humanities discussion question and need the explanation and answer to help me learn.
Part One: Most Surprising Thing You Learned about the “Road to Religious Freedom”
1. What is the most interesting thing you learned about the history of religious establishment, persecution and freedom in the past two weeks? You can discuss just one thing (fact, period of time, law, person, etc) or more than one!
In your response to this question, you should include at least one quotation from the Weeks Two or Three readings.
Part Two: Which reading have you found the most interesting and/or the most confusing in the past two weeks?
1. Which of the readings did you find the most interesting, surprising, or confusing over the past two weeks? Why did the reading stand out to you? Please include at least one direct quotation from that reading that highlights the reason why you chose that reading passage. Do you have any additional questions about that reading?Your initial discussion board response must be at least 500 words long and contain one direct quote from the readings. Your initial response is due by midnight on Friday, November 3. Your response should focus on answering the specific questions asked above and not just general information from the week’s course material.
An Act for establishing religious Freedom.
Written by Thomas Jefferson in 1777 and passed by the Virginia State Legislature in 1786
Whereas, 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 plan of the holy author of our religion, who being Lord, both of 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 endeavouring 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, and is withdrawing from the Ministry those temporary rewards, which, proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the instruction of mankind;
that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than 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 it tends only to corrupt the principles of that very Religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed, these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way;
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 acts against peace and good order; and finally, that Truth is great, and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them:
Be it enacted by General Assembly that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities.
And though we well know that this Assembly elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of Legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding Assemblies constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare that the rights hereby asserted, are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.
All right, so in this video lecture, we’re going to move along to the next step, the next stage in our story, on the road to religious freedom. So last week, we talked about how there was an established religion, established church, denomination of Christianity in majority of the original 14 colony. And that oftentimes led to religious intolerance, to persecution of religious minorities. But now, in this video lecture, we’re going to talk about how very early on, there were experiments with religious freedom. There were individuals and collections of people who were starting to see sort of the issues with having established religion and laws that regulated religious belief and practice. Right? Because in many of the colonies, that’s what the law did, right? We had an established religion, whether it was the Church of England or the Puritan, you know, religious dissenters from England. There were laws on the books that said, you know, this is the religion that you have to believe in. These are the specific beliefs within Christianity that you have to hold. This is the church that you have to be a member of, and this is how often you have to go to church, or this is your tax money, how to go to help support the land owned by this church, the buildings owned by them, the salaries of the ministers, priests, etc. So some people in the colonies were starting to question that and saying, well, maybe we don’t have to, and we shouldn’t exactly follow the sort of societal norms of Europe, right? Because we saw in Europe how established religion, excuse me, and especially the goal of the plan to sort of have a land that is unified by one religious tradition, one denomination of Christianity, and to try to, like, legally enforce that, that that’s just going to lead to dissent, and it’s just going to lead to conflict and warfare, right? For all those 150 years of war that we talked about last week. So early experimenters, early supporters of the idea of religious freedom, that government should not be regulating religious belief or religious practice, etc. That’s what we’re going to look at today. So three folks, three individuals, you can see their pictures here above me, up here. Directly above me is William Penn, who we’re going to talk about first, he establishes the colony of Pennsylvania, which is established as a holy experiment in religious freedom. Then right here we have Roger Williams, Roger Williams establishes the Rhode Island colony, which also has religious freedom. And for this week, you guys were reading a speech by him, or sorry, the introduction from the book that he wrote about his justification for designing this colony in that way. And then right next to me, I will do the wrong way. No, that way, this way. Right next to me, this is Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson was a virginian who lived in the colony of Virginia, which was established as a colony of the Church of England. So the Church of England would be official established religion established church in that state, but he very much wanted to change that. So he is actually the author of the statute of religious freedom that eventually becomes part of the Virginia State Constitution that you also wrote this week. Okay, so first experimenter is this man directly, but meaning William Penn. So William Penn was born in England. His family, you know, goes to the Church of England. They are part of this official official legal religion, but as a young man, actually in college, he converts to the Quakers or the religious society friends. And this is a sort of a, it’s another Protestant breakaway group. So it’s kind of in some ways it’s similar to the Puritans, but they’re also dissentered, meaning that they are a group of Christians who dissent with the Church of England. They do not believe that the Church of England is doing Christianity right, but they’re pretty radical for a couple of reasons. I think