Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Separation of Church and State

At first those who looked at Maryland and looked at themselves decided that the matter [of religious differences among the inhabitants of the new nation] must not be made a national matter at all. Every State except Pennsylvania had its established Church. Let each State continue to have the established church it wanted. As the Federal constitution was first adopted it did not mention religion at all. But there was always a possibility that in some future time the National Government might become affiliated with some one of the sects. Some such sect might become the Federal Church. Although each sect would have been satisfied with such a solution provided that it was the sect that was so honored, mutual jealousy led them to prevent forever any such victory for any one of them. So the Maryland solution of the problem—Lord Baltimore’s solution—was incorporated verbally into the constitution. It was not the Catholics who insisted on this. Of what importance were they alone? It was the Protestants. Yet it is significant that Maryland citizens were especially called upon to phrase Maryland's custom into our first amendment. Charles Carroll of Carrollton, now a Senator, was chairman of the committee appointed to draught the amendment. His cousin Daniel Carroll made in his favor the most important speech in the House of Representatives. The amendment was phrased: Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting free exercise thereof. It was passed. It entered our Constitution on the same wind that brought over the Ark and the Dove.
— Daniel Sargent, Our Land and Our Lady, NY, 1940, pp. 138–139.