Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fifth Amendment

Temecula Constitution Class with Douglas V. Gibbs; Thursday, February 24, 2011

Amendment V

"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

Key Terms:

Capital Crime: One for the punishment of which death is inflicted, which punishment is called capital punishment.

Double Jeopardy: The act of putting a person through a second trial for an offense for which he or she has already been prosecuted or convicted.

Due Process: The essential elements of due process of law are notice, an opportunity to be heard, the right to defend in an orderly proceed, and an impartial judge. It is founded upon the basic principle that every man shall have his day in court, and the benefit of the general law which proceeds only upon notice and which hears and considers before judgement is rendered. In short, due process means fundamental fairness and substantial justice.

Grand Jury: A group of citizens convened in a criminal case to consider the prosecutor's evidence and determine whether probable cause exists to prosecute a suspect for a felony. At common law, a group of persons consisting of not less than twelve nor more than twenty-four who listen to evidence and determine whether or not they should charge the accused with the commission of a crime by returning an indictment. The number of members on a grand jury varies in different states.

Infamous Crime: A crime which works infamy in the person who commits it. Infamous crimes tend to be classified as treason, felonies (offenses of graver character than misdemeanors, especially those commonly punished in the U.S. by imprisonment for more than a year - Felonies include Capital Crimes as well), and any crime involving the element of deceit.

Miranda Rights: Your "Miranda Rights" are named after the U.S. Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona, 384 US 436 (1966). Miranda Rights are a warning given advising the accused of their right to remain silent, their right to an attorney, and the right to an appointed attorney if they are unable to afford counsel - prior to conducting a custodial interrogation. From the Fifth Amendment: ". . .nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." Miranda Rights exist to secure the Fifth Amendment's privilege against self-incrimination, and to make the individual in custody aware not only of the privilege, but also of the consequences of forgoing it. The judicial opinion from The Miranda v. Arizona case also indicated that in order to protect the person's life, liberty or property with the due process of law, the individual must have the right to an attorney. With a lawyer present the likelihood that the police will practice coercion is reduced, and if coercion is nevertheless exercised the lawyer can testify to it in court. The presence of a lawyer can also help to guarantee that the accused gives a fully accurate statement to the police and that the statement is rightly reported by the prosecution at trial.


The Fifth Amendment attests to the Founding Father's understanding that his is a nation of property owners. As a republic of property owners, when in jeopardy of legal trouble, our rights and properties must be safeguarded.

The Fifth Amendment brings to the U.S. Constitution Thomas Jefferson’s words in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Following the tradition of John Locke, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison believed that men could be free only if their lives, liberty, and property were protected by the rule of law.

Having a sense of independence, individuals must be protected, then, from the tyrannical trappings of a governmental system that may try to use the judiciary against them (as the King of England had done often). The protective mechanism, or "the rule of law," would be the U.S. Constitution and clauses like the Fifth Amendment which were designed to provide protection to the populace from unfair legal practices.

The words of the Founders continues to resonate today as the majority of the American people seem to firmly agree with the Founders’ insistence that no one should be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. We can take satisfaction that most of our fellow citizens in our republic still hold these truths to be self-evident.


Special Thanks to: Faith Armory, 27498 Enterprise Cir. W #2, Temecula, CA 92562; 951-699-7500, - For providing us with a classroom to meet in.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Amendments III and IV

Temecula Constitution Study with Douglas V. Gibbs, February 17, 2011

Amendments III, and IV

Amendment III:

The Founding Fathers feared a centralized government with a powerful military. One of the final straws that began the road to the American Revolution was the Quartering Act of 1765 where the colonists became required to house and feed the British troops they despised.

The Quartering Act was one of the reasons for the writing of the 3rd Amendment, which reads: No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Tyrannical governmental systems use unwarranted influence through military means. To guard against the potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power, the founder’s concerns about standing armies became evident in the 3rd Amendment.

To help the populace protect themselves, and be able to enforce the 3rd Amendment, in case the federal government violated the clause, the Founding Fathers also gave us the 2nd Amendment: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The concept is Militia. The suggestion is that the United States will not be one where there is a standing army. Article I, Section 8, Clause 12 gives the Congress the power to raise and support armies, but limits them to no more than two years funding.

