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Definitions of “separation of church and state,” “established church,” and “religious freedom or soul liberty”


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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 all lessons on the Bible doctrine on the relationship of Church and State.
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Jerald Finney
Copyright © January 22, 2018


Separation of church and state,” “established church” and “religious freedom or soul liberty,” are inherent in the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. This lesson will define those phrases. The remaining studies and cited authorities, especially the studies on the history of the First Amendment will make perfectly clear that the definitions given here are accurate.

 1. Definition of Separation of Church and State

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

The biblical principle of “separation of church and state” is that God desires both a church and the state to choose to be under God, but desires neither to be over or to work hand in hand with the other. A church has spiritual responsibilities. The state has earthly responsibilities. The Bible contains different principles for a church and the state. God desires the two to be totally separate entities, both ordained by God who desires both to submit to Him in love and to be guided by His principles as stated in His Word. A church under God remains an eternal spiritual entity only so long as she does not inadvertently or intentionally change her status to an earthly temporal entity by placing herself under the law of man, under civil government. By placing herself under the law of man, she combines church and state and makes herself, at least partially but perhaps wholly, a temporal, legal, earthly entity.

The main example in America is the incorporated 501(c)(3) church. The rules of civil government for the corporate 501(c)(3) church are secular and such a church agrees, when she applies for and executes the status, to the rules which come with state non-profit corporation law and the rules that come with 501(c)(3). She also agrees that any disputes over violation of the rules will be decided by the authority—the state of incorporation or, for 501(c)(3) purposes, the federal government. God and the Bible will have no part of disputes as to many matters. The authority is civil government.

In other words, the corporate 501(c)(3) church has not only put herself under man’s law, not God’s law, for many matters; she has also taken herself from under the First Amendment—a statement of the Bible principle of separation of church and state (not separation of God and State—and placed herself under the Fourteenth Amendment for many purposes.

 2. Definition of “Established Church”

An established church is a church who is an integral part of the state and receives state support. She does this trough becoming a legal entity. The established church and state reach an agreement or enter into a contract whereby either the state aids the church in attaining earthly and/or spiritual goals or vice-versa and, to one degree or another, the state runs the church or the established church runs the state. The church and state work hand in hand to enforce earthly and spiritual laws and principles. In modern America state-churches are influenced, perverted, and/or perhaps dominated by state enforced satanic principles. For more on this, see What is an established church?

Historically, the established church has either been over the state, or the state has been over the established church. When the state has been over the church, the state directs the affairs of the church to a greater or lesser degree and vice-versa. In either case, the spiritual affairs of the church are mixed with the earthly responsibilities of the state. In the past, in either a church-state or state-church, leaders of both church and state operated under a false theology based upon false biblical principles. The results were (1) corruption of the church, corruption of the state, corruption of the clergy and political leaders and the members of society and the church, and (2) torture, imprisonment, and/or the killing of those who refused to bow down to the theology of the church-state or state-church. We see the former results in the church-state activities in America today. The latter results are coming.

  3. Definition of Religious Freedom or Soul Liberty

“By religious freedom, or soul liberty, is meant the natural and inalienable right of every soul to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and to be unmolested in the exercise of that right, so long, at least, as he does not infringe upon the rights of others; that religion is, and must be a voluntary service; that only such service is acceptable to God; and, hence that no earthly power, whether civil or ecclesiastical, has any right to compel conformity to any creed or to any species of worship, or to tax a man for its support.

Religious freedom exists when every citizen has, by law, the choice, without persecution, of choosing God, false gods or a false god, or no god at all. Religious freedom, as shown in God’s Word, is what He desires in a Gentile nation. Even though He desires Gentile nations to provide for religious liberty, He also wants them to submit themselves to Him and His principles, and recognize that Jesus Christ is the Supreme Sovereign. Thus a nation modeled after biblical principles will provide for religious liberty while also operating under God and His principles.

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“This principle gives to ‘Caesar’ ‘the things that are Caesar’s,’ but it denies to Caesar ‘the things that are God’s.’ It does not make it a matter of indifference what a man believes or how he acts, but it places all on the same footing before God, the only lord of the conscience, and makes us responsible to him alone for our faith and practice. [By 1900 this doctrine was] very generally accepted, not only in Virginia, but also throughout the United States. It [had] been incorporated into our National and State Constitutions, and it [was ] the basis for our civil liberties” (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. 9.).

