evidence demonstrates that by an establishment of religion the framers meant any government policy that aided religion and its agencies, the religious establishments.”[ii]

“After the American Revolution, seven of the fourteen states that comprised the Union in 1791 required establishments of religion by law. The other states which originally had established churches, had already done away with forced establishment in favor of chosen establishment and they all provided for multiple establishment. No state maintained a single or preferential establishment of religion. An establishment of religion meant to those who framed and ratified the First Amendment what it meant to the states: support of religion on a nonpreferential basis. It was specifically this support on a nonpreferential basis that the establishment clause of the First Amendment sought to forbid.”[iii]

In 1833, Massachusetts became the last state to replace forced establishment of religion with establishment of religion by choice. The First Amendment forbade establishment of religion in federal jurisdiction.


II. The Path to Multiple Establishments in the American Colonies


Establishment by choice and the free exercise of religion (soul liberty) took different paths in America. Almost all the colonies started out with single establishments of religion. Due to a variety of factors, by the time of the adoption of the First Amendment, all state establishments, whether by force or choice, were general or multiple establishments.

In the conventional sense, before the colonization of America as well as in most of the original colonies when founded, an establishment of religion meant the legal union of government and a single church or denomination such as Catholicism (numerous European countries), Calvinism (Geneva), Presbyterianism (Scotland), Lutheranism (Germany), or the Church of England.

With the founding of the colonies, conventional establishments existed in the southern colonies of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. In 1778, South Carolina created an establishment or religion endorsed by William Tennent. “He called it a ‘general establishment’ because it recognized and nurtured the legal equality of all Protestants without preferring one denomination over others.” These general establishments were replaced by multiple establishment.

New England, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut at first had single establishments, Congregationalism. Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire were founded and ruled by the Puritans, who came to American for freedom of religion “for themselves only.” The Puritans felt that they were the right people, at the right place, at the right time to establish a “city on a hill” to light the world, to show the world the rightness and resulting blessings of doing things God’s way (according to their Calvinist theology). Their experiment was well on its way to self-destruction by 1660. Gradually, the exclusive establishments in these New England colonies were replaced by multiple establishments.

Persecutions of “heretics,” those whose conscience prohibited them from bowing down to the colonial establishments were well documented. Those who supported establishment of their church were persecuted when in a colony with another established church. For example, Anglicans in New England were persecuted when they went to Massachusetts, and Presbyterians and others were persecuted to one extent or another in Virginia and other southern colonies. However, in opposing the persecuting establishment, they never favored complete separation of church and state and combined church and state when in the majority or in control.

A minority remnant of the Baptists were the only ones who consistently stood against union of church and state. That most Baptists by that time did not oppose total separation of church and state became clear when most of them sought certificates and compromised on the issue when the move toward multiple establishments had taken force.

Among those who stood their ground and led the fight against any establishment were Roger Williams, Dr. John Clarke, Isaac Backus, and John Leland. In New England, Roger Williams, Dr. John Clarke, and later, Isaac Backus wrote extensively against establishment and chronicled the persecutions which continued until the eve of the American Revolution and after, to a lesser extent.[iv] On the eve of the American Revolution, in 1774, eighteen Baptists were jailed in Warwick, Massachusetts for refusing to pay taxes in support of the town’s Congregational minister. To be exempted from paying the ministerial tax, a Baptist had to obtain a certificate that he regularly attended a church of his own denomination. For a copy of the certificate, he had to pay a tax of four pence. Isaac Backus, and some of his followers opposed the tax and the certificate and maintained that they were persecuted by the Congregational majority. John Adams, a Congregationalist (Puritan) leader stated that the establishment was “but a slender one” that did not infringe religious liberty.

In 1774, Baptists still paid ministerial taxes in Virginia and other colonies for building churches and were imprisoned for preaching in unlicensed Houses, preaching without Anglican ordination, and for other infractions.  Virginia Baptists were beaten by mobs, fined, and imprisoned for their religious beliefs which prevented them from obeying the laws of the established Anglican Church, preaching. The Virginia establishment originated with the colonies first charter in 1606.

Rhode Island not only never had an establishment of any kind, but also commanded complete religious freedom of soul liberty for all. Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey had no establishment of religion, but did not allow completed religious freedom for all. For example, Pennsylvania did not grant freedom of religion to Catholics.

In New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, the pattern of establishment was diversified and unique. New York was the first example of an establishment very different from the European type, a general establishment without preference to one church over others.


III. State Establishments


The First Amendment, which until 1947 applied only to the federal government, forbade establishment of religion and guaranteed soul liberty at the national level only. After the First Amendment was adopted, states which still had laws requiring establishment gradually amended their constitutions to do away with the requirement that churches be “established.” All state constitutions allow churches to became established, but also provide that a church can make the choice not to become established. State constitutional provisions regarding church and state do not require establishment and also mandate soul liberty or the free exercise of religion.

A remnant of the Baptists continued to stand against any kind of establishment, including establishment by incorporation until all states had done away with forced establishment. John Leland was notable Baptist preacher, writer, and activist against union of church and state during a period starting in the 1780’s in Virginia and later in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The efforts and writings of earlier Baptist leaders, especially those of Isaac Backus, continued their influenced during this period. Most Baptists had already been severed from their roots and betrayed God and their historic Baptist forefathers who had stood against the establishment to the death.[v]

New Jersey (1776), Pennsylvania (1776), New York (1777), and Delaware (1776 and 1792) made clear in their Constitutions that there would be no coerced establishment of religion.

North Carolina, by its constitution of 1776, became the first southern state to enact preferential establishment. “In Maryland, Georgia, and South Carolina, ‘an establishment of religion’ meant very much what it did in the three New England states that maintained multiple establishments. However, those three southern states merely permitted but did not create establishment.”[vi]

In six other states, pro-establisment parties were forced to make concessions to the growing sentiment against any forced establishments. Four other states replaced single establishments by authorizing multiple establishments, and two substituted multiple establishments for dual ones. “The evidence relating to each of these six proves that an …an establishment of religion was not restricted in meaning to a state church or to a system of public support of one sect alone; instead, and establishment of religion meant public support of several or all churches, with preference to none.”[vii]

Three of these states—Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut—were in New England. The 1780 Massachusetts Constitution allowed for the possibility that a Baptist or some other minority minister might be elected by a town and receive the taxes of his congregation. This happened in several towns where the Baptists became the majority. In those towns, the Baptist ministers, by law, were supposed to receive their salaries from the town treasuries. As the Reverend John Leland pointed out, in towns where Baptists formed a majority, they might “tax all in the town or precincts to part with their money for religious uses,” thereby violating Baptist principles.[viii] A minority of Baptists stood on Bible principles and followed Isaac Backus in refusing to compromise their beliefs; but a majority followed men such as Hezekiah Smith and compromised on the important doctrine of separation of church and state. The conflicts continued until 1833, when Massachusetts became to last state to do away with required establishments.

New Hampshire’s establishment of religion after the Revolution did not significantly differ from that of Massachusetts. Article VI of its 1784 Declaration of Rights created a multiple establishment. The majority of New Hampshire’s Baptists, sometimes sought the incorporation of their churches, as in Massachusetts, to insure tax exemption of their congregants from a local Congregational church. But, says William G. McLoughlin, most of the petitions to incorporate “seemed to originate from the Baptists’ desire to enable their congregations to levy religious taxes on their own members which could be binding in law,” the Baptists as well as Congregationalists also accepted from the state ministerial lands regardless of the demands of some of them for a separation of church and state.[ix] The establishment of religion in New Hampshire fell victim to state politics, not to the drive to separate church and state because of the principle of voluntarism. “Voters, increasingly non-Congregationalist, rallied around the Democrats’ condemnation of the tax system as having promoted an establishment of religion that supposedly favored the prevailing denomination at the expense of the religious liberty of others.” The Democrats passed a Toleration Act in 1919 that ended the system of tax support for religion.[x]

In 1784, Connecticut passed its Toleration Act which allowed certain Protestant denominations to publicly worship “in a way agreeable to their consciences” and be exempted from taxes if they produced certificates. Due to continuing protests and changes in the law which did not satisfy many dissenters who continued to protest, a law was passed that allowed nonconformists to write their own certificates attesting membership in a different religious society which they supported, thus exempting them for the support of the town church. John Leland, in a tract describing the evils of an establishment of religion, did not doubt that Connecticut had one, even though one’s contribution to religion went to the church whose worship one attended.[xi] The battle in Connecticut continued. In 1802 the Baptists in petitioned the legislature to repeal the system of compulsory religious taxes; held a statewide convention remonstrating against Connecticut’s establishment because it favored the Congregationalists and because religion should be left to voluntary support, petitioned the government in 1804 because the required certificates did not apply to the Congregationalists as well as others. The consistent argument of the Baptists, except for a minority led by Isaac Backus, was that the existing church-state relationship preferred Congregationalism and that private donations should be the only source of support to religion, despite Baptist participation in the establishment’s largess. In 1816, Connecticut received a windfall repayment from the United States for its costs incurred in the War of 1812 and divided 6/7 of it among the denominations and the Baptists accepted their share. The Baptists, except for a remnant who stood for complete separation of church and state, compromised when it became “practical.” In 1818, Connecticut provided that no one could be compelled to support any religious society, yet allowed any religious society to tax itself and privately collect the assessment from each member. As with every state, Connecticut provided for voluntary incorporation by churches.

