The Church and the government have been two of the strongest influences on mankind for many centuries. Both powers have received great faithfulness from citizens, yet both receive harsh criticism as well. Many people view these two factions as entirely separate entities; however, this ideology is a fallacy. The government and the Church are two independent institutions that cannot be separated; rather, they must work in conjunction to ensure the happiness of the American people.
Conflicts between the Church and the government have been apparent since before the time of the Romans. The origin of this conflict in the United States can be traced back to the early 1600’s. At this time, the relationship between the Catholic Church and the governments of European and Latin American countries was beginning to flourish (Christianity and the Founders). Many nations shared the Catholic faith, yet the English demonstrated hatred towards Catholics (Christianity and the Founders). Legal punishment of English Catholics was more severe than that of the non-denominational citizens. Catholic conspirers were publicly executed out of spite, and the Anti-Priest law of 1647 threatened death to all clergy (Christianity and the Founders). This general attitude of the people was carried over seas with the colonization of the Americas.
Several colonies during the early 1700’s enacted laws to restrict the practice of Catholicism (Christianity and the Founders). Rhode Island, for example, passed a law in 1719 that created civil restrictions for Catholics (Christianity and the Founders). This law was abolished, in 1783, at the end of the Revolutionary War (Christianity and the Founders). The disdain for Catholics in Georgia was of greater intensity (Christianity and the Founders). In 1732, the state of Georgia imposed a law that granted religious freedom to all Colonists except Catholics, who were, furthermore, prohibited from practicing their faith (Christianity and the Founders). This law was not abolished until after the ratification of the Constitution (Christianity and the Founders). The founding fathers were cognitive of the unjust treatment towards Catholics and fought to defend the people’s rights without directly interfering with the religious institution itself.
The fervent desire for freedom of religion was, perhaps, the most momentous rationale for distinguishing the colonies as an independent nation. The colonists based their new society upon Christian values and self-government. When the Constitution was first ratified, many citizens were in an uproar because it did not explicitly mention God or His great mercy (Colonial America). Originally, the founding fathers intended to create a new Christian nation; although they agreed that religious freedom was more prevalent at that time (Colonial America). To resolve this dilemma, the colonists drafted a Constitution that would acknowledge Christianity and respect the dignity of non-Christian citizens.