 

Conclusion to “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 11 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.


Conclusion

Early in the colonial period, the first government in history which provided for religious liberty and separation of church and state was formed as a result of the conflict of the two currents which flowed in opposite directions.

“A large number of people fled out of the old world into this wilderness for religious liberty; but had not been here long before some put in high claims for power, under the name of orthodoxy; to whom others made fierce opposition professedly from the light within; and their clashings were so great that several lives were lost in the fray. This made a terrible noise on the other side of the water. But as self-defence is a natural principle, each party wrote volume after volume to clear themselves from blame; and they both conspired to cast a great part of it upon one singular man [Roger Williams], whom they called a weathercock and a windmill. Now let the curious find out if they can, first how men of university learning, or of divine inspiration, came to write great volumes against a windmill and a weathercock? secondly, how such a strange creature came to be an overmatch for them all, and to carry his point against the arts of priestcraft, the intrigues of court, the flights of enthusiasm and the power of factions, so as after he had pulled down ruin upon himself and his friends, yet to be able, in the midst of heathen savages, to erect the best form of civil government that the world had seen in sixteen hundred years? thirdly, how he and his ruined friends came to lie under those reproaches for a hundred years, and yet that their plan should then be adopted by thirteen colonies, to whom these despised people could afford senators of principal note, as well as commanders by sea and land?  The excellency of this scene above those which many are bewitched with, consists in its being founded upon facts and not fictions; being not the creature of distempered brains, but of an unerring Providence” (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. 408-409).

Besides Roger Williams, many brave men and women, with Baptists at the forefront, paid a high price on the path to religious liberty and freedom of speech, association, and the press. One should not forget that those people were motivated by a deep love for God and His Word, not by earthly concerns.

As a result of the fight, Christians (and everyone else) in America have religious freedom. The United States Supreme Court to this day still upholds the wall of separation between church and state and freedom of conscience (See Section V of God Betrayed or the upcoming reproduction of that section on this website. See Jerald Finney’s audio teaching, Religion Clause Jurisprudence,” which summarizes the teaching in Section V of God Betrayed.). Christians in America have been blessed above measure and can choose to please God and not be persecuted for it. The brief time mankind as a whole will be on earth is miniscule compared to eternity past and eternity future. The time an individual Christian is here is nothing more than a blink of the eye.

“A Christian will never have another opportunity like this. Every breath he takes out of God’s will is a wasted breath. When he gets to heaven, it will be nothing but praising God naturally. He will not praise God as a matter of choice. This is his one chance during his eternal existence to live for Christ of his own free will. This is the one shot he has to choose to please the Lord, to praise Him, to glorify Him. When he gets to heaven, he will glorify God, but he may remember that he never glorified Him when he had the choice” (From sermon preached at Capitol City Baptist Church in Austin, Texas by Evangelist Samuel Gipp, February 17, 2008).

Oh how the Savior must be pleased when a church uses this opportunity to exercise her free will and glorify Him, her Husband/Bridegroom/Head.

Definitions of “Separation of Church and State,” “Established Church,” and “Religious Freedom or Soul Liberty”


Jerald Finney
Copyright © March 10, 2012
Revised July 27, 2014


Click here to go to Jerald Finney’s audio teachings on this material.
This article somewhat modifies that audio teaching.


Definitions of “Separation of Church and State,” “Established Church,” and “Religious Freedom or Soul Liberty”

Study Bible to verify this teaching which is explained in the writings and teachings of Jerald Finney.
Study the King James Bible to verify this principle which is explained in the writings and teachings of Jerald Finney.

Definitions of “separation of church and state,” “established church” and “religious freedom or soul liberty,” are necessary in order to understand the principle of separation of church and state. The biblical principle of “separation of church and state” is that God desires both a church and the state to choose to be under God, but desires neither to be over or to work hand in hand with the other. A church has spiritual responsibilities. The state has earthly responsibilities. The Bible contains different principles for a church and the state. God desires the two to be totally separate entities, both ordained by God who desires both to submit to Him in love and to be guided by His principles as stated in His Word.

This statement by Mark Twain is correct.
This statement by Mark Twain is correct.

