Religion in the American Revolution and Founding
|Colonial Establishment||State Establishment||Disestablishment||Tax Support||Tests|
|New Hampshire||Protestant by town1||Protestant by town2||18193||Yes4||Yes5|
|Massachusetts||Protestant by town6||Protestant7||18338||Yes9||Yes10|
|Connecticut||Congregational/ Anglican14||Christian by town15||181816||Yes17||No51,53|
|New York||Protestant by town18,19||None||177720||Yes||Yes21|
States banning clergy holding office: North Carolina (1776), New York (1777), South Carolina (1778), Delaware (1792), Maryland (1799), Georgia (1799), Mississippi (1817)49, Tennessee (1796), and Kentucky (1799)50
1. “Any Protestant group that won a town election could become the establishment.” Levy, p. 23 “Quakers, Anglicans, Presbyterians, and Baptists who attended their own churches were exempt from supporting the local established church, which, because of the Congregational dominance in town after town, was Congregationalist.” Levy p. 23.
4. “The colonial religious establishments were more than legal niceties. For many years they provided the only forms of public religious practice available to colonists in America. Through 1760, at least half the churches in the British mainland colonies were those that were sanctioned or mandated by law. They served well-defined areas and they utilized governmental coercive power to collect taxes to pay their ministers and maintain their buildings. Such patterns typified religious settings in nine of the thirteen colonies – New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia.” Hoffman and Albert p. 4.
5. Massachusetts, New Hampshire, South Carolina: “These three along with North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey, also required profession of ‘the Christian religion’ as a requirement for state office.” Albert and Hoffman p. 188-189.
6. “The General Court’s act…provided for an establishment of religion on a town basis by simply requiring every town to maintain an ‘able, learned and orthodox’ minister, to be chosen by the voters of the town and supported by a tax levied on all tax payers” Levy, p. 15.
7. The State Constitution of Massachusetts (1780) created a multiple establishment of all Protestant churches and allowed taxpayers to choose the church that would receive their compulsory support. See Levy, p. 26-27.
14. The official establishment in Connecticut was the Congregational church, but Anglicans enjoyed the same rights and tax support as the standing order. See Levy, p. 20-22 “The basic law governing Connecticut’s establishment … required the collection of taxes from everyone, even in towns without a settled minister.” The taxes went to benefit Congregational churches originally, but in 1727 taxes paid by Anglicans were authorized to be rebated to their own ministers. Levy, p. 20-21.
15. Towns would vote for the established church and pay taxes to support that church. However, Christians who could prove they were members of other churches could have their taxes support the church they attended. Non-Christians and the un-churched had to pay taxes to support the local establishment. See Levy, p. 41-43.
16. “A constitutional convention of 1818…disestablished church and state by providing that no one could be compelled to support any religious society, yet allowed any religious society to tax itself and privately collect the assessment from each member.” Levy, p. 44.
19. “Legislatures in South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, and New York enacted their first establishment laws between 1693 and 1710, and they refined and tightened them through the 1720s. Only in Virginia, Massachusetts, and Connecticut did lawmakers build on old establishments.” Hoffman and Albert p. 5.
30. “‘Yet the Legislature may, in their discretion, lay a general and equal tax, for the support pf the Christian religion; leaving to each individual the power of appointing the payment of the money, collected from him, to the support of any particular place of worship or minister.’” Levy, p. 47.
45. “The charter of Georgia declared liberty of worship, but on its abrogation the Church of England was established by royal edict and legislative enactment, a few years before the Revolution.” Cobb, p. 71.
46. “‘All persons whatever shall have the free exercise of their religion;…and shall not, unless by consent, support any teacher or teachers except of their own profession.’” This resulted in a tax law to support one’s own religion, and it is “not clear whether this measure ever went into operation” See Levy, p. 48-49.
51. Hooker “Had no sympathy for the theocratic ideal.” Cobb p. 240.
52. New Jersey Constitution pg. 25 Levy.
53. “Happily in Connecticut, Ellsworth concluded, we have no such laws.” Gaustad pg. 230.
Sanford H. Cobb, The Rise of Religious Liberty in America: A History (New York: MacMillan, 1902)
Thomas J. Curry, The First Freedoms: Church and State in America to the Passage of the First Amendment (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986)
Edwin S. Gaustad, “Religious Tests, Constitutions and ‘Christian Nation,’” in Religion in a Revolutionary Age
Ronald Hoffman and Peter J. Albert, Religion in a Revolutionary Age (USA: The University Press of Virginia, 1994)
Leonard Levy, The Establishment Clause: Religion and the First Amendment (New York: MacMillan, 1986)
Steven K. Green, The Second Disestablishment: Church and State in Nineteenth Century America
Philip Hamburger, Separation of Church and State, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002)
Chris Beneke, Beyond Toleration: The Religious Origins of American Pluralism (Oxford University Press, 2006)