New York Constitution of 1777

New York
1777
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Declaring that "the bigotry and ambition of weak and wicked priests and princes have scourged mankind," New York's Constitution granted broad religious freedom for all faiths, though they included a fascinating clause reassuring the populace that religious freedom couldn't be used to justify "licentiousness" or disorder. They further banned clergy from serving in public office, a way of preventing a denomination from exerting political control, though the drafters claimed this was to keep the clergy from becoming distracted.
XXXVIII. And whereas we are required, by the benevolent principles of rational liberty, not only to expel civil tyranny, but also to guard against that spiritual oppression and intolerance wherewith the bigotry and ambition of weak and wicked priests and princes have scourged mankind, this convention doth further, in the name and by the authority of the good people of this State, ordain, determine, and declare, that the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever hereafter be allowed, within this State, to all mankind: Provided, That the liberty of conscience, hereby granted, shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness, or justify practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of this State.

XXXIX. And whereas the ministers of the gospel are, by their profession, dedicated to the service of God and the care of souls, and ought not to be diverted from the great duties of their function; therefore, no minister of the gospel, or priest of any denomination whatsoever, shall, at any time hereafter, under any pretence or description whatever, be eligible to, or capable of holding, any civil or military office or place within this State.


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Source(s):
The Founders' Constitution,Volume 5, Amendment I (Religion), Document 34. The University of Chicago Press.

Thorpe, Francis Newton, ed. The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the States, Territories, and Colonies Now or Heretofore Forming the United States of America. 7 vols. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Offic

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