An established church is a church who is an integral part of the state and receives state support. The established church and state reach an agreement or enter into a contract whereby either the state aids the church in attaining earthly and/or spiritual goals or vice-versa and, to one degree or another, the state runs the church or the established church runs the state. The church and state work hand in hand to enforce earthly and spiritual laws and principles. In modern America state-churches are influenced, perverted, and/or perhaps dominated by state enforced satanic principles.

Historically, the established church has either been over the state, or the state has been over the established church. When the state has been over the church, the state directs the affairs of the church to a greater or lesser degree and vice-versa. In either case, the spiritual affairs of the church are mixed with the earthly responsibilities of the state. In the past, in either a church-state or state-church, leaders of both church and state operated under a false theology based upon false biblical principles. The results were (1) corruption of the church, corruption of the state, corruption of the clergy and political leaders and the members of society and the church, and (2) torture, imprisonment, and/or the killing of those who refused to bow down to the theology of the church-state or state-church. We see the former results in the church-state activities in America today. The latter results are coming.

6Religious freedom exists when every citizen has, by law, the choice, without persecution, of choosing God, false gods or a false god, or no god at all. Religious freedom, as shown in God’s Word, is what He desires in a Gentile nation. Even though He desires Gentile nations to provide for religious liberty, He also wants them to submit themselves to Him and His principles, and recognize that Jesus Christ is the Supreme Sovereign. Thus a nation modeled after biblical principles will provide for religious liberty while also operating under God and His principles.

8In today’s incorporated 501(c)(3) church in America, the rules of civil government for the church are secular and the civil government enforces certain public policies even when those policies go against biblical principles. Christians in America suffer a very mild degree of persection.

10“By religious freedom, or soul liberty, is meant the natural and inalienable right of every soul to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, and to be unmolested in the exercise of that right, so long, at least, as he does not infringe upon the rights of others; that religion is, and must be a voluntary service; that only such service is acceptable to God; and, hence that no earthly power, whether civil or ecclesiastical, has any right to compel conformity to any creed or to any species of worship, or to tax a man for its support.

5

Click the above to go to the online version of the book.
Click the above to go to the online version of the book.

“This principle gives to ‘Caesar’ ‘the things that are Caesar’s,’ but it denies to Caesar ‘the things that are God’s.’ It does not make it a matter of indifference what a man believes or how he acts, but it places all on the same footing before God, the only lord of the conscience, and makes us responsible to him alone for our faith and practice. [By 1900 this doctrine was] very generally accepted, not only in Virginia, but also throughout the United States. It [had] been incorporated into our National and State Constitutions, and it [was] the basis for our civil liberties” (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. 9.).

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.

ON SABBATICAL LAWS

An essay on pages 440-446 of 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, www.LocalChurchBiblePublishers.com

The Mosaic institution, which formed the tribes into a theocracy, was very different from the government of any other nation, and from the government of Gospel churches.

The Israelites had no legislature, but received their laws from Jehovah; they had no executive, God was their king. Judges they had, but no salaries provided for them; of course their civil list did not cost them a cent per annum.

Exclusive of their “divers washings and carnal ordinances,” which were typical of good things, they had many laws to regulate   them as a body politic, peculiarly adapted to their circumstances, and binding on no other nation. Their laws for trying jealousy by bitter water; for deciding the cause between the man-slayer and avenger of blood, at the gates of the cities of refuge; against taking usury; to oblige a man to marry the widow of his deceased brother; to release the lands at the jubilee, etc., no other nation has seen cause to adopt, nor felt themselves bound to obey. The incompleteness of the political part of the Mosaic code to govern other nations by, requires no other proof, but just to observe, that the people were forbidden to have commerce with other nations, of course had no commercial laws. Any laws, therefore, which the Jews had to enforce the observance of the Sabbath, or punish the Sabbath-breaker, give no grounds to Christians to exercise like force. The king of Israel gave that people their laws and orders, but Christ has given laws for the regulation of Christianity. Now, if there be any account in the New Testament, that Jesus called upon the rulers of state, to   make and enforce laws, to oblige the people to keep the first day of the week holy, and fine or punish them if they did not; such an account would be direct in point, but such an account we have not.

