Judicial Religious Legislation Exposed

The History

Sunday laws originated in that dark intrigue between Constantine and the bishops, when, in the language of Draper, “It was the ambition of Constantine to make theology a branch of politics. It was the hope of every bishop in the empire to make politics a branch of theology.” The result was the original union of church and state, with the full-fledged papacy as the consequence; and Sunday legislation was the key to the whole. JRLE 1.3

Those original Sunday laws were specifically religious, and this to the express exclusion of every other consideration, temporal, civil, or physical. When these laws were extended to the strict prohibition of “civil transactions of every kind on Sunday,” the penalty of “sacrilege”—not crime—that was incurred by violation of the laws is indisputable evidence of the religious nature and intent of the laws. JRLE 1.4

When, in A. D. 538, a council at Orleans declared that what should be lawful or unlawful on Sunday was a question “exclusively of ecclesiastical jurisdiction,” in the nature of things the penalty incurred by disregard of the Sunday laws, as defined by a council at Macon, in Gaul, in A. D. 585, distinguished these laws as exclusively religious and ecclesiastical. That penalty was the double and cumulative one of, first, “the wrath of God,” and, second, “the unappeasable anger of the clergy.” JRLE 1.5

In England James I, as head of the church and defender of the faith, by his “Book of Sports,” relieved the people from the extreme pressure of the Sunday laws. Indulgence of the “sports” on Sunday became so excessive, that in the reign of Charles I the justices of the peace petitioned the lord chief justice for a restraint of the excesses. But when the lord chief justice and another judge issued an order to that effect they were reproved by the archbishop, who was sustained by the King, and were required to revoke their order because it was an “invasion of the episcopal jurisdiction.” JRLE 1.6

When those same Sunday laws of England were extended to the English colonies in America and were intensified as in New England by the Puritans, the extreme and exclusively religious nature of these laws was such as to cause them to become forever proverbial. And in the colony of New York the Sunday law declared that the profanation of that day was “the great scandal of the Christian faith.” JRLE 1.7

These exclusively religious Sunday laws of the colonies were inevitably the Sunday laws of the original States here, by the fact that within an hour (July 4, 1776), those very colonies became these States. JRLE 2.1