we’ve talked a little about this already. Oh, yeah, we did because talk about the persecution of Quakers. Quakers are quite different from other Christians. And oftentimes this led to their persecution in England and the U.S. They don’t believe in priests or ministers. There’s no hierarchy. There’s no clergy in their, they call their services needing instead of a service or a mass. And the idea is that everyone just sort of sits in a circle and fits in silence, and they wait for God to get to them. And they believe that any human being can receive a message from God or from the Holy Spirit, they were also sort of became early targets of persecution because they believe that women could be teachers, but also received messages. So women would stand up in meetings as well and give teachings and messages about God and Christianity and ethics. And this was something that was definitely very different from other forms of Christianity at the time, made this very target for persecution. They also, you know, from very, very early on in American history, they were very opposed to slavery, very vocally opposed to slavery. They were also very vocally opposed to the treatment of Native Americans, right, sort of taking the land, giving them some just compensation and force it in a violent way, which they were treated. Anyways, William Penn becomes a quaker back in England. He experiences persecution. He’s actually arrested at some point for being quaker right against the law in England to be anything else other than the Church of England. So he’s sort of having all these issues back in England. Well, it turns out that the King of England owed his father a bunch of money, not exactly sure why, but basically the state, the crown, owes a bunch of money to his dad. His dad passes away. That inheritance comes to him. And he actually, you know, sort of asks the crown says, you know, instead of receiving like a lump sum of money, could you actually repay me and my family in the form of land in the colonies? I would actually like to go to the colonies, and I would like to set up a colony there. So could you just like gift me the equivalent amount of land in colonies for what you owe my dad. And they said, yes, that’s fine. So he decides, I’m going to set up a colony. I’m going to set up like, you know, a place in the colony. I mean, it’s a very large tract of land, right? It becomes pencil. And he decided that this is going, he’s going to offer it up as sort of a safe haven for British quakers, right? And he’s part of this religious movement that’s being persecuted or being arrested. And he said, well, I’m going to sort of create this area where any quakers can come. And it’s going to be freedom of religion. So he decides that in this land, in this area, even though technically he owns it, he can like run it anyway he wants. He actually decides, no, I’m going to set it up as sort of this model society that I think should sort of model the way the rest of society should be run. So he actually sort of writes his own constitution. He invites people to come and he said that in this, you know, in this colony, in this place, everyone is going to have a freedom of religion. They have a freedom to believe and practice a basic bit. And so this means that not just Quakers, but actually many people from different religious backgrounds start to come to what becomes pencil. So there are Quakers. There are a lot of Quakers, of course, about some of the original intentions to give Quakers a safe haven in a place where they could go to practice their particular form of Christianity. But also other people for other Puritans, right? Massachusetts Bay colony is such a strict and rigid Puritan colony and anyone who does not follow their exact rules is being banished, is being exiled. Or sometimes people are just, they just disagree with helping for being run there so they voluntarily leave. So they got a lot of people from the Massachusetts Bay colony who were just not happy with what was going on there. And other people is about Catholics, other Protestants who wanted that freedom of religion, right? There’s a place in the colonies where anyone can go and practice their religion. He’s also very well known for the fact that he dealt barely with the Native Americans there. He’s very strongly believed it was wrong that other settlers and colonists were simply taking the land away from the Native Americans who had lived there, dealing with barely with them, dealing violently with them. So he actually made treaties with all of the tribes that land that he was gifted, being a sort of coincided myth, and reimbursed them. So reimbursed them on their own terms for the land. So he didn’t think it was appropriate that the land was just taken without referring with the local people there. So he, for the most part, had very positive relations with the local Native Americans and tribes. And he had this religious toleration. So this is the law of the land. Is that anyone, anyone is allowed to come? They do have, they do have a set of government there. It’s actually one of the earliest and more democratic, democratic forms of government among the colonies. Everyone is allowed the right to vote. It’s a very peaceful, very egalitarian society. It ends up kind of changing over time, basically. There’s all these political events going on, the beginning of England, back home, and people who are boiled to the crown, not boiled to the crown. So it eventually changes over time. And unfortunately, William Penn actually has to go back to England to deal with sort of some family and legal stuff. And he never makes it back to Pennsylvania. He ended up having a stroke while in England and dying while he’s over there. But beginning in 1681, he stepped up this land of Pennsylvania, and the law of the land is religious toleration. So Pennsylvania eventually becomes, you know, a full-fledged colony. It eventually becomes a state. And it never had an established religion. So William Penn’s holy experiment absolutely was a success in the sense that they never decided to have an established religion. This was very successful. And it was one of the models, really, that the founding fathers looked to when codifying the freedom of religion within the liberal rights that we’ll talk about next week. The second example is a man named Roger Williams. And Roger Williams was also a British man born in England, comes over to the colonies. He’s actually a Puritan. So he converts to the Puritan faith, right, the dissenters who want to purify the church in England. And he actually lives in the Massachusetts faith colony. But as we