It has been noticed, in a foregoing page, that the evidence was so clear, that the first Christians assembled in course on the first day of the week, that it hardly admitted of a doubt, and the evidence is about as clear, that it was done voluntarily, as a matter of prudence, without any divine command; hence a disregard of the day was not esteemed a matter of offense. In Galatians, iv., 10, 11, Paul reproves the Galatians for observing days, months, times and years, as the Jews did; for Jewish times, no doubt, are intended. But in Romans, xiv., 5, a day is spoken of, which some regarded, and some regarded not, but none of them were reproved by Paul. It is probable the day here spoken of was the Lord’s day, for if it had been a ceremonial day of the Jews, he would have reproved them for regarding it, as he did the Galatians; but, in the case before us, a regard, or disregard to the day, was not to be a cause of judging and setting at nought a brother, whom the Lord accepted. If, then, a disregard to the Lord’s day was not censurable by the church, can we possibly suppose that it ought to be punished by the state?

For the first eighteen centuries of time, there was no government among men but patriarchal, which took its rise in nature. Next, a more extensive government was formed, by mutual agreement, (Genesis xi., 3, 4,) but, by the address of an ambitious hunter, the government was soon turned into a kingdom. The government of the tribes of Israel was a theocracy (from Theos, God,) because they received all their laws from God. The government of the Christian church is from heaven, and not from men.

Among the nations of the world in general, that government which does not rise in compact, is usurpation and tyranny. When men associate, it is for specific purposes, viz., to protect life, liberty and property, and not to prepare them for heaven. Souls and conscience are inalienable. The gracious an ungracious, all belong to the body politic, and are equally eligible to posts of authority. The work of the legislature is to make laws for the security of life, liberty and property, and leave religion to the consciences of individuals. If the sacred code, in the New Testament, is not sufficient to govern Christians in all their religious affairs, either the wisdom of goodness of Christ is deficient.

Much confusion arises in government, when sins and crimes are blended together. Every state crime is a moral evil or sin, (provided the laws of state are legitimate,) but every sin is not a crime to be punished by law. Malice, guile, hypocrisy, envy, pride, impenitence, unbelief, etc., are sins, but not crimes. Suppose, then, that a disregard of the first day of the week is a sin as flagrant as enmity, bigotry or ill-will, yet it is not a crime to be punished by law; for I would here request an instance where Jesus, or the inspired apostles, ever called on the civil rulers to punish Sabbath breakers, or those who disregarded the first day of the week. If there is such an instance, let it be pointed to; but, if not, let clamor cease. When God, by Moses, gave law to the tribes, they had no king, nor any thing that looked like one, but the Almighty, knowing what would take place about four hundred and fifty years afterwards, gave them the character and administration of a king: (Deuteronomy xvii., 14, 20).

When Christianity was first set up in the world, it was small. The power of making laws was in the hands of the enemies of Christianity. Laws to guard the Christian religion could not have been expected, but Christ knew what would come. He knew that about three hundred years thereafter Christianity would rise triumph and; why did he not then give some precept, at least some small thing, that when Christianity should become so general, that then the rulers of state should make laws to establish Christianity, and force the observance of the first day of the week? We look in vain to find any thing like it in the New Testament, and it is generally confessed, that when the event did take place—when Constantine the Great established Christianity in the empire, and forced an observance of the first day of the week, Christianity was disrobed of her virgin beauty, and prostituted to the unhallowed principle of state policy, where it has remained in a criminal commerce until the present moment.

Men of little reading, and less thought, conclude, that if there is no law of state to force the observance of the Sabbath, (for so they name the first day of the week,) it would entirely run out, and not be regarded at all. Why did it not then run out in the three first centuries? How came it to be regarded all that time as purely as it has ever been since? There were no sabbatical laws during that period. Why has it not run out in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York? They have no holy laws in those states, and yet the Sabbath, so called, is not run out, but meeting-houses and public worship in those states are not inferior to those of New England. Those states abound with Quakers, who never thank a legislature for making religious laws, and yet they keep the first day of the week as regularly as the Presbyterians, and the fifth day of the week beside.

The Jews, and some of the Christians, would keep the seventh day—most of the Christians would keep Sunday—the Turks would hallow Friday—infidels no day. Shall that sect, which is most numerous and ambitious, direct the scepter of government to interpose, and force all to submit to one standard, and fine, punish and burn non-conformists? Such has been the course of things, it must be confessed, but does not human nature shudder at the thought, and the spirit of Christianity flee from the sight! Let each sect enjoy their own rights and freedom, in respect of the God whom they wish to adore, the days on which they would pay that adoration, and the modes of performing it. If one sect has the liberty of worshipping whom, when and as they please, why should that sect wish to force other sects to worship whom, when and as they would not?