When a military arm of a tyrannical government can compel the citizenry to house the military machinery of defense, a police state is present and liberty is at risk. Such is the thinking behind the 3rd Amendment.

Until the Revolutionary War, the American states had no military, and the militias were populated by the colonists. The Constitution gave the U.S. Government the authority to build a military for the defense of the union. A military establishment, in the minds of the Founders, was a potentially dangerous thing. The Founding Fathers desired to protect the union, but did not desire that the American military become a tool of a potentially tyrannical federal government.

Amendment IV

The 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution was added as part of the Bill of Rights on December 15, 1791. It was written with the purpose of protecting people from the searching of their homes and private property without properly executed search warrants.

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

What this means is that the federal government, in order to search a person's home, business, papers, bank accounts, computer or other personal items, in most cases, must obtain a search warrant signed by the proper authority, which usually means by a judge.

The issuance of a warrant must accompany reasonable belief that a crime has been committed and that by searching the premises of a particular location, evidence will be found that will verify the crime. The government officer does not have to be correct in his assumption, he just has to have a reasonable belief that searching someone's private property will yield evidence of the crime.

The 4th Amendment idea that citizens should be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures goes back into English history. The British Government was known for searches and seizures that were unlawfully conducted. Often these searches were conducted by the king's representatives.

The British government saw the American Colonies as a source of revenue. As a result, taxation against the American colonies was a continuous practice, in the hopes of generating as much money from the colonists as possible. The colonists resented this and engaged in substantial smuggling operations in order to get around the customs taxes imposed by the British government.

The King responded to the Colonist’s smuggling activities by using "writs of assistance," which were search warrants that were very broad and general in their scope. British agents, once obtaining these writs, could search any property they believed might contain contraband goods. They could enter someone's property with no notice and without any reason given. Tax collectors could interrogate anyone about their use of goods and require the cooperation of any citizen. Searches and seizures of private property based on very general warrants became an epidemic in colonial America.

In 1756, the Massachusetts legislature passed search and seizure laws outlawing the use of general warrants. The friction created between the Royal Governor and the people of Massachusetts grew with each passing moment.

In 1760 James Otis, a Boston lawyer, strongly objected to these arbitrary searches and seizures of private property and consequently resigned his position with the government, and then became the lawyer for a group of over 50 merchants who sued the government claiming that the writs of assistance were unjust.

James Otis represented these merchants for free. His speech condemning British policies, including writs of assistance and general search warrants, was so powerful and eloquent, that it was heard of throughout the colonies and catapulted him to a place of leadership in the swelling tide of disillusionment toward Great Britain.

Twenty-five year old John Adams, who would become the second president of the United States some time later, was sitting in the courtroom and heard Otis' famous speech that served as a spark that originated the American Revolution."

The 4th Amendment is a part of The Bill of Rights, which became law on December 15, 1791.

The 4th Amendment applies only to the federal government, but state constitutions are written similarly, and the States also have laws that are consistent with the intention of the 4th Amendment. The 4th Amendment provides protection from illegal search and seizure by government officials, but not by private citizens. So, if an employer unreasonably searched your possessions at work, the 4th Amendment would not have been violated.


Special Thanks to: Faith Armory, 27498 Enterprise Cir. W #2, Temecula, CA 92562
951-699-7500, - For providing us with a classroom to meet in.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

2nd Amendment

Temecula Constitution Study with Douglas V. Gibbs, February 10, 2011

-- 2nd Amendment.

There are three arguments when it comes to the 2nd Amendment:

1. That the 2nd Amendment only applies to the federal government
2. That the 2nd Amendment applies to the states too, because of the 14th Amendment.
3. That the 2nd Amendment is a national security issue, so the states may not ban guns.

When studying the original intent of the Founding Fathers, we must ask ourselves which of the above statements is the one that fits in best with the original intent of the Founding Fathers.

The U.S. Militia

Gun control debates often focus on the relevance of the Second Amendment’s call for a "well regulated militia" in light of our modern organized military.

"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." – The Second Amendment to Constitution of the United States.