mentioned previously, from last week’s video lecture, he very quickly kind of runs a foul of the government in the Massachusetts faith colony. When he doesn’t agree with sort of the logical beliefs and practices, he doesn’t think that they’re sort of truly, you know, living with Puritan lifestyle, following this Puritan theology. So he does have some religious disputes with them. But he also, similar to William Penn, he also, as soon as he gets there, some very strongly disagreements with the Indian Americans are being treated. He said, there are people who are you live here, right, we need to work with them, we need to cooperate with them, and we need to repay them for the land that we are not living on. Right, it wasn’t necessarily that we shouldn’t be here, but he said we need to deal fairly and justly with them and any land that we use that was originally part of their territory, they need to be compensated for that. Right, that’s only fair. This is something that the government of Massachusetts faith colony did not agree with. So he kind of keeps funny heads with them, and he’s eventually exiled, right, this is not the need for Massachusetts faith colony. We’re not following our rules. We are criticizing us all the time. They kick him out. He’s not the only one who’s kicked out right, we talked about the in Hutchinson already, but there are also lots of other human, not as famous people who get exiled right. Anybody who runs the power of the government of Massachusetts faith colony is kicked out. So Roger Williams is exiled, he ends up being exiled with a couple of families. I think some of them were also exiled, some of them decided to leave with him or sympathize with what his beliefs were and what he was saying. So they leave and they eventually end up settling in the area that becomes more violent, and it becomes actually the city of Providence for an island. It’s named that because Roger Williams, I believe that it’s Providence, got Providence that brings him to that place, so he leads him there. He has very, he had very positive relations also with the local Indian American tribes. The East Coast wants to deal fairly with them. He does want to sort of set up a settlement there, but he’s going to reimburse them for the land that they’re going to use, so he does pay them for the land that he’s going to use. And for the most part, for the rest of his life, he’s going to have sort of had really close and good relations with the Native American tribes that move on with the island. And so he decides, you know what, we’re going to set up this town, we sort of decided this and we’re going to stay. We established relationships with the local Native Americans, we reimburse them for this land, but our colony, our settlement is going to be different from the Massachusetts faith colony. Because we are going to allow freedom of conscience. We are going to let anyone believe and practice religion as they see fit. So his experiences in the Massachusetts faith colony really help to solidify this view of Roger Williams. So he’s one of the earliest proponents related to Roger Williams first because historically he becomes first, but really willing and sort of more well known, more famous. So I talked about him first, but Roger Williams really, I mean, this is this is the first, the first area in the colonies that is set up explicitly intentionally as a place where anyone can come and really practice and believe in their own religion. And he Roger Williams does a lot, he writes a lot, he writes an entire book about why it is wrong for the government to try to control and restrict religious practices through small excerpts of this week. And he is actually the individual who comes, I don’t know if I’m not mistaken, but he is the first in print to use the phrase hedge or wall of separation between church and state. So he very strongly believes that civil government should have nothing to do with religion, that this state, the government has no business telling people what they have to believe, making that a law, enforcing that, and also telling people what church they have to remember, how they have to practice their religious tradition and things like that. He actually thinks that this is incredibly corrosive to religion. So Roger Williams is absolutely a devout Christian, a devout Puritan Protestant Christian. But his experience in the master’s of spirituality basically shows him or convinces him that when people, like when religious figures, right, priests, ministers, pastors are put into positions of civil authority, right, when those forms of authority are combined into one, it is a corrosive negative detrimental force to the religion itself. So when Roger Williams interestingly, when Roger Williams starts to talk and write and speak about, this topic speaks up the same thing. He begins to speak and write about creating this wall or this hedge of separation between religion and government. He is really focusing on how that is done to protect religion, right, that if you start letting sort of you government and politics and politicians and law and the state become, you sort of get their, get their hooks into religion, right, saying, okay, we are, this is part of what we’re supposed to do as the government, we’re supposed to establish an official religion, tell everybody what to believe, tell everybody what to do. He said, that is the worst possible thing to have into religion and the religion is going to be corrupted because people aren’t going to believe and practice in the same way as if they were free to do so. Right, he thinks it’s incredibly sort of twisted and immoral for a government to tell people what they have to believe in their conscience. Right, so his, his main phrase, what everyone here has freedom of conscience to believe and practice religion as they choose, that when individuals are free to decide what they believe for themselves, to follow the belief, speak about this belief and practice their religion, that is actually what really purifies religion and what makes religion. And stronger is when people feel that no, I have come to this decision on my own, I want to believe and practice this religion because I have simply been convinced on the merits of the religious belief and practice themselves. So he, he very much wanted to protect religion and thought that government getting involved in it is what makes the religion correct and what makes people, you know, just sort of go through the motion and not really believe in it, not really do it with any sort of, you know, pure heart or good intention, because they’re just doing it because