Legal force is not the armor with which the Captain of our salvation clothes the soldiers of the cross. An honest appeal to the reasons and judgments of men, is all the force that Christians should use to induce others to believe in and worship God as they themselves do. All the punishment that pious Christians inflict on the irreligious, is pity, forgiveness, and prayer, unless the irreligious man breaks out into overt acts, in which case he is to be punished according to his crime. If labor or amusements, on the first day of the week, may be considered as the foulest sins, yet they were no crimes to be punished by law, for the first three hundred years after Christi, nor are they, at this time, crimes in several of the states in our country, and, if laws were fixed as they should be, they would not be crimes any where. If those who keep the first day of the week, in remembrance of the resurrection of Christ, believe themselves to be right, (as they have cause to,*) let them “beseech others, by the mercies of God, to present their bodies a living sacrifice to God, which is a reasonable service,” (Romans, xii, 1,) and not make use of legal force to do it, which will only prejudice others against the day and against themselves.

Where Jews (of which there are eight millions in existence) and seventhdayrian Christians reside, they must either sacrifice conscience, or lose a day in each week. The majority of Christians in our country keep the first day of the week; but if there was a majority who kept the seventh day, and should oblige all others to regard the day, would those who now make the law and plead for its utility, bear the privation of one-seventh part of their labor, or change their day? If they did the first, they would justly complain of partial oppression—if the last, discover the rottenness of their consciences.

It has been observed before, that government should guarantee the rights of conscience to all; consequently if an individual or an assembly should be interrupted by assault, on Sunday, Monday, or any other day or night, either at the meeting-house, a private house, market, field or grove, where he or they should be conscientiously paying devotion to God, the law ought to be open, as it is, to punish the assailants, as disturbers of the peace; for the design of the law is, to punish him who works ill to his neighbor. This law is sufficient for all, every day of the week. It is no assault upon one man’s right for another to refuse to unite with him in his devotion. Those who keep the first day of the week, will work in their fields and travel roads, where Jews assemble in their synagogues, and sevendayrians meet in their meeting-houses on Saturday, and never suspect that they are interrupting them in their worship; why, then, should it be looked upon an interruption for sevendayrians, or those who regard no day, to work in the field or drive their team in the road upon the first day? Yet, in many places, tything-men, or wardens, are chosen as legal officers to prevent labor and recreation on the first day of the week. When I see men turn their backs upon public worship, and pursue their labor or recreation in preference to the service of God, either on Sunday or on any other day, my heart beats in poetic strains,

                         “O might they at last, with sorrow return,
The pleasures to taste, for which they were born,
The Saviour receiving, the happiness prove
The joy of believing, the heaven of love.”

Or breaks out in the language of the Hebrew prophet, “Oh that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!” Or vents itself in the words of Paul, “I pray you in Christ’s stead, be you reconciled to God.”

But when I see a man with the insignia of his office, arrest a fellow-man for non-attendance on worship, or labor or amusement on Sunday, it strains every fibre of my soul. Who that ever read the New Testament, which describes the meekness, patience, forbearance and sufferings of the first Christians, would ever have expected to see those who call themselves Christians, avail themselves of such weapons to suppress vice and support Christian morality? The spirit seems to be the same that influenced Peter to draw his sword and cut off the ear of one who did not reverence Christ; or, like that which stimulated James and John to command fire to come down from heaven and consume those who would not receive the blessed Saviour. The first was ordered to put up his sword; and the last were rebuked, with “ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.” It reminds me on an instance which took place with one of Burgoyne’s men, who professed to be a zealous Christian. The man, hearing an American speak irreverently of religion, exclaimed, “How I hate him—I will kill him, because he does not love my blessed Jesus.” About two centuries past, the spirit of witchcraft and witchburning ran through a considerable part of the world, like a raging plague. The rulers used to reason thus: “God will burn wizards and witches in the next world, and we who are God’s representatives, must burn them in this world.” But is is though that the following reasoning would have been better: “God is merciful to the poor, deluded creatures, and lets them live, and we will imitate him.” So in regard to those improperly called Sabbath breakers. If they commit overt acts—if they assault the life, liberty or property of any man, let them be punished by law. But if their only error is not worshipping where, when, and as you do, your only weapon is fair reasoning with them. If God lets them live, though in disregard of Sunday solemnities, let not man kill them.

