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LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE. PROPERTY. SUPREMACY OF
8. LIBERTY of conscience, or, as it ought to be called more properly,' the liberty of worship, is one of the primordial rights of man,' and no system of liberty can be considered comprehensive which does not include guarantees for the free exercise of this right. It belongs to American liberty to separate entirely the institution which has for its object the support and diffusion of religion from the political government. We have seen already what our constitution says on this point. All state constitutions have similar provisions. They prohibit government from founding or endowing churches, and from demanding a religious qualification for any office or the exercise of any right. They are not hostile to religion, for we see that all the state governments direct or allow the bible to be read in the public schools; but they adhere strictly to these two points: no worship shall be interfered with, either directly by persecution, or indirectly by disqualifying members of certain sects, or by favoring one sect above the others; and no church shall be declared the church of the state, or “established church;" nor shall the people be taxed by government to support the clergy of all the churches, as is the case in France.
i Conscience lies beyond the reach of government. “Thoughts are free,” is an old German saw. The same must be said of feelings and conscience. That which government, even the most despotic, can alone interfere with, is the profession of religion, worship, and church government.
2 See Primordial Rights in Political Ethics.
In England there is an established church, and religious qualifications are required for certain offices and places, at least in an indirect way. A member of parliament cannot take his seat without taking a certain oath “upon the faith of a Christian;" which, of course, excludes Jews. There is no doubt, however, that this disqualification will soon be removed. Whether it will be done or not, we are nevertheless authorized to say that liberty of conscience forms one of the elements of Anglican liberty. It has not yet arrived at full maturity in some portions of the Anglican race, but we can easily discern it in the whole race, in whose history we find religious toleration at an earlier date than in that of any other large portion of mankind. Venice, and some minor states, found the economical and commercial benefit of toleration at an early period, but England was the earliest country of any magnitude where toleration, which precedes real religious liberty, was established. While Louis the Fourteenth, of France, called the Great, dragonaded the protestants on no other ground than that they would not become catholics, a greater king, William the Third, declared, in England, that "conscience is God's province.” The catholics were long severely treated in England, but it was more on a political ground, because the pope supported for a long time the opponents to the ruling dynasty, than on purely religious grounds.
There is a new religious zeal manifesting itself in all branches of the christian church. The catholic church seems to be animated by a renewed spirit of activity, not dissimilar to that which animated it in the seventeenth century, by which it regained much of the ground lost by the reformation, and which has been so well described by Mr. Ranke. The protestants are not idle; they study, probe, preach, and act with great zeal. May Providence grant that the Anglican tribe, and all the members of the civilized race, may more and more distinctly act upon the principle of religious liberty, and not swerve from it, even under the most galling circumstances. Calamitous consequences, of which very few may have any conception at this moment, might easily follow.
As to that unhappy and most remarkable sect called the mormons, who have sprung up and consolidated themselves within our country, and who doubtless may become troublesome when sufficiently numerous to call on us for admission into the Union, I take it that the political trouble they may give cannot arise from religious grounds. Whether they have fallen back into Buddhism, making their god a perfectible being, with parts and local dwelling, cannot become a direct political question, however it may indirectly affect society in all its parts. The potent questions which will offer great difficulty will be, whether a
Mormon state, with its “theo-democratic" government, as they term it, can be called a republic, in the sense in which our constitution guarantees it to every member of the Union. It will then, probably for the first time in history, become necessary legally to define what a republic is. The other difficulty will arise out of the question which every honest man will put to himself, can we admit as a state a society of men who deny the very first principle, not of our common law, not of christian politics, not of modern progress, but of our whole western civilization, as contradistinguished to oriental life—of that whole civilization in which we have our being, and which is the precious joint product of christianity and antiquity-who deny monogamy.
No one will now deny that the English parliament followed too tardily the advice of those great statesmen who urged it long ago to abolish test oaths, and other religious impediments; but to judge impartially, we must not forget that the removal of disqualifications in countries enjoying a high degree of liberty, is always more difficult than in despotic countries, where all beneath the despot live in one waste equality. Liberty implies the enjoyment of important rights and high privileges. To share them freely with others who until then have not enjoyed them appears like losing part of them. It is a universal psychologic law. Neither religion, nor color, constitutes half the difference in many Asiatic states, which they establish in far freer countries. It must likewise be remembered that liberty implies power, the authority of acting; consequently, an admission
to equality in a free country implies admission to power, and it is this which frequently creates, justly or unjustly, the difficulty of perfect religious equality in certain states of society.
The end, however, which is to be reached, and towards which all liberty and political civilization tends, is perfect liberty of conscience.
9. One of the staunchest principles of civil liberty is the firmest possible protection of individual property.acquired or acquiring, produced and accumulated, or producing and accumulating. We include, therefore, untestrained action in producing and exchanging, the prohibition of all unfair monopolies, commercial freedom, and the guarantee that no property shall be taken except in the course of law; and the principle that, in particular, the constant taking away of part of property, called taxation, shall not take place, except by the direct or indirect consent of the owner—the tax-payer--and, moreover, that the power of government to take part of the property, even with the consent of the payer, be granted for short periods only, so that the taxes must be renewed, and may be revised at brief
3 It has been one of the main objects in my Essays on Labor and Property, to show the necessity and justice of individual property, and its direct connection with man's individuality, of which it is but the reflex in the material world around him. Man suffers in individuality, therefore in liberty, in the degree in which absolutism, which is always of a communistic nature, deprives him of the possession, enjoyment, production, and exchange of individual property. The Essays treat of property in a political, psychologic and economical point of view.