“Maryland’s constitution of 1776 ended the former supremacy of the Episcopalian church, which had an exclusive establishment during the colonial period; but allowed the legislature to legislate multiple or nonpreferential establishment of “Christian,” to include Roman Catholic churches. In 1810, Maryland amended its constitution to remove any taxation for support of any religion. Churches could still incorporate under state law, but no religious taxes were to be collected from anyone.

When the First Amendment was adopted, South Carolina’s constitution permitted multiple establishment and collection of taxes for religious support of the established churches. Under the constitution of 1778, all Protestant denominations were treated equally. “Any religious society of a Protestant denomination might therefore be incorporated and become ‘a church of the established religion of this State’ on condition of subscribing to articles of faith: a belief in God, a promise to worship him publicly, profession of Christianity as ‘the true religion’ and reliance on the Scriptures as divinely inspired.” No one was required to pay toward any church that he did not “freely join.” This was the first religious establishment ever that “did not exact religious assessments.” [xii] The 1790 South Carolina constitution did away with religious taxes altogether, but still allowed incorporation of churches.

The Baptists led the fight for religious liberty in Virginia. Many were abused and jailed for their refusal to bow down to the established church/state in Virginia. They influenced statesmen like Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and James Madison to fight for religious liberty in Virginia. The result was the 1776 Virginia Bill for Religious Liberty.

Although Virginia still had single establishment before 1776, no state or colony had a statute that included every religion. Three of the states with multiple establishments authorized by law established Protestantism and three established Christianity. The establishments of all six included all denominations and sects with a sufficient number of members to form a church. Protestantism was synonymous with religion because Jews and Roman Catholics were nonexistent or too few to make a difference; “and where Christianity was established, as in Maryland which had many Catholics, Jews were scarcely known.” “Clearly the provisions of these six states show that to understand the American meaning of “an establishment of religion” one cannot adopt a definition based on European experience.”[xiii]

Georgia’s constitution of 1777 permitted multiple establishment without exception, thereby replacing the exclusive establishment of the Anglican church. The establishment of religion meant government tax support of all churches, with preference for none. The 1789 constitution permitted multiple establishments. In 1798, Georgia finally guaranteed nonpreferential establishment of religion and that no person should be “obliged to pay tithes, taxes, or any other rate, for  … any place of worship, or for maintenance of any minister or ministry, contrary to what he believes to be right, or hath voluntarily engaged.”

Vermont became the fourteenth state in 1791 and had a multiple establishment. Due largely to the stand of Baptists in Vermont, that state repealed all laws concerning taxation for religion, thus doing away with forced union of church and state.


IV. Conclusion


Every church has a choice – either under God only or under man (civil government).

As establishment became available to all churches,  many or the majority of churches incorporated. Today the overwhelming majority of churches, to include Baptist churches, incorporate in order to obtain perceived temporal earthly benefits for the state governments After the addition of 26 United States Code §§ 501(c)(3) and 508, churches sought benefits from the federal government as well by obtaining “tax exempt” status.

All church state establishments which have ever existed came about as a result of a civil government law which combined church and state. In all cases, a church or churches combined with the state under man’s law for perceived benefits from the state. That is the case in America. Even today, one of the reasons for choosing such arrangements is financial. All reasons given by churches for joining with the state are based upon man’s temporal, fleshly, earthly and legal reasoning. All such reasons, by their very nature, circumvent God’s eternal, spiritual, heavenly, and Biblical principles for His churches. [xiv]


Endnotes

[i] See, for list of source authorities, List of Scholarly Resources Which Explain and Comprehensively Document the True History of Religious Freedom in America.

[ii] Leonard W. Levy, The Establishment Clause/Religion and the First Amendment (London: MacMillan Publishing Co., 1986), p. xiv.

[iii] Id., p. xvi.

[iv] See, e.g., Isaac Backus. A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians Called Baptists, Volumes 1 and 2 (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, Previously Published by Backus Historical Society, 1871)(originally published in the late 1700’s); Williams, Roger and Underhill, Edward Bean. 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 (Reprint)(originally published in 1644); Clarke, John. Ill News from New-England or A Narative of New-Englands Persecution. Paris, Ark.: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., Reprint: 1stprinted in 1652; List of Scholarly Resources Which Explain and Comprehensively Document the True History of Religious Freedom in America.

[v] See, for more information, A Brief History of the First Amendment. That brief article gives links to more resources for the interested student.

[vi] Levy, The Establishment Clause/Religion and the First Amendment, p. 47.

[vii] Levy, p. 26.

[viii] “The Yankee Spy” (1794), in L.F. Greene, ed., The Writings of John Leland (New York, reprint 1969), pp. 225, 227, cited in id., p. 40. John Leland (May 14, 1754 – January 14, 1841) was an American Baptist minister who preached in Virginia,, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, as well an outspoken abolitionist. He was an important figure in the struggle for religious liberty in the United States.

[ix] William G. McLoughlin, New England Dissent 1630-1833: The Baptists and the Sepration of Church and State (Cambridge, Mass., 1971, 2 vols.), II, pp. 874, 886, cited in Levy, The Establishment Clause/Religion and the First Amendment, p. 40.

[x] Levy, p. 40.

[xi] John Leland, “The Rights of Conscience Inalienable,” in Writings of John Leland, p. 186.

[xii] Levy, p. 50-51.

[xiii] Levy, p. 60-61.

[xiv] See, for a complete understanding of church incorporation and church 26 United States Code §§ 501(c)(3) and 508 status, Separation of Church and State: God’s Churches – Spiritual or Legal Entities?


 

What is a First Amendment Church?


A Publication of Churches Under Christ Ministry


Click here to go to All Written Course Segments
Click here to go to General Questions Answered
Click here To Go to Links to All 5 Minute Youtube Course Segments


Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 1, 2017


The First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Since the First Amendment is a law which recognizes and applies the Bible principle of separation of church and state, a church who remains under the First Amendment only also complies with Bible principles concerning the relationship of church and state. See Is Separation of Church and State Found in the Constitution? A church who remains under the First Amendment only is not a legal entity. That is, she remains under God only and has no ties to the legal system. She is a spiritual entity only. See Is a church a spiritual or a legal entity? 

Click the above to go to the article, “Is Separation of Church and State Found in the Constitution?

Knowing the true history of the First Amendment helps one to understand this. See What is the history of the First Amendment? for a brief outline of that history. See Endnote for links to resources for more thorough studies.

Catholic/Calvinist/Reformed theology, which persecuted heretics, still has not changed. The thing that has changed is that those who adhere to those theologies no longer have an establishment over which they have control. Thus, they no longer have the power to kill those who do not bow down to the church/state union. They are working tirelessly to regain their power. Like all satanic efforts, they use deceit, lies, craft, and so forth, to work toward their goal of union of church and state. History proves that all church/state unions have always resulted in corruption of the church, the state, and the people, except for a remnant. They work from the highest academic levels down to the political level, the church level, and finally to the lowest level – the level of the individual (saved and lost religious person).

Since they follow Catholic/Calvinist/Reformed lies, most “Christians” believe that there never was any persecution in America. They are also led to believe, against solid facts which honest research readily discovers. Secular scholars and some Christian scholars know the true history (See, List of Scholarly Resources Which Explain and Comprehensively Document the True History of Religious Freedom in America). The “Christian” landscape is dominated by revisionist history. I explain this in The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus/A Case of Premeditated Murder/Christian Revisionists on Trial/The History of the First Amendment.

In the Old World, “establishment” meant union of one church with state. The fight against establishment tyranny in the American colonies and early Republic resulted in another type of establishment – multiple establishments. That continues to this day, but it is now a choice whether to be established or not. Establishment is still possible, if one looks at the meaning of establishment to include any union of church and state made possible by the law of man, the law of a civil government.

Most churches in America choose to incorporate under state law to get “perceived benefits.” Most choose 501c3 or 508(c)(1)(A) federal tax exempt status. They decide to unite with the state and federal governments under laws made by man. Those man-made laws control many aspects of the existence and operation of a church. Modern American establishment does not give a church or churches power over the state.

Why do churches unite with the state and become legal entities (established churches)? For the love of money and earthly power. They think that more people will join their churches when civil government organizes them like a business. They also want to be able to hold property, insurance, and bank accounts in the name of the church. They want to be able to contract with pastors and pay them a salary instead of taking care of the pastor’s financial needs in a Bible way. They have been scared by “Christian” lawyers who make various false legal reasons. For more understandings on this, see False Reasons of “Christian” Lawyers and Pastors for Combining Church and State, Online version of Separation of Church and State: God’s Churches – Spiritual or Legal Entities? Chapters 9-13 or PDF of 2nd Edition of Separation of Church and State: God’s Churches – Spiritual or Legal Entities? Chapters 6-10.

Most so-called-Christians cannot think spiritually or Biblically. They think according to the principles of the god of this world. They think that they need the tax-exemption so they will bring in more money to the corporation for man-made buildings and business programs (day-care centers, schools, Bible Colleges, and so forth). They try to serve God and mammon. They do not know or apply Bible principles for churches which clearly teach, among other things, separation of church and state, that God desires His churches to be spiritual entitles only. They surely do not understand that “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Lk. 16.13). They give lip service to God, but dishonor and grieve Him by serving another master.