But how must a tything-man feel? The day he conceives to be holy: no civil or economical business must be done on the sacred day; devotion must employ his time and his thoughts; and yet his office is civil; he receives his authority from the acts of the legislature, and not from the acts of the apostles, and his oath obliges him to profane the day which he conceives to be holy, by performing civil actions, for he has no authority to officiate, except on the time which is holy. When he rises on Sunday morning, instead of having his mind disentangled from earthly things, he is watching the fields and the roads; when going to meeting, instead of watching to prepare his heart for the solemnities of the day, he is watching how others behave; when at meeting, his eyes and his ears, which should be open alone to God, and to his word, are constantly looking and harking to prevent the errors of others. And thus, by law, he is obliged to do evil that good may come. However others may seek to regulate religious societies by law and by force, to me a man cannot give greater evidence that he is ignorant of the precepts and destitute of the spirit of Christianity, than by calling the aid of the civil arm to legalize religious days and modes, and punish those who will not submit.

I shall close this part of the subject, with a few reflections on some late events. When the British, (who are called the bulwark of religion,) landed near Saybrook, it was Sunday. The good people of Connecticut would not assemble to drive them off, because it was holy time, until the enemy had burnt the shipping at Pettipague. The God whom they served did not protect them from the depredations of the old “Bulwark.” But on Lake Champlain, the “Bulwark” attacked McDonough on Sunday. McDonough solemnly prayed for success, and then fought with astonishing bravery. The signal victory which he obtained over the “Bulwark,” together with what was achieved by the land forces, under General Macomb, have met with the thanks and rewards of more states than one. I have not yet heard, however, whether the pious apathy of Connecticut, or the profane heroism of the northern fleet and army, meets with the most applause from those who conceive Sunday to be holy time. It is highly probable, however, that there were no tything-men aboard McDonough’s fleet.

The public assembling of Christians for religious worship, is certainly appointed in the New Testament by precept, and abundantly by example. And, as has been noticed, the evidence is nearly conclusive, that the first Christians generally assembled on the first day of the week, not with a view that it was of moral obligation—not in obedience to the fourth command of the Decalogue, which enjoined the observance and rest of the seventh day—nor in obedience to any command given them by Christ, but voluntarily, as a prudential thing, to perpetuate the event of Christ’s resurrection. Their public assembling, however, was not confined to the first day of the week, but daily, in the temple and other places, both day and night, as opportunity served, they assembled for Christian worship. There were some among them, who did not discover any advantages in their assembling on the first day more than on any other day, and, as the day was not divinely appointed, those who regarded it, did not judge and set at nought those who regarded it not, but left every man to be fully persuaded in his own mind.

________________________

SUMMARY

1. God, for once, rested on the seventh day.

2. No proof that God commanded men to rest on the seventh day during the patriarchal age.

3. About two thousand four hundred years after creation, the holy Sabbath was enjoined on the tribes of Israel.

4. The fourth commandment was not moral, but absolute.

5 The Sabbath was not a day of public worship, but of rest.

6. After the return of the Jews from Babylon, of their own accord they built synagogues, and assembled in them every Sabbath, to read and hear the law of Moses and the prophets, for which they had no command, and received no reproof.

7. The Gentiles were never reproved for Sabbath-breaking.

8. The first day of the week was never appointed by Christ, to be kept different from other days.

9. Proof, nearly conclusive, that the first Christians paid particular attention to the first day of the week; those who did not regard the day, were not judged and set at nought by those who regarded it.

10. The observance of the first day of the week, perpetuates the resurrection of Christ.

11. The appointment of religious days, no article of legislation.

12. The observance of the first day of the week was never enforced by law until the reign of Constantine, in the beginning of the fourth century.

13. Tythin-men are obliged, by their oaths, to profane the time which they conceive to be holy.

14. The public assembling of Christians for religious worship, enjoined by New Testament precept, and abundant examples.

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

Links to Baptist Heritage Series by Pastor Ted Alexander: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5.

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. 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. As in Teprice, all around America, in many nations, Christians are to this very date persecuted, tortured, and ruthlessly murdered. Sadly, the chief foes of the religious liberty and freedom of conscience guaranteed by the constitutions of America and the states therein are religious and immoral Americans.

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

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.