The men who founded the legislature of our country had seen first hand the difficulties that church and state partnerships could create in Europe. The consequences of this partnership are the main reason a secular government was created in the United States. During the colonial period, alliances between religion and government produced oppression and tyranny on our own shores. Many colonies, for example, had laws limiting public office positions to Trinitarian Protestants. While some colonies had officially established churches and taxed all citizens to support them. Dissenters faced many obstacles of persecution.
Many people began looking for an end to religious testing. They argued that true faith did not need or want the support of the government. These protestors were not anti-religious. In fact they believed that by allowing people their right to freedom from religion, they would eventually find themselves true Christians.
Perhaps the most profound writing on the subject of church and state separation was The Landholder, No. 7, written by Oliver Ellsworth, who is also awarded for the creating the term "United States". In this document Ellsworth plainly states the meaning and affects of the omission of religious tests for office to the general public.
When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence he spoke of "unalienable rights endowed by our Creator." He used generic...