The Massachusetts Declaration of Rights of 1780 states “It is the right as well as the duty of all men in society, publicly, and at stated season, to worship the Supreme Being”. This means citizens of Massachusetts have a duty to worship and believe in the supreme being. No citizen can be punished for worshiping god as long as they didn’t disturb the public peace, or obstruct others in their religious worship. Massachusetts citizens in the 1780’s also had the right to invest in their legislature and the right to support the institution of public protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality where in all cases shall not be made voluntary. Bodies of political or religious societies have the exclusive right of electing their public teachers and contracting them for “their support and maintenance”. People who follow this as good subjects of the commonwealth were considered equal under the protection of the law and any one sect or denomination to another shall ever be established by law.
Massachusetts supports religion for the sake of order. It states that piety, religion and morality are essential to happiness in peace and good order of the people. These principles “are diffused by the publick worship of god”. These altercations proposed before the convention were made to secure the rights of conscience and give the fullest scope to religious liberty.This also secured the safety of ours persons and properties. It is stated that equal liberty is granted to every religious Sect and Denomination and is required that every man should pay to support the Publick Worship in their own say. The citizens need to support their money to the poor if they support any of the various denominations. Laws aren’t enough, religion will make people morally good. If people don’t support the kingdom of god peoples morals will be worse. The people want law and order from religion being related to the government.
Some people like Thomas Jefferson didn’t believe that religion being related to the government was a good thing. Some people believed that if the government have power over religion that chaos will happen. It has been shown in the past that the government will get strict over peoples beliefs. Thomas Jefferson believed the government would take control and people would end up being persecuted if the people didn’t believe in exactly what the government said. He and others believe that god is above the government so the government shouldn’t be able to put restrictions on the beliefs in god. God comes first not government. If people don’t act morally because of god than why would they do it for the legislature. Thomas Jefferson was a huge believer in religion; the bible and religion is important but the government shouldn’t have the control.
The money that Massachusetts civilians paid for support of public worship went to the public teachers of the persons chosen religious sect. This means that the civilians have a choice of where their money goes towards religion and what they personally believe in. Otherwise it would be paid towards the support of the teachers of the parish or precinct in which the money is raised.
1. “Ashby, Massachusetts Opposes Religious Establishment, 1780.” As found in Oscar and Mary F. Handlin, eds.,The Popular Sources of Political Authority: Documents on the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1966). 633-634.
2. “Amendment I (Religion): Massachusetts Constitution of 1780, PT. 1, ARTS. 2, 3.”Amendment I (Religion): Massachusetts Constitution of 1780, PT. 1, ARTS. 2, 3. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2012. <http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/amendI_religions38.html>.
3. “Boston’s View of Religious Freedom, 1780” As found in Robert J. Taylor, ed, Massachusetts, Colony to Commonwealth (Chapel Hill, NC:The University of North Carolina Press, 1961), 149-150.
4. “Religion in Eighteenth-Century America – Religion and the Founding of the American Republic | Exhibitions – Library of Congress.” Religion in Eighteenth-Century America – Religion and the Founding of the American Republic | Exhibitions – Library of Congress. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2012. <http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel02.html>.
5. “The Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, 1780. As found in Robert J. Taylor. ed, Massachusetts, Colony to Commonwealth (Chapel HIll, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1961), 129-130