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Belief in Jesus required to hold office

One wonders who does more damage to the cause of truth, those who attempt to paint all of the Founding Fathers as devout Christians, or those who deny that Christianity had anything to do with the matter.

One can pick and choose among historical documents, but the reality is that the role of Christianity in general, and denominations, in particular, varied from colony to colony. The oath below, for example, found in “The Statutes at Large of Pennsylvania from 1682-1801” was required as officeholders in Pennsylvania. It is noteworthy in that it is quite specific in requiring affirmations and denials regarding George III, but in the matter of religion, it required only Trinitarianism and a belief in the inspiration of the Old and New Testaments.

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Each of the colonies had a unique mix of religious groups, with some having an established church supported by tax dollars, and others, such as in Pennsylvania, more focused on avoiding sectarianism while maintaining a Trinitarian consensus. In short, our history is much more rich and diverse than many prefer to think.

“On motion, Resolved, unanimously, That every voter, at the proposed election, shall be a free man, and if thereunto require by any of the judges or inspectors shall, before his vote is received take the foregoing test.

“Resolved, unanimously, That any person qualified to vote for members of Assembly, by the laws of this province, may be elected a member of convention, proved that he shall have resided at least one year immediately preceding the said election in the city or county for which he shall be chose, and shall, before he takes his seat in convention, take the following oath or affirmation, viz.:

“‘I … do declare that I do not hold myself bound to bear allegiance to George the Third, King of Great Britain … and that I will steadily and firmly at all times promote the most effectual means according to the best of my skill and knowledge, to oppose the tyrannical proceedings of the king and parliament of Great Britain against the American colonies and to establish and support a government in this province on the authority of the people only. That I will oppose any measure that shall or many in the least interfere with or obstruct the religious principles or practices of any of the good people of this province as heretofore enjoyed.’

“Also Resolved, That no person elected to serve as a member of convention shall take his seat or give his vote, until he shall have made and subscribed the following declaration:

“‘I, do profess faith in God the Father and in Jesus Christ his eternal Son, the true God and in the Holy Spirit, one God blessed for evermore, and do acknowledge the holy scriptures of the old and new testament to be given by divine inspiration.'”

Read about “Religion in the Colonies” in the pages of Leben.