they have it too. And so according to him, that’s sort of what he experienced in the Massachusetts state colony and that’s why very, very strong it came to believe. No, civil government and religion should be completely separate, they should have nothing to do with each other. This protects, this also protects the government and politics because people, you know, they’re just, they’re, they’re limited in their scope, they’re limited to what they can do effectively. Right, that a civil government, they can tell people, you know, how to behave, how to treat other people, but they can’t regulate conscience. They can’t enforce religious beliefs. And when they try to do that, they are pretending that that’s possible, when it’s not possible, and they are actually eroding those religious beliefs that they are trying to protect and support. So very, very strongly, very strong proponent of this. And again, also important because he was really a template, right? He was someone that Thomas Jefferson, another of the family fathers looked to and said, look, these ideas, we agree with these ideas and they worked. I said, you should also note that the experiment in Rhode Island was also very much a success. People also, they came from many different religious backgrounds. It was a thriving, thriving quality. It was a growing quality and it was a relatively peaceful colony. Roger Williams also, you know, he sort of moves away from the Puritan Church. He actually become the Baptist and is known as establishing the first Baptist Church in the US. And that’s, and that was in Rhode Island. So that’s also sort of what he’s very well known for is setting up an establishment in the very first Baptist Church in the US. Okay, so William Penn, Roger Williams, right, then a little bit later on, right, oh, I shouldn’t put the date in here. But it’s in 17, I’m not putting it here, 17, 77. So, you know, we’re talking 100 years later here, right? Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers also comes very strongly to believe that government has no right, has no business establishing a particular religion, trying to enforce and regulate religious belief and conduct and church. He’s a church membership or religious membership. And he actually writes, he writes a law called the statute on religious week. So in 17, 77, Thomas Jefferson, he is a virginian, he lives in Virginia. And he’s learning about these other experiments and we’ll talk about moving towards the revolutionary war, freedom and starting to think about, you know, actually, we may very well be setting up our own independent society here. And within the States, we’re doing that as well. Virginia really should be a place where everyone has the freedom to believe and practice religion as they choose. And so Virginia was a colony that hadn’t established religion, the Church of England, but Thomas Jefferson disagreed with, right, he himself, part of this world will talk more about Thomas Jefferson as the author of the definition of independence as well as presidents will talk more about his religious beliefs, but Thomas Jefferson definitely has an unorthodox religious belief. He did not comfortably fit into any of the Protestant or Christian denominations of the time. He had his own Bible, he came with his own Christian Bible. So he very much personally had some nontraditional or unorthodox views on God, religion and Christian religion, particularly there. So maybe because of sort of external factors, as well as internal factors, religious freedom is very important to Thomas Jefferson and he’s one of the strongest advocates during the formation of the United States government that there should be no established religion and even farther than that protection of religious freedom needs to be enshrined in the illegal code of this country. And he starts in Virginia, he starts with the statute of religious freedom. The statute of religious freedom disestablishes the Church of England from Virginia. It is everyone the freedom of religion to believe and practice religion as they fit. It protects people from persecution, discrimination, harassment based on their religious beliefs. And it also sort of connected to the disestablishment of religion, says that no public money can go to fund the promotion of any particular religious position. So he writes it in 1787, but it doesn’t really go anywhere. It’s considered a little bit too progressive, too radical, especially to disestablish a religion to disestablish a Church that can be so innocent and controversial. Virginia had already had an established Church for a very long time and disestablishing a Church is also very difficult because of financial reasons. When you have an established Church, it means that there of course is sort of an official relationship between the government and the Church. It also means that tax money goes to support that religious tradition, right? Houses of worship are very large and oftentimes very expensive buildings, right? To build a church, to maintain a church, you know, to pay the taxes on it on the land that it’s built on inside the Trigger. And to pay the salaries of ministers, priests, things like that, everyone who you know who works there, it means that tax fair money is going to do that right. So nobody really has to worry about that money being raised to be a three -voluntary method. So, but the statute of religious freedom basically just kind of doesn’t go anywhere. It’s introduced into the Virginia State Legislature, but it actually is about 10 years. It gets that forgetful to 80, 87, or 89. But we’ll say it’s about 10 or more years before it actually becomes ratified before it actually becomes official law in Virginia. And it really only becomes ratified because another politician, Patrick Henry, proposes another bill, another law that says that tax fair money is going to pay the salaries of teachers of religion at the University of Virginia. So another politician introduces a bill, a law that says you know what, we have University of Virginia. There are some sort of teachers on payroll who are also ministers with the Church of England, and they are teaching courses on Christianity. And really that tax fair money should also be paid their salary, right? It goes to pay for the church, the church building of the ministers. But, you know, it could also go to pay the salary of these professors, right? These teachers who are teaching the Christian religion, and that’s where something really public good. And Thomas Jefferson is very strongly opposed to this bill because it’s sort of re-or further intervention, the establishment of