Congress rules on the establishment clause
of the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Congress of the United States of America January 19, 1853, as part of a
Congressional investigation, records the report of Mr. Badger of the
Senate Judiciary Committee:
The [First Amendment] clause speaks of "an establishment of
religion." What is meant by that expression? It referred, without doubt,
to that establishment which existed in the mother-country ... endowment
at the public expense, peculiar privileges to its members, or
disadvantages or penalties upon those who should reject its doctrines or
belong to other communions,-such law would be a "law respecting an
establishment of religion..." They intended, by this amendment, to
prohibit "an establishment of religion" such as the English Church
presented, or any thing like it. But they had no fear or jealousy of
religion itself, nor did they wish to see us an irreligious people... .
They did not intend to spread over all the public authorities and the
whole public action of the nation the dead and revolting spectacle of
atheistic apathy. Not so had the battles of the Revolution been
fought and the deliberations of the Revolutionary Congress been
In the law, Sunday is a "dies non;... The executive departments, the
public establishments, are all closed on Sundays; on that day neither
House of Congress sits... . Sunday, the Christian Sabbath, recognized
and respected by all the departments of the Government.
Here is a recognition by law, and by universal usage, not only of a
Sabbath, but of the Christian Sabbath, in exclusion of the
Jewish or Mohammedan Sabbath... the recognition of the Christian
Sabbath [by the Constitution] is complete and perfect.
... not because the law demands it, not
to gain exclusive benefits or to avoid legal disabilities, but from
choice and education; and in a land thus universally Christian,
what is to be expected, what desired, but that we shall pay due regard
We are a Christian people
Congress of the United States of America March 27, 1854, received the
report of Mr. Meacham of the House Committee on the
What is an establishment of religion? It must have a creed, defining
what a man must believe; it must have rites and ordinances, which
believers must observe; it must have ministers of defined
qualifications, to teach the doctrines and administer the rites; it must
have tests for the submissive and penalties for the non-conformist.
There never was as established religion without all these...
At the adoption of the Constitution... every State... provided as
regularly for the support of the Church as for the support of the
Down to the Revolution, every colony did sustain religion in some
form. It was deemed peculiarly proper that the religion of
liberty should be upheld by a free people. Had the people, during
the Revolution, had a suspicion of any attempt to war against
Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle.
At the time of the adoption of the Constitution and the amendments,
the universal sentiment was that Christianity should be
encouraged, not any one sect [denomination]. Any attempt to
level and discard all religion would have been viewed with universal
indignation. The object was not to substitute Judaism or
Mohammedanism, or infidelity, but to prevent rivalry among the
[Christian] sects to the exclusion of others.
Laws will not have permanence or power
without the sanction of religious sentiment,-without a firm belief that
there is a Power above us that will reward our virtues and punish our
It [Christianity] must be considered as the foundation on which the
whole structure rests.
In this age there can be no substitute for Christianity: that,
in its general principles, is the great conservative element on which
we must rely for the purity and permanence of free institutions.
That was the religion of the founders of the republic, and they
expected it to remain the religion of their descendants. There
is a great and very prevalent error on this subject in the opinion that
those who organized this Government did not legislate on
Congress of the United States of America May 1854, passed a resolution
in the House which declared:
The great vital and conservative element in our system is the belief
of our people in the pure doctrines and divine truths of the gospel of
America's God and Country by William J.