The Constitutional Meaning of Religious Freedom: Part One
When the Constitution of 1787 was drafted, it reflected the people’s understanding of the free exercise of religion as summarized in Chap. 8. First, it did not proclaim or endorse any religious belief or practice; it was a secular document. Second, it banned the use of religious tests for holding public office. It did not, however, contain provisions guaranteeing religious freedom or other rights like freedom of the press. Many persons (Antifederalists), therefore, demanded that the Constitution not be ratified until it was amended to guarantee those rights. The Constitution’s proponents (Federalists) at first insisted that it did not need to be amended in that way, but eventually promised to add amendments after it was ratified, whereupon several states submitted proposed amendments to prevent Congress from legislating on religion.