1. James Madison's Proposed Amendment, June 8, 1789

    "The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext, infringed."

  2. Madison's Interpretation of His Proposed Amendment

    "Congress should not establish a [national] religion, and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any manner contrary to their conscience."

  3. House Committee Report, Proposed Amendment, July 28, 1789

    "No religion shall be established by law, nor shall the equal rights of conscience be infringed."

  4. Samuel Livermore's Substitute Amendment, August 15, 1789

    "Congress shall make no laws touching religion or infringing the rights of conscience."

  5. Amendment Approved by the House, August 24, 1789

    "Congress shall make no law establishing religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, nor shall the rights of Conscience be infringed."

  6. Amendment Approved by the Senate, September 9, 1789

    "Congress shall make no law establishing articles of faith, or a mode of worship, or prohibiting the free exercise of religion."

  7. Compromise Amendment Approved by Congress, September 25, 1789 (This is the version which was added to the Constitution in the First Amendment.)

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."


First Amendment Issues

  1. Can states provide funding to pay the salaries of ministers or to support individual religious denominations?

  2. Can Congress provide funding (a) to pay the salaries of ministers, (b) to support religious denominations, or (c) to pay the expenses of religious schools and colleges or the tuition of students attending those schools, as long as these funds are made available on an equal basis to all religious groups?

  3. Can the federal or state governments allow public buildings, parks, or other facilities to be used for religious observances?

  4. Can the federal or state governments prohibit teachers or students from freely practicing their religious beliefs.

HIS 338: Religion in American History
This page was last updated on 2/26/99
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Dr. Harold D. Tallant, Department of History, Georgetown College
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