religion. And right, tax fair money going to pay not just for ministers, but also teachers of Christianity who are just professors who are teaching about Christianity. And so Thomas Jefferson very much opposed to it, and also James Madison is very much opposed to it. So he, he actually very much supports, is synthesizing Thomas Jefferson’s cause, and says no, this bill should not be passed, right? We are trying to move towards greater religious freedom towards disestablishment of religion, and if this bill passes, then we just, if it would make it that much harder to ever disestablish the Church of England or the Anglican Church from Virginia. So he actually, Thomas Jefferson is not really able to participate in legal proceedings, that much because he is still at this time. But James Madison really takes up the cause and says, you know what, not only should you not vote for Patrick Henry’s bill, but we need to re-take up and discuss Thomas Jefferson’s original statute of religious freedom. And we need to pass that instead. We need to vote no on this, and we need to point on the past of the statute of religious freedom. And so if he really takes up this cause, he gives a very famous speech that published in a pamphlet called memorials and remonstrates against religious assessments where he sort of very forcefully argues the case for religious freedom. He’s very convincing, he’s able to do what Thomas Jefferson was able to do previously, and he wins everyone to his cause, he finally gets the statute of religious freedom passed. It’s sometimes the late 1780s, I think it would be a good back year. But finally, it does get passed, and the language in the statute of religious freedom is basically taken almost work forward and put into the bill of rights. That, you know, enshrines religious freedom in the United States, right, freedom from, from established religion and the freedom to practice, practice and believe in the religion as they personally fit. So it’s a very important piece of this road to establishing religious freedom in our federal law……….
week 3 so you’re reading for this week, you have four readings, again, this week. The first one is the next three articles in the U.S. Constitution. So over the next few weeks, including last week, this week, and next week, we’re going to read through the entire U.S. Constitution. It’s a little bit lengthy, so I’ve divided it up into a couple different sections. So make sure that you read through that. It’s important for sort of, you know, some baseline foundational understanding of American government and politics, and of course, we’ll be referring back to several sort of sections. And it, as we move on to in the next few weeks, talking about the connection to religion in the three major branches of the U.S. government, starting with next week, the presidency, then the Supreme Court, and then the Congress. So we do that. The second one is the Bill of Rights, so we are talking specifically about the Bill of Rights or the first ten amendments that were added on to the Constitution almost immediately after its ratification. That’s much shorter document, and you definitely also want to pay attention to, sorry, sort of folk there, sorry, for a second, pay attention, of course, most especially to the first amendment, which is the one that deals with the deal with protections in rights of religion and religious practice. The third reading is an extract from a sermon, it’s called City on the Hill by John Winthrop. John Winthrop was a very well-known Puritan minister who was among the first Puritans that came over to the British colonies that helped founded the Massachusetts Bay calling, the text that you have, is not the original, you can look up the original online, it’s very difficult to understand because it’s written in a form of English that the spelling is for several of the words the spelling is quite different from our modern standards spelling, and that a couple of the words, you know, some of the language of it is a little bit older, more antiquated like using thy and thy and the. So this is a modern translation of it, it’s the same text, it’s just been updated where the spelling has changed and where some of the words have changed, a modern version of that word, but it’s much easier to understand in the modern translation and it’s important to know the origins of this idea of this sort of general cultural attitude of what’s called American exceptionalism or this idea that America is this quote unquote city on a hill that it was intended, intended by the Puritans to be, they wanted to set up a quality around their Puritan understanding of Christianity, they wanted to create this sort of perfect Christian society, and even though as we talk about in the video lectures this week, that ultimately did not work out, it ultimately was a failure. There has been a continuance of an American cultural attitude of being the city on a hill, not necessarily in the sense that it will be a perfect Christian society in the way that Puritan’s originally envisioned, but that it will be sort of a beacon of morality and justice and equality. That idea had definitely continued to reverberate in American culture, an American government and politics, so important to read the foundational document that starts that, that line of sort of self identity and cultural understanding of American society culture and government. And then the last thing that you have for this week is Jefferson’s letter, so this is a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to a group of Baptists in Danbury, Connecticut. It was in response to a letter that they wrote to him, but it is a very famous document, also in short reading, but it’s a very famous document because it is the document in which Thomas Jefferson first uses the phrase wall of separation of church and state. He’s not the first to use it, remember we talked about Roger Williams being the sort of original author to use it, that’s the first time we see that read in print. But Thomas Jefferson’s reference to it is extremely important because as we’ll talk about two weeks from now, it is this use of the phrase that the Supreme Court ends up referring to in terms of their guidelines for a specific amount of time, their guidelines for how they interpret the first amendment and how it should be enacted in terms of government policy law. So it’s a very, very important document to help us understand the history going forward of the interpretation of the first amendment by the US Supreme Court. Okay, so those are your readings for this week. Enjoy and let me know if you have any questions.
