Church and State in the Modern Age: A Documentary History

By J. F. MacLear | Go to book overview

adopted despite the misgivings of Benjamin Franklin (who presided at the convention). The Philadelphia Jews petitioned against the clause in 1783, which was dropped in 1790 with the added provision "That no person, who acknowledges the being of a God and a future state of rewards and punishments, shall, on account of his religious sentiments, be disqualified to hold any office or place of trust or profit under this commonwealth."


From the Declaration of Rights:

II. That all men have a natural and unalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences and understandings: And that no man ought or of right can be compelled to attend any religious worship, or erect or support any place of worship, or maintain any ministry, contrary to, or against, his own free will and consent: Nor can any man, who acknowledges the being of a God, be justly deprived or abridged of any civil right as a citizen, on account of his religious sentiments or peculiar mode of religious worship: And that no authority can or ought to be vested in, or assumed by any power whatever, that shall in any case interfere with, or in any manner controul, the right of conscience in the free exercise of religious worship.


From Section 10 of the Plan or Frame of Government:

And each member, before he takes his seat, shall make and subscribe the following declaration, viz:

I do believe in one God, the creator and governor of the universe, the rewarder of the good and the punisher of the wicked. And I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine inspiration.

And no further or other religious test shall ever hereafter be required of any civil officer or magistrate in this State.

Source: Francis Newton Thorpe (ed.), The Federal and State Constitutions ( Washington, D.C., 1909), V, 3100, 3082, 3085.


SUGGESTIONS FOR BACKGROUND AND REFERENCE

A. Nevins, The American States during and after the Revolution, 1775-1789 ( New York, 1924), pp. 117-170.

D. Rothermund, Layman's Progress: Denominations and Political Behavior in Colonial Pennsylvania ( Philadelphia, 1962).

J. P. Selsam, Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776 ( Philadelphia, 1936).

T. Thayer, Pennsylvania Politics and the Growth of Democracy, 1740-1776 ( Philadelphia, 1953).

-54-

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