In conclusion, churches have a choice. Most choose mammon. For those churches who choose God, the First Amendment as well as corresponding state constitutional provisions guarantee that a church can choose to remain under God only, completely separate from state and federal civil government. When a church does so, she is a First Amendment church.


 

Endnote

Click the above to go to the article, “Is Separation of Church and State Found in the Constitution?

Honest research verify these teachings. See the resources which accompany this posting to verify this:

List of Scholarly Resources Which Explain and Comprehensively Document the True History of Religious Freedom in America

Is a church a spiritual or a legal entity?

Is Separation of Church and State Found in the Constitution?

The History of the First Amendment

An Abridged History of the First Amendment

The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus/A Case of Premeditated Murder/Christian Revisionists on Trial/The History of the First Amendment
This book examines not only the history of the First Amendment but also the Catholic/Calvinist/Reformed tactics and motives for killing “heretics” and lying about history and other matters as they attempt to reestablish their establishment theology.

God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application
This book examines all aspects of the issue of separation of church and state

Questions Which Reveal Whether One Is A Covenant Theologian

Jerald Finney
Copyright © November 22, 2015

Note. See Dispensational Theology versus Covenant Theology as well as the first four sections of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application for an accurate explanation (not the perversions of the doctrine which many follow) of the origin, definition, etc. of the term “Dispensational Theology.”

3This short article gives questions to help the knowledgeable believer and the believer who wishes to become knowledgeable determine what he believes and why; specifically whether he is a Covenant Theologian, a Dispensational Theologian (both as defined in the article above) or some variation thereof.

Many more questions could be added, but these few will help one determine whether he believes Covenant Theology or some aspects of that theology. One who answers all the questions “yes” is a Covenant Theologian. Should you answer some questions yes and some questions no, you have inconsistent and mutually exclusive beliefs. Some of these questions are rather difficult and you may not be able to answer them with your present knowledge and understanding of the Bible and theology. If so, just skip those questions and answer the ones you do understand.

  1. Do you believe that the rules for church and state and for the Jewish religion-state are the same?
  2. Do you make important dispensational distinctions even though you view them as related to the unifying and underlying Covenant of Grace?
  3. Do you see the present struggle between good and evil terminated by the beginning of eternity at which point there will come catastrophe and divine judgment?
  4. Do you believe that the unifying principle for the philosophy of history is the Covenant of Grace?
  5. Do you believe that the redemption of the elect plus many other programs are all parts of God’s purpose for history?
  6. Are you convinced that Israel and the church are essentially the same?
  7. Do you believe in a nonliteral interpretation of Scripture, especially when interpreting prophecy?
  8. Are you amillennial?
  9. Do you believe that the church/state union (a one world church/state) will be achieved and will succeed in bringing peace to the earth before the return of Christ?
  10. Do you believe that the ultimate purpose of history is the glory of God through the redemption of the elect?
  11. Do you develop the Bible’s philosophy of history on the basis of two or three covenants: the Covenant of Redemption (some covenant theologians do not include this covenant), the Covenant of Works, and the Covenant of Grace? [Note. One definition of “philosophy of history” is “a systematic interpretation of universal history in accordance with a principle by which historical events and successions are unified and directed toward ultimate meaning.” Of course, that definition requires some thinking to understand. If you wish to know whether you are or are not a Covenant Theologian, you should be able to understand it.]
  12. Do you believe that person who is a child of the regenerate is a member of the Covenant of Grace even if he does not enter into the communion of life aspect through a confession of faith?
  13. Have you divided postfall history into two dispensations, the Mosaic dispensation sometimes called the “Old Covenant,” and the Christian dispensation, usually called the “New Covenant”?
  14. Do you believe that the Covenant of Grace, although administration of that covenant differed between the dispensations, exists throughout these dispensations?
  15. Do you believe that each of the biblical covenants is a continuation and newer phase of the Covenant of Grace?
  16. Do you believe in dual covenants? (I.e., that the Covenant of Works required obedience for salvation. According to the Covenant of Grace one could only be saved by faith in Christ.)
  17. If your answer to 16 was “yes” then is the Covenant of Works still in effect?
  18. Do you believe that God’s commands are “too severe even for Adam in innocency, and that grace[, through the covenant of circumcision and its successor, baptism,] gives an exemption from that severity,” under the Covenant of Grace?
  19. Do you believe that the local church should be made up of both those who are under the Covenant of Works as well as those who are under the Covenant of Grace?
  20. Do you believe that all in society should be forced to be members of a church which is united with and supported by the state?
  21. Do you believe in infant baptism?
  22. Do you believe in union of church and state?
  23. Do you believe in enforcing all the Ten Commandments?
  24. Do you believe in executing those who do not agree with your theology, at least outwardly?
  25. Do you believe in forcing all to attend the established church?

These matters are most important because the road to religious freedom without persecution in America was a story of the conflict between opposing Bible beliefs and practices – between the persecutors (Covenant Theologians such as the Anglicans and the Puritans or Congregationalists) and the persecuted. Because the same theologies are at war today, a believer actively engaged in spiritual warfare should make sure he is fighting according to knowledge, understanding, and wisdom on all fronts and especially on the front of accurate Bible teaching.

Knowing the answer to this question is vital to spiritual warfare.
Knowing the answer to this question is vital to spiritual warfare.

The history without the theologies involved is incomplete and inadequate. The battle between false theology and truth is still raging. To side with the false in even some areas dishonors our Lord and leads to bad consequences. It is better to fight for right no matter what, but so doing without knowing and teaching the reasons for the fight and the Bible precepts behind the war, and exposing lies and false theologies does not fully glorify God. Failure of God’s soldiers to proclaim all truth contributes to the cause of those who are pushing spiritual lies. All believers should seek to be in God’s perfect will even though one knows that he will never perfectly achieve such a thing.

As is obvious from a reading of Dispensational Theology versus Covenant Theology as well as God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application, those Baptists who led the charge for religious freedom were well studied in their beliefs, exposed the doctrines and practices of their Covenant Theology adversaries, and very articulately published their positions. Let us look to our examples, those historic Baptists who stood for truth and followed the teachings of the Bible no matter the cost.

Introduction to “The History of Religious Freedom In America”


Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 31, 2012


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


Note. This is a modified version of Section IV, Chapter 1 of God Betrayed: Separation of Church and State/The Biblical Principles and the American Application. Audio Teachings on the History of the First Amendment has links to the audio teaching of Jerald Finney on the history of the First Amendment..


“[B]y the dawn of the American Revolution all the colonies were approaching or had reached a readiness to separate Church and State. Only Rhode Island had traveled no road and followed no route to reach that destination; Rhode Island had been there from the start. For Pennsylvania the route was short and direct; full civil rights had to be granted to Catholics and to disbelievers in the Trinity for full civil liberty to be achieved. In the other colonies … far reaching and profound changes in attitude were necessary before the … concept could become a possibility” (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), p. 93).


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” (U.S. CONST. amend. I).


Introduction to “The History of Religious Freedom In America”

Until the colony of Rhode Island was founded, it was unusual for a civil government to provide for freedom of conscience even though God desires nations to provide for religious liberty under Him. Nonetheless, God’s people have always, regardless of the persecution of those who refuse to march lockstep with union of religion and state, come together as local churches, preached the Gospel, and helped their fellow man. Paul wrote in the midst of persecution:

  • “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (2 Co. 4.8-9).
  • “We, having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak” (2 Co. 4.13).

In the preceding verse, Paul quoted a portion of Psalm 116.10 which says in its entirety, “”I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted:” Tied up in the liberty given believers by Christ is speaking (“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk. 16.15)), and associating or meeting together (“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is” (He. 10.25a)). Furthermore, God gave mankind the Bible, which in certain times past, was banned and burned. The First Amendment was written and ratified with the intent of protecting God’s churches, the exercise of religion or Christianity (freedom of religion or freedom of conscience), the preaching of the Gospel (freedom of speech), the coming together to worship God (freedom to assemble), the dissemination of literature, mainly the dissemination of God’s Word (freedom of press), and the right to petition the civil government for a redress of grievances.

The First Amendment was the culmination of a long spiritual warfare between established churches and dissenters, mainly the Baptists. God’s power moved mightily during that period of conflict. Many believers suffered persecution. The roots of the struggle in America were embedded in New England, spread to the south, to Virginia, and then to the new nation.

Revisionists have obscured the true history of the First Amendment. Revisionism is not new. Of course secularists, and especially atheists, must revise in order to support their outlandish positions. Catholics and Protestants, including the Puritans, consistent with their biases have long revised in order to further their agendas. Good examples are the claims made by the Presbyterians and the Honorable William Wirt Henry near the close of the nineteenth century. Mr. Henry “told of Virginia’s leadership in bringing in religious liberty but made no allusion to the Baptists, and said it was ‘under the leadership of Patrick Henry that religious liberty has been established as a fundamental part of the fundamental law of our land’” (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. f.). As a result of Mr. Henry’s assertions, Charles F. James—a Baptist, who had preached that “at the date of the [American] Revolution the Baptists were the only denomination of Christians which, as such, held to the idea of religious liberty, and that, of the political leaders of that day, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson were chiefly instrumental in establishing that principle in the laws of our land” (Ibid., p. e.)—set out to do a thorough historical study of the Baptists in Virginia. His studies and written work which followed set the record straight, a record which can be verified by honest historical study.