ARTICLE II, SECTION 1
The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; a quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.
The Congress may determine the Time of choosing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.
No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.
The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.
Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:—“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
ARTICLE II, SECTION 2
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.
ARTICLE II, SECTION 3
He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.
ARTICLE II, SECTION 4
The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
ARTICLE III, SECTION 1
The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.
ARTICLE III, SECTION 2
The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;—to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public ministers and Consuls;—to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;—to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;—to Controversies between two or more States;—between a State and Citizens of another State;—between Citizens of different States;—between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.
In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.
The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.
ARTICLE III, SECTION 3
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.
ARTICLE IV, SECTION 1
Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.
ARTICLE IV, SECTION 2
The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.
A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.
No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.
ARTICLE IV, SECTION 3
New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.
The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.
ARTICLE IV, SECTION 4
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence. so in this video lecture, we’re going to talk a little bit more about the bill of rights and the first amendment, which is the particular amendment that applies to religion that is going to be really one of the main focuses going forth in this course. Okay, so two, I guess it was now two video lectures go a few last week, we’ll just say last week, we talked about the Constitution and sort of the lead up to the Constitution and the passing of the Constitution. All right, the US Constitution created the outlines, sort of the general guidelines and very detailed detailed regulations about how our federal government, how the American federal government would be put together and would be run. And you guys have been, we’re going to read a bit of the Constitution each week for the next couple weeks. So the Constitution was written during that Constitutional Congress, or what became, what came to be known as the Constitutional Congress, because many of the elected representatives that were sent there did not know that they were going to be writing the Constitution. They thought that they would just be revising what we’re called the articles of Confederation, but eventually there was sort of a call for a greater, greater power given to a federal government that it was really only possible to keep these states, these independent states united. If there was a strong federal government, central, strong federal government that could sort of oversee the states and that was able to have certain powers that really only a national government can have, right, like the power to declare war, the power to decide about federal taxes, the power to make treaties with other countries, you know, make, you know, contracts negotiations, right, you needed to kind of have that, that national figurehead and that national government. To make those decisions that apply to all the states. But of course, even after the Constitution was written, it had to be ratified by the states, so it still had to be voted on. And there, of course, were people who criticized the Constitution, who either thought that it should be voted against because it was, you know, not a good idea and it’s sort of general purpose. Or because people had specific criticisms of the Constitution, right, either that they didn’t like portions of it, they thought portions of it had gone too far, or they thought that it was missing something. And one of the strongest opposition arguments to the Constitution was that nowhere in the Constitution didn’t lay out what the individual rights would be of every person living in the United States, right, that it didn’t contain a bill of rights. It didn’t contain a list of individual rights that the federal government would be protecting. And of course, in the Declaration of Independence, there was lots of talk about God-given rights, right, that there are certain rights that individuals have that are inalienable, meaning they cannot be taken away, like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So there was a general consensus that a federal government, or that, you know, was going to not rule over, but govern over a country who had begun its independence based on this premise that everyone is born with certain rights, that the founding documents of that government should list out specifically what those rights are and how the government would be protecting them. And life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, yes, those are absolutely, you know, sort of the general outline of those rights. But the criticism was that those were so general, those were so sort of abstract, that you needed a much more specific laying out of those rights that are within your life, you know, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And also something that’s important to note is that the Declaration of Independence is one of our crucial founding documents in that it is a basic philosophical statement of the reason for the Revolutionary War, the reason that the United States became an independent country. But it’s not a legally binding document, right, it’s not it’s not part of our formal formal documents of the government, right, it’s not the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, it is a philosophical document, right, it’s giving reasons for independence, but it’s not a legally binding document. So there were a lot of a lot of people and elected representatives who said, you know what, I don’t know if I can vote for this Constitution, because it doesn’t have, it doesn’t have a list of rights, it didn’t clearly lay out what are these God given in an in alienable rights that every American has. So in order to get the Constitution to pass, James Madison, who ends up being the main author of the Bill of Rights and sort of folks on his side who wanted the Constitution to be passed, he actually