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The constitution of North Carolina (VI., 5) provides that “all persons who shall deny the being of Almighty God” “shall be disqualified for office.” The constitutions of South Carolina (XIV., 6), of Mississippi (XII., 3), and of Tennessee (IX., 2), contain a similar provision, with the extension of the exclusion in the last of these constitutions to any person who denies a future state of rewards and punishments." The constitution of Maryland (Declaration of Rights, 36, 37) declares that no person, “otherwise competent,” shall“ be deemed incompetent as a witness or juror on account of his religious belief, provided he believes in the existence of God, and that under his dispensation such person will be held morally accountable for his acts and be rewarded or punished therefor either in this world or in the world to come,” and also declares that "no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God." These provisions are religious tests, and, as Judge Cooley, in his “Constitutional Limitations” (p. 468) remarks, “ show some traces of the old notion that truth and a sense of duty are inconsistent with skepticism in religion.” They exclude persons from office on religious grounds. Maryland has quite an extended religious belief as a qualification to be a witness or perform the duty of a juror.
So, also, some of the State constitutions ex
clude clergymen, priests, and teachers of any religious sect from civil office. The constitution of Delaware (VII., 8) provides that “no ordained clergyman or ordained preacher of the Gospel of any denomination shall be capable of holding any office in the State, or of being a member of either branch of the legislature while he continues in the exercise of the pastoral or clerical functions." The constitution of Kentucky (II., 27) declares that no person while he continues to exercise the functions of a clergyman, priest, or teacher of any religious persuasion, society, or sect
shall be eligible to the general assembly.” The constitution of Maryland (III., 11,) says that "no minister or preacher of the Gospel, or of any religious creed or denomination
shall be eligible as senator or delegate." The constitution of Tennessee (IX., 1) declares that “no minister of the Gospel or priest of any denomination whatever, shall be eligible to a seat in either house of the legislature.” These are examples of constitutional exclusion of persons from the exercise of civil functions on account of their ecclesiastical character and office; and, so far, examples of proscription on religious grounds. The reason of the exclusion and the fact itself involve the practical results of a religious test.
These provisions are the exceptions, rather than the general rule, in the constitutions of the American States. The great mass of these con
stitutions exclude all religious tests as qualifications to hold office, or to perform any civil duty or exercise any political or civil right or privilege ; and also exclude the power to levy taxes for the support of religion, and guarantee to each person the full enjoyment of the rights of a religious conscience within the limits of decency and public order. It would be tedious to go through the whole list of provisions that secure these results, and, hence, a few examples must suffice.
The constitution of Illinois (II., 3,) declares that “the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination, shall forever be guaranteed, and no person shall be denied any civil or political right, privilege, or capacity on account of his religious opinions," and that “no person shall be required to attend or support any ministry or place of worship against his consent, nor shall any preference be given by law to any religious denomination or mode of worship.” The constitution of Iowa (I., 3, 4) declares that “the general assembly shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; nor shall any person be compelled to attend any place of worship, pay tithes, taxes, or other rates for building or repairing places of worship, or the maintenance of any minister or ministry. No religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust, and no person shall be deprived of any of his
rights, privileges, or capacities, or disqualified from the performance of any of his public or private duties, or rendered incompetent to give evidence in any court of law or equity, in consequence of his opinion on the subject of religion.” The constitution of Michigan (IV., 39, 41) declares that “the legislature shall pass no law to prevent any person from worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of his own conscience, or to compel any person to attend, erect, or support any place of religious worship, or to pay tithes, taxes, or other rates for the support of any minister of the Gospel or teacher of religion. . The legislature shall not diminish or enlarge the civil or political privileges and capacities of any person on account of his opinion or belief concerning matters of religion.” The constitution of New Jersey (I., 4) provides that " no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust, and no person shall be denied the enjoyment of any civil right merely on account of his religious principles.” The constitution of Oregon (I., 3, 4, 6) says: “No law shall, in
4 any case whatever control the free exercise and enjoyment of religious opinions or interfere with the rights of conscience. No religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office of trust or profit. No person shall be rendered incompetent as a witness or juror in consequence of his opinions on matters of religion, nor be questioned in any court of justice touching his religious belief to affect the weight of his testimony."
Similar provisions, more or less full, are found in the constitutions of most of the other States, and in all the States there are constitutional restrictions designed to protect the right of a religious conscience against encroachment by legislative power.
Some persons are conscientiously averse to bearing arms; and in many of the States we find constitutional provisions granting them an exemption from this service. Thus the constitution of Indiana (XII., 6) says: “No person conscientiously opposed to bearing arms shall be compelled to do militia duty ; but such person shall pay an equivalent for exemption, the amount to be prescribed by law.” The constitution of Alabama (X., 1) says: “All citizens of any denomination whatever who, from scruples of conscience, may be averse to bearing arms shall be exempt therefrom, upon such conditions as may be prescribed by law.” Provisions of the same general character occur in the constitutions of many of the other States.
So also some persons are conscientiously opposed to taking a legal oath, and, hence, provision is made that they may simply affirm, as the equivalent of an oath. On this point the constitution of Missouri (II., 12) says: “ If any person shall declare that he has conscientious scruples against taking an oath or swearing in any form, the said oath may be changed into a solemn affirmation and be made by him in that form." The constitution of Indiana (I., 8) says: “ The mode of administering