Secular revisionism has influenced the development of the modern concepts of the First Amendment. Influential constitutional “scholars” such as Leo Pfeffer, since they have no concept of God or His sovereignty, have removed the most important aspect of debate from the equation—the spiritual aspect. Pfeffer misrepresents spiritual matters because he does not understand them. He relegates the spiritual to the merely “ideological.” He attributes Madison’s positions on the issue of separation of church and state to his reliance on John Locke, and quotes Locke; then, even though Locke, in the quotes cited by Pfeffer, talks of government interference with the care and salvation of souls which belongs to God, Pfeffer never mentions God in his discussion but rather emphasizes Locke’s “social contract theory.” He overemphasizes the influence of rationalism and deism in gaining the First Amendment. He falsely proclaims that the “first four presidents of the United States were either Deists or Unitarians.” He asserts that the Great Awakening “emphasized an emotional, personal religion” which appealed directly to the individual, stressing the rights and duties of the individual conscience and its answerability exclusively to God (Leo Pfeffer, Church, State, and Freedom (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1953), pp. 81-93). He, like all secular scholars, simply did not get it even though he did mention God. He had no choice but to mention God, since a controversy over what God taught in the Bible was at the center of the issues. He simply did not and could not examine that true history of what went on to bring about the First Amendment. Lost men and saved men who were spiritually ignorant have led the way in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

The First Amendment, in what is called the establishment clause, forbids Congress to establish a church and reinforces the establishment clause in the free exercise clause by forbidding Congress to prevent the free exercise of religion. Thus, the religion clause of the First Amendment which consists of the establishment and free exercise clauses, especially when read in the context of the entire Amendment, is a legal statement of the principle of religious freedom, or soul liberty, or separation of church and state which conforms to biblical principles. Bible-believing Christians, based upon their spiritual beliefs, fought the fight which resulted in the First Amendment. They made the spiritual Bible-based arguments which gradually convinced others to accept separation of church and state. By practicing their faith despite persecution, they paid the price. They suffered persecution; they did not deny Christ and their faith in order to avoid persecution. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Ti. 3:12).

Many of the early colonists were Protestants who thought Luther and/or Calvin were correct in their beliefs concerning church and state. Others, the Anglicans, brought the state-church concepts of England to the colonies. Dissenters believed in and fought for separation of church and state. The First Amendment was primarily the result of a spiritual warfare between those holding opposing Scriptural interpretations, the established churches versus the dissenters, primarily the Baptists.

  • “Of the Baptists, at least, it may be truly said that they entered the conflict in the New World with a clear and consistent record on the subject of soul liberty. ‘Freedom of conscience’ had ever been one of their fundamental tenets.  John Locke, in his ‘essay on Toleration,’ says: ‘The Baptists were the first and only propounders of absolute liberty, just and true liberty, equal and impartial liberty.’ And the great American historian, Bancroft, says: ‘Freedom of Conscience, unlimited freedom of mind, was from the first a trophy of the Baptists.’ Bancroft’s History of the United States, Vol. II., pages 66, 67.
  • “The history of the other denominations shows that, in the Old World, at least, they were not in sympathy with the Baptist doctrine of soul liberty, but in favor of the union of Church and State, and using the civil power to compel conformity to the established church….
  • “The Reformation which began with Martin Luther corrected many errors of faith and practice among those who came out of the corrupt and apostate church, but not all. It was left to the sect once ‘everywhere spoken against’ to teach their Protestant brethren the lesson of soul liberty, and this they did in the school of adversity in the New World” (James, pp. 14-15).

At times, persecuting established churches in the colonies became persecuted churches. When that happened, the persecutors generally became dissenters seeking religious tolerance or religious freedom.

The First Amendment to the Constitution resulted from “a factual relationship that was rapidly solidifying when the Constitution was amended by the Bill of Rights.” The First Amendment was the final product of a long struggle by men who believed strongly in the God of the Bible and who were willing to die rather than bow down to false religion. Their spirit was fused into the ordering of the affairs of the United States. “A wall of separation which would bar that spirit from making itself felt in secular concerns can never be built, because it would have to bisect the human heart” (Marnell, pp. xii-xiii). William H. Marnell correctly observed that:

“[t]he First Amendment was not the product of indifference toward religion. It was not the product of the deism which prevailed in the Enlightenment, however much the spirit of deism may have been present in certain of the Founding Fathers. Above, all, it was not the product of secularism, and to translate the spirit of twentieth-century secularism back to eighteenth-century America is an outrage to history. The First Amendment was rather a logical outcome of the Reformation and its ensuing developments. It was so far removed from secularism as to be the product of its exact opposite, the deep-seated concern of a people whose religious faith had taken many forms, all of them active, all of them sincerely held. It was so far removed from indifference toward religion [specifically Christianity] as to be the result of its antithesis, the American determination that the diversity of churches might survive the fact of political action” (Ibid.).

The dissidents in the colonies, chiefly the Baptists, were able to gain a foothold, and they played it for all it was worth. The theology of the founding era, initially under the leadership of Roger Williams (who was not a Baptist and who turned from his Baptist affiliations soon after founding a church in Rhode Island. See Book Review: Did Roger Williams Start The First Baptist Church In America? Is the “Baptist Church the Bride of Christ? What About Landmarkism or the Baptist Church Succession Theory By Jim Fellure and Baptist History IN AMERICA Vindicated: The First Baptist Church in America/A Resurfaced Issue of Controversy/The Facts and Importance By Pastor Joshua S. Davenport.) and John Clarke, successfully challenged the doctrines of the established churches concerning the relationship of church and state. Among the results were the establishment of the first civil government in history with religious liberty, the government of the colony of Rhode Island, and later the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which required religious freedom for churches and freedom of conscience for individuals. The First Amendment allowed churches to operate under God without persecution. The First Amendment did not apply to the states.

Primarily due to the efforts of our Baptist forefathers, a time came, as Baptist pastor and historian John Callender said in 1838, when:

  • “[e]xperience has dearly convinced the world, that unanimity in judgment and affection cannot be secured by penal laws….
  • “Indulgence to tender consciences, might be a reproach to the Colony [of Rhode Island], an hundred years ago, [that is in 1738, one hundred years before Callender wrote this], but a better way of thinking prevails in the Protestant part of the Christian church at present. It is now a glory to the Colony, to have avowed such sentiments so long ago, while blindness in this article happened in other places, and to have led the way as an example to others, and to have first put the theory into practice.
  • “Liberty of conscience is more fully established and enjoyed now, in the other New-English Colonies; and our mother Kingdom grants a legal toleration to all peaceable and conscientious dissenters from the parliamentary establishment. Greater light breaking into the world and the church, and especially all parties by turns experiencing and complaining aloud of the hardships of constraint, they are come to allow as reasonable to all others, what they want and challenge for themselves. And there is no other bottom but this to rest upon, to leave others the liberty we should desire ourselves, the liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free. This is doing as we would be done by, the grand rule of justice and equity; this is leaving the government of the church to Jesus Christ, the King and head over all things, and suffering his subjects to obey and serve him” (John Callender, The Civil and Religious Affairs of the Colony of Rhode-Island (Providence: Knowles, Vose & Company, 1838), pp. 108-109).

By the time the First Amendment was added to the United States Constitution, only New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut had established churches. In 1833 Massachusetts became the last state to disestablish.

Baptists wanted religious freedom. Some probably could foresee the ideal of a church under God, a civil government under God, with neither church nor state over the other. But few knew how to have a civil government under God without establishing a church. Why? Fifteen hundred years of history had witnessed “Christian” establishments made up of church-state or state-church unions. Therefore, one should not be too hard on those early Protestants in America who continued those unions, since, according to Isaac Backus:

“[many things] prove that those fathers [the leaders of the Puritans in Massachusetts] were earnestly concerned to frame their constitution both in church and state by divine rule; and as all allow that nothing teaches like experience, surely they who are enabled well to improve the experience of past ages, must find it easier now to discover the mistakes of that day, than it was for them to do it then. Even in 1637, when a number of puritan ministers in England, and the famous Mr. Dod among them, wrote to the ministers here, that it was reported that they had embraced certain new opinions, such as ‘that a stinted form of prayer and set liturgy is unlawful; that the children of godly and approved Christians are not to be baptized, until their parents be set members of some particular congregation; that the parents themselves, though of approved piety, are not to be received to the Lord’s Supper until they be admitted set members,’ &c., Mr. Hooker expressed his fears of troublesome work about answering of them, though they may appear easy to the present generation” (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), pp. 37-38).

Nor should one be too critical of those leaders of the founding era who struggled with the question of how to construct this nation. They produced the best governing document of any nation in history, but that document had some serious flaws which would play out to the detriment of the nation and individuals, families, and churches within the nation. Nonetheless, because of great revivals which began shortly after ratification of the Constitution, huge numbers of people were saved and those regenerated individuals were responsible for at least postponing the spiritual and moral decline of America.