at first was was very critical of this idea and then came around to it and said, yes, actually, you know, the people on the other side of the right, we do need this Bill of Rights. Anyways, in order to get the Constitution passed, there had to be this sort of promise that okay, if you, you know, don’t send us back, right, it took so long to get the Constitution written in the Constitutional Congress and passed through the Congress, right, we already talked about sort of some of the very tense, very heated debates that went on in that Congress. They said, you know, please don’t vote against it because it would be very difficult to go back and try to rewrite this thing, you know, add more to it and still get everyone to pass it. Vote yes on the Constitution and then the very first thing that the first Congress will do is to write this list of individual rights that the federal government will be tasked to protect. So they, the Constitution was ratified, it was passed, it went into effect and they followed through on that promise in the very first session of Congress. These were some of the first, the first bills that were passed was the Bill of Rights. So there are originally a list of 12, there are a list of 12 rights that were put before Congress, 12 of them were passed by Congress, but actually only 10 of them were ratified by the states. So the Bill of Rights is a list of 10, so the Bill of Rights contains 10 individual rights, although as you read through them this week, it’s one of your readings. You’ll see that some of them actually contain multiple rights within a single, within a single amendment. So some just sort of a note on the terminology. So the Bill of Rights is oftentimes thought of as kind of a separate, it’s sort of separate thing, it’s separate entity, a separate document, but it’s important to know that really what the Bill of Rights is is they are the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. So the Constitution itself contains a process by which the Constitution can be amended, meaning that additional laws and regulations and statements can be added to the Constitution. And I should check on this, I actually don’t know off the top of my head. The list of total amendments, it’s in the 20s, it’s something in the 20s, I’m going to say 27, but I’m going to check on that and put the number below the video lecture here. But there is a list that is outlined in the Constitution for how to pass an amendment to the Constitution, something additional. So the Constitution was never meant to be sort of a complete and total document. It was meant to lay out the protocol, the guidelines for how the federal government would be set up and how it would be run. But even in its passing, it was understood that there would be additional portions of it that would be added. But it is, it’s not an easy process to add an amendment to the Constitution, it has any any amendment has to be ratified by two thirds of the states. So two thirds of however many states there are in the union at that time, right, or in the United States at that time, which of course has changed since the time of the passing of the Constitution until now. So, so yeah, so the Bill of Rights is the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. So, so yeah, so just a little bit on the note of rights, if you hear about the amendments and the Bill of Rights, there are more than just 10 amendments. The Bill of Rights simply refers to the first 10 and they’re sort of thought of as their own kind of separate entity because they deal specifically with individual rights protecting individual rights. And they were passed all together. The two amendments, actually the original first amendment and second amendment that the Congress passed, which was not ratified by the states. One has to do with the salary of Congress and one had to do with the number of number of people in the House of Representatives. So those two amendments were actually not passed. One was eventually passed actually in like the 1990s and one has never been passed. But the so basically amendments three through 12 of the original 12 amendments were passed and those are the first the first 10 amendments to the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. So within the first amendment, which technically is the third amendment because the first two didn’t get passed. But in our present day Bill of Rights, the very first amendment starts with the protection of the rights dealing with religion. So it is important to just sort of note the position of this amendment is that it is the very first amendment. So again, you guys are going to read all 10 of the amendments and actually the first amendment contains further protections within the first amendment. But the very first sentence of the first amendment states Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. This statement is crucial to understanding the rest of the history of the relationship between religion and American government and politics. Because the understanding interpretation and protection of this statement is what most of the history of the connection between religion and American government and politics revolves around. So there are two clauses, there are two sections or two, yeah, two parts to this first amendment. And it’s very important to understand what each of these phrases mean and how really the balancing of both has been the central struggle of making laws within the United States with respect to religion. That do not violate either portion of the first amendment. So the first portion of it, the first section of it states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. And so the first section is usually seen as a little bit more straightforward. So the US, the United States of America was never meant to have an established religion. So Congress, federal government can never pass a law that establishes a particular religion. There can be no national religion, no established religion of the United States. So in its very sort of most straightforward, most direct way, right, this simply means that there can never be a law that says, you know, the national religion of the United States is block, right, is Christianity, is Judaism, is Protestantism, is Catholicism, is Islam. So you cannot have an official religion, a national religion, an established religion. In its more implicit ways, right, this also means that the government should not be seen favoring one religion over another, right, that the United States government is supposed to be neutral in respect to religion. That it has no sort of favorite religion, no favored religion, that it is not seen as sort of preferring one religion over another, it is supposed to remain neutral in its stance towards