Thursday, December 18, 2008

How Did the Founders Feel About Religion and Government?

Some of our Founders advised us that, in order to understand the Constitution, one needs to go back and look at the debates on the issue, the Founders' writings, and the Founders' actions. Here is an interesting quote from a recent book by John Witte, Jr.

" is rather clear that the First Congress had little compunction about confirming and continuing the Continental Congress's tradition of supporting chaplains, prayers, Thanksgiving Day proclarations, and religious education. And, in later sessions in the 1790's and 1800's, the Congress also continued the Continental Congress's practice of including religion clauses in its treaties, condoning the American edition of the Bible, funding chaplains in the military, and celebrating religious services officiated by congressional chaplains -- all with very little dissent or debate. The ease with which Congress passed such laws does give some guidance on what forms of religious support the First Congress might have condoned."

Religion and the American Constitutional Experiment: Essential Rights and Liberties
By John Witte
Published by Westview Press, 2005

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