How can a civil government be under God without entanglement with the church? A civil government can choose to be under God. Since God was directly over only one nation, the nation Israel, the only way God chooses to speak to a Gentile government prior to His second return is through His Word, the Bible. Therefore, for a nation to be under God, the leader(s) of that nation must understand and apply biblical principles including those principles concerning church, state, and separation of church and state. As has been shown, only born-again believers have the power, through the Holy Spirit, to understand the Word of God. Only regenerate leader(s) of a civil government can operate the government according to those principles laid down for Gentile nations in the Bible. In America, the people choose the leaders. Therefore, America will have a regenerate leadership only if America should have a population made up of a majority of knowledgeable active Christians who choose Christian leaders.

The Constitution provided for separation of church and state, but the Constitution and the amendments thereto, even when the Declaration of Independence is considered, failed to proclaim that this nation is to be under God and that the purpose of this nation is to glorify God. The primary declaration that a nation can make in its constitution to place itself under God is that its purpose is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ through laws, prayers, and proclamations consistent with biblical principles. That nation can model its laws, including its constitution, after biblical principles and seek God’s direction in all things, including lawmaking, enforcement, and judging. In such a nation, prayers should be made at all civil governmental functions in Jesus’ name. One of the principles a nation under God must proclaim, as does the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, is that every man has free will, as ordained by God, and that, since God wants every man’s love, men are free to choose to worship the one true God, any false god or gods, or no god at all. A civil government under God must also legislate criminal law making certain acts concerning man’s relationship with man—but not acts dealing with man’s relationship with God—criminal, according to God’s Word, and provide for judging and enforcing those acts by the civil government.

The chances of a civil government being under or remaining under God’s principles before the return of Christ are non-existent as shown by the Bible and by all history. No civil government will have (a) leader(s) who believe(s) and implement(s) principles in the Word of God except in the unlikely situation where the leader(s) is (are) saved, and no civil government so structured will long remain under God. Godly leaders are inevitably replaced with carnal Christians and/or the unregenerate who cannot and will not lead according to God’s Word.

This Section succinctly summarizes the true history of religious liberty in America, initially pointing out some of the misleading teachings of secular and Christian revisionists. Ultimately, Christians can accomplish nothing with lies (Read James R. Beller, America in Crimson Red: The Baptist History of America (Arnold, Missouri: Prairie Fire Press, 2004) and James R. Beller, The Coming Destruction of the Baptist People: The Baptist History of America (St. Louis, Missouri: Prairie Fire Press, 2005) for a thorough discussion of the theology behind the lies of the Christian nationalists, whom Beller calls catholic Reformed, and a discussion of Christian nationalists other than Peter Marshall and David Manuel.).

Book Review: The Writings of John Leland

Book Review
The Writings of John Leland
Edited by L.F. Greene, ARNO PRESS & THE NEW YOUR TIMES, New  York, 1969,
Reprinted 2010 by Local Church Bible Publishers, http://www.LocalChurchBiblePublishers.com

Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 2, 2011

Recommended reading: Outcome Based Religion (Click to see review)

TheWritingsOfJohnLeland

Preface

Truth is as essential to history as the soul is to the body.—Frederick.
Quoted on 92 of The Writings of John Leland
“Truth needs no apology, and error deserves none. Prefatory lies have often atoned for ignorance and ill-will in the Eastern and European worlds; but let the sons of America be free. It is more essential to learn how to believe, than to learn what to believe” (92)

Note. Unless otherwise indicated, all quotes are from the book The Writings of John Leland, and only the page numbers are noted. Several years ago, I tried to find a copy of the writings of John Leland. I discovered a two volume set of the writings of John Leland online, but the price was $200.00. Two days later, I decided to “bite the bullet” and pay the $200.00. It was too late. The books were no longer available, and I could not find any other sources. Recently, Pastor Jason Cooley informed me that John Leland’s writings are now available for $20.00 from Local Church Bible Publishers, www.LocalChurchBiblePublishers.com. I bought the book from that source.

Book Review: The Writings of John Leland

John Leland was both a Baptist hero and an American hero. His contributions to religious liberty in America should be known by every American, and especially to every American Baptist. He was a constant and effective promoter the Baptist distinctive of separation of church and state, soul liberty, or religious liberty both before and after the ratification of the United States Constitution. His exploits and thoughts on liberty should stand next to those of George Washington, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson.

Before the adoption of the Constitution, he was a leader for religious liberty in Virginia: “The Baptists fought to have the act incorporating the Episcopal church repealed. Reuben Ford and John Leland attended the first 1787 assembly meeting as agents in behalf of the Baptist General Committee (Charles F. James, Documentary History of the Struggle for Religious Liberty in Virginia (Harrisonburg, Virginia: Sprinkle Publications, 2007; first published in Lynchburg, Virginia: J. P. Bell Company, 1900), pp. 142-146). On August 10, 1787, the act incorporating the Episcopal church was repealed, and until 2001—when Jerry Falwell and trustees of the Thomas Road Baptist Church, who were joined by the American Civil Liberties Union, challenged the Virginia Constitutional provision forbidding the incorporation of churches in federal district court—no church in Virginia could be incorporated (See Falwell v. Miller, 203 F. Supp. 2d 624 (W.D. Va. 2002).”  God Betrayed, p. 282.

“It is sad that Christian revisionists, in their successful effort to deceive the entire Christian community and advance their agenda by combining church and state, so that the resulting union of church and state can bring in the kingdom of heaven, have belittled, misrepresented, and/or totally ignored great men such as Roger Williams, Dr. John Clarke, Isaac Backus, Shubal Stearns, John Leland and others. Their efforts have done great and irreparable damage to the cause of Christ.” God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Austin, Texas: Kerygma Publishing Company, 2008), p. 208; See EN for more information on books by Jerald Finney; God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Link to preview of God Betrayed). Tragically, even most Baptists have been deceived by the revisionists, and believe and teach the revisionist lies.

“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 of the United States Constitution, 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” (Charles F. James, Documentary History of the Struggle for Religious Liberty in Virginia (Harrisonburg, Virginia: Sprinkle Publications, 2007; first published in Lynchburg, Virginia: J. P. Bell Company, 1900), pp. 150-158; William P. Grady, What Hath God Wrought: A Biblical Interpretation of American History. (Knoxville, Tennessee: Grady Publications, Inc., 1999) pp. 166-167.” God Betrayed, p. 285.

In compiling The Writings of John Leland, “Great care has been taken to ascertain truth, and few assertions have been made that are not sustained by documentary evidence of undoubted authenticity.” The book combines what the Elder Leland believed, preached and lived with evidences of a pious character, preaching style, life history and accomplishments, personal demeanor, and his effect on those whom he converted and those to whom he preached” (65).

Reading John Leland’s writings reveals the mind of a brilliant believer. His political insights were, for like of a better word, awesome. His historical and biblical knowledge were of the highest order, but, more importantly, his analyses were brilliant, reflecting the mind of God. Through a short biography, compilation of letters, speeches to political bodies, essays, sermons, etc., The Writings of John Leland reveals, of special interest to this author, the political and spiritual life and beliefs of John Leland. Mr. Leland’s spiritual activities resulted in the salvation of many souls; and, as already noted, he was very instrumental in the adoption of the First Amendment the United States Constitution. He remained active until  his death. He wrote, “I [John Leland] close, by observing that here is an arm seventy years old, which, as long as it can rise to heaven in prayer, or wield a pen on earth, shall never be inactive, when the religious rights of men are in jeopardy. Was there a vital fibre in my heart, that did not plead for rational religious liberty, I would chase the felon from his den, and roast him in the flames” (507).

The remainder of this review will consist of two parts: (1) A summary of Events in the Life of John Leland,” and (2) “A sampling of quotes and matters which Leland addresses in the essays, sermons, addresses, poems, etc. which are included in the book”.

Events in the Life of John Leland (9-40)

Born in Grafton, Massachusetts on May 14, 1754. As a boy, he lost all desire for youthful diversions and, due to conviction in his mind, and would talk on no subject but religion. “Reading the Bible and meditating on the shortness of time, and the importance of being prepared for death and judgment, occupied the chiefest of [his] time.” He began to earnestly seek the Lord (11), and reached conclusions about salvation. While less than twenty years old, he, although naturally bashful publically disputed on the matter of salvation freely by grace with a very respectable preacher (13), then prayed and gave the people present a word of exhortation. The next day, reproaching himself for his forwardness and presumption, he told some that they need not mind anything that he had said, since he was a poor unconverted sinner. He and another young man about his age began to set up evening meetings, to sing, pray, and speak according to their proportion of faith as the Spirit gave them utterance (15). He struggled with his moral evil in himself and “want of will,” and worried about preaching. He was baptized in June, 1774 (16).  He preaches from Malachi 9: “If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name saith the Lord of Hosts, I will even send a curse upon you ——.” He continued to preach and doors opened. He finally surrendered to the ministry, without any condition, evasion, or mental reservation (18). [Lady blamed him for being a closed communicant; he asked why he should be blamed for not communing with those who have no fellowship with him (18-19). Joined Bellingham church which gave him a license to do that which he had been doing for a year (19). Oct. 1775 went to Virginia for 8 mo. Married Sally Devine on 9/30/1776. Moved to Culpepper, Virginia. Ordained by the choice of the church, travelled and preached.  Moved to Orange county. Travailed in the desire for salvation of sinners, prays much, baptizes (130), preaches from Orange to York. (20-21). This continues through p. 40.