religion in general and to any particular religion. Another part of this that as we will see in the history of the United States and especially in the history of Supreme Court decisions has to do with the role of money in an established religion for countries that have an established religion or a national religion. A major part of what that means is that of course there is a very close connection between the government and the religious establishment, whatever that is church, churches, temples, mosques, synagogues, whatever that is. But it also means that public money can be used to pay for the cost of religion. Religion, religion of course in an abstract way is free, right, religion is ideas and beliefs and practices and things like that. But in another way, religion is not free, right, in order to have a religious institution, most religious institutions have property, they have a house of worship, they have someplace where people can gather together to practice that religious tradition. That cost money, right, just like owning any other building or house would cost money to buy it, to maintain it, to pay taxes on it every year. And if you have any type of person who works as a professional in that religious tradition, a priest, a minister, a rabbi, you also have to pay their salary, right, that’s their job, they have to make a living doing that. So religion, the operation of religion does cost money and when you have an established religion, a national religion in a particular country, the public funds, so basically like taxpayer money, right, when people within the country pay their taxes, they understand that a portion of their taxes are going to go to fund the national religion and the operations of that religious tradition. So part of this means that without an established religion, taxpayer money should not be going to directly fund the operations of a religious institution. And when we start talking about the Supreme Court in religion in either two or three weeks from now, we will see how this has been interpreted in different ways over the past 150 years. Right, how do you sort of respect this basic understanding of what it means to not have an established religion, but also not unnecessarily penalize a institution with a religious nature that is also providing a public service. And that might sound a little confusing and vague right now we’ll get we’ll get into more what we need, what we mean by that. But those are sort of the ways that traditionally the first segment of the first amendment has been interpreted, right, you can’t just flat out make a law saying this is the national religion of the United States, the US government is supposed to have a sort of neutral stance towards religion in general and to all particular religions not favoring one religion over another. And public taxpayer money is not supposed to go to fund the religious operations of a religious institution. That’s the first part of the clause, right, the second part of the clause says that the Congress, the US government can also not make a law that prohibits the free exercise of religion. So they can’t make a law sort of establishing religion, but they also are not allowed to make a law that prohibits the free exercise of religion. So you also can’t make a law saying this religion is illegal, right, or this religious practice is illegal. So they cannot make a law prohibiting the free exercise of one’s religion. And this in general has been meant to definitely protect, you could say sort of freedom of belief, freedom of conscience, right, that people are free to decide for themselves what they believe in, what they don’t believe in. What they, you know, what religious tradition they associate with, right, there’s no loss and you know, you can be a member of this religious tradition, you can’t be a member of this religious tradition, you have to believe this, you can’t believe this, right, you can’t make a law doing that. And also that religious people should be free to practice their religion as they see fit, right, in accordance with their religious beliefs and with their religious institution. And this second part of the clause, right, you know, in general has been interpreted to mean the ways that I just meant, right, that everyone should be free to believe or not believe what they personally choose to, and that they should be free to practice their religion to perform their religious rituals, their religious services, things like that. But the sort of you could say, one of the most important things to remember about the second part of the first amendment that we’ll get more into when we talk about the history of Supreme Court cases dealing with religion is, are there any practices or exercises of religion that can legitimately be prohibited if they are deemed to be harmful to others or to the society in general. And we’ll start by talking about a really interesting case. It’s sort of considered the first Supreme Court case in which religion is a major factor in which the US Supreme Court has to decide whether American Mormons are allowed to practice polygamy, right, the practice of one man marrying more than one woman, because for a very short period of time Mormons did practice polygamy, right. But polygamous marriage was not allowed legally in the United States, only monogamous marriages, one, you know, one in one, right, one person, two people total, two people total in that marriage. And the case one before the Supreme Court, a Mormon man sued the federal government for saying that they were prohibiting the free exercise of his religion, which said that polygamous marriage was completely acceptable. And I won’t tell you how it turned out what the verdict was, you can always look it up online, but that’ll be one of the first cases that we look at, right, because the first amendment of the Constitution says that the Congress cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion. But there absolutely has been a Supreme Court precedent set that says that, well, yes, actually we can, if there is sort of a higher concern in that case, right, that you cannot simply claim free exercise of religion, if what you are doing is part of your religion is harmful to others or harmful to society in general. So trying to balance those things, right, how, how does the United States government balance the first part of the clause, how do we not make any law that establishes a religion or favors one religion over another, right, how do we sort of maintain this, this stance of neutrality towards religion in general and all particular religions. And then how do we, you know, how do we allow the free exercise of religion while also making sure that anyone’s
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