Why religious freedom is now threatened in U.S.

By Bill Federer

June 20, 1632, King Charles I of England granted a charter for the Colony of Maryland, named for his Catholic wife, Queen Henrietta Maria, stating: “Charles, by the Grace of God, of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith. … Whereas our well beloved … subject Cecilius Calvert, Baron of Baltimore, in our Kingdom of Ireland … being animated with a laudable, and pious zeal for extending the Christian religion … hath humbly besought leave of us that he may transport, by his own … expense, a numerous colony of the English Nation, to certain … parts of America … partly occupied by savages, having no knowledge of the Divine Being. … With the increasing worship and religion of Christ within said region … shall … be built … Churches, Chapels, and Places of Worship.”

The Catholic Lord Baltimore Cecilius Calvert sent two ships, the Ark and the Dove, to settle the colony of Maryland. He gave instructions to his brother, Leonard Calvert, the governor of the expedition, 1634: “To preserve peace and unity amongst all the passengers … treat the Protestants with as much mildness and favor as justice will require.”

Buying land from the Indians, they founded the St. Mary’s City, considered the birthplace of religious tolerance in the United States. In 1649, they extended liberty to Protestants by issuing the Maryland Toleration Act, which stated: “That no person … within this province … professing to believe in Jesus Christ shall … from henceforth be any ways troubled or molested … in respect of his or her religion.”

When the neighboring colony of Virginia drove out anyone who was not an Anglican, settlers who were Puritan fled to Maryland because of the freedom of the Maryland Toleration Act.

Meanwhile, back in England, a Civil War broke out between Puritans and Anglicans. The Puritans won and chopped off the head of Anglican King Charles I in 1649.

At this time, an Anglican named John Washington emigrated to Virginia. His great-grandson was George Washington.

In 1650, Puritans took over the Colony of Maryland and passed laws against Catholics, such as the Act Concerning religion, October 20, 1654: “That such as profess Faith in God by Jesus Christ, though differing in Judgment from from the Doctrine, Worship or Discipline … should not be restrained but protected in the Profession of the Faith and Exercise of their religion. … Provided such liberty was not extended to Popery. … That none who profess and exercise the Papistic, commonly known as the Roman Catholic religion, can be protected in this province.”

Puritans lost control of England, and in 1658, Lord Baltimore was restored to being Maryland’s governor. In 1688, the last Catholic King of England, James II, was driven out during “the Glorious Revolution,” and William and Mary ruled as Anglicans.

In Maryland, Anglicans took control of the colony, and Catholics were again denied freedom of conscience, as stated in an Act to Prevent the Growth of Popery, Sept. 30, 1704: “That whatsoever Popish Bishop, Priest or Jesuit, shall baptize any child … other than such who have Popish Parents or shall say Mass … shall forfeit … fifty pounds Sterling … and shall also suffer six months imprisonment. …And be it further enacted…if any Papist … shall keep school or take upon themselves the education … or boarding of youth … such persons … shall upon conviction be transported out of this Province.”

Into Maryland came Quakers, Scotch Presbyterians, German Moravians, Mennonites and other Protestant dissenters. The wealthiest man in Maryland, Charles Carroll, Sr., sailed to France in 1752, to meet with Catholic King Louis XV to obtain land in the Louisiana Territory in order to move Maryland Catholics there.

When the Revolutionary War started, everything changed.

The thirteen colonies in America, with their different denominations, realized they had to work together in order to defeat the Anglican King George III. In 1775, when the Continental Army was camped at Harvard College and on the Cambridge Commons, soldiers made plans for the annual Guy Fawkes procession with its “custom of burning the Effigy of the Pope. When General Washington heard of it, he halted the event and expressed dismay at their lack of decency, as Catholics were fighting together with them against the British. Maryland, at first, resisted joining the Revolution, as almost every member of the Anglican clergy supported King George III.

