Friday, January 16, 2009

Maryland Constitution (1776) - Grateful to God, Duty to Worship God

Maryland's Constitution dates back to 1776. In its Declaration of Rights it opens with:

"We, the People of the State of Maryland, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberty, and taking into our serious consideration the best means of establishing a good Constitution in this State for the sure foundation and more permanent security..."

And in Article 36 it spells out religious protections, rights and obligations. It requires a belief in God and a system of afterlife rewards and punishments. Despite that, the article declares that it is not establishing a religion by those requirements:

"That as it is the duty of every man to worship God in such manner as he thinks most acceptable to Him, all persons are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty; wherefore, no person ought by any law to be molested in his person or estate, on account of his religious persuasion, or profession, or for his religious practice, unless, under the color of religion, he shall disturb the good order, peace or safety of the State, or shall infringe the laws of morality, or injure others in their natural, civil or religious rights; nor ought any person to be compelled to frequent, or maintain, or contribute, unless on contract, to maintain, any place of worship, or any ministry; nor shall any person, otherwise competent, be deemed incompetent as a witness, or juror, on account of his religious belief; provided, he believes in the existence of God, and that under His dispensation such person will be held morally accountable for his acts, and be rewarded or punished therefor either in this world or in the world to come.

"Nothing shall prohibit or require the making reference to belief in, reliance upon, or invoking the aid of God or a Supreme Being in any governmental or public document, proceeding, activity, ceremony, school, institution, or place.

"Nothing in this article shall constitute an establishment of religion (amended by Chapter 558, Acts of 1970, ratified Nov. 3, 1970)."

And when you look at the controversy over President-Elect Obama's choice of pastor for his swearing-in, and the fact that some groups think the President should not swear and oath that mentions God, consider Article 39:

"That the manner of administering an oath or affirmation to any person, ought to be such as those of the religious persuasion, profession, or denomination, of which he is a member, generally esteem the most effectual confirmation by the attestation of the Divine Being."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great blog!

I am willing to add you to my blogroll if you are willing to add me in return.

Christopher Hamilton
The Right Opinion, for the Right Wing