Religion, More Than a Word Term Paper

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And bee it also Enacted by the Authority and with the advise and assent aforesaid that whatsoever person or persons shall from henceforth use or utter any reproachfull words or Speeches concerning blessed Virgin Marv the Mother of Our Saviour or the holy Apostles or Evangelists or any of them shall in such case for the first offence forfeit to the said Lord Proprietary and his heirs Lords and Proprietaries of this Province the sume of five pound Sterling or the value thereof to be Levyed on the goods and chattells of every such person soe offending, but in case such Offender or Offenders, shall not then have goods and chattells sufficient for the satisfying of such forfeiture, or that the same bee not otherwise speedily satisfyed that then such Offender or Offenders Shall be publiquely whipt and bee imprisoned during the pleasure, of the Lord Proprietary or the Lieut. Or chief Governor of' this Province for the time being. And that every such Offender or Offenders for every second offence shall forfeit tenne Pound or the value thereof to bee levyed as aforesaid, or in case Such offender or Offenders shall not then have goods and chattells within this Province sufficient for that purpose then to bee publiquely and severely whipt and imprisoned as before is expressed. And that every person or persons before mentioned offending herein the third time, shall for such third Offence forfeit all his lands and Goods and bee for ever banished and expelled out of this Province.... (Maryland Act of Religion)

1786: Memorial and Remonstrance

Because we hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth, "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." The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right.... (the Roots of Religious Liberty...)

1786: Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom

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.... (the Roots of Religious Liberty...)

1813: Argument of Counsel in Defense of Seal of Confession

And whereas we are required by the benevolent principles of rational liberty, not only to expel civil tyranny, but also to guard against that spiritual oppression and intolerance, wherewith the bigotry and ambition of weak and wicked priests and princes have scourged mankind: This convention doth further, in the name and by the authority of the good people of this state, ORDAIN, DETERMINE and DECLARE, that the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever hereafter be allowed within this state to all mankind. Provided, that the liberty of conscience hereby granted, shall not be so construed, as to excuse acts of licentiousness, or justify practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of this State." (the Roots of Religious Liberty...)

1960: John F. Kennedy on Church and State believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish -- where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source -- where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials -- and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all....

This is the kind of America I believe in -- (the Roots of Religious Liberty...)

The following photos picture St. James Church, thought to have been built thought during 1711 and 1719. The church is located South Carolina's oldest Anglican parish outside of Charleston.

Figure 1 & 2: Inside and out of St. James Church (Crossing the Ocean...)

The following figure () portrays a copy of a document relating some of the Seventeenth-Century Laws of Massachusetts. During colonial days, Biblical scriptures, particularly those recorded in the Old Testament Constituted the basis for a number of criminal laws.

Figure 3: Depiction of 17th Century Laws

...During this time, Anglo-American political thought focused not on the right in religion, but "on stability and unity, public virtue and the common good." (Johnson) Members of society expected ministers and other community leaders to set the tone of eighteenth-century public discourse, to be examples of acceptable behavior. When these leaders engaged in public conflicts, frequently expressing anger verbally, as well as, in print, support for the religious leaders, along with their religion begin to dissipate. In time, "religion," in a sense, began to sever its relationship with the heart of America, Clifton Olmstead, author of History of Religion in United States, (Cited by Johnson) notes. The Constitution in 1777 officially designated the separation of church and state. Many groups of people, as well as a multitude of individuals, disagreed with the s official separation. One Congregationalist minister, however, related positive thoughts regarding the separation: "It cut the churches loose from dependence on state support. It threw them wholly on their own resources and on God....They say ministers have lost their influence; the fact is, they have gained. By voluntary efforts, societies, missions, and revivals, they exert a deeper influence than ever... "

Religions Contributions Include... In 1789, George Washington began his initial inaugural address with a prayer asking that God, "who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations," (Ibid) bless the new government. Washington proposed that the constitution's formal language had to be enlivened by the religious spirit. He contended that each step leading to America becoming a new nation had the touch of "providential agency." When Washington resigned from the presidential office in 1796, he prayed as numerous times before, reflecting his religious beliefs, asking God as for divine help. According to historic records, Washington argued: "Religion and morality are indispensable supports [of] political prosperity." Reason and experience, according to Washington, confirmed that Americans cannot expect virtue and morality to prevail unless they are accompanied by religious principle. (Johnson)

Religion constitutes a part of education," Benjamin Franklin, another noteworthy American, stated. It is "an element of humanity... [also] the center of everything else, always the first and the ultimate, the absolutely original." Along with fertilizing his religious thoughts, Franklin regularly related his religious beliefs in his writings: "I never was without some religious principles," he wrote. "I never doubted, for instance, the existence of the Deity; that he made the world, and govern'd it by his Providence; that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crime will be punished, and virtue rewarded, either here or hereafter." (Schlegel) Franklin stressed that he respected all religions in America, albeit, "with different degrees of respect..." (Ibid) When the religion appeared not to "inspire, promote, or confirm morality," Franklin argued that it would serv'd to basically divide individuals and make them "unfriendly to one another." (Schlegel)

Under the Protection of Habeas Corpus

Religion, more than any other word, yet more than a word constitutes a vital component of America's history. Throughout its developments, both positive and negative events, including the Salem Witchcraft Trials of the 1690's and the Great Awakening of the 1730's, have regularly occurred. Still, America offered a refuge for individuals of desired religious freedom. Today, religion still evokes contradictory and complimentary concepts; while religious freedom, now as back then, constitutes a concept that never needs to be taken for granted.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution-

The Roots of Religious Liberty...)

Figure 4: The Bill of Rights added to religious freedom with the First Amendment.

Works Cited

Bonomi, Patricia U. Under the Cope of Heaven: Religion, Society, and Politics in Colonial America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988. Questia. 24 Sept. 2007

A"Brewer, Jaques, Jones, and King. (2001). 23 Sept 2007

Crossing the Ocean to Keep…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Bonomi, Patricia U. Under the Cope of Heaven: Religion, Society, and Politics in Colonial America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988. Questia. 24 Sept. 2007

A"Brewer, Jaques, Jones, and King. (2001). 23 Sept 2007

Crossing the Ocean to Keep the Faith: The Puritans. (2007) Library of Congress. 23 Sept 2007

Friedrich Von Schlegel (1772-1829), German philosopher. Idea 14 in Selected Ideas (1799-1800), Franklin, Benjamin. His Autobiography. Vol. I, Part 1. The Harvard Classics. New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1909-14;, 2001. Sept 2007

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