Pp 41- “Further sketches of the Life of John Leland.” Additional incidents from the editor which continue the history to the time of Leland’s death (1835 to the death of John Leland), including more on the life and character of Mrs. Leland (liberality, courage (e.g., saved her husband from a murderer’s sword (42), life of unceasing toil, always busy, always quiet (43), more on her life history on (43), , her faith firm in Christ, etc. Sketch of John Leland’s last sermon preached 1/8/1841 (46-47). “Thus died John Leland—a man eminent above many for piety and usefulness, whose name is connected with all that is pure in patriotism, lovely in the social and domestic virtues, philanthropic in feeling and action, arduous, disinterested, and self-denying in the labors of the ministerial calling; one whose place in society, in the church, and in the ranks of the ministry, will not soon be filled—in the hearts of those who knew him, never (49).

He died as a witness for the truth, testifying, with his last breath, the value of religion, and that only, which has its seat in the heart. His life had been unostentatious; his aspirations after worldly honors, ever low and feeble; his humility and sense of dependence on God, deep-felt and abiding—and thus he died….” His tombstone read: “Here lies the body of the Rev. John Leland, who labored 67 years to promote piety and vindicate the civil and religious rights of all  men. He died January, 14, 1841, aged 86 years and 8 months (50).” His religious creed (50-1).

“Through a long life, Elder Leland sustained, with uniform consistency, the two-fold character of the Patriot and the Christian. For His religious creed he acknowledged no director but the Bible. He loved the pure, unadulterated word of truth and as a minister of that word, zealous and faithful, he preached it, as far as he was able, unmixed with the doctrines and commandments of men, ‘not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind.’ He was clear in exposition, happy in illustration, often powerful and eloquent in appeals to the conscience and heart. He insisted, in absolute and unqualified terms, on the great fundamental truths of the gospel, the necessity of regeneration, faith and repentance; but, on points not essential to salvation, though his opinions were no less firmly established, and he never shrunk from advocating them on proper occasions, yet he did not censure or denounce those who differed from him, nor  exclude from fellowship, ass Christians, any who gave evidence of a gracious change, whatever might be their peculiar doctrinal views. He never engaged in controversy; and when any of his published opinions were disputed, or commented upon, as was sometimes the case, with severity, he preferred to  ‘let the matter rest a little, and then give another thrust,’ as he expressed it, to the wwast of time, repetitions, and tediousness of reviews and replies.” (51-52).

His political creed was based upon those ‘sufficient truths’ of equality, and of inherent and inalienable rights recognized by the master spirits of the revolution as the principles for the support of which they pledged ‘their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.’ As a politician, he was above the influence of any but sincere and patriotic motives. He was a statesman, rather than a politician. He studied the fundamental principles of government, and drew his conclusions directly from them, without any intervening medium of self or party interest…. His sentiments, on particular measures, it is unnecessary to comment upon, as they are clearly expressed in his writings. His feelings on the subject of slavery may be gathered from the fact that, during his fourteen years’ residence in Virginia he never owned a slave, as well as from his remarks in the Virginia Chronicle, and from the resolution offered by him, when a member of the Baptist General Committee, and passed by them, in 1789, in the following words: …” (51-52).

 “The great object, (next in importance to his mission as a preacher of Christ,) for which he seems to have been raised up by a special Providence, was to promote the establishment of religious liberty in the United States. His efforts, perhaps, contributed as much  as those of any other man, to the overthrow of ecclesiastical tyranny in Virginia, the state of his adoption, and exerted a beneficial influence, though less successful, towards the promotion of the same end in that of his nativity. In the former, in the years 1786-7-8, we find his name in the doings of the Baptist General Committee, with which he stood connected, as messenger to the General Assembly, appointed to draft and present memorials respecting the Incorporating  act, the application of the glebe lands to public use, etc. Though the cause of religious freedom was the common cause of all dissenters, yet the Baptists, as a sect, took the lead in those active, energetic, and persevering measures, which at length prevailed in its establishment. Many individuals of other denominations took an active part, and aided materially in bringing about the glorious result; nay, that even many of the more conscientious and patriotic among the members of the established church, made praiseworthy exertions in its favor, is a fact too honorable to themselves, and to the state that produced them, to be passed unnoticed. Enrolled among the ardent champions of religious liberty, are the names of Virginia’s most illustrious sons—of Washington, Henry, Jefferson, Madison. To particularize, in regard to the efforts made, and the good accomplished by each, is unnecessary in this place; the following Address an Reply, which are inserted entire, will serve to exhibit the enlarged views and the unselfish spirit of the patriots of that day, as well as the harmony, one might almost say identity, of sentiment that prevailed among them.” … (Address to President Washington: see pp. 52-54.). George Washington’s reply on pp. 54-55, says, in part: “If I could have entertained the slightest apprehension that the Constitution framed by the Convention where I  had the honor to preside, might possibly endanger the  religious  rights of any ecclesiastical society, certainly I would never have placed my signature to it; and if I could now conceive that the  general government might even be so administered, as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself, to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution. For you, doubtless, remember, I have often expressed my sentiments, that any man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected  in worshiping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience… (52).”

Leland moved to New England in 1791. Immediately “commenced anew the warfare against religious  intolerance, and the defence of the cause that had so signally triumphed in Virginia. During his stay in New London, he published his ‘Rights of Conscience Inalienable,’ and afterwards, from time to time, other works of the same character; some of which will be found in [this volume], and others it has been impossible to obtain. “Our limits do not allow us to enter upon the history and progress of religious liberty in Massachusetts. This may be found elsewhere…. At length, in the beginning of 1811, a decision by Judge Parsons, that no society, not incorporated by law, could claim even the pitiful privilege of drawing back money, awakened the fears of the dissenters, and a circular Address, accompanied by a petition to the legislature, praying for a revision of the laws respecting public worship, was circulated through the state. At the solicitation of the people of Cheshire, Mr. Leland accepted a seat in the legislature, for the special purpose of aiding the measures petitioned for. His speech, delivered during the debate on the subject, may be found in another part of the work (55).”

“A law was finally passed that gave some relief, but not complete satisfaction. The ‘stump’ of the tree of ecclesiastical oppression, so carefully preserved ‘with a band of iron and brass,’ continued, therefore to furnish a subject for his animadversion, in various essays, addresses, etc.  and he improved such opportunities as were offered him, as a matter of duty, and in fulfillment of the public pledge he had  given, that ‘as long as he could speak with his tongue, wield a pen, or heave a cry to heaven, whenever the rights of men, the liberty of conscience, or the good of his country were invaded by fraud or force, his feeble efforts should not lie dormant.’”

A sampling of quotes and matters which Leland addresses in the book

59- His views on church discipline, communion, etc.
65 – Excerpt from Semple’s Virginia Baptists on John Leland.
68- 69 Leland on God’s Sovereignty vs. free will.
69 – 70 Criticisms of John Leland.

 70 “There is evidently a wide difference between searching the Scriptures to find a system of truth, and searching them for evidence to support one already adopted….”

78 (In Preface to “The Bible Baptist): “Truth needs no apology, and error deserves none. Prefatory lies have often atoned for ignorance and ill-will in the Eastern and European worlds; but let the sons of America be free. It is more essential to learn how to believe, than to learn what to believe.
“The doctrine and spirit of the following remarks, are left for the reader to judge of for himself. Truth is in the least danger of being lost, when free examination is allowed.”

78 “Christian writers generally agree to reproach the Jews, for treating the Rabbies with as much respect as they did the prophets; giving as great credit to their traditions as they did to the sacred volume. But many Christian writers are guilty of the same absurdity. It is no more significant for Jews to quote the Talmud or the Targum, to prove a Mosaic rite, than it is for Christians to depend on Tertullian, Cyprian, Origen, and the other fathers of the church, for a gospel ordinance.”

73-77 “The History of Jack Nips”: (The boy Leland examiners the teaching of the church; also state constitutions) This examines doctrines of the Presbyterian church: preaching in tones, their orthography, infant baptism of non-believers (who gave their child to God) 73-, baptism of infants who are out of the church and of infants of those who are enemies of the church (75). He does his Bible study of baptism 76. His dad intended him for a minister. His question: “But does God. Those who are sent by men to preach, must look to men for their pay; but those that are sent by God, must depend on him.” He studies all the state constitutions at age 22. He found that “there were not two of them that agreed. What said I, do great men differ? Boys, women, and little souls do; but can learned wise patriots disagree so much in judgment? If so, they cannot all be right, but they may all be wrong, and therefore, Jack Nipps for himself. What encouraged me to search and judge for myself, was this: when I was a small boy, I fancied that I stood in the middle of the world, and that the earth extended no further than my eye-sight explored: but people told me that I was wrong in my judgment; but after a few years study, I found I was half right. That the earth exceeded my eye-sight, I soon found by experience; herein I was wrong. But that I am always on the centre spot of the surface of the globe, is an undeniable truth. And as mature experience convinced me that my boyish thoughts were some of them right, I concluded it might be so with my study in politics” 77.

