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II.1 Freedom of Conscience, Worship, and Religious Liberty

Signing

The First Act
of the Republic

The first act of the republic is the declaration that God, and not government, is the author of the rights of the people. This need not be first in the order of time, but it will always be first in the order of nature. A republic rests on the public acknowledgment that God is the Author of Rights.

When a people of diverse beliefs seek to forge a political union, they find their way barred by the supernatural doctrines that divide them into different supernatural religions. If they debate—fairly and rationally—those differences, they soon discover a body of religious truth that is evident to reason. The citizens of a republic know how to set aside their sectarian differences and find union under religious truths agreeable to the majority.

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Signing

Private Religious
Conviction

Those religious doctrines not shared among a people cannot be a source of unity. They are affirmed only by those who profess the same faith, and sometimes only by those of a particular denomination within that faith. To remain united, the people must separate these supernatural doctrines from their public life while simultaneously guaranteeing that communities of like-minded believers will always be free to practice their faith in private.

The right to freedom of worship guarantees that communities of believers are free to privately profess, teach, and transmit those religious doctrines that transcend human reason. The protection of this right follows from the prior agreement among the people that God is the author of their rights.

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Signing

The Uselessness
of Coercion

Compulsion in religion is useless. What is compelled is not freely professed; hence, it is not truly affirmed. The freedom of the individual to affirm or deny any religious statement, regardless of whether it is evident to reason or not, is the right of conscience. A free people recognize that this right is given to them by God.

One may decide to affirm religious truths that transcend reason, and thus make himself a member of a particular religious establishment. One may also decide to profess religious truths that are within the range of reason. This does not make one a member of any establishment of religion, but makes on a citizen of a republic. The citizens of a republic affirm a body of religious truth that is known to the power of reason.

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American Deist © 2012 2013 Edward J. Furton
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