Specifically, the argument is made that the US either no longer has a militia, or that the National Guard now serves as the militia envisioned by the Founding Fathers.
But, in fact, Title 10 of the United States Code provides for both "organized" and "unorganized" civilian militias. While the organized militia is made up of members of the National Guard and Naval Militia, the unorganized militia is composed entirely of private individuals.
United States Code: Title 10 – Armed Forces
Subtitle A – General Military Law
Chapter 13 – The Militia
Sec. 311. Militia: composition and classes
(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are -
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard
and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of
the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the
Naval Militia.

Other than age, health, gender, or citizenship, there are no additional provisions for exemption from membership in the unorganized militia.
While it is doubtful that it will ever be called to duty, the United States civilian militia does legally exist.

The Militia Act of 1903 (32 Stat. 775), also known as the Dick Act, was initiated by United States Secretary of War Elihu Root following the Spanish–American War of 1898, after the war demonstrated weaknesses in the militia, and in the entire U.S. military.

U.S. Senator Charles W. F. Dick, a Major General in the Ohio National Guard and the chair of the Committee on the Militia[1], sponsored the 1903 Act towards the end of the 57th U.S. Congress. Under this legislation, passed January 21, 1903, the organized militia of the States were given federal status to the militia, and required to conform to Regular Army organization within five years. The act also required National Guard units to attend 24 drills and five days annual training a year, and, for the first time, provided for pay for annual training. In return for the increased Federal funding which the act made available, militia units were subject to inspection by Regular Army officers, and had to meet certain standards.

The increase in Federal funding was an important development. In 1808 Congress had allocated $200,000 a year to arm the militia; by 1887, the figure had risen to only $400,000. But in 1906, three years after the passage of the Dick Act, $2,000,000 was allocated to arm the militia; between 1903 and 1916, the Federal government spent $53,000,000 on the Guard, more than the total of the previous hundred years.
With the increase in Federal funding came an increase in paperwork and bureaucracy. Before the passage of the Dick Act, militia affairs had been handled by the various bureaus of the War Department, as the subject dictated. But the 1903 act authorized, for the first time, the creation of a separate section responsible for National Guard affairs. Located in the Miscellaneous Division of the Adjutant General's office, this small section, headed by Major James Parker, Cavalry, with four clerks, was the predecessor of today's National Guard Bureau.

This section remained under the supervision of the Adjutant General's Office until War Department Orders on February 12, 1908 created the Division of Militia Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of War. The act also provided for "necessary clerical and official expense of the Division of Militia Affairs." Lieutenant Colonel Erasmus M. Weaver, Coast Artillery Corps, assumed duties as the division's first Chief. An increasing volume of business meant more personnel, and the four clerks had by this time increased to 15.
The Division remained a part of the Office of the Secretary of War until July 25, 1910 when the Chief was directed to report directly to the Army Chief of Staff. The Division continued to perform under the direct jurisdiction of the Chief of Staff until the passage of the National Defense Act of June 3, 1916. Then the Division of Militia Affairs became the Militia Bureau of the War Department, under the direct supervision of the Secretary of War.

McDonald v. City of Chicago:

The 5-4 Decision holds that the 2nd Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms in all cities and States. The U.S. Supreme Court concluded that originally the 2nd Amendment applied only to the Federal Government, but it is in the opinion of the court that the 14th Amendment incorporates the Bill of Rights, therefore applying those amendments, and more specifically the 2nd Amendment, to the States.

I believe that the U.S. Constitution applies to the federal government except where specifically noted otherwise.

After the decision many people called me saying, “We won!”

I said, "I am not so sure."

I am uneasy anytime the federal government tells a city or state what they have to do. I am happy about the protection of gun rights, but that does not mean I am in agreement with the constitutional angle used.

Let me put it this way. If we give the federal government the right to tell cities they have to allow gun ownership, what stops them from doing the opposite later? This case creates a precedent of allowing the federal government to dictate to the states and cities what they have to do, and in that I recognize a great danger to state sovereignty.


Special Thanks to: Faith Armory, 27498 Enterprise Cir. W #2, Temecula, CA 92562
951-699-7500, - For providing us with a classroom to meet in.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Bill of Rights, Amendment I

Temecula Constitution Study, February 3, 2011

Bill of Rights, Amendment I

Bill of Rights:

The first ten amendments to the United States Constitution are known as the "Bill of Rights." James Madison was asked to write them so as to help clarify the federal government's limitations when it comes to our inalienable rights as citizens of the United States of America. The Bill of Rights was adopted in 1791.

