It seems logical that if this had been the intent of the Founding Fathers for the First Amendment as is so frequently asserted then at least one of those ninety would have mentioned that phrase; none did. Since the “separation” phrase was used so infrequently by the Founders, and since early courts rarely invoked it, how did those courts rule on the religious issues and activities which confront today’s courts? Were their conclusions different from those reached now? As demonstrated in the following chapter, the answer is an emphatic and a resounding, “Yes!”
Excerpts from twentyone early cases will be presented in this chapter. These cases, representative of many others, will demonstrate that contrary to the actions of current courts, early courts protected, advanced, encouraged, and promoted the role and influence of religion throughout society. Significantly, several Judges who ruled in these early cases had personally participated in the drafting and ratification of the Constitution and thus were quite sure about its intent.
Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 1892 United States Supreme Court This case provides a good starting point since it incorporates several previous decisions. At issue was an 1885 federal immigration law which declared: It shall be unlawful for any person, company, partnership, or corporation, in any manner whatsoever to in any way assist or encourage the importation of any alien or foreigners into the United States under contract or agreement to perform labor or service of any kind.
Since this law, on its face, appeared to be a straightforward ban on hiring foreign labor, when the Church of the Holy Trinity in New York employed a clergyman from England as its pastor, the U. S. Attorney’s office brought suit against the church. When the case reached the Supreme Court, the Court began by examining the legislative records surrounding the passage of that law and discovered that its sole purpose had been to halt the influx of almost slavelike foreign labor to construct the western railroads. Thus, while the church’s hiring of the minister had violated the wording of the law, it clearly had fallen far outside the spirit and intent of that law.
David Baton: Have a time of worship daily. Worship God corporately and individually.