Joseph Story

A Congressman and Professor of Law at Harvard, Joseph Story was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1811 by James Madison, the Father of the U.S. Constitution. He served on the Court for 34 years. Story's great work, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, is considered a classic of American jurisprudence. He was instrumental in establishing the illegality of the slave trade. He also convincingly argued that the United States of America was built on the principles of Christianity. In a speech at Harvard, Story stated bluntly:

There never has been a period of history, in which the Common Law did not recognize Christianity as lying at its foundation.

In his work, A Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States, Justice Story, had this to say about the purpose the First Amendment:

We are not to attribute this prohibition of a national religious establishment [in the First Amendment] to an indifference to religion in general, and especially to Christianity (which none could hold in more reverence than the framers of the Constitution)....

Probably, at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, and of the Amendment to it now under consideration, the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America was, that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the State so far as was not incompatible with the private rights of conscience and the freedom of religious worship.

Any attempt to level all religions, and to make it a matter of state policy to hold all in utter indifference, would have created universal disapprobation, if not universal indignation.

In other words, the purpose of the First Amendment was to protect a religious people from the government -- not to protect the government from a religious people. It is perfectly all right, under the First Amendment, for the Government of the United States to favor Christianity over other faiths -- so long as other faiths are not persecuted by the government, and so long as the national government does not attempt to set up a national church, such as the Anglican Church in England. In his Commentaries on the Constitution, Justice Story stated:

It yet remains a problem to be solved in human affairs, whether any free government can be permanent where the public worship of God, and the support of religion, constitute no part of the policy or duty of the state in any assignable shape.

In fact, in his commentary on the purpose of First Amendment, Justice Story stated:

The real object of the First Amendment was not to countenance much less to advance Mohammedanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity, but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects [denominations] and to prevent any national ecclesiastical patronage of the national government.

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