Charles Carroll, son of the wealthiest landowner in the colony, was the sole Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence. He wrote to Rev. John Stanford, Oct. 9, 1827: “To obtain religious as well as civil liberty I entered jealously into the Revolution, and observing the Christian religion divided into many sects, I founded the hope that no one would be so predominant as to become the religion of the State. That hope was thus early entertained because all of them joined in the same cause, with few exceptions of individuals.”

During the Revolution’s freezing winter at Valley Forge, the Continental Congress talked of replacing General George Washington with General Horatio Gates, but Charles Carroll was key in persuading them not to.

Charles Carroll’s cousin, John Carroll, was the first Catholic Bishop in America. In 1776, Bishop John Carroll traveled with Charles Carroll, Samuel Chase and Ben Franklin to Canada in a failed attempt to persuade that country to join in the Revolution.

Bishop John Carroll founded Georgetown University, naming it after George Washington. Bishop Carroll wrote: “Freedom and independence, acquired by … the mingled blood of Protestant and Catholic fellow-citizens, should be equally enjoyed by all.”

President Washington wrote to Bishop John Carroll, March 1790: “Your fellow-citizens will not forget the patriotic part which you took in the accomplishment of their Revolution. … May the members of your society in America, animated alone by the pure spirit of Christianity … enjoy every temporal and spiritual felicity.”

At the time of the Revolution, the colonies were around 98 percent Protestant, a little less that 1 percent Catholic, and 1/10th of a percent Jewish. Catholics had only been allowed in three colonies: Maryland, Pennsylvania, and to a lesser degree New York.

Bishop John Carroll wrote to Rome in 1790: “The thirteen provinces of North America rejected the yoke of England, they proclaimed, at the same time, freedom of conscience. … Before this great event, the Catholic faith had penetrated two provinces only, Maryland and Pennsylvania. In all the others the laws against Catholics were in force. … By the Declaration of Independence, every difficulty was removed: the Catholics were placed on a level with their fellow-Christians, and every political disqualification was done away.”

Bishop John Carroll’s brother was Daniel Carroll, who was one of two Catholics to sign the U.S. Constitution, the other being Thomas Fitzsimons of Pennsylvania.

Daniel Carroll wanted to limit the power of the federal government and proposed in the Congressional debates that the phrase “or to the people” be added to the Tenth Amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Daniel Carroll provided the farm upon which the U.S. Capitol is built. Daniel Carroll’s nephew, Robert Brent, was the first mayor of Washington, D.C., being reappointed by Jefferson and Madison.

George Washington wrote to the Congregation of New Church in Baltimore, Maryland, Jan. 27, 1793: “Every person may here worship God according to the dictates of his own heart. In this enlightened Age and in this land of equal liberty it is our boast that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the laws.”

In 1776, Maryland’s original state constitution generously granted religious freedom to Protestants and Catholics: “Article 33: That, as it is the duty of every man to worship God in such manner as he thinks most acceptable to him; all persons, professing the Christian religion, are equally entitled to protection in their religious liberty; wherefore no person ought by any law to be molested in his person or estate on account of his religious persuasion or profession, or for his religious practice … yet the Legislature may, in their discretion, lay a general and equal tax for the support of the Christian religion.”

Maryland’s original 1776 Constitution continued: “Article 55. That every person, appointed to any office … shall … take the following oath: I … do swear, that I do not hold myself bound in allegiance to the King of Great Britain, and that I will be faithful, and bear true allegiance to the State of Maryland; and shall also subscribe a declaration of his belief in the Christian religion.”

In 1835, French political writer Gustave de Beaumont, a contemporary of Alexis de Tocqueville, wrote in “Marie ou L’Esclavage aux E’tas-Unis”: “In the United States, the law is never atheistic. … All of the American constitutions proclaim freedom of conscience and the liberty and equality of all the confessions. … Maryland’s Constitution also declares that all of the faiths are free, and that no one is forced to contribute to the maintenance of a particular Church. However, it gives the legislature the right to establish a general tax … for the support of the Christian religion. … Maryland Law declares that, to be admitted to public office, it is necessary to be a Christian.”

