Establishing State Religions

I generally try and stay away from public policy discussion, but this news is absolutely ridiculous. Reps Ford and Warren have filed House Joint Resolution 494, which claims that the state may establish a religion.

Indeed, during our early history, many states had established religions, of which the following was often the prevailing opinion:

“I dare to take upon me, to bee that Herauld of New-England so farre, as to proclaim to the world, in the name of our Colony, that all Familists, Antinomians, Anabaptists, and other Enthusiasts shall have free Liberty to keepe away from us, and such as come to be gone as fast as they can, the sooner the better” (Ward, Nathaniel. “On toleration of religious opinions.” Selections from Early American Writers: 1607 - 1800. ed William B. Cairns. The Macmillan Co.: New York, NY. 1910. pp 113-116).

According to men like Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, a variety of opinions allowed men to discover the truth through Reason and free inquiry, which were the enemy of state sponsored/established religion, because “it is error alone that needs the support of government.”

And James Madison, author of the First Amendment, said:

[T]he prevailing opinion in Europe, England not excepted, has been that religion could not be preserved without the support of government nor government be supported without an established religion that there must be at least an alliance of some sort between them. It remained for North America to bring the great and interesting subject to a fair, and finally a decisive test (Letter to Rev. Jasper Adams, Spring 1832).

Regardless of what one believes the 10th Amendment allows, there are a host of good reasons for not re-instituting establishments of religion in the states.