Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Great Law of Pennsylvania (1682)

The Great Law of Pennsylvania, April 25, 1682, was the first legislative act of Pennsylvania. It proclaimed:

"Whereas the glory of Almighty God and the good of mankind is the reason and the end of government, and, therefore government itself is a venerable ordinance of God... [there shall be established] laws as shall best preserve true Christian and civil liberty, in opposition to all unchristian, licentious, and unjust practices, whereby God may have his due, and Caesar his due, and the people their due, from tyranny and oppression."

It seems to me that this was very carefully phrased. In the excerpt above there is no requirement to be a Christian, but rather to establish laws that are fair in a Godly way, where there is no oppression and where government and religion each have their own domain. In other words, they are using their beliefs and faith to lead them to establish fair laws (in fact they express their obligation to do so).

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