78- Excellent examination of “baptism” including infant baptism. John the Baptist 79. Inconsistencies of those who promote infant baptism 81. On “Mk. 16.15-16 “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned” 81-2. On Peter’s teaching on baptism 82-3. On Philip 83-4. The next baptizer, Ananias 84. Then Paul 84-6. Baptism of the Holy Ghost 87. The argument that many great reformers and preachers, in past ages, believed and practiced infant sprinkling; if error, would not God have convinced them of it, when he was with them, in so great a degree 89?

91- :The Virginia Chronicle.” Account of the different religious sects in Virginia. Settlement, population 94-95.  The Quakers (persecuted by not put to death) 94. Of the slaves 94-8. Wishes its dissolution, but points out the great problems in so doing. Briefly on their religious worship etc. “THE UNIFORMITY OF RELIGION FOR ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY YEARS 98-99. OF THE PRESBYTERIANS 99-100. OF THE METHODISTS (Armenian) (Tremendous footnote on 101 about baptism) 100-1. OF THE TUNKERS 102-3. OF THE MENNONISTS 103-4 (Excellent comments on civil government). OF THE BAPTISTS 104-5. THE PERSECUTION OF BAPTISTS (Excellent reasons why no religious test should be required for office) 105-7. THE REASONS FOR THEIR DISSENT (107-109). THREE GREAT PRINCIPLES (The 3 great principles which divide the Christian world) 109-11. OF MARRIAGE 111-2. THE DECLENSION AMONG THE BAPTISTS (“But as they gained this piece of freedom, so the cares of war, the spirit of trade, and moving to the western waters, seemed to bring on a general declension. The ways of Zion mourned. They obtained their hearts’ desire, (freedom,) but had leanness in their souls. Some of the old watchmen stumbled and fell, iniquity did abound, and the love of many waxed cold…. FN 9N 114 WHY A CONFESSION OF FAITH?) 112-4. THE GREAT WORK (The declension ended in 1785 with revival) 114-6. THE NUMBER OF BAPTISTS 116-7. ON DRESS 117. THE EXCESS OF CIVIL POWER ESPLODED (Tremendous insights on freedom of conscience, chaplains paid by govt. (in army or legislature or elsewhere, the extent of power of civil govt. (can’t use Israel as example), govt. maintenance of religion) 117-9. WASHING OF FEET AND DRY CHRISTENING 120. THE VIRGINIA BAPTISTS COMPARED WITH THE GERMAN 120-1. SOME REMARKS 121-2. THE RIGHTS AND BONDS OF CONSCIENCE 122-3. THOUGHTS ON SYSTEMS 123-4.

125-171 “The First Rise of Sin.” “If the decalogue (the Ten Commandments) is all of a moral nature, the injunction is binding on all nations; and if all nations were under the bond of regarding the seventh day in a holy manner, it is strange that St. Paul never had occasion to reprove the Gentiles, for the breach of it, fas the Jewish prophet had to reprove their own nation; and, besides … If, in the New Testament, Christians are commanded to keep the first day, by Christ or his apostles, that divine appointment is sufficient; human legislatures have nothing to do in ordaining fixed holy days, establishing creeds of faith, requiring religious tests, certificates, or anything of the kind. 146.” [God could not have prevented sin. God decreed that angels and men should not sin. No law was given men or angels to sin. If it was the design, decree, or secret will of God, that creatures should sin, how can it be sin? for sin is the transgression of his will…. If sin is the cause of general good, all creatures should love it; and if creatures should love it, why are they called upon to repent of, and hate it? … And as it was not possible for God to sin, or make creatures sin, so, likewise, (considering him in the character of a moral governor, it was not possible for him to prevent it. Should a legislature do more than make laws, forbidding crimes; … the only means he could make use of to prevent it, would make them entirely miserable…. So it was with God; he loved his creatures, and sought to make them happy; and, as rational creatures cannot be happy without the freedom of their will, this freedom was established in them by God; and, in this point of view, it was not possible for God to have prevented their sin; as the only means that would have secured them from sin, would have made them completely miserable. 141-2.]

171-75: “Letter of Valediction on Leaving Virginia, in 1791.” To slave owners and slaves 173-4.

177-192 “The Rights of Conscience Inalienable, and therefore, Religious Opinions not Cognizable by Law. 1791.” “Did not the Christian religion prevail during the first three centuries, in a more glorious manner than ever it has since, not only without the aid of law, but in opposition to all the laws of haughty monarchs? And did not religion receive a deadly wound by being fostered in the arms of civil power and regulated by law? These things are so 181.” … “To say that ‘religion cannot stand without a state establishment,’ is not only contrary to fact, (as has been already proved), but is a contradiction in phrase. Religion must have stood a time before any law could have been made about it; and if it did stand almost three hundred years without law, it can still stand without it (182).” “… The evils of establishment are many. First, second, third (Uniformity. “Millions of men, women, and children, have been tortured to death, to produce uniformity, and tet the world has not advanced one inch towards it…. The duty of the magistrates is, not to judge of the divinity or tendency of doctrines; but when those principles break out into overt acts of violence, then to use the civil sword and punish the vagrant for what he has done, and not for the religious phrenzy that he acted from. 184), fourth (Leland completely obliterates the objection “that the ignorant part of the community are not capacitated to judge for themselves” which “supports the Popish hierarchy, and all Protestant, as well as Turkish and Pagan establishments in idea.”), fifth(182-6). He shows the biblical problems with the establishment of religion in Conn. (186-90).

193-95. The Modern Priest.

Circular Letter of the Stratsbury Association, 1794. 196-99. The deists and infidels are] “equally-assiduous in declaring what is not true, and never tell us what truth is. With all their boasted illumination in the ground and laws of nature, they never tell us what natural religion is, nor how the God of nature is to be worshiped (197). Tremendous!

213- .The Yankee Spy …, 1794. By Jack Nips. Answers questions about civil govt. including pre-flood, post flood (Nimrod, Gentile nations, the nation of Israel. Sample question with part answer: “Q. Has the ecclesiastical part of the Mosaic constitution ever been abused as well as the political part? A. Yes, and that to a degree. The church of Israel took in the whole nation, and none of that nation: Whereas, Christi’s church takes no whole nation, but those who fear God and work righteousness in every nation….” Circumcision and baptism 217-18. About English govt. 218-19. About the U.S. Const. 219-20. Const. of Mass. 220. A Bill of Rights with that of Mass. examined 22029. “If a  man worships one God, three Gods, twenty Gods, or not God—if he pays adoration one day in a week seven days, or no day—wherein does he injure the life, liberty or property of another? Let any or all these actions be supposed to be religious evils of an enormous size, yet they are not crimes to be punished by the laws of state, which extend no further, in justice, that to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor. (221).”

233-55. A Blow at the Root: Being a Fashionable Fast-Day Sermon Delivered 0409 1801. On liberty of conscience 239-. On persecution and murder of heretics by Papists, by Protestants, in Eng., in Mass. (Roger Williams banned, persecution, art. 3 of Mass. Const.), the  reasons given for establishment (to prevent error, to effect and preserve uniformity of sentiment, to support the gospel) examined.

273-81. The Government of Christ a Christocracy, 1804. [On Mass. 279-81].
283-300.An Elective Judiciary, with other things recommended in a speech…, 1805. Addresses the two arguments against electing judges: (1) the people have not wisdom and sedateness enough to select from among themselves , those who are best qualified to be judges and (2) if judges hold their office by t tenure of periodical elections, they will have such strong temptations to please  the strongest party, in order to secure their next election, that they will not judge uprightly.
301-314. Ordination Sermon. Isaiah/s seraphims, Ezekiel’s cherubims, John’s four beasts are the same. What do they represent?
322-29. Various poems.
330-. Essays, 1810. [Why Christ was God 331-2].

[353-358. SPEECH: DELIVERED I THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF MASSACHUSETTS, ON THE SUBJECT OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, 1811. “Let Christianity stand upon its on basis, it is the greatest blessing that ever was among men; but incorporate it into the civil code and it becomes the mother of cruelties” 356.

356. “If, to escape this-dilemma, we adopt Papal maxim, that government is founded in grace, and, therefore, none but gracious men have a right to rule; and that these gracious rulers have both right and knowledge to legislate about religion, we shall find, what other nations have found, that these divine rulers, will be the most cruel tyrants: under this notion, Mr. Chairman, the crusades were formed in the eleventh century, which lasted about two hundred years, and destroyed nearly two millions of lives. In view of all this, and ten thousand times as much, is it to be wondered at, that the present petitioners, should be fearful of attaching corporate power to religious societies…. The interference of legislatures and magistrates, in the faith, worship, or support of religious worship, is the first step in the case, which leads in regular progression to inquisition; the principle I the same, the only difference is  in the degree of usurpation…” 357.the Gospel, was now the point at issue. On which I reasoned thus: the New Testament I in existence: it as written either by bad men or by good men: to believe that bad men wrote it, requires a a faith more marvelous that it does to believe the truth of any article contained in it. Or bad men to form a book that condemns every species of sin—that lays the honors, pleasures, and wealth of the world in t dust—that enjoins patience under injury, and goof for evil—in short, to sacrifice everything that is pleasing to bad men: who can believe it? … The belief of the gospel never makes good men worse, but often makes bad men better…. 363. Proof of the resurrection 366. What the Bible teaches about disembodied spirits 369-70.

