As of Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Jefferson said that his religious freedom contribution to the Virginia Declaration of Rights, crafted by George Mason prior to June 12, 1776, a month before the Declaration of Independence was signed, was “…..meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mohammedan, the Hindu and infidel of every denomination.”
Virginia’s Declaration of Rights reworked the English philosophy of individual rights and liberties and served as a model for our Bill of Rights.
The fledgling government of the U.S. abandoned the Continental Congress practice of officially referring to the U.S. as a “Christian nation.” The clarifying occasion was a dispute between Tripoli, a Muslim nation, and the U.S. over freedom of the seas. A treaty negotiated during George Washington’s administration attempted to assure Tripoli that the U.S. was not pursuing a religious war against it. Ratified by the Senate on Nov. 4, 1796, and signed by President John Adams early in 1797, the Treaty of Tripoli stated that, “As the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation….”
Unanimously, Christian Supreme Court justices “back then” (now including two Jews) might be forgiven for assuming otherwise when assigned to explain reasons for High Court decisions. “Activist judges” are nothing new.