In 1851, Maryland’s Constitution stated: “Article 34. That no other test or qualification ought to be required … than such oath of office as may be prescribed by this Constitution … and a declaration of belief in the Christian religion; and if the party shall profess to be a Jew, the declaration shall be of his belief in a future state of rewards and punishments.”

In 1864, Maryland’s Constitution stated: “Article 37. That no other test or qualification ought to be required … than such oath of allegiance … to this State and the United States … and a declaration of belief in the Christian religion; or in the existence of God, and in a future state of rewards and punishments.”

In 1867, Maryland’s Constitution stated: “Article 37. That no religious test ought ever to be required … other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God.”

In 2002, Maryland’s Constitution stated: “Article 37. That no religious test ought ever to be required … other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God.”

In 1961, Roy Torcaso wanted to be a notary public in Maryland but he was denied as he refused to make “a declaration of belief in the existence of God,” as required by Maryland’s State Constitution, Article 37. The case, Torcaso v. Watkins (1961), went to the Supreme Court where Justice Hugo Black creatively used the 14th Amendment to usurp jurisdiction of religion away from the states. He included a footnote which has since been cited authoritatively in subsequent cases: “Among the religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, secular humanism and others.”

Supreme Court Justice Scalia wrote in Edwards v. Aguillard (1987): “In Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488, 495, n. 11 (1961), we did indeed refer to ‘secular humanism’ as a ‘religion.'”

After recognizing secular humanism as a religion, in order to not prefer one religion over another, the courts proceeded to expel God. Thus, they effectively established secular humanism as the official national religion in violation of the First Amendment’s prohibition that the federal government: “make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

In 1960, an atheist in Maryland named Madalyn Murray O’Hair sued the Baltimore City Public School System (Murray v. Curlett) to have Bible reading taken out of public schools, using her 14-year-old son, William J. Murray, III, as the plaintiff. The case went to the Supreme Court where it was combined with the case of Abington Township v. Schempp.

Justice Potter Stewart wrote in the dissenting opinion of Abington Township v. Schempp, 1963: “The state may not establish a ‘religion of secularism’ in the sense of affirmatively opposing or showing hostility to religion, thus ‘preferring those who believe in no religion over those who do believe.’ … Refusal to permit religious exercises thus is seen, not as the realization of state neutrality, but rather as the establishment of a religion of secularism.”

U.S. District Court, Crockett v. Sorenson, W.D. Va,. 1983: “The First Amendment was never intended to insulate our public institutions from any mention of God, the Bible or religion. When such insulation occurs, another religion, such as secular humanism, is effectively established.”

Of note is that in 1995, Madalyn Murray O’Hair was mutilated and murdered by the felons and criminals she had employed … while her son, William J. Murray, III, became a Christian minister who founded the Religious Freedom Coalition to aid persecuted Christians in Islamic and Communist countries.

Subsequent to Abington Township, American laws, decisions, and regulations have become increasingly hostile to persons holding traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs. This culminated in the 2015 Obergefell vs. Hodges Gay-Marriage decision, which effectively criminalizes those holding the biblical view of natural marriage.

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The biblical view of marriage is recorded in the first book of the Bible, Genesis 2:23-24: “The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called woman, Because she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”

Jesus, who performed his first miracle at a wedding, reaffirmed the Genesis account in the Gospel of Mark (10:6-9): “But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

Those promoting the LGBTQ agenda are aggressively advancing their extreme views through the indoctrination of students in classrooms and redefinition of gender bathrooms, thus oppressing and offending the consciences of students who hold biblical values.

Jesus warned in Matthew 18:6: “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

George Washington wrote in October of 1789 to a meeting of Quakers from Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware: “Government being, among other purposes, instituted to protect the persons and consciences of men from oppression … the liberty enjoyed by the People of these States of worshiping Almighty God agreeable to their consciences is not only among the choicest of their blessings, but also of their rights.”

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