Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Church at the U.S. Treasury Building

In the early days of our country church services were regularly held in Federal buildings, such as the Treasury Building mentioned below. This was partly a practical matter because these structures had the capacity to handle large congregations. Attending these services were most of our founding fathers, including those who wrote/ratified the First Amendment. In today's interpretation of the First Amendment such a use of Federal buildings would not be tolerated. Why, then, did the people who truly understood the purpose of the First Amendment allow (or even encourage) church services in the Treasury, the Capitol, and other buildings? As documented in other posts here, the First Amendment was not written to stop the government from supporting religious activities. It was meant to prevent the Federal government from selecting a particular denomination as an official religion to which others would be forced to adhere.

From the Library of Congress site:

The Treasury Building
The first Treasury Building, where several denominations conducted church services, was burned by the British in 1814. The new building, seen [below], was built on approximately the same location as the earlier one, within view of the White House.

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