The North Carolina constitution similarly prohibited from office those who denied “the truth of the Protestant religion” or who held “religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the State.” However, as already noted, this was not a rejection of Roman Catholics in general, just of those who embraced doctrines “subversive of a free government established by the people.” In fact, when the people of North Carolina later amended their constitution, they maintained the clause excluding from office those who held “religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the State,” but they changed “Protestant” to “Christian,” thus acknowledging that many American Catholics did not embrace this doctrine.
However, returning to the issue of religion in the federal Constitution, the first ten amendments were enacted solely to limit the jurisdiction of the federal government. Furthermore, it was acknowledged that the States had the legitimate power to prescribe State religious establishments. Therefore, the sole purpose of the First Amendment was to prevent the federal government from usurping this specific State power. Strikingly, however, although the States reserved this power, none of the State constitutions from the time of the American Revolution or thereafter established any single State denomination; most provided equal protection for all.
For example, in the framing of the Massachusetts constitution, John Adams explained that “the debates were managed by persons of various denominations” and that the “delegates did not conceive themselves to be vested with power to set up one denomination of Christians above another.” Numerous other States enacted similar provisions. Notice and every denomination of Christians shall be equally under the protection of the law: and no subordination of any one sector denomination to another shall ever be established by law.
There shall be no establishment of any one religious sect in preference to another.
There shall be no establishment of any one religious church or denomination in this State in preference to any other.
And each and every society or denomination of Christians in this State shall have and enjoy the same and equal powers, rights, and privileges.
Summarizing this tone, in 1793, Zephaniah Swift author of America’s first law textbook explained: Christians of different denominations ought to consider that the law knows no distinction among them; that they are all established upon the broad basis of equal liberty, that they have a right to think, speak, and worship as they please, and that no sect has power to injure and oppress another. When they reflect that they are equally under the protection of the law, all will revere and love the constitution, and feel interested in the support of the government. No denomination can pride themselves in the enjoyment of superior and exclusive powers and immunities.
David Barton – “Mr. Young, do you know how long this hospital has been here? Let me tell you about this hospital.” They didn’t do that. They started with my pain. They gave me twenty shots in the foot and in the toes to deaden the pain, to deal with the pain.