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guard over the religious liberties of the people. It affords them no protection. The whole subject is left exclusively with the States, and over their action in regard to it the Constitution asserts no control.
Would it not, then, be wise so to amend the Constitution that this great question of religious liberty in all its phases and applications shall be settled by the fundamental law of the land, and so settled that the whole people as one political organism, shall be charged with the protection of such liberty? Would it not be wise to make religious liberty in every State a national idea ? The obligation of contracts, the right of protection against an ex-post facto law and bills of attainder, the rights of life, civil liberty, and property, as guarded against any deprivation, except by due process of law, the equal protection of the laws, the right of the United States citizen to become a citizen in any State by residence therein and there to enjoy all the privileges and immunities granted to its own citizens, the right in every State to a republican form of government, the rights of United States citizenship in each State—these and the like are already national ideas. The Constitution asserts them and protects them. Why not place religious liberty in the same category? It is a right second to no other in the whole circle. There is nothing in it to make it a local idea or require that it should be remitted to the exclusive. jurisdiction of the States.
The amendment to the Constitution proposed by ex-Speaker Blaine looks in the right direction and covers the ground in part. In 1870, the Hon. | E. P. Hurlbut, formerly a judge of the Supreme
Court of the State of New York, published a pamphlet entitled “A Secular View of Religion in the State," in which he suggested an amendment with a view to the same general end. Combining the propositions of both these gentlemen, with some modifications and additions, we submit the following draft of an amendment that would meet the whole case :
SECTION 1. No State shall make any law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, or establish any religious test as a qualification to hold any office, or to discharge any political or civil duty, or to exercise and enjoy any political or civil right, privilege, or immunity whatsoever.
SECTION 2. Neither the United States nor any State, territory, municipality, or any civil division of any State or territory, shall levy any tax or make any gift, grant or appropriation for the support or in aid of any church, religious sect, or denomination, or any school, seminary, or institution of learning in which the faith or doctrines of any religious order or sect shall be taught or inculcated, or in which religious rites or practices shall be observed, or for the support or in aid of any religious charity or purpose of any sect or denomination whatsoever. SECTION 3. Congress shall have power, by appropriate legislation, to enforce the provisions of this article.
The phraseology of this amendment may, perhaps, be improved; yet the ideas, if incorporated into the Constitution of the United States, would put an end to the School question and all other questions that contemplate any alliance, whether direct or indirect, between civil government and religion. Religious liberty, untaxed, uncoerced, without any patronage from the State, but simply enjoyed and protected, without any discriminations or preferences and without any encroachment by governmental power, would have its basis in the National Constitution, and would, hence, be the universal inheritance of all the people, whether they were Christians or Infidels, Catholics or Protestants, Mormons or Jews. The best ideas of the State constitutions would be nationalized, and the defects and inconsistencies which exist in some of them would be removed. The future would be guaranteed by the consolidated strength of the whole people. Ecclesiasticism would have nothing to gain by becoming a political power. Religious factions could never bring civil government within the circle of their objects, and foreign hierarchies could obtain no foothold on this soil. The divorce between Church and State would be absolute, universal, and radical. The axe would be laid at the root of the tree. Such an amendment would guarantee
impartial and perfect religious liberty in all the forms and applications of the idea. And in this respect it would be simply a true and full expression of one of the essential principles of AMERICAN DEMOCRACY.
The several States of the Union exist and operate under written constitutions, which, subject only to the Constitution of the United States, form their supreme law. All of these constitutions, while substantially similar in the powers of government and the manner of their distribution, contain provisions relating to religion, designed, for the most part, to protect the religious liberty of the people against encroachments by governmental agency. Some of the provisions, however, found in the constitutions of some of the States are exceptions to this statement and to the general character and scope of the constitutions of the American States. They appear as inconsistencies and deformities, and also vestiges of ideas once entertained, but now generally obsolete.
The constitution of New Hampshire, (I., 6) furnishes one of these exceptions, in empowering "the legislature to authorize from time to time the several towns, parishes, bodies corporate, or religious so
cieties within this State to make adequate provisions, at their own expense, for the support of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion, and morality;” and, also, in providing (II, 14, 29, 42) that every member of the House of Representatives
shall be of the Protestant religion ;” that "no person shall be capable of being elected a senator who is not of the Protestant religion;" and that no person shall be eligible to the office of governor unless “he shall be of the Protestant religion.” The legislature is here authorized to grant to the towns, parishes, bodies corporate, or religious societies within that State the compulsory power of taxation for the support of Protestant teachers of religion. The constitution also establishes a religious test as a qualification for the office of representative, senator, and governor.
The constitution of Pennsylvania, (I., 4) declares that “no person who acknowledges the being of a God and a future state of rewards and punishments shall, on account of his religious sentiments, be disqualified to hold any office or place of trust or profit under this commonwealth.” This immunity against disqualification does not, by its very terms, apply to those who deny the existence of God, or deny a future state, or deny the doctrine of rewards and punishments in that state.
All such persons it leaves exposed to the liability of a religious test by the will of the legislature, and protects only those who acknowledge the doctrines recited.