The First Amendment: How Colonial Hatred Of Other Christian Sects Ultimately Led To Religious Liberty – By Daniel W. Sheridan
The Colonies were far removed from each other. They were different in their social customs, their vocations, and their religions.
Some think that religion united the colonies. Far from it. The Puritans hated the Quakers and vice-versa. The Quakers said that the Pilgrims prayed on Sunday and preyed on people the rest of the week. The Puritans called the Quakers the flock of Cain. Their hatred was deep enough to lead to the shedding of blood – in the name of God!
Each colony was self-absorbed having little interest in the others. The colonists had a sense of local allegiance, a local patriotism. The colonies eventually united when facing a common danger and a common enemy in Great Britain, but even then it was a miracle they united.
So what was it that united them?
Their outward ways and beliefs were completely different, but their political institutions were alike. They had a common English heritage of self-government. That’s the unifying factor. Constitutional Scholar Andrew McLaughlin puts it strikingly,
“From one end of the land to the other they spoke the same political language, cherished the same ideas, believed the same fundamental doctrines…”
That was what united them. Their religion, industry, and social customs kept them far apart; violently apart. But they were unified on political principles. They spoke a different language when they talked about religion, social customs, and vocations; but they spoke the same language when it came to self-government. If they sang their political beliefs as a choir, they’d rival the Moorman Tabernacle Choir when it came to harmony. But if they sang in Church together on Sunday you’d have to stop your ears from the discordant noise.
Their hatred for each other’s religious beliefs didn’t cease after the Revolution. That’s why they wrote the First Amendment:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
The Puritans didn’t want the “flock of Cain’s” religion anywhere near the national Government and Quakers didn’t want the “preying” Puritan religion there either. The First Amendment is based on Christian sects’ distrust of each other.
Freedom of religion must be recognized as one of the inalienable rights of man, which lies in the sacred domain of conscience, beyond the restraint and control of politics, and which the government is bound to protect as much as any other fundamental right.