373-5: ADDRESS TO THE ASSOCIATIO OF THE SONS OF LIBERTY, CHESHIRE, MARCH 4, 1813.
381-405. THE JARRING INTERESTS OF HEAVEN RECONCILED BY THE BLOOD OF THE CROSS, 1814. [396-405. The works which were necessary for Christ to accomplish.]
406-39. MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS, IN PROSE AND VERSE. [419-20. Age and Egotism. “We come into the world ignorant. To aa child, every thing is new and impressive, and more so to a young man, that one of a greater age. The young man of genius, is charmed with the logic of his author, and feels impressed with his own arguments. He lays down his thesis, supports it with metaphysical [metaphysics means “a study of what is outside objective experience”] arguments, forms his syllogism, and draws his conclusion, with little or no doubt of the reality of the whole….” If I use this, continue with the rest on p420.][423 “So it is with metaphysical reasoning: the smallest error, in the outset, though undiscovered by the writer or reader, if pursued, under the pretext of consistency, will lead to an amazing distance from the truth.”][426-28: !!!!!!!! NIMROD, MOSES, CHRIST, AND THE UNITED STATES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!][440-46. ON SABBATICAL LAWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!][450-53: CATECHISM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!][496-7. EXTRACT OF AA LETTER FROM J. L. TO HIS INQUISITIVE FRIEND][497-9. SHORT REFLECTIONS.][499-500. THE THIRD EPISTLE OF JOHN][501-7. ADDRESS DELIVERED AT THE REQUEST OF THE REPUBLICAN COMMITTEE OF ARRANGEMENTS, AT PITTSSFIELD, ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF AMERICAN  INDEPENDENCE, JULY 4, 1824][508-16.FORM OF A CHARGE TO A CNADIDATE AT HIS ORDINATION]

 [572-82. SHORT SAYINGS ON TIMES, MEN, MEASURES AND RELIGION, EXHIBITED IN AN ADDRESS, DELIVERED AT CHESHIRE, JULY 5, 1830. On the national debt, the population, the office of Pope created in 606, (religious freedom, marriage of church and state 579-80), ][583-96. THE RESULT OF OBSERVATION, 1830. “In some governments, universal toleration is granted to all kinds of religious opinions. This sounds humane and benevolent, but has a deadly root. If government has power to grant it as a favor, it has equal power to withhold it. In such cases, the citizens enjoy their liberty by a tenure no better than the good will of those in power. But the freedom of religious opinions, not only with societies, but with individuals, is a right inalienable, that cannot be surrendered. Of course, no government can tolerate or prohibit it but by tyrannical usurpation. If men commit overt acts under a pretence of religious impression, let the magistrate punish them for the overt acts, and pity them for their delusion” 594. On the kingdom and also on Daniel Marshall 594.]

[597-9. OATHS, 1830.]

Etc.

Endnote

God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Link to preview of God Betrayed): may be ordered from Amazon by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Amazon.com or from Barnes and Nobel by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Barnes and Noble. All books by Jerald Finney as well as many of the books he has referenced and read may also be ordered by left clicking “Books” (on the “Church and State Law” website) or directly from amazon.com at the following links: (1) Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses (Kindle only); (2) The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls (Kindle only); (3) Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? (Link to preview of Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities?) which can also be ordered by clicking the following Barnes and Noble link: Separation of Church and State on Barnes and Noble.

Radio Broadcasts of Jerald Finney’s teaching on “The History of the Religious Freedom in America”

One can find links to all articles on this blog by going to the following link: “Separation of Church and State Law Blog: Links to all articles” (This link is to the “Blog” page of churchandstatelaw.com.).

As this study progresses, the Christian who has listened closely to the previous broadcasts will begin to understand the importance of all the prior broadcasts to the issue of separation of church and state and the history of the First Amendment. The historical facts presented in this section should be taught in every American History class. Only when one knows history (plus biblical theology and law) can he understand where he came from, where he is, and where he is going. Only when one knows the facts presented in these studies and included in books by Jerald Finney in more detail, can he understand how we got our First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

This begins the study of the American application of the biblical principle of separation of church and state. Since the beginning of the church, Christians believed and practiced separation of church and state. They paid dearly for this practice. In the fourth century certain religious leaders were seduced by Constantine to join hands with the state. Over a thousand years of the worst persecutions imaginable followed as religion worked hand in hand with the state to enforce all ten of the commandments. Anyone who did not bow down to the theology of the state church was imprisoned, horriby tortured, burned alive, drowned, buried alive, beheaded, etc. as the state religion tried to stamp out all forms of what they called “heresy.” The Protestant churches followed the theology of their mother in this matter and continued the persecution. However, forces and circumstances were such in the American colonies that the final result was the first nation, the second civil government behind the colony of Rhode Island, to have religious liberty.

Jerald Finney’s broadcasts on Liberty Works Radio Network are aired and streamed over the internet on Sunday mornings at 8:00 a.m. Central Time (7:00 a.m. ET, 9:00 a.m. MT, 10 a.m. PT). Click the following link and scroll to the bottom to go to LWRN radio: LWRN (this link is also on the “Radio Broadcast” page of churchandstatelaw.com).

God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Link to Preview of God Betrayed) is a comprehensive study of the issue of separation of church and state and may be ordered from Amazon by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Amazon.com or from Barnes and Nobel by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Barnes and Noble. All books by Jerald Finney as well as many of the books he has referenced and read may also be ordered by left clicking “Books” (on the “Church and State Law” website) or directly from Amazon by going to the following links: (1) Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses (Kindle only); (2) The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls (Kindle only); (3) Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? can also be ordered by clicking the following Barnes and Noble link: Separation of Church and State on Barnes and Noble.

Introduction to the History of the First Amendment (August 23, 2009 and July 25, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

Introduction to the History of the First Amendment and The Light Begins to Shine (August 30, 2009 and August 1, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

The light begins to shine (August 30, 1009 and August 1, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

The Pilgrims and Puritans in Massachusetts (1) (August 30, 2009 and August 1, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

The Pilgrims and Puritans in Massachusetts (2) (September 6, 2009 and August 8, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

The Pilgrims and Puritans in Massachusetts (3) (September 6, 2009 and August 8, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

The Pilgrims and Puritans in Massachusetts (4) (September 6, 2009 and August 8, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

The Pilgrims and Puritans in Massachusetts (5) (September 13, 2009 and August 15, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

The Baptists in Rhode Island (1) (September 13, 2009 and August 15, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

The Baptists in Rhode Island (2) (September 13, 2009 and August 15, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

The Baptists in Rhode Island (3) (September 20, 2009, August 22, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

The Baptists in Rhode Island (4) (September 20, 2009, August 22, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

The Baptists in Rhode Island (5) , the Separates and Baptists in New England (1) (September 20, 2009, August 22, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

The Separates and Baptists in New England (2) (September 27, 2009, August 29, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

The Separates and Baptists in New England (3) (September 27, 2009, August 29, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

The Separates and Baptists in New England (3) (September 27, 2009, August 29, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

From New England to the South (October  4, 2009, September 5, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

To Virginia (1) (October 4, 2009, September 5, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

To Virginia (2) (October 4, 2009, September 5, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

To Virginia (3) (October 11, 2009, September 12, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

To Virginia (4) (October 11, 2009, September 12, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

To Virginia (5) (October 11, 2009, September 12, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

To the new nation and conclusion (October 18, 2009, September 19, 2010, 1st 15 min. Segment):

END

An Abridged History of the First Amendment

Copyright © January, 2010 by Jerald Finney

Outline

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
Endnotes

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]

Aquinas
Aquinas

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]

HLMenchen

  • 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.

History of the First Amendment

Jerald Finney
© October, 2009

Do you know the history of how America got her First Amendment which gives Americans freedom of religion, press, speech, assembly, and the right to petition their government for a redress of grievances? If not, you can learn that history by listening to the following audio teachings. You can learn what happened in the colonies between the time of the arrival of the Pilgrims, Puritans, and others that led to the ratification of the First Amendment. You will learn what Baptists as opposed to Protestants such as the Pilgrims, Puritans, and Anglicans believed about the issue of separation of church and state. You will learn of the theological warfare that went on in the colonies that led to the First Amendment. Every American, and especially every Christian, should know this history.

This blog is made up of the edited radio broadcasts of Jerald Finney which follow the outline of Section IV of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Ordering information on this and other books is on the “Books” page of churchandstatelaw.com)The broadcasts are an edited version of God Betrayed.

To play, just click the link. To download, right click link and then left click “Save link as.”

I. Introduction to “History of the First Amendment” Introduction (20 min. 44. sec).

II. The Light Begins to shine The Light Begins to Shine (22 min. 26 sec. Includes introductory song, remarks, and prayer).

III. The Pilgrims and Puritans in Massachusetts  (62 min.).

IV. The Baptists in Rhode Island (63 min. 14 sec.).

V. The Separates and the Baptists in New England (45 min. 42 sec.).

VI. From New England to the South (14 min. 36 sec.).

VII. To Virginia (70 min. 6 sec.).

VIII. To the new nation (10 min. 43 sec.).

IX. Conclusion of “The History of the First Amendment” (3 min. 17 sec.).

End

For His Glory,
Jerald Finney
Christian and practicing attorney