Global Christianity Constitutional settlement
Global Christianity

The Bill of Rights amended to the U.S. Constitution, the first item of which states: "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

This Amendment, passed into law in 1791, meant that there would be no officially "established" religion in the United States. The pluralism which already existed became the official, national strategy for dealing with religious diversity. Such an arrangement had never been tried before; Europeans and many Americans assumed that the state needed an official religion and that religion would dwindle without state support. The constitutional settlement departed from this precedent--a triumph of the Enlightenment for all who believed, as Thomas Jefferson said, that "truth is great and will prevail if left to herself." It was also a victory for Baptists, Quakers, and other persecuted minorities who insisted that the state has no authority to dictate religious belief.

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