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The First Amendment and the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom "sought to remove government from the business of religion and religion from the business of government." Religion and the Constitution: Eternal Hostility against Every Form of Tyranny over the Mind of Man Address Philip B. Kurland. University of Chicago Law School, Chicago Unbound

Article Six of the Constitution provides: "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or Public Trust under the United States."

"Some very worthy persons, who have not had great advantages for information, have objected against that clause . . . . They have been afraid that the clause is unfavorable to religion. But my countrymen, the sole purpose and effect of it is to exclude persecution, and to secure to you the important right of religious liberty. We are almost the only people in the world, who have a full enjoyment of this important right of human nature. In our country every man has a right to worship God in that way which is most agreeable to his conscience. If he is a good and peaceable person he is liable to no penalties or incapacities on account of his religious sentiments; or in other words, he is no[t] subject to persecution. . . . Test-laws are useless and ineffectual, unjust and tyrannical; therefore the Convention have done wisely in excluding this engine of persecution, and providing that no religious test shall ever be required." Oliver Ellsworth[1], A Landholder VII, Connecticut Courant, Dec. 17, 1787, reprinted in 4 P. KURILAND & R. LERNER, supra note 13, at 639, 641.

"The middle of the twentieth century, however, brought about revolutionary changes in constitutional doctrine. Not only was it discovered that national taxpayers had a constitutional right to challenge governmental expenditures that funded religious activities, it was also revealed - and the process was certainly akin to revelation - that the provisions of the sixth article and the first amendment were equally applicable to the states as well as the nation by reason of their inclusion in the fourteenth amendment." Religion and the Constitution: Eternal Hostility against Every Form of Tyranny over the Mind of Man Address, Philip B. Kurland. University of Chicago Law School, Chicago Unbound

"The "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa." Justice Black wrote in Everson v. Board of Educ., 330 U.S. 1, 15-16 (1947).

"When a Religion is good, I conceive that it will support itself; and when it cannot support itself, and God does not take care to support it, so that its Professors are oblig'd to call for the help of the Civil Power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one." Letter from B. Franklin to Richard Price (Oct. 9, 1780).

Relígion. n.s. [religion, Fr. religio, Lat.]

1. Virtue, as founded upon reverence of God, and expectation of future rewards and punishments.

He that is void of fear, may soon be just,
And no religion binds men to be traitors. Benj. Johnson.
One spake much of right and wrong,
Of justice, of religion, truth and peace
And judgment from above. Milton.
If we consider it as directed against God, it is a breach of religion; if as to men, it is an offence against morality. South.
By her inform'd, we best religion learn,
Its glorious object by her aid discern. Blackmore.
Religion or virtue, in a large sense, includes duty to God and our neighbour, but in a proper sense, virtue signifies duty towards men, and religion duty to God. Watts.

2. A system of divine faith and worship as opposite to others. The image of a brute, adorn'd With gay religions, full of pomp and gold. Milton.

The christian religion, rightly understood, is the deepest and choicest piece of philosophy that is. More.
The doctrine of the gospel proposes to men such glorious rewards and such terrible punishments as no religion ever did, and gives us far greater assurance of their reality and certainty than ever the world had. Tillotson.
A Dictionary of the English Language,

A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson

Virtue Vi'rtue. n.s. [virtus, Lat.]

1. Moral grounds.

Either I'm mistaken, or there is virtue in that Falstaff. Shakesp.
If there's a power above us,
And that there is, all nature cries aloud
Through all her works, he must delight in virtue,
And that which he delights in must be happy. Addison.
Virtue only makes our bliss below. Pope.
The character of prince Henry is improved by Shakespear; and through the veil of his vices and irregularities, we see a dawn of greatness and virtue. Shakesp. illustrated.

2. A particular moral excellence.

In Belmont is a lady,
And she is fair, and, fairer than that word,
Of wond'rous virtues. Shakesp. Merchant of Venice.
Remember all his virtues,
And shew mankind that goodness is your care. Addison.

3. Medicinal quality.

All blest secrets,
All you unpublish'd virtues of the earth,
Be aidant and remediate. Shakesp. K. Lear.
The virtuous bezoar is taken from the beast that feedeth upon the mountains; and that without virtue from those that feed in the vallies. Bacon.

4. Medicinal efficacy.

An essay writer must practice the chemical method, and give the vitue of a draught in a few drops. Addison.

5. Efficacy; power.

If neither words, nor herbs will do, I'll try stones; for there's a virtue in them. L'Estrange.
Where there is a full purpose to please God, there, what a man can do, shall, by virtue therefore, be accepted. South.
They are not sure, by virtue of syllogism, that the conclusion certainly follows from the premises. Locke.
This they shall attain, partly in virtue of the promise made by God; and partly in virtue of piety. Atterbury.
He used to travel through Greece, by virtue of this fable, which procured him reception in all the towns. Addison.

6. Acting power.

Jesus knowing that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about. Mark v. 30.

7. Secret agency; efficacy, without visible or material action.

She moves the body, which she doth possess;
Yet no part toucheth, but by virtue's touch. Davies.

8. Bravery; valour.

Trust to thy single virtue; for thy soldiers
Took their discharge. Shakesp. K. Lear.
The conquest of Palestine, with singular virtue they performed, and held that kingdom some few generations. Raleigh.

9. Excellence; that which gives excellence.

In the Greek poets, as also in Plautus, the oeconomy of poems is better observed than in Terence; who thought the sole grace and virtue of their fable, the sticking in of sentences, as ours do the forcing in of jests. B. Johnson.

10. One of the orders of the celestial hierarchy.

Thrones, domination, princedoms, virtues, pow'rs. Milt.
A winged virtue through th' etherial sky,
From orb to orb unwearied dost thou fly. Tickell.
A Dictionary of the English Language,

A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson

  1. American lawyer, judge, politician, diplomat, and was a framer of the United States Constitution, a United States Senator from Connecticut, and the third Chief Justice of the United States. Additionally, Ellsworth received 11 electoral votes in the 1796 presidential election