The Bill of Rights covers freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the rights of peaceful assembly and petition, the rights of the people to keep and bear arms and form a "well-regulated militia," the rights to private property, fair treatment for accused criminals, protection from unreasonable search and seizure, freedom from self-incrimination, a speedy and impartial jury trial, and representation by counsel.

More importantly, the Bill of Rights protects State Sovereignty by protecting the freedom of states from intrusion by the federal government.

The Bill of Rights were designed to limit the power of the federal government through clarifying what the federal government cannot infringe upon. The 14th Amendment has been erroneously interpreted as enabling the Bill of Rights to be applied to the States as well. In fact, as recently as last year in the McDonald v. Chicago case, the courts applied the 2nd Amendment to the city of Chicago.

In its original historical context, the Bill of Rights was conceived as a limitation only on the federal government, leaving the States free to legislate in the prescribed areas as they deemed fit. The State constitutions were supposed to protect the rights of the citizens from state governments, should the people remain active enough to ensure such.

One must understand that in the strictest sense the Founding Fathers intended the Bill of Rights to not be a guarantee of individual freedoms, but a limitation of federal authority.

We have been conditioned to believe that the Bill of Rights applies to the States as well, as shown in the Supreme Courts' decision regarding McDonald v. Chicago. Problem is, aside from a misinterpretation of the 14th Amendment, there are no sources by any of the Founding Fathers which argues that the Bill of Rights was originally intended to be applied at the state level.

Why not the states? The founders of this country were confident that We The People could control our own state officials. Besides, most state constitutions already had their own bills of rights. It was the distant central federal government the people truly feared.

Part of our evidence that the Bill of Rights does not apply to the States is that in some of the amendments there were parts that were initially proposed by Madison that would have limited state governments, such as "No state shall violate the equal rights of conscience, or the freedom of the press, or the trial by jury in criminal cases." However, these provisions were not approved by Congress. In fact, in regards to Amendment I, and its disallowance of an established church, many of the states had established state churches up until the 1820s. As for the freedom of the press, a number of the Southern states, beginning in the 1830s, could ban abolitionist literature. In the 1833 case Barron v. Baltimore, the Supreme Court specifically ruled that the "Bill of Rights provided security against the apprehended encroachments of the general government — not against those of local governments."

In short, according to the original intent of the Founding Fathers, The Bill of Rights was intended to be a bar on the actions of the federal government.

Those who contend that the Bill of Rights was intended to apply to the States cannot offer any evidence because their argument is philosophical, rather than historical. To try to force something into place as evidence, they use the 14th Amendment as part of their argument. However, based on the original intent, and the language of the 14th Amendment, there is nothing that solidly suggests the Bill of Rights are to be applied to the States.

The argument is that the Bill of Rights addresses our inalienable rights, and no government may take those rights away, therefore it is reasonable to these people that the Bill of Rights must apply to the States. What would give the state governments the authority to infringe on those rights when the Federal government cannot?

That is what the State constitutions are for.

I find it fascinating that these folks are not willing to trust themselves to be active enough locally, nor place trust in their State constitutions, to protect the rights of the citizens from the States, yet they are willing to trust the federal government and its Constitution, to protect the rights of the citizens from the States.

Remember, the States are competing for residents, and tax dollars. Therefore, it is in their best interest to protect the rights of their citizens in a manner consistent with the intention of the Bill of Rights. If a State does not protect the rights of the Citizens, the people can vote with their feet and leave the State. Then where would that leave the State?

1st Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Freedom of Religion:

The first part of the First Amendment addresses religion. The frame of reference of the Founding Fathers was Europe, and more specifically, England. In England the Church of England greatly influenced the centralized governmental system, and the politicians greatly influenced The Church. There was no separation between powers of the king and the church, it seemed. The problem, the Founding Fathers reasoned, was the establishment of a State Church. Therefore, to protect the governmental system from the influence of religion, the founders determined that the federal government could not establish a state religion.

The second part of that clause, however, was also specifically designed to protect the church from the government by instructing government to not prohibit the free exercise of religion.

Freedom of religion was a big deal with the Americans. Even the textbooks in the public school system reveals that the Pilgrims first came to The New World in search of religious freedom.

However, in today's society, there exists the belief in a concept known as "The Separation of Church and State." The concept has determined that the church is somehow the enemy, and that any mention of God in the same breath with the federal government is a no-no.

To understand the error of the concept of "Separation of Church and State" in today's society, we must go back and discover the origination of the idea. To understand the truth, we must recognize the writings of the founders, as well as grasp the history of the colonies. One of the best ways to do this is to carefully read the writings of the Founding Fathers, including the series of letters between the federal government and the Danbury Baptists of Connecticut, culminating in the letters to Thomas Jefferson after he became President of the United States in 1800.

Each of the colonies, understand, began as a collection of like-minded religious folk that wanted freedom for their religion (not necessarily freedom of all religions). In Jamestown, in 1610, Dales Law mandated the Jamestown colonists to attend Anglican worship. The law went so far as to have provisions against criticism against the church. Violation of Dales Law could even lead to death. The Puritan Colonies to the north had similar laws, even setting up their governments in accordance with Puritan Law. Connecticut was one of those Puritan Colonies, and in 1639 the colony enacted "The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut." The law set Connecticut up as a theocracy, disallowing non-Puritans from holding office. The government was the church, and the church was the government.

Understand, this practice of religious preference was not limited to Connecticut. All of the States enforced established religions, except Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

Though Pennsylvania was largely a Quaker state, William Penn believed that religion should be free from state control, so Pennsylvania did not persecute non-Quakers. However, in Pennsylvania, in order to hold office, you had to be a Christian.

Rhode Island, founded in 1636, was based on the principle of religious liberty, and took in folks who were trying to escape the religious persecution of the other colonies.

Back to Connecticut, in the Puritan dominated landscape, there was a group of Baptists in Danbury, Connecticut who were tired of being treated like second class citizens.

Thomas Jefferson drafted the Virginia Act For Establishing Religious Freedom in Virginia, and with James Madison's assistance, finally got it enacted into law in 1786. So after many letters to President Adams that resulted in no assistance, the Danbury Baptists were excited about Jefferson winning the presidential election in 1800. Finally, they would have someone in office that would help them in their plight for religious freedoms in Connecticut.

The Danbury Baptists wrote to Jefferson to congratulate him for his win, and to appeal to him for help. Thomas Jefferson responded with a letter that carries the line, "a wall of separation between church and state," which has become the source from which the infamous concept of Separation of Church and State was eventually derived from.

The Founding Fathers desired that Americans be free to worship as they wished, without being compelled by government through an established religion. The key, however, is that they not only did not want the federal government compelling a person through laws regarding religion, but that the government shall not “prohibit the free exercise thereof.”

Thomas Jefferson, as indicated in his letter to the Danbury Baptists, and his other writings, was against the government establishing a “State Church.” However, he also believed that men should be free to exercise their religion as they deem fit, and not be forced to follow a government mandate that may prohibit religion.

The Danbury Baptists were concerned over local religious freedoms, but Jefferson was clear, the federal government could not mandate anything in regards to religion. It is a State issue, and the Danbury Baptists needed to address the issue themselves. Jefferson’s reference to a wall of separation was an explanation that the federal government cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion for any reason, including on public grounds, but if a state was to prohibit the free exercise of religion, or establish a state church, it was an issue that must be resolved at the state level.

Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press:

The point of including in the Bill of Rights the freedom of speech, and of the press, was specifically designed to protect political speech. The Founding Fathers believed that freedom hinged on the freedoms of speech and the press. In fact, Benjamin Franklin wrote in The Pennsylvania Gazette, April 8, 1736, regarding the American doctrine behind freedom of speech and of the press:

Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins. Republics and limited monarchies derive their strength and vigor from a popular examination into the action of the magistrates.

James Madison in 1799 wrote, “In every State, probably, in the Union, the press has exerted a freedom in canvassing the merits and measures of public men of every description which has not been confined to the strict limits of the common law.”

Freedom of the Right of the People To Peaceably Assemble, and to Petition the Government for a Redress of Grievances:

The right to peaceably assemble means that citizens may peacefully parade and gather, demonstrate support or opposition of public policy. This part of the First Amendment is closely tied to Freedom of Speech, guaranteeing one's ability to express one's views by freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble.

The need to protect the right to peaceably assemble was not a new concept during the Constitutional Convention. Before the Bill of Rights, the Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress declared on October 14, 1774:

The inhabitants of the English colonies in North-America, by the immutable laws of nature, the principals of the English constitution, and the several charters or compacts, have the following rights: They have a right peaceably to assemble, consider their grievances, and petition the king: and that all prosecutions, prohibitory proclamations, and commitments for the same are illegal.

In 1776, Pennsylvania's declaration of rights guaranteed peaceable assembly, as well, being the first state to recognize this right.

Originally, the right to assemble was considered less important than the right to petition. Now, many historians consider the two to be equally important, and to actually compliment each other.

The Founding Fathers felt that the right to assemble, and petition the government for a redress of grievances, were important keys to protecting States' Rights, and the rights of the people, from the federal government. The need to assemble, to come together and share common beliefs and act upon those beliefs, is what began the drive for independence, and ultimately what led to the American Revolution. The right to assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances, the Founding Fathers believed, was one of the primary tools available to the citizens in their drive to stop tyrannies before they could take hold.

The right to peaceable assembly provides the opportunity for all citizens to participate in America's political life and in the electoral process. A recent example of this inalienable right in action is the Tea Party Movement. The Tea Party rallies are peaceful assemblies. These rallies are protected by the Constitution when they are for a lawful purpose and are conducted in an orderly manner and publicizes some type of grievance. Many groups and organizations use assembly as a way to show support for an idea or dispute, as characterized by the Tea Party.


The Virginia Act For Establishing Religious Freedom

Thomas Jefferson, 1786

Well aware that Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do; that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time; that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporal rewards, which proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labors for the instruction of mankind; that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that, therefore, the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to the offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow citizens he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honors and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles, on the supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency, will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.
Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

And though we well know this Assembly, elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no powers equal to our own and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be of no effect in law, yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.

Letter to Thomas Jefferson

Danbury Baptist Association's letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 7, 1801.

Sir, — Among the many millions in America and Europe who rejoice in your Election to office; we embrace the first opportunity which we have enjoyd in our collective capacity, since your Inauguration, to express our great satisfaction, in your appointment to the chief Majestracy in the United States; And though our mode of expression may be less courtly and pompious than what many others clothe their addresses with, we beg you, Sir to believe, that none are more sincere.

Our Sentiments are uniformly on the side of Religious Liberty — That Religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals — That no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious Opinions - That the legitimate Power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor: But Sir our constitution of government is not specific. Our ancient charter together with the Laws made coincident therewith, were adopted on the Basis of our government, at the time of our revolution; and such had been our Laws & usages, and such still are; that Religion is considered as the first object of Legislation; and therefore what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the State) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights: and these favors we receive at the expense of such degradingacknowledgements, as are inconsistent with the rights of freemen. It is not to be wondered at therefore; if those, who seek after power & gain under the pretense of government & Religion should reproach their fellow men — should reproach their chief Magistrate, as an enemy of religion Law & good order because he will not, dare not assume the prerogatives of Jehovah and make Laws to govern the Kingdom of Christ.

Sir, we are sensible that the President of the United States, is not the national legislator, and also sensible that the national government cannot destroy the Laws of each State; but our hopes are strong that the sentiments of our beloved President, which have had such genial affect already, like the radiant beams of the Sun, will shine and prevail through all these States and all the world till Hierarchy and Tyranny be destroyed from the Earth. Sir, when we reflect on your past services, and see a glow of philanthropy and good will shining forth in a course of more than thirty years we have reason to believe that America's God has raised you up to fill the chair of State out of that good will which he bears to the Millions which you preside over. May God strengthen you for the arduous task which providence & the voice of the people have cald you to sustain and support you in your Administration against all the predetermined opposition of those who wish to rise to wealth & importance on the poverty and subjection of the people

And may the Lord preserve you safe from every evil and bring you at last to his Heavenly Kingdom through Jesus Christ our Glorious Mediator.

Signed in behalf of the Association.
Nehh Dodge
Ephram Robbins The Committee
Stephen S. Nelson

Jefferson's Letter to the Danbury Baptists

The Final Letter, as Sent

To messers. Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.


The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.

Th Jefferson
Jan. 1. 1802.


Thank you to Faith Armory at 27498 Enterprise Cir., W #2, Temecula, California 92590, for the use of their classroom.