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By Bertrand Russell

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The only other reference to religion in the document is found in Article VI, Clause 3, which prohibits religious tests for public office. This ensures that the government cannot require an individual to be a member of a particular religion—or any religion at all—as a condition of service. It is important to know that the original Constitution with its attached Bill of Rights was only meant to apply to the actions of the federal government. Although some members of the Constitutional Convention favored including limits on state powers, that was not the approach taken.

Although the Constitution has a strong separation of church and state flavor, some commentators have suggested that the drafters were merely ensuring that the states, rather than the federal government, would have the power to make laws regarding the establishment and exercise of religion. In fact, at the time, a few states continued to have state-supported established churches. Massachusetts maintained a state-supported church until 1833. Some states also had laws that discriminated against members of religious minorities.

After the king’s death, Parliament established a commonwealth with Cromwell at its head. Cromwell was finally forced to disband even his “rump” Parliament and attempted to govern as Lord Protector—essentially military rule. ” Roman Catholics were persecuted, especially in Ireland where thousands were killed. Two years after Cromwell’s death his son was unable to maintain the Protectorate and the Puritan Revolution was over. King Charles II, the son of Charles I, took the throne. The Church of England again became England’s established